Hunting in Arizona: Permits and Draws

Hunting Season in Arizona
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Arizona is a popular place for hunting bighorn sheep, bison, deer, mountain lions, and more, but you must first obtain the proper license for it. There are also open season dates to adhere to, age restrictions, and designated spaces, so—resident or not—hunters should read up on Arizona's laws before firing their rifles.

Who Needs a Hunting License?

Everyone who intends to hunt in this southwestern state is required to carry a license, but Arizona citizens have different licenses than nonresidents. A resident is defined by the Arizona Game and Fish Department as someone who has lived in the state for at least six months before applying for the license. A nonresident may apply for a license that is valid only for small game and nongame birds (except ducks, geese, and swans). Note that there are exceptions for military stationed in Arizona.

Children under the age of 10 are permitted to hunt without a license if they are accompanied by an adult, but not to take big game. Children between the ages of 10 and 14 may only take big game after completing a Hunter Education Course.

How to Buy a Hunting or Fishing License

Hunting and fishing licenses may be purchased online from the Arizona Game and Fish Department or at approved retailers—including Walmart, some grocery stores, sporting goods stores, and tackle shops—across the state. 

How to Apply for a Hunt

A general hunting license will typically suffice for hunting small game (not including migratory and waterfowl species), but hunters must apply for a drawing of permit-tags to hunt big game, which includes antelope, black bear, bison, bighorn sheep, elk, javelina, turkeys, mountain lions, mule deer, and white-tailed deer. The application form is available online or at any place that issues licenses. Hunters may only submit one application per genus of wildlife in a calendar year and each genus must be submitted on a separate application.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department conducts three separate application and draw cycles for big game hunt permit-tags in February, June, and October, depending on the genus. If you're not successful in the draw—which you can find out by calling the Arizona Game and Fish Department or searching your Department ID Number online—your money will be refunded.

When and Where to Hunt

While open season dates depend on the game and can be found in the annual regulations handbook, the general rule is to only shoot during daylight hours. Hunting wildlife by moonlight or artificial light is illegal, with exceptions made for raccoons, reptiles, and a few other mammals.

Lands owned by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Arizona State Land Department are generally free to hunt on, but each entity has its own rules and regulations.

What Are Some Common Violations?

Penalties for hunting violations may include license revocation and up to thousands of dollars in fines.

  • Taking wildlife without a license
  • Taking wildlife during closed season, after legal hours, or using artificial light
  • Exceeding the bag or possession limits
  • Taking wildlife that may not be hunted
  • Improper tagging of big game
  • Hunting from a vehicle
  • Lying about being an Arizona resident
  • Using a prohibited device
  • Shooting too close to a residence or building
  • Littering
  • Shooting across a road
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