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  • Dillon Currie

Arizona Archery Deer: OTC Hunts

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

Grab your bow and lets go hunt! Arizona's reputation is that of hard to draw tags and legendary animals. That is not all the state has to offer, however. Archery deer hunting in much of the state does not require you to draw a tag in our annual lottery system. Tags are available Over-The-Counter. No need to wait years or even decades, if you want to chase deer with archery tackle. Another added bonus of the OTC deer hunts is that they do not effect your Bonus Points if you have been applying for the draws. This means that while you wait for that primo rifle hunt and build up BPs you can still have a deer tag in your pocket every season.

Glassing for Arizona Bears

Arizona offer three separate and broad archery deer seasons throughout the year. Seasons occur in mid-August to mid-September, early December to the end of the year, and from New Year's day to the end of January. The early season hunts take place when bucks are in their summer patterns and still in full velvet. December hunts typically mean much cooler and more pleasant conditions corresponding to pre-rut and early rut activity. The January season encompasses the peak of rutting activity for both Coues Whitetail Deer and Mule Deer.

Arizona Black Bear

The August and September archery only deer hunting season occurs during late summer a period of time often marked with hot weather, high humidity, and afternoon thunderstorms from the seasonal monsoon rains of the southwest. During this early hunt both mule deer and coues whitetail are in full velvet throughout the state. Sitting water is often a productive hunting method during dry periods to target velvet clad bucks. In open country spot-and-stalk methods are often employed.

Archery deer seasons kick off again in early December. By this time bucks have long shed their velvet. Late season behavior often begins to transition into pre-rut behavior during this hunt as bucks begin their transformations. Necks begin to swell and testosterone level increase as bucks become increasingly active in the colder weather while checking does. Often times rut activity is spotty or inconsistent until the final days of the year.

The December season rolls right over into the new year. January requires a new tag but a seamless transition between hunts as the rut generally intensifies. Coues whitetail and mule deer throughout the state tend to rut heavily in the middle parts of the month. This can vary year to year and location to location as rut activity my continue long after the end of the month and the conclusion of the hunting season. Cold winter nights and short days make for nearly day long deer activity during this time.

Archery deer hunts are the perfect opportunity to see the vast and variable landscapes deer call home in Arizona. The abundance of life within our Sonoran desert habitats and surrounding mountains becomes very apparent to even the most casual of hunter. Whether you like sitting in a ground blind in ambush over minerals, waiting patiently at a secluded watering hole, or have the stealth and intuition to spot-and-stalk deer with a bow in rocky and brushy terrain Arizona has it all.

Opuntia Engelmannii

OTC Archery seasons open the doors for more opportunity to hunt in our state without the need to draw tags. For the experienced archer or the newbie success is always more likely when you're actively chasing deer not simply waiting to draw a tag. With any archery hunt success rates are drastically lower than firearms seasons. This is the primary justification for the ease of obtaining tags. Opportunity rates, especially for competent hunters can still be very respectable making these hunts well worth the time and effort for the dedicated archer.

Information on our fully outfitted and guide only Mule Deer or Coues Whitetail hunts can be found on our species pages and on our OTC deer hunts page. Contact us directly at or (623) 606-3364

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