New to AZ, Really New to Archery!
Just moved to Arizona last year and I am really getting fired up about hunting again (lived in TX for several years and it was real tough to find land and/or funds to hunt, I am originally from western Colorado and quite used to great swaths of public land to run around on so AZ is a little more what I am used to).
I am trying archery out for the first time this year and over the last few months I have been scouting in units 21 and 4A/B. I am primarily after deer and javelina. I can see they are likely going to be a little crowded opening weekend but there plenty of nooks and crannies to stalk and get away from it all.
Anyone have any experience/thoughts with these units? Any neighboring or nearby units you would suggest instead?
Thanks in advance for any advice!
If you're located in San Tan Valley also check out units 37B, 33 and 24B. They are closer to you then 21. Don't get me wrong unit 21 can be a fun unit and a rewarding unit. You'll notice that for Javelina the tags allocated are rather high for unit 37B. I have seen a decline in numbers in that unit, but mostly where I hunt them. Other hunters have reported good numbers. Deer is marginal and can be tough in 33/37B.
If you want to get out of the heat in Aug then units 4A/4B are good choices. You will run into a bunch of hunters opening weekend. Most head high to get out of the heat.
The key is water. You don't have to sit a water hole, but definatly hunt around them.
For a first timer.... How I would rank them..... 24B, 21, 37B / Deer & Javelina. For just Javelina 24B, 21, 37B, 33. For just Deer 24B, 21, 4A/4B, 33...
Good luck and have fun!
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Wow! Thank you so much UB! That gives me some more homework (the fun kind though!).
On the water note; when I have been out scouting, I do check out the canyons/washes and see if there is still standing water and then of course look for tracks. However, I know a lot of guys out there actually hunt stock tanks or more established/permanent bodies of water.
Have you found that the deer and javelina utilize the more ephemeral pools in the dry washes? I am trying to keep track of how long that water sticks around and how much rain is need to replenish them but just can't get out frequently enough to get a good handle on the dynamics (and of course we haven't had much rain recently either).
What are your thoughts/experiences with the more "opportunistic" water holes?
For Javelina most of the water comes from what they eat. I have seen them come to stock tanks, water catches, springs and seeps but not on a routine basis (like everyday). But this observation has been mostly Dec/Jan/Feb and a little in Sept. Because those are the months I scout for Javelina. When you find Javelina scouting just sit back and watch their travel path. You will learn a lot.
Deer...... good luck..... They will stick to a known water source so long as they don't feel threatened or if it is not breeding season.
If threatened they move on. Unless that is the only water source for miles. Yes, most hunters try sitting stock tanks and it can produce. It can also cause confrontation or stolen/vandalized equipment (camera's, blinds and treestands). Rule of thumb.... if you think you found a water source that no one else knows about, think again and consider 100+ know about it. I have found camera's in the most remote areas that were focused on a seeps that I swore no one knew about. Deer in the summer months need to drink at least once a day sometimes twice. They'll use ephemeral water sources when they find them. That is why when driving the roads up north you will always see deer or elk tracks in the road puddles. So if you find a water pool in the rocks of a wash and there are tracks I would sit high and glass around to see what is using it.
During the breeding season we have seen bucks come into an area that never showed up months prior. After the breeding season they vanished. In unit 33 this past Dec we glassed up an easy 30" Mulie that we didn't see from Nov until last week of Dec. I say easy because if the average width from ear to ear on a low country mulie is 20" he had minimum of 6+" past the ears on each side. I can never remember if low country mulies average 18"-22" and Kiabab are 22"-26" ear 2 ear..... other more experienced guides and trophy hunters can comment.
Hmmm. OK. That all makes a lot of sense UB. This transition to archery hunting has really changed the way I am thinking about approaching the season and the devil is in these little details.
I really appreciate you taking the time to give a noob some sage advice; especially the part about the waterholes. I have found two good potentials up in the New River area off road 41 (no water in them now of course but it didn't disappear long ago as of May '14, still green algae attached to the rocks, and they were full in Dec '13 and Jan '14). I would swear not many would have braved the hike back there but yeah, I am probably being mighty optimistic on that one. You have provided me with a good reality check (not a bad thing!) and also some things I need to be more aware of such as the existence of trail cams and as you as you mentioned on those bucks up in 33, sometimes they just show up and sometimes they just don't but you gotta' be out there glassing.
I am going to keep reading and scounting, and I will certainly be checking out some of those other gmu's you suggested; never hurts to have plan A,B,C, D, etc... I really liked how you ranked them, that was awesome.
I don't know what kind of contribution I will be able to make but anything I find out during my scouting ventures and research that might help you as well, I am going to gladly share!