Unit 13B – Arizona
Overview: Pronghorn generally occupy short grass plant communities in Lower Hurricane Valley, Upper Hurricane Valley, and Mainstreet Valley in the eastern portions of unit 13B. Diamond Butte is a prominent landmark that sits about in the middle of the areas occupied by Pronghorn in 13B.
Unit 13B has had several transplants of pronghorn to augment the current population. The first sport hunt was offered in 1989 and has continued with a low number of permits being offered. Quality bucks have been harvested in unit 13B for many years. Aggressive management will help ensure that this small population will continue to grow, and produce quality animals.
Recent data indicates the pronghorn population to be approximately 100-125 animals. In the mid 2000’s permit levels were raised in this unit because of the very high buck:doe ratio compared to statewide guidelines. That buck:doe ratio has now come into guidelines, and permit levels have been reduced since the 2012 season.
Hunting antelope in 13B is a unique experience. The habitat is rolling and rocky, with many shallow canyons for the antelope to hide. In fact antelope have often been observed entering these canyons mid morning to bed for the rest of the day. Hunters should not expect a Wyoming hunting experience where a large herd is observed and a buck is singled out for an attempted stalk/harvest. Hiking the ridges between valleys and glassing is a very effective method. Pre scout to locate areas of isolated monsoonal storms that will have the earliest green up in September.
There are few access issues in this unit, as over 90% of the lands are federally or state owned. Some of the antelope habitat near Bundyville along the Mainstreet Road is private land and hunters should always seek permission to hunt there, even if not posted.
The area is one of the most unpopulated in Arizona, and hunters should be prepared to camp in remote areas with no services available. Bring shelter and plenty of food, water, extra fuel, and extra spare tires. The closest full service community to the unit is St. George, Utah, approximately 50 miles from the central portion of the unit.
Areas: The antelope habitat in 13B is centralized in the unit north and south of Diamond Butte. The Lower Hurricane Valley, Salaratus Hills, West Mesa, Dutchman Draw, the Grandstand area, Rock Crossing, Higley Pond, lowland areas north and south of Diamond Butte, Upper Hurricane Valley, Cinder Knoll, Poverty Knoll, Red pond, and Little Hurricane Rim all hold antelope.
The rolling sage hills west of the Atkins Ranch have antelope. These are complex low-rolling hills with grass bottoms and sage/cliffrose dominated tops. This is a difficult area to hunt because of the lack of a good vantage point.
If you are not finding antelope in the “flats”, look into the side canyons, and rocky faces. Keep your eyes on the trees in areas such as the Little Hurricane Rim and the Poverty Knoll area, and think outside the box of traditional antelope behavior to locate the biggest bucks.
Bighorn Sheep 13BN – Virgin River Gorge/Virgin Mountains
Unit 13B North includes desert bighorn populations in the Virgin Mountains and the Beaver Dam Mountains, with the majority of the population in the Virgin River Gorge area. Although most of the area occupied by bighorn is wilderness, the access to hunting and spotting areas is good.
13BN has become increasingly popular in recent years with the harvest of some very high quality rams. Hunters seem to be able to find a ram to harvest in a relatively short period of time. Average day/harvest over the past 10 years has been ~7 days.
With the majority of the population in the Virgin River Gorge area, some areas are under-hunted, and do hold some high quality rams. For example bighorn do occupy the tree lines from Sullivan’s Canyon south to Hedrick’s Canyon. The steepness and remoteness of this terrain makes it very difficult to hunt, but high quality rams are found here.
From 2005-2007, the AZGFD completed 3 bighorn captures in 13BN to provide bighorn to 13A, and the Hells Half Acre area in 18B. These operations focused on lambs and ewes, with a small number of young rams removed from 13BN. While these efforts certainly have reduced the overall population in 13BN, the availability of quality rams for harvest has not been affected, and the population still appears strong.
Areas for 13B North: The entire Virgin River Gorge along I 15 contains bighorn. The BLM campground and Cedar Pockets road are good locations to spot bighorn from. There are some pull offs along I-15 that can be used for glassing as well.
Focus attention on the tops of plateaus around Sullivan’s and Mountain Sheep Canyons, as well as the low lying areas below those plateaus. The Beaver Dam Mountains and the areas between the UT state Line, and I-15 also hold good numbers of Bighorn. There are some access points coming out of Bloomington UT that will allow hunters to glass this area from above.
Don’t forget about the Grey Points, and Purgatory Canyon. Access is good to these points from the Low Mountain Road. Glassing from the radio tower overlooking the gorge is very effective. Keep in mind you cannot glass this entire area from one point.
Bighorn Sheep 13BS – Grand Wash Cliffs
The 13BS bighorn population is a very low density population, dispersed over a very large area. The unit is extremely remote and because of the low densities much of it remains underutilized by bighorn. Hunters must be prepared for difficult strenuous hiking and be willing to cover a lot of ground to locate a bighorn to harvest.
Because of the remoteness of the unit, an extra 15 days was added to this hunt in 2010.
In 2010, 1 out of 2 hunters was successful harvesting a ram that scored approximately 153”. The ability to harvest a ram in this unit appears to be tied to the ability of hunters to access the interior of the Grand Wash Cliffs and associated habitats, and not to a biological limitation. Hunters should attempt to spend considerable time on the interior of the Grand Wash Cliffs as most of the Bighorn are not found on the faces overlooking the Pakoon basin. In addition, the cockscombs along Lake Mead and near Pakoon springs do hold bighorn.
GPS, pack animals, spike camps, overnight backpacking, etc. are all hunting tools and techniques that will help hunters be successful in this unit. The hiking is also very strenuous and hunters may consider a conditioning program prior to the hunt
Access to the 13B South population is difficult. The easiest access is from the Mesquite, Nevada area to Whitney Pockets and through the Pakoon basin. This is approximately a 70+ mile trip. This route allows hunters to access the bottom of the Grand Wash Cliffs and the Lake Mead Area.
To access the unit from the top of the cliffs, travel out of St. George, UT to Pigeon Canyon and go west. This will allow you to hunt the unit from the “top” glassing down into much of the habitat. This is approximately a 90+ mile trip from St. George, UT. Be advised however that winter weather could impact access from the top of the cliffs and impact your overall hunt.
Regardless of the route to take into the unit, this is a very remote area and hunters should bring shelter and plenty of food, fuel, and spare tires.
Areas for 13B South: The Grand Wash Cliffs from Cave Canyon south to the Grand Canyon National Park boundary. Tank Canyon, Squaw Canyon, Pigeon Canyon and Snap Canyon are areas where bighorn are frequently observed. Nevershine, a prominent butte below Snap Canyon, provides a good glassing point, and also tends to contain bighorn.
The ridges and hills around Grand Wash Bay (known as the cockscomb), Lake Mead also hold Bighorn, as does the cockscomb near Pakoon Springs.
Notice: Archery deer hunters – Unit 13B is not an open area for over-the-counter tag holders as of April, 2008. To hunt Unit 13B you must now obtain a permit-tag through the big game draw process. Click here for more details.
Unit 13B, heralded as the “Arizona Strip”, is famous for producing large antlered “trophy” class mule deer bucks. The mule deer population is managed under alternative management guidelines which focus on the harvest of older age class, mature bucks. Mule deer exist at low densities throughout the unit in all habitat types and good numbers of deer can typically be found in the higher elevations, generally over 4,000 feet.
Demand for permits is high for both the archery and rifle hunts in 13B, and the odds of drawing a tag are increasingly difficult. Increased popularity, a quality hunting experience, and consistent trophy class harvest year after year will continue to make rifle draw odds less than 2% in this unit. Those lucky enough to draw a permit/tag enjoy a general hunt success of nearly 70%, and typically harvest deer with antler spreads averaging 28 inches.
Current population structure, and the fact that we have been able to meet or exceed current guidelines for several years makes an archery hunt in 13B a unique and appropriate opportunity. A permitted structure will allow the Game and Fish Department to better manage this type of hunt with the general deer hunt, and allow us to continue to meet alternative mule deer management guidelines.
The archery hunt does occur earlier in the year – during the monsoon – and if the rain patterns are consistent the deer will likely be dispersed. If this is the case a spot and stalk approach may be effective. If it is dry – which it could very well be – scouting water holes will likely be productive. Keep in mind this unit is over 90% public land and no reservation exists for a water hole or hunting area. Be courteous and remember this is the chance of a lifetime. You could be stuck in an office somewhere but instead get the chance to hunt the Arizona Strip. Let’s respect our heritage.
Regarding specific areas for the Archery hunt, those listed below for the rifle hunt apply. The unit is very large and tends to be year round habitat in most of it. Black Rock, Mt. Dellenbaugh, and Whitmore point tend to have the higher densities of deer. One advantage for the archery hunters is that a buck scouted in July will likely be in the general area in August during the hunt.
Regardless if you will be hunting with a bow or a rifle in the unit, keep in mind there are few access issues in this unit; over 90% of the lands are federally or state owned. The area is one of the most unpopulated in Arizona, and hunters should be prepared to camp in remote areas with no services available. Bring shelter and plenty of food, water, extra fuel, and extra spare tires. The closest full service communities to the unit are Mesquite, Nevada and St. George, Utah, both on Interstate 15.
Weather in the unit during the general deer hunt is unpredictable; it can be anything from relatively warm and dry to snowing. All hunters, archery or general, should be prepared for inclement weather. Many of the roads in the unit become extremely muddy if wet, and can only be negotiated with 4WD vehicles.
Scouting the unit prior to hunting is highly recommended. The vastness of this unit often makes this a daunting task and hunters can feel overwhelmed. Try a systematic approach starting in the southern portions of the unit, and working your way north. General hunters remember, the deer you find in September may not be where you find them in November, especially if it snows. In addition, one glassing spot will not give you a bird’s eye view of the unit. You need to stay mobile during the hunt; willing to move around to new areas if the area you are in isn’t producing. Below are some areas to look:
Black rock Mountain/Low Mountain
Wolf Hole Mountain
Wolf Hole Valley
Twist Hills/Salaratus Hills
Poverty Knoll/Poverty Mountain
Little Hurricane Rim
Hidden Hills/ Hidden Lake
Grand Gulch Bench
Upper Snap Canyon
Mt Dellenbaugh and associated habitat treatments in the area
Be aware of burn out in this unit. It is not uncommon to go many days without seeing deer, and it is easy to get discouraged. Finally, don’t try and hunt the entire unit. Pick 5 or so core areas you like and stick with them. The 30” Strip mule deer may not show himself for many days.
Notice: The hunting season is now a limited weapon-shotgun shooting shot season only.
Overview: Unit 13B has two separate populations of turkeys, both the result of transplants by the AGFD. The populations are present in the Mount Dellenbaugh area in 13BS, and the Black Rock Mountain area in 13BN. They are managed separately with hunt seasons proposed on a yearly basis based on population structure.
13BS – Merriam’s Turkey
Merriam’s Turkeys in 13B South occupy Ponderosa pine stringer habitat in the Mount Dellenbaugh area. Bird densities have rebounded in recent years after suffering a decline during the 2001-2002 drought. There is no fall hunt in 13BS.
The Mt. Dellenbaugh area is very remote, with the nearest full service community being St. George, Utah which is approximately 80 miles away via dirt roads. Hunters should be prepared to bring shelter and plenty of water, fuel, and spare tires when participating in this hunt. Roads in the turkey areas get extremely muddy and slippery when wet and are only negotiated by 4WD vehicles.
There is a small parcel of private land located in this unit and hunters should always seek permission to hunt here.
13BS Areas: All ponderosa pine stringer habitats in the vicinity of Mt. Dellenbaugh area. Includes Oak Grove, Lake Flat, Twin Points road, Snap Point Road, Kelly Lake, Kelly Point road, and Horse Valley.
13BN – Rio Grande Turkeys
In January 2008 the Game and Fish Department translocated Rio Grande turkeys to the Black Rock Mountain area. This effort continued in 2009. The turkeys came from a UT source population that was occupying very similar habitat and this was the first time Rio Grandes have been used for translocation in AZ. Monitoring data indicates that the turkeys have responded positively to their new home. The Game and Fish Department will continue to monitor this population and implement supplemental releases if the need arises.
Black Rock Mountain, Black Rock Spring, and associated Ponderosa Pine habitat as well as the surrounding pinyon-juniper habitat are the core areas of turkey habitat. Hunters should locate water holes and roost sites in these areas to be effective in harvesting a turkey.
There is a small parcel of private land located in this unit at Larson Tank and Black Rock Spring. Hunters should always seek permission to hunt here.
Overview: Unit 13B supports a limited Gambel’s quail population in the low desert areas, especially in the Mojave desert scrub plant communities. Quail populations in this unit are much more variable than those found further south in Arizona. Generally quail are associated with water sources in the hot desert environment and this is where hunters should begin their efforts to locate them. The populations are very dependent on the timing and the amounts of precipitation, especially winter precipitation.
In recent years, wildfires have impacted quail habitat in the Mohave Desert. Long term effects remain to be seen.
Areas: Pakoon Basin from Mud Mountain south to Lake Mead.
Western slope of the Beaver Dam and Virgin Mountains.
Areas just south St. George in Arizona.
In recent years, feral pigs have been sighted near Mud Mountain and Black Rock Mountain. Very little is known about the numbers, habitat use and behavior of these animals, but it appears they are transitory between Mud Mountain and Black Rock spending much of the summer months on Black Rock and winter months near Mud Mountain. They appear to be closely tied to water sources in these areas, and track sign is common.
You are encouraged to attempt to harvest a feral pig in 13B. Keep in mind that hunters who have tried to harvest a feral pig have had mixed results because of the limited number of animals and a quick weekend trip to hunt feral pigs may not be successful.
If you choose to hunt these animals please keep the following in mind:
No hunting license is required to hunt these animals.
Harvest of sows is encouraged to limit population growth and adverse impacts to turkey populations (nest predation = no poult production) and wildlife habitat.
This population is feral and is not actively managed by the Game and Fish Department.
A packet is available through the Arizona Strip BLM office related to feral pig hunting. This packet can be received by calling 435-688-3200.
Off-road travel restrictions, wilderness access, and other public land use restrictions remain in effect. Please contact the Arizona Strip BLM @ 435-688-3200 for information about off-road travel. In essence off-road travel is not allowed in any area of the Arizona Strip.