Arizona’s big game draw has two separate application periods. The first, for Elk and Pronghorn, opens in mid-January and ends in mid-February. The second application period is for Deer (Mule and Coues/Whitetail), Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Desert Bighorn Sheep, and Bison. This period opens later in the spring — typically mid-May — and ends in mid-June.
Exact dates will be added to DrawScout’s Application Planner as they are made available each year.
Hybrid Bonus Point and Random Draw
Arizona has an interesting hybrid draw system. It has some similarities to Wyoming’s tag draw and Utah’s big game draw in that it both rewards point holders and has a random draw component. It’s also similar to New Mexico’s random draw in that Arizona considers multiple hunt choices before moving on to the next applicant. Arizona has its own quirks that make it a bit of a complicated system.
The draw has three “passes,” each with different rules. In the first pass, a portion of tags are awarded strictly to the highest bonus point holders. In the second pass, the remaining tags are awarded at random. However, unlike Wyoming’s random draw, bonus points still increase your odds of being drawn in this random draw. Everyone has a chance, but there’s still an advantage to being a point holder.
The first two passes in the draw will consider each applicant’s first and second choices. There’s also a third pass for any leftover tags. In this pass, the remaining 3rd, 4th, and 5th choices will be considered. Keep in mind, though, any successful choice will purge all of your points.
Purchasing Points in Arizona
Unsuccessful applicants are awarded a species point after the draw. Applicants can also choose to not enter the draw and only purchase a point for a species. Because of the random component of Arizona’s draw, it makes sense to apply every year, unless you know you wouldn’t be able to make a given hunt.
PointGuard is essentially insurance for your application. Arizona’s complex draw and tendency to change hunt codes (more on that later) can lead to some problematic “successful” draws. PointGuard allows applicants to return a tag and have points restored. It must be purchased at the time of applying and it can only be used once per species in a hunter’s lifetime.
Hunter Ed and Loyalty Bonus Points
Arizona also offers a couple of unique ways to earn extra points. Hunters who apply for a species 5 years in a row are awarded a loyalty point for that species. If you miss a year of applying, the loyalty point is purged. Additionally, hunters can complete the Arizona Hunter’s Education program and receive a permanent bonus point.
Arizona’s draw results for Elk and Pronghorn are typically available in mid-March. Deer, Sheep, and Bison results are available in early July.
Costs for Applying in Arizona
Arizona charges a $15 application fee ($13 for residents). In addition, hunters must have an active hunting license when applying. A quirk of the required Arizona hunting license is that it is valid for 365 days. This means that if you only apply during one of Arizona’s two application periods, you could stretch a single hunting license out over two application periods.
The PointGuard fee of $5/species is an optional add-on.
Hunters are not required to front the cost of tags they are applying for. It’s important to keep your credit card up-to-date, however. If your credit card is declined at the time of a successful draw, your application will be skipped.
Arizona uses hunt codes for its applications. These hunt codes have a tendency to change periodically. DrawScout updates hunt code recommendations yearly but always check with Arizona Game & Fish before applying — even if it’s the same hunt you applied for last year! We recommend making this a practice for all states you apply in.
Leftover and Over-the-counter Options
Arizona has first-come leftover elk and pronghorn tags available in mid to late March. Additionally, there are OTC deer tags made available each December (for the following year).
Plan Your Applications in DrawScout
DrawScout makes keeping multiple states’ application periods, costs, and season dates straight. Check out this article to learn more about our toolset: