Unit 20C – Arizona
Overview: Unit 20C is a transitional zone between the lower desert to the west and the more mountainous terrain to the east; because of this, the unit contains a diverse array of quality javelina habitat. Javelina can be found throughout all elevations in Unit 20C from 2000 to 5500 feet. The highest javelina densities are found in the more mountainous mid elevations areas where the vegetation is a grassland and shrub mix containing prickly pear cactus. Areas adjacent to permanent water whether a stock pond or creeks are always prime locations. Hunters looking to get away from the crowds should hunt desert areas that have palo verde and prickly pear cactus near permanent water. Hunters are reminded to honor landowner requests where posted and to secure verbal or written permission to access private property. Arizona Game and Fish Department personnel have worked with many of the ranches to obtain access for hunters on private land. Problems such as vandalism, littering, harassment of livestock, and cross-country travel may cause these landowners to revoke this privilege and lock their gates. Hunters who observe these types of actions and report them to an officer help ensure private lands remain open in the future. A land status map is recommended and can by found at most map stores. Generally the western half of the unit has fewer access problems than the eastern half.
Hunter success during javelina season is weather dependent. General javelina seasons last for seven days and if a storm moves in, much of the hunt can be lost due to poor weather. Archery season, however, lasts 20 days, allowing a hunter to plan one or more trips during periods of optimum weather conditions. This is just food for thought when filling out the spring hunt applications.
Once a javelina has been harvested, care should be taken to dress and skin it as soon as possible. A common misconception is that the scent gland on a javelina’s back must be cut out. This is incorrect. The gland is contained within the skin, and simply skinning a javelina as you would any other animal will completely remove the scent gland. However, be sure not to touch a knife or fingers to the gland then touch the meat.
Areas: See mule deer areas.
Overview: Mule deer can be found in most areas throughout the unit, although densities vary significantly. The highest deer densities are associated with the Weaver, Date Creek and McCloud Mountains. The mountainous areas in unit 20C are covered with dense stands of shrub live oak and wait-a-minute bush with intermixed areas of more open desert grassland. Deer utilize both areas but hunters should focus their attention on the more open areas to increase their chances of glassing and successfully stalking deer. The unit also contains lower Mohave and Sonoran Desert. Hunters familiar with these areas are sometimes rewarded with taking larger more mature bucks than most anywhere else in the unit. While larger more mature bucks may be located in the desert areas deer densities here are the lowest in the unit. Quality deer habitat is also found in the more open areas around Hillside and Kirkland. Here, deer tend to remain near hiding cover associated with drainages leading off large rolling hills or mesas. Access can be a problem and frustrating to hunters unfamiliar with the unit. Much of the area around the Hassayampa River and Kirkland is private property. Hunters are reminded to honor landowner requests where posted and to secure verbal or written permission to access private property. Arizona Game and Fish Department personnel have worked with many of the ranches to obtain access for hunters on private land. Problems such as vandalism, littering, harassment of livestock, and cross-country travel may cause these landowners to revoke this privilege and lock their gates. Hunters who observe these types of actions and report them to an officer help ensure private lands remain open in the future. A land status map is recommended and can by found at most map stores. Generally the western half of the unit has fewer access problems than the eastern half.
Areas: Eastern Weaver Mountains (those areas east of HW 89) are accessed via the Wagoner/Crown King Road (HW 89 MP 289) then by taking the Zonia Mine Rd at the intersection where the pavement begins. Unless hunters have secured permission from private landowners there is no more access to 20C off the Wagoner/Crown King Road (paved road). Hunter using the Zonia Mine Rd need to turn right on the Whitehead Ranch Rd (unmarked) approximately ½ mile before reaching a locked gate accessing the mine. The Whitehead Ranch Rd twists its way to Sourgrass Flats where the thick chaparral vegetation opens up to grassland. Further past Sourgrass Flat, the terrain become steeper and the vegetation become thick again. The road continues for several miles before ending at another locked gate at private property. The Whitehead Ranch Road has few side roads and hunters will have to walk and glass from hilltops to locate wildlife. Hunters may also access the Weaver Mountain via the Stanton-Octave Road (HW 89 MP 269). This road runs along the base of the mountain and accesses BLM and State Trust Land. Hunters can take the Mina Rd north from Stanton and loop back to Yarnell and HW 89. Hunters will want to keep an eye out for a few illusive whitetail deer reported to inhabit the area. Past Stanton, there are numerous roads that allow access to most of the desert flats and ridges all the way to Wickenburg to the south and the Hassayampa River to the east. Hunters are reminded the Hassayampa River Wilderness Area is closed to motor vehicles and to respect private property restrictions.
The Western Weaver Mountains (those areas west of HW 89) are accessed via the Sorrells Ranch Rd (HW 89 MP 283). This is a popular area and during some hunts becomes congested with hunters. Hunters can also access the Weaver Mountains via the Date Creek Rd (HW 89 MP 269). The Date Creek Rd runs 20 miles from HW 89 to Hillside. There are several side roads leading off the Date Creek Road accessing State Trust Land closer to Hillside. At mile post 13 a two track road will cross the railroad tracks and eventually take hunters along the base of Ritter Peak towards Kirkland. At mile post 15 a two track road will take hunters to the west towards Waterman Creek. At mile post 18 another two track road to the west will take hunters to Carter Flat and beyond. It is recommended to use quads/side-by-sides or modified 4WD vehicles to access the further reaches of these side roads as they eventually become narrow, rocky and overgrown with brush. The Date Creek Rd is another popular area for hunters and may become congested during some hunts.
The mesa and rolling hills area east of Hillside can be accessed via service roads associated with or parallel to the railroad. These roads are not regularly maintained and their use should be done so at the users own risk. This road eventually dead ends just past Grandview. Do not attempt to exit through Kirkland as the access is blocked by private property. Do not use the road after heavy rains as the road becomes impassable. Hunters may also enter off HW 96 a few miles northeast (towards Kirkland) of Hillside. Arizona Game and Fish has a sign-in box and metal gate on a two track road.
The Mohave/Sonoran Desert interface associated with the lower elevations around the Santa Maria River can be accessed via the Santa Maria River Rd (HW 96 MP 11 & HW 93 MP 161). This road runs parallel to the river from HW 96 to HW 93. There are several roads that lead to the south into mountainous topography. Hunter can also access the DG Ranch off HW 93 (MP 165). Arizona Game and Fish has a sign-in box and several route designation signs. Hunters are reminded to respect private property restrictions. The route is a two track road that has several side roads accessing the western side of the mountains near the headwaters of Waterman Creek and the South Fork Santa Maria River. No roads continue through to the Date Creek Rd. Hunters can also access State Trust Lands to the south via a two track road (HW 93 MP 171). This road allows hunters to access Date Creek (no vehicle access, foot only). Again this road dead ends at the creek and does not continue through to the Date Creek Rd. The Date Creek Mountains can be access via a two track road (HW 93 MP 179). This road passes by private property before heading towards Hog Ranch Well and over the top of the mountains before ending on the north bank of Date Creek. Access across Date Creek is prohibited due to private property, respect and obey all regulatory signs to maintain current access. Closer to Wickenburg, hunters can access the Hassayampa River and desert ridges and flats south of Stanton via the Scenic Loop Road (HW 93 MP 195). This road passes through a residential neighborhood before dropping to the Hassayampa River bottom at Box Canyon. There are numerous roads that travel north towards the Stanton-Octave Rd.
Overview: 20C is combined with units 15A, 15B, 17A, 17B, 18A, 18B, 19B and 20A for archery and general hunts. 20C has relatively few elk concentrated around Kirkland and Wagoner. The elk around Kirkland can be difficult to access due to private property along Kirkland Creek. The management objective for elk in Unit 20C is to maintain a limited number of elk far below the carrying capacity to minimize conflicts on private land.
Areas: See Sorrells Ranch Rd and Wagoner/Crown King Rd in mule deer areas. Unless you are familiar with these areas pre-hunt scouting is required.
Overview: Unit 20C supports a healthy mountain lion population as do much of the central Arizona units. Lions are reclusive animals that spend most of their time in rough more remote country. By far, the most effective lion hunting method is trailing them with hounds. However, lions will respond to predator calls, and hunters using this tactic harvest many each year. As Murphy’s Law dictates, a hunter pursuing other quarry in 20C would be wise to be in possession of a mountain lion tag.
Special Note: Successful lion hunters must report their kill by contacting an Arizona Game and Fish Department office, or by telephone (1-877-438-0447), within 48 hours of taking a lion. In addition, within 10 days of taking a lion, the hunter shall present the lion’s skull, hide, and attached proof of sex for inspection. A premolar tooth will be removed during this inspection. The premolar tooth (very small) is located on the upper jaw just behind the large canine. Also, it is unlawful to harvest a spotted kitten or a female accompanied by spotted kittens.
Areas: Mountain lions can be found in most any location of the unit. Focusing on remote and the higher elevation mountainous areas will provide the best chances for success. Weaver, Date Creek and the McCloud Mountains all provide excellent opportunity for predator hunters.
Overview: Mourning dove is found along the western edge of this unit primarily in the lower desert areas. Hunters usually concentrate around the stock ponds scattered throughout these desert areas. Wetter years produce abundant annual plants that in turn produce tremendous quantities of seed that dove feed on all summer long. During these conditions desert stock ponds are excellent locations to hunt. When hunting stock ponds do not expect much activity until mid to late morning. Dove feed first thing in the morning before going to water. Often hunters will not begin seeing flights of dove until after 9 AM or even later. Remember that these stock ponds are most effective if there is feed on the desert. Also, hunters are reminded to not camp within a 1/4 mile of these stock ponds.
Areas: Typically any dirt road leaving HW 93 or HW 71 will eventually lead to a stock pond. Sometimes these spots become crowded with hunters. If that happens, knowing the location of other ponds helps, or try to determine flight paths (sometimes the drainage leading to the pond) and position yourself along the path and away from the hunters. Sometimes hunting too close to the pond creates problems with the birds falling into the water.
During years when there is an abundant feed in the desert the mid-winter hunt can be exceptional and with fewer hunters. Dove will exhibit the same pattern of going to water mid-morning. This hunt overlaps the quail hunt and offers and under utilized opportunity to hunt two bird species during cooler conditions in the desert.
Overview: Quail can be found throughout all elevations in Unit 20C from 2000 to 5500 feet. Quality bird hunting (especially in good years) is usually found at mid elevations where the vegetation is a grassland and shrub mix. Areas adjacent to permanent water whether a stock pond or creek are always prime locations. Drainages in the unit that are perennial, at least along portions of their length, include Date Creek, the Hassayampa, Waterman Creek, Cottonwood Creek, South Fork of the Santa Maria, Santa Maria and Kirkland Creek. Wet winters and residual ground cover high enough to conceal quail are key for producing good quail numbers. Hunters not familiar with a particular area should drive the roads and where they cross small washes check for quail tracks. If you see fresh tracks walk these areas. Getting out of the vehicle allows hunters to hear quail calling and if the covey is close you will hear their typical clucking. In a dry year quail frequently concentrate around water. Hunters should drive to stock ponds and walk areas within a half-mile or so of the water. Checking the edges of the pond for tracks will indicate quail use at that stock pond.
Areas: See mule deer areas for directions. The Date Creek Rd running north from Congress to Hillside is the most popular area.