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Recreation

Arizona Hunting Regulations

The information in this article has been adapted from the main Hunting Regulations booklet that is published each year by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD). This booklet discusses the statewide rules for the hunting of deer, fall turkey, fall javelina, bighorn sheep, fall bison, fall bear, mountain lion, small game, and other huntable wildlife. Other booklets discuss the statewide rules for the hunting of elk and pronghorn antelope and spring big game hunting. For the most up-to-date regulations, please consult the AZGFD’s website: https://www.azgfd.com.

What animals may be hunted in Arizona?

Subject to all applicable regulations, the following animals may be hunted in Arizona:

small game: cottontail rabbit, tree squirrel, migratory game birds (doves, waterfowl, sand-hill crane, coots, gallinules, snipe, and band-tailed pigeons), and upland game birds (quail, blue grouse, chukar partridge, and pheasant)

big game: black bear, bighorn sheep, bison, deer (mule and white-tailed), elk, javelina, mountain lion, pronghorn antelope, and turkey

predator/fur-bearer: coyotes, skunks, foxes, raccoons, bobcat, ringtail, weasel, and badgers

other birds and mammals

Where may animals be hunted in Arizona?

Generally, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and State of Arizona lands are open for hunting, while national parks and certain national monuments and state parks are not. In many state and county parks, hunting for specific species is only permitted in certain areas.

Each Indian reservation has its own regulations, as does each national wildlife refuge and each military installation.

Hunters wishing to access or traverse private property must have the permission of the property owner in order to do so.

Maps are available from the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the State Land Department.

When may animals be hunted in Arizona?

Animals may only be hunted during open hunting season (which varies by species and area).

As a general rule, hunting may only occur during daylight hours.

Is a hunting license required to hunt animals in Arizona?

Yes. A hunting license is required to hunt animals in Arizona. Depending on which species is being hunted, specific kinds of stamps and tags will also be required.

For example, while mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, turkey, javelina, bear, bighorn sheep, bison, and mountain lion require a hunt permit-tag (which are drawn and issued through a lottery), archery turkey, youth turkey, fall bear, mountain lion, and some archery deer require only a nonpermit-tag (which are issued over the counter upon request).

For how long is a state hunting license valid?

Ordinarily, a state hunting license is valid for one year from the date of purchase.

Do any special rules apply to youth under 18 years of age?

Yes. Youth ages 10 to 17 must purchase a Youth Combination Hunting and Fishing license. The annual fee is $5.

No one under 10 years of age may hunt big game in Arizona. A person under 10 years of age may hunt wildlife other than big game without a license only when accompanied by a licensed person at least 18 years or older. No more than two unlicensed children may accompany any license-holder. No one under 14 years of age may hunt big game without having already completed a Hunter Education Course. To hunt big game, anyone 10 to 13 years of age must have in their possession a valid combination hunt and fish license, a valid Hunter Education Course completion card, plus any required permit-tags or nonpermit-tags. 

What makes a person eligible to pay the Arizona resident rate for a state hunting license?

An Arizona resident is anyone who claims the state of Arizona to be their true, fixed, and permanent home and principal residence – and is therefore domiciled in this state – for at least six months immediately preceding the date of application for a license.

A member of the armed forces of the United States who is on active duty and stationed in Arizona for either permanent or temporary duty is also considered to be a resident of Arizona, as is any member of the armed forces of the United States on active duty stationed in another state or country who lists Arizona as their home of record at the time they apply for a license.

How much does a state hunting license cost?

There are four kinds of state hunting licenses, and the cost of each depends on whether the purchaser is a resident or a non-resident of Arizona:

general hunting license

A general hunting license permits the purchaser to hunt small game, fur-bearing animals, predatory animals, nongame animals, and upland game birds. It costs $37/year and is available only to Arizona residents. Non-residents must purchase a combination hunt & fish license.

A valid tag or stamp is required for hunting big game animals and migratory game birds. The additional cost varies widely, from $13 for residents and $15 for non-residents for hunting pheasant, to $313 for residents and $1,815 for non-residents for hunting big-horn sheep, to $1,103 for residents and $5,415 for hunting bull bison, all as of 2019.

Hunt permit-tags are available only by lottery.

combination fish & hunt license

A combination fish & hunt license permits the purchaser to hunt/fish all aquatic wildlife statewide, including at Community Fishing waters, small game, fur-bearing animals, predatory animals, nongame animals, and upland game birds. It costs $57/year for residents and $160/year for non-residents.

A valid tag or stamp is required for hunting big game animals and migratory game birds.

youth combination hunt & fish license

A youth combination hunt & fish license permits the purchaser to hunt/fish all aquatic wildlife statewide, including at Community Fishing waters, small game, fur-bearing animals, predatory animals, nongame animals, migratory birds and upland game birds. It costs $5/year for both residents and non-residents.

A valid tag is required for hunting big game animals.

short-term combination hunt & fish license

A short-term combination hunt & fish license permits the purchaser to hunt/fish all aquatic wildlife statewide, including at Community Fishing waters, small game, fur-bearing animals, predatory animals, nongame animals, and upland game birds. It costs $15/day for residents and $20/day for non-residents.

A valid stamp is required for hunting migratory game birds.

Is anyone eligible for a free state hunting license?

Yes. Individuals who are 70 years of age or older and have resided in Arizona for 25 or more consecutive years immediately preceding application for a license may obtain the license free of charge, as may disabled veterans of the armed forces of the United States who have resided in Arizona for at least one year immediately preceding application for a license.

How does the big game draw work?

When the number of hunt permits for a particular species in a particular area must be limited to prevent the overharvest of that species in that area, a hunt permit-tag is required.

Hunt permit-tags are issued through a computerized random drawing. Anyone who wishes to obtain one of these limited hunt-permit tags must apply online or in writing using the Hunt Permit-tag Application Form, and submit the form by the deadline specified in the Hunt Permit-tag Application Schedule, in order to be eligible for that season’s lottery. (Big game tags not issued through this lottery process are called nonpermit-tags.)

Hunters with valid applications who are not selected through a given lottery are awarded a bonus point. Bonus points accumulate over successive draws.

May big game permit-tags be transferred?

Yes. Tag transfers are permitted, but only in accordance with very specific procedures.

May big game permit-tags be surrendered?

Yes. Hunters who have enrolled in the AZGFD’s PointGuard program may surrender a tag at any time prior to close of business the day before the hunt begins. Although the cost of the tag will not be refunded, any bonus points expended in the drawing will be reinstated and the bonus point that would have been accrued had the hunter not be drawn will be awarded.

What is “ethical hunting”?

Ethical hunting is hunting based on fairness, respect, and responsibility.

with landowners: 

- ask permission for access prior to the season before hunting on private property

- leave private property better than you found it

- return all gates to the way they were

- notify the property owner of any damage or repairs needed to fences

- drive only on existing roads approved for use

- leave livestock and other property undisturbed

with other hunters:

- follow safe firearms and bow handling practices at all times

- refrain from interfering with another hunter’s hunt or campsite

with waterholes:

- do not camp within one-quarter mile of a natural water hole containing water or an artificial watering facility containing water in such a place that wildlife or domestic stock will be denied access to the only reasonably available water

- yield to another hunter who has reached the waterhole first on any given morning or evening during the hunt

- recognize that posting a sign/notice on or near a waterhole does not give anyone the exclusive right to hunt that waterhole; the hunter actually needs to be present

- recognize that hanging a tree stand or setting a blind near a waterhole does give anyone the exclusive right to hunt that waterhole; the hunter actually needs to be present (depending on the location it may be unlawful to leave tree stands hanging or blinds set for extended periods of time; they may be considered abandoned property and thus subject to seizure)

the quarry:

- learn about the habits and habitat of the species being hunted

- select and use appropriate equipment

- strive for a quick, clean harvest

- be mindful of your effective shot range and avoid extreme distance shots and risky angles

- only take well-placed shots in vital areas of the animal

- abide by the rules of fair chase

- make every possible effort to recover the animal

What are the most common violations of Arizona’s hunting regulations?

The most common violations of Arizona’s hunting regulations are:

- hunting without a license

- hunting outside open season or outside daylight hours or with the aid of artificial light

- possessing unlawfully hunted wildlife

- shooting on, from, across, or into a maintained road or railway

- shooting within one-quarter mile of any occupied or potentially occupied residence (including barns, sheds, and cabins) without the resident’s permission

- pursuing, shooting, and/or killing an animal from a motor vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft (including a drone)

- shooting an animal with a prohibited device or in a prohibited manner (for example, it is unlawful to hunt migratory game birds with a shotgun capable of holding more than three rounds)

- improperly tagging big game

- improperly disposing of a carcass or carcass debris

- littering

What are the possible penalties for violating Arizona’s hunting regulations?

Individuals who violate Arizona’s hunting regulations may have their hunting license privileges revoked for up to 5 years (A.R.S. § 17-340). Repeat offenders may face a lifetime ban.

Civil penalties (in the form of hefty fines) may also apply (A.R.S. § 17-314).

Mandatory minimum fines include $500.00 for turkey or javelina, $1,500 for bear, mountain lion, antelope, or deer, other than trophy, $2,500 for elk or eagle, other than trophy or endangered species, and $8,000 for all trophy or endangered species.

To whom should private property vandals be reported?

Any hunter who witnesses or comes across damage to private property caused by vandalism (for example, shooting salt blocks, windmills, and water troughs, cutting fences, and removing boards from corrals to use as firewood) or livestock depredation should call the AZGFD’s 24/7 vandalism hotline, at 1 (800) VANDALS (826-3257).

To whom should poachers and other violators be reported?

Poachers and other wildlife regulation violators should be reported to the 24/7 Operation Game Thief hotline, at 1 (800) 352-0700.

The minimum reward for information that leads to an arrest for the poaching of antelope, bear, bighorn sheep, bison, deer, eagle, elk, javelina, mountain lion, turkey, or any endangered or threatened species is $500.

Sources and further reading

Arizona Administrative Code – Title 12 (“Natural Resources”) Chapter 4 (“Game and Fish Commission”): https://s3.amazonaws.com/azgfd-portal-wordpress/PortalImages/files/Agency/12-04commissionrules.pdf

Arizona Game and Fish Department – “2018-19 Arizona Hunting Regulations”: https://s3.amazonaws.com/azgfd-portal-wordpress/azgfd.wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/17101823/2018-19-AZ-Hunt-Regulations_WEB_ammended10-17.pdf

Arizona Game and Fish Department – “Hunting”: https://www.azgfd.com/Hunting

Arizona Game and Fish Department – “License”: https://www.azgfd.com/license

Arizona Game and Fish Department – “Operation Game Thief”: https://www.azgfd.com/ogt

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Title 17 – “Game and Fish”: https://www.azleg.gov/arsDetail/?title=17

This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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