How to Prep for Deer Hunting & Elk Hunting Seasons

November 3, 2015

With the temperatures beginning to cool down, it can only mean one thing: hunting season is upon us! Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or new to the sport, there’s always something to learn. In order to fully prepare yourself for hunting season, there are a few things you’ll need to know, and do. Throughout this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to prepare yourself for the deer and elk hunting seasons.

Deer and elk are two of the most common big game species to hunt, however Arizona is home to a variety of other unique species such as bighorn sheep, mountain lion, quail, and javelina—just to name a few! For the complete species list, as well as each species’ season, visit the Arizona Game & Fish hunting regulations page.

Know When to Hunt

In Arizona, deer and elk hunting seasons are separated out by either archery-only or firearm. According to the Arizona Game & Fish “Hunting Seasons at a Glance” chart, the seasons for the 2015 year by month are as follows:

Deer Hunting Season

Archery-only: August-January

Firearm: October-December

Arizona is home to Mule deer and Coues, which is a subspecies of the more well-known white tailed deer. Mule deer are much more common and are by far the more abundant species within the Grand Canyon state. Mule deer can be spotted by their black tip tails, larger ears, and dark forehead coloring. Coues can be spotted by their white tails and white coloring around their eyes.

Elk Hunting Season

Archery-only: August, September, November

Firearm: September-November

Know Where to Hunt in Arizona

To the surprise of many non-Arizonans, our state is thriving with hunting regions. Covering all corners of the state, you can hunt from the far north all the way down to the most southern regions of the state.

Arizona is broken out into six regions:

  1. Region I—Pinetop
  2. Region II—Flagstaff
  3. Region III—Kingman
  4. Region IV—Yuma
  5. Region V—Tucson
  6. Region VI—Mesa

Each region is then broken out further into smaller units. It’s these individual units that specify which species can and cannot be hunted. It’s crucial that you view the complete list of regions and units to know what you can and cannot hunt based on your location.

Know What You Need

1. Weapon & Ammunition

  • You won’t be able to do much hunting if you don’t have the right weapon and ammunition. In Arizona, choose between firearm and archery, and be sure to look at the season schedule above as the dates may change depending on the weapon you use.
  • We understand it can be a bit overwhelming when searching for the perfect hunting weapon, which is why we recommend coming in to any of our Shoppers Supply locations to talk with our staff. We’ll happily help you pick out the perfect rifle to meet your specific hunting needs.

2. License & Permit Tag

  • A hunting license is required in the state of Arizona—it’s illegal (not to mention dangerous!) to hunt without one. Learn more about the licenses available to resident and non-resident hunters.
  • Next you need the proper permit-tag(s). Every year, a hunt draw occurs in which all the hunters apply and a lottery type “draw” takes place. This is where you receive your permit-tag(s). Unfortunately, there are often more hunters than there are tags available, so submit your application early and keep your fingers crossed! By now, the fall 2015 and spring 2016 draws have both come and gone. Learn more about the big game hunt draw here.

3. Appropriate Hunting Clothing

  • Hunter orange when hunting deer
  • Camouflage when hunting elk
  • Proper hunting boots
  • Hat to block the sun from your eyes and offer additional protection and warmth
  • Hunting gloves that allow for dexterity, yet help keep you warm
  • Water and/or windproof clothing, depending on the weather forecast

Pro tip: wash your hunting clothes and gear in scent free detergent to avoid scaring off animals.

4. Gear

  • Optics
  • Flashlight, lighter/matches
  • Cellphone and compass
  • Snacks & water—think energy bars and trail mix. Foods that won’t take up a lot of space, but will provide you with the energy you need to keep going!
  • Rope—you never know what a day of hunting may have in store; it’s always best to be over-prepared as opposed to the alternative. A good rope can come in handy in a variety of unexpected situations you may find yourself in.
  • Hunting knife

5. Patience

  • Hunting is all about patience and perseverance. You can have the best gear in the world, but without patience and perseverance, you may find yourself coming home empty handed.

What to Know About Baiting

Baiting is a common tactic used amongst hunters in a variety of states, however here in Arizona, there are laws in place that prohibit hunters from the act of certain baiting. According to the State of Arizona, bait is defined as “any food-stuff or ingestible material that has been deposited, scattered, piled, or delivered by a passive or active feeder or feed delivery system so as to constitute an attractant, lure or enticement to wildlife and to influence the movement of these animals for the purpose of harvest by hunters.”

Please note that according to the State of Arizona, bait does not include items such as water, salt supplements, decoys, scent lures, non-ingestible attractants, or food plots that are placed in an accepted agricultural guideline. Before you go out on your hunt, make sure to read up on the state’s proposed baiting prohibition.

Start Preparing

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to start prepping so that you’re ready for the deer hunting and elk hunting season!

Here’s a quick recap:

First you need to decide what type of hunting you’ll be doing—firearm or archery? Next, you need to get the proper license. You won’t be doing any hunting this season if you don’t get it. And once you’ve secured your license, you’ll need your permit-tag(s) as well.

Once these items are checked off your list, the next step is to decide where you want to hunt. This may affect what you bring along with you while hunting. Different regions come with different terrain and weather. Choose where you’ll be hunting first, and then make sure to get all of the proper gear needed for a safe and enjoyable hunting season. We’ve listed some of the necessities above, but this is by no means a complete checklist.

If you are totally new to the sport, read through our Hunting 101 article, and stop by our locations in Chandler or Apache Junction to talk with our staff. They can help you dig deeper into the nitty gritty details to ensure a successful hunting season!