Arizona Unit 27 / Tanks / Rut Activity

Jclark225

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2019
Messages
16
Hello all,

Posting this in "Mule Deer" because I'm hoping to extend my hunting season with an OTC archery trip to Arizona (thinking unit 27) to try to find a mule deer. I've searched the forums and have read most of the posts for that unit listed in the last few years but I just want to see if there's anyone with updated general information. Not asking for honey holes.

First about me; For starters, my archery experience is fairly limited. Long time rifle hunter but have only been archery hunting for about 6 years. I've harvested a handful of deer here out West with my bow but I attribute most to dumb luck. (first mule deer was taken at 16yds after he woke me up from an early afternoon nap) What I'm really looking for on this trip are stalking opportunities. If I connect, great, but if not I'll go home happy with the new knowledge and experiences. Never been to AZ but I like unit 27 for the "roadless area" ratio. My tentative plan is to hike about 8mi or so into the Southern part of the Blue Range Primitive Area keeping my camp on my back and being mobile. Getting to high points and spending a lot of hours behind the glass. At this point in my hunting career, any spot and stalk deer with a bow is a trophy so I wont be holding out for anything spectacular.

My first question is to do with water. Are there any resources available that have the status of tanks listed on maps? Is water even a good strategy for AZ mule deer in January? I also keep seeing "find the does and you'll find the bucks". How long does that hold true and are the does typically out and moving mid-day or bedded up? My trip will be Jan 3rd - 13th and I'll plan to stay outside the area where the Brigham fire burned this year.

Any info, tips, or tricks are appreciated!
 

Ghayes15

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
17
Location
Albuquerque NM
I will be there as well, first time in AZ but I’ve hunted NM blue quite a bit and shot a coues this October. Most tanks were full in October so there should be plenty of water. I’ve sat water and has been a waist for me. Spot and stalk. Glass glass glass. Some bucks will be with does some will be stragglers
 

Block

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
451
I haven’t hunted that unit,,, but if you just want stalks and experience,, and aren’t super picky,,,IMO you’d be better off truck camping and doin very short hikes to different vantages off dirt roads.. you are a lot more likely to MISS completely on a long hike in backpack type trip with no knowledge of an area than if you stay mobile and hit a bunch of dif areas until you find what you’re looking for.
 

def90

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2020
Messages
331
Location
Colorado
Yeah, from my southern Colorado canyon country experience this year I would stay as mobile as possible as well. Drive, short hike in to a high spot, glass and if you don’t see anything move on. If I would have hiked in and and been limited to the first location I went to I wouldn’t have seen a single deer the entire trip. Once I started moving around and checking every canyon then I started seeing them. They were fairly active most of the day, bedding for just a few hours from I’d say 11 - 2. Anywhere that I saw more than two does I saw a decent buck either with them or in the vacinity, I also saw several nice bucks just out wandering by themselves. I would think Arizona is similar to the southern juniper canyons here in Colorado. They seemed to like bedding in clusters of junipers on the canyon walls as well at the heads of arroyos where there are rock faces on either side and dense junipers as well.
 
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Jclark225

Jclark225

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2019
Messages
16
I haven’t hunted that unit,,, but if you just want stalks and experience,, and aren’t super picky,,,IMO you’d be better off truck camping and doin very short hikes to different vantages off dirt roads.. you are a lot more likely to MISS completely on a long hike in backpack type trip with no knowledge of an area than if you stay mobile and hit a bunch of dif areas until you find what you’re looking for.
Thanks Block,

The more I talk to people who have hunted AZ the more my plans are starting to shift. It seems being mobile is going to be the name of the game. My original route plan took me on about a 28 mile loop and the waypoints I marked out for vantage/camping points allowed total glassing coverage of about 50sq miles. It seems like a lot of area but you're right. If the deer aren't in that elevation range then it'd just be a lot of exercise.

I need to focus on the fact that it's a deer hunting trip, not a "get as far away from people as you can" trip. I'll likely still range out for some overnighters but will probably pull chalks and move if I'm not seeing animals. Plus that'll make hauling water a hell of a lot easier! Lol

Gorgeous buck in your profile pic!
 

Lando

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2018
Messages
116
Location
Arizona
This year, water is paramount. We are getting the first good rain we've had in the last 6-8 months today. I went quail hunting last week and the water and grass situation is the worst I've ever seen it. Most of the tanks were dry as a bone.
 

Block

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
451
Thanks Block,

The more I talk to people who have hunted AZ the more my plans are starting to shift. It seems being mobile is going to be the name of the game. My original route plan took me on about a 28 mile loop and the waypoints I marked out for vantage/camping points allowed total glassing coverage of about 50sq miles. It seems like a lot of area but you're right. If the deer aren't in that elevation range then it'd just be a lot of exercise.

I need to focus on the fact that it's a deer hunting trip, not a "get as far away from people as you can" trip. I'll likely still range out for some overnighters but will probably pull chalks and move if I'm not seeing animals. Plus that'll make hauling water a hell of a lot easier! Lol

Gorgeous buck in your profile pic!
Thanks ! yeah Iv been surprised how many deer you see in Az even when just hiking 30 min or so up a little knob. “Getting away” def doesn’t seem like the name of the game in that state for some reason!
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
660
Thanks ! yeah Iv been surprised how many deer you see in Az even when just hiking 30 min or so up a little knob. “Getting away” def doesn’t seem like the name of the game in that state for some reason!
It is because too many people road hunt from their side by sides. The animals know this.
 

dtrkyman

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2014
Messages
692
Lot of deer in that unit, stalking is tough but I have never been able to be there during that time frame, rut should be good.

2 miles in is typically plenty, as stated it is a road hunting sxs chit show along the main highway and roads. I have rarely seen anyone back in a couple miles and find plenty of deer.

Glass the east facing slopes in the morning, those deer love soaking up the sun on those cold mornings and are easy to spot!
 

coueschaser

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2017
Messages
28
Location
Morenci az
I live in Morenci and we have had very little water this year the deer have moved into spots they normally aren’t trying to get to different water. Lots of deer can be found from the road or a short hike away from the roads because most people just cruise the roads hoping for something to jump out in front of them. Good luck and if you have any questions send me a message


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

nhol100

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Iowa
Let me know how it goes for you, I will be showing up the day after you are leaving. I have heard it is super dry, and very little water I was going to focus around the Blue River and the San Fran. Since my assumption is that those should still hold water. And anyone know if they are still rutting by then or is that pretty much over?
 
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Jclark225

Jclark225

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Joined
Mar 23, 2019
Messages
16
Let me know how it goes for you, I will be showing up the day after you are leaving. I have heard it is super dry, and very little water I was going to focus around the Blue River and the San Fran. Since my assumption is that those should still hold water. And anyone know if they are still rutting by then or is that pretty much over?
I only stayed down there for the first day and a half. Crazy dry, but yes, the Blue has water flowing. Only saw two Coues and very little sign down there. I moved to higher elevation (surprisingly have service and am glassing as we speak) and have been seeing 15-20 deer a day. That said all the bucks have been small spikes and forkeys so far with minimal rut activity.
 

nhol100

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Iowa
This will be my first time Mule deer hunting, so I will not be looking for a giant, just looking to gain some experience on where to find them and how to hunt them. Plus I need some meat in the freezer, my whitetail season was cut short as I moved this fall and I moved to one of the only states I just cant go and buy a whitetail tag. If nothing else it should be fun and hopefully might get some practice putting some stalks in on deer, even if I dont shot one.
 

Tanner W

Senior Member
Joined
May 16, 2019
Messages
124
Location
Arizona
Pretty rugged country in that area. Like stated above it has been very dry so water will pay a role into where the deer are. As for rut activity I believe it is spotty throughout all of January in Arizona. In my experience, Just moving to different parts of a unit you’ll may discover some deer showing rut activity while others aren’t. Good luck
 

swiftni

Newbie
Joined
Dec 17, 2020
Messages
5
How did the hunt go? I'm looking to plan a similar trip with my dad for next January.
 

dtrkyman

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2014
Messages
692
Just got back from a week there, wow what a different year. Everyone must have bought an AZ. deer tag with their stimulus money!

Saw more people in the first 2 days in the field than the previous 3 years combined!

A few of the worst examples of hunters as well, went up to glass the first evening, come back to my vehicle and there is an entire camp with 3 trucks set up all around it, seriously?

Next day park and hunt half day due to guys hunting the same bucks, they were there first so I left, get to vehicle two trucks parked there, mind you these places are not trail heads!

Also seems as these groups of guys all use radios to walk their buddies into bedded deer, is that even legal?

Moved to a new area for me, saw less deer but no hunters, had 2 close calls, one nice 4 point at 30 yards full draw no shot, then a nice whitetail at 25, only could see his head!

Have heard from a couple sources this unit ma go to a draw? I am looking into other options most likely for my next hunt.
 

Bailer

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2017
Messages
127
Just got back from a week there, wow what a different year. Everyone must have bought an AZ. deer tag with their stimulus money!

Saw more people in the first 2 days in the field than the previous 3 years combined!

A few of the worst examples of hunters as well, went up to glass the first evening, come back to my vehicle and there is an entire camp with 3 trucks set up all around it, seriously?

Next day park and hunt half day due to guys hunting the same bucks, they were there first so I left, get to vehicle two trucks parked there, mind you these places are not trail heads!

Also seems as these groups of guys all use radios to walk their buddies into bedded deer, is that even legal?

Moved to a new area for me, saw less deer but no hunters, had 2 close calls, one nice 4 point at 30 yards full draw no shot, then a nice whitetail at 25, only could see his head!

Have heard from a couple sources this unit ma go to a draw? I am looking into other options most likely for my next hunt.
Yes radios are legal.

Yes it’s more crowded than ever. Not sure whether covid, forums or tv/YouTube personalities are the main cause. Probably a combination of all of them.
 

dtrkyman

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2014
Messages
692
Lame that radios are legal for that purpose, though I am sure it would be tough to enforce. I agree on it being a combination of all of the things mentioned, the word is out!

I hope to make it back at the end of season, past few years that is when I have hunted, saw more deer and very few hunters!
 
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Jclark225

Jclark225

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2019
Messages
16
Had a decent hunt. Got into the deer every day seeing 15-20 animals each outing but boy was it crowded. Got some good stalks in but no ethical shot options.

Mine were the only nonresident plates I saw and locals were real pieces of work. Driving atvs and side by sides around locked gates, throwing trash out of their vehicles into the forest, using molasses on top of salt for bait, left a note on my car "Non Res GO HOME". Guy working at Walmart wouldn't sell me a tag saying nonresidents had to wait till Jan 1st to buy their tag.
 
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