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Arizona Update: OTC Archery Deer

GUEST AUTHOR: Andrew Gillett

Beginning in 2023 AZ will transition to a harvest threshold model of OTC archery deer. This means that OTC tags will remain available but that each unit will have a set harvest quota. When that quota is reached the unit will be closed. This follows the same model that our bear and lion hunts utilize. This will require AZ to utilize mandatory reporting, something that is likely to be expanded to all species at some point. This should provide better data for the state to utilize when planning seasons, as previously only 20-30% of surveys were completed.

Additionally, the commission has directed the department to explore ways to implement a 10% cap on Non-Resident sales of OTC archery deer tags. In 2020 non-residents made up approximately 11% of the total tag sales, the highest it has ever been. This won’t reduce the tags available to NR by much but will prevent the number of NR archery hunters from continuing to skyrocket.


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  1. Been a Arizona resident since I was born here and my entire family hunts and has hunted here since the mid 1800’s – the issue is mismanagement with tags and those tag hunters shooting anything including button bucks ( I have seen it ) and encroachment in crucial areas at crucial times – they never get a break. AZGFD must fix this huge mess they created by only thinking about making money. It is not our officers doing this they are fantastic.

  2. i agree with James it so often seems to me that it is all about money. The prices keep going up and soon the average guy will not be able to afford to take his kids or grandkids out anymore. And he is also right about the mule deer population. you should have started doing more many years ago. Like pick a unit that has low numbers and close it for a year or two then move to another with low numbers. Sure there will be people upset about it but most of them are the one’s that will shoot any buck they see, some anything that moves, including does. If I see it I report it but there is just not enough inforcment out there to go around. I have watched officers pull up to Arivaca lake check one or two people at the ramp then get in their truck and drive away even before I can get up there and tell them. I know for a fact that there were several people down the bank a ways that were fishing without a lic. I know this because I see them throw their rods into the bushes when they see your truck. I know that most of the officers in the field are great and work hard but are spead to thin and that they need help from the hunters and fisherman to report thing but alot of them will not. It is to bad we can not weed out the bad ones and not give them a license or tags because they are going to mess it up for everyone. I guess everyone needs to look at themself and do the right thing even when no body is watching but I think that is just asking too much in today world.

  3. I’m a native Arizonan and long story short, Arizona has population explosion and expected to grow by another million people by 2030, mule deer populations have been declining for more than two decades, loss of habitat due to encroachment, hunting “celebrities” pimping out AZ to non residents, and a department that only cares about finding ways to make more money but never improve anything.

  4. Every deer unit in Arizona should be 3 points or better on bucks

    • 3 point or better has failed at every attempt in each state the implemented it. It did not help the population and resulted in high amount of water animals. The theory can only work on private ranches with limited pressure.

      • Correction: A high amount of wasted animals. To conclude, the states that tried it, moved away from it after a few short years.

  5. I heard this begins in 2022 for the OTC archery season, not 2023. Is 2023 confirmed?

    • Andrew Gillett

      Matt, you are correct. AZGFD has elected to incorporate this into the hunt recommendations for 2022. If those are approved by the commission on 4/15 then that will become this year’s regulation.

  6. Andrew – thanks for the information. Curious how the reporting structure would work and how I as a hunter would know how many deer have been taken in a specific day. I primarily hunt around Williams during archery season Units 8 and 10 and from what I’ve read the threshold for both units is around 50 deer total.

    • Andrew Gillett

      Matt – The way they currently handle hunts with a harvest threshold or quotas is with mandatory reporting and a telephone hotline that lists which units have reached the threshold. Once the threshold is met the unit closes the following Wednesday.

      Unit 10 has a recommended threshold of 25 deer during archery season and unit 8 has a threshold of 15 mule deer and 5 whitetail.

  7. Thanks again Andrew. I kind of hope this doesn’t happen until next year. I appreciate the details greatly!!

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