The Best Mule Deer Units in Arizona

arizona strip guidesThe Best Mule Deer Units in Arizona

What are the best hunting units to apply for to be able to hunt the best trophy mule deer bucks in the state of Arizona?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions that we get every year from serious trophy mule deer hunters who are interested in applying for the highest quality trophy mule deer hunts that are available in Arizona. There are several trophy mule deer units in Arizona that consistently produce giant mule deer and have the right genetics and proper trophy management strategies in place to ensure that they always will continue to produce trophy mule deer bucks for the lucky hunters that are fortunate enough to draw a tag. Of course, there are always several giant mule deer bucks taken yearly in Central Arizona that come out of units that are not as famous for high scoring trophy mule deer but for now we will focus on the 5 Arizona mule deer units that we feel are the “best of the best” for Boone and Crockett caliber mule deer bucks on a consistent yearly basis.

Here is our list of what we currently feel are the best trophy mule deer units in Arizona.

arizona mule deer guides1st Choice – Arizona Hunt Unit 13 B: We are sure that it’s probably no surprise to anyone reading this post that Arizona Hunt Unit 13B on the Arizona Strip is our number one top pick for the absolute best trophy mule deer unit in Arizona. The Arizona Strip has a long history of producing giant trophy mule deer bucks and has one of, if not the best, trophy mule deer gene pools in the world. Arizona Hunt Unit 13A also produces absolute giants but the reason we chose 13B over 13A is that 13B seems to have slightly higher numbers of deer and is not quite so tough to hunt as hunting in unit 13A can be. While both of these units can be extremely frustrating to hunt due to the overwhelming size, remoteness of the area, and the very low densities of mule deer on the Strip, Unit 13B is generally a little more hunter friendly. Unit 13B also has a lot more quality mule deer habitat than Unit 13A does and the mule deer are more evenly distributed in greater numbers across Unit 13B versus Unit 13A.

There are two separate mule deer seasons that are offered annually in Arizona Strip Unit 13B. The first Unit 13B mule deer hunt of the year would be the early season velvet archery mule deer hunt that starts in mid august and runs until early September. We feel that this early season Unit 13B archery mule deer hunt ( with the Unit 13A archery hunt coming in at a close second choice ) is one of the best archery mule deer hunts in the world for a bowhunter to try and harvest a world class trophy mule deer buck. If your goal is to someday harvest a truly giant mule deer buck with your bow the Unit 13B archery mule deer tag is the hunt that you need to be applying for on your first choice when filling out your Arizona mule deer applications this year.

The next mule deer hunt that is offered in Arizona Strip Unit 13B is the rifle mule deer hunt that starts in early November. This rifle hunt can be a rut hunt for trophy class Arizona strip bucks depending upon the weather and the amount of precipitation that has fallen during the particular year that you happen to draw this premier rifle season Arizona Strip mule deer tag. We feel that this Arizona Strip Unit 13B rifle hunt is the premier mule deer hunt in the state of Arizona for the rifle mule deer hunter who is looking to hunt some of the largest mule deer bucks that are currently walking the face of the earth.

trophy mule deer hunts2nd Choice – Arizona Hunt Unit 13 A: Arizona Strip Unit 13A is the eastern side of the legendary Arizona Strip, along with Arizona Strip unit 13B, and this unit consistently produces some of the highest scoring mule deer bucks harvested in the state of Arizona. Arizona Strip Unit 13A can be much tougher to hunt than Arizona Strip unit 13B but the quality of the trophy mule deer bucks that can be found here is phenomenal. Arizona Strip Unit 13A also offers an early season archery mule deer hunt for trophy mule deer bucks that are in the velvet that begins in late August and runs until early September. The archery mule deer hunt in Arizona Strip Unit 13A used to be an over the counter archery mule deer hunt but it has gone to a draw tag hunt with very limited tags being available since the 2008 season. If you would like to harvest a high scoring trophy mule deer buck with your bow, the Archery mule deer hunt in Arizona Strip Unit 13A is definitely a hunt that you need to consider applying for when you are filling out your Arizona mule deer tag applications this year.

The rifle mule deer hunt that takes place in Arizona Strip Unit 13A starts a little later (Mid November) than the Arizona Strip Unit 13B rifle hunt and offers hunters who are lucky enough to draw these tags much better rut dates than the rifle mule deer hunt in Arizona Strip Unit 13B. The Arizona Strip Unit 13A rifle mule deer hunt can and does produce some giant Arizona strip bucks every year but we feel that Unit 13A should be your second choice (Unit 13B should be your first choice) when applying for your Arizona rifle mule deer hunts this year.

arizona mule deer hunts3rd Choice – Arizona Hunt Unit 12 A West: Kaibab Unit 12A West, the west side of the world famous Kaibab Plateau, is our 3rd ranking pick for the best mule deer units in Arizona. The Kaibab Plateau has produced two absolutely gigantic mule deer bucks that incredibly net score over 300 inches Boone & Crockett and Arizona is the only state to have 2 mule deer over 300 B&C net in the Boone and Crockett record books. Kaibab Unit 12A west offers hunters much higher numbers and densities of mule deer than Kaibab Unit 12A east. Unit 12A West on the Kaibab Plateau has both archery mule deer hunts and rifle mule deer hunts for 3 different hunting seasons.

The first mule deer hunt of the year that is offered in Unit 12A West is the early season Kaibab archery mule deer hunt. This early season velvet Kaibab archery mule deer hunt is not that bad of a choice for archery mule deer hunters that are wanting to harvest a good velvet mule deer buck in Arizona this year. Keep in mind though that it is usually raining during this hunt which can make sitting water sources ineffective and bucks can be difficult to locate and glass due to the thickly forested high elevation terrain that these bucks are in during this hunt. Tags for the Kaibab archery mule deer hunt are very easy to draw even for non resident mule deer hunters with zero bonus points. This Kaibab archery mule deer hunt is combined to include all of the Kaibab mule deer units which are Unit 12A West, unit 12A East, and Unit 12B. The Kaibab archery mule deer hunt also takes place in late August through early September. Unlike the Arizona Strip, which has very low densities of mule deer, there are high numbers and densities of mule deer on the Kaibab Plateau and the hunting action can be plentiful during the right conditions on the Kaibab archery mule deer hunts.

The Unit 12A west early rifle mule deer season in late October is the next mule deer hunt of the year that is offered annually in Kaibab Unit 12A West. This early rifle Kaibab mule deer hunt does produce some giant bucks occasionally but it can be a very tough Arizona mule deer hunt. Most of the trophy mule deer bucks that inhabit Unit 12A West on the Kaibab Plateau are usually found in the very thickly forested high elevation areas of the Kaibab during this hunt which makes most of the bucks extremely difficult to hunt and extremely difficult to locate. We do not recommend that hunters apply for the early season rifle hunts on the Kaibab as there are much better rifle mule deer hunting options available in Arizona.

Your best hunt choice if you are serious about taking a high scoring trophy mule deer buck out of Kaibab Unit 12A west is to apply for the late season rifle mule deer hunts in the rut in Unit 12A West which take place in late November. This trophy mule deer hunt is one of the most exciting mule deer hunts in the state of Arizona due to most of the Kaibab mule deer bucks being in the rut in the lower open country winter ranges and due to the incredible numbers of mule deer that you will see during this hunt. The trophy mule deer quality can be great as well on the Kaibab Unit 12A West late season rifle mule deer hunt. This late season Kaibab rifle mule deer hunt in Unit 12A west has the very real potential of producing 190 – 200″ B&C class trophy mule deer bucks and will give you an unforgettable rut mule deer hunting experience. Make sure that you only apply for the late season rifle mule deer hunt in the rut if you would like to hunt the highest scoring trophy mule deer bucks in Kaibab Unit 12A West this year.


arizona mule deer guides4th Choice – Arizona Hunt Unit 12 B: Unit 12B in Arizona can be a very tough and very frustrating Arizona mule deer unit to crack but it does produce giant mule deer bucks that can rival and sometimes even beat the giant trophy mule deer bucks that are harvested annually on the Arizona Strip. We feel that the best mule deer hunt to apply for if you are interested in hunting mule deer in Arizona Unit 12B is the late season rifle mule deer hunt in the rut. The late season rifle mule deer hunt in the rut that is offered in Unit 12B and Unit 12B West is definitely your best choice if your goal is to take a trophy class mule deer buck in this Arizona unit. The early season rifle mule deer hunts in Unit 12B and Unit 12B West that take place in October occasionally produce some super mule deer bucks but they can be extremely hard to come by. This is due to the fact that the mule deer herd in Unit 12B and Unit 12B West is mainly comprised of mule deer that will migrate into this unit in the late fall and winter months from the surrounding Kaibab Plateau and the Paunsaugunt Unit in Southern Utah. The population of year round resident mule deer in Unit 12B and unit 12B West is very low and hunters who have drawn tags for the early season rifle mule deer hunts in this unit should not expect to see lots of mule deer or lots of giant bucks. We do not recommend that hunters apply for the early rifle mule deer hunts in Unit 12B as there are much better rifle mule deer hunting options in Arizona. There are some giant resident mule deer bucks that reside in Unit 12B though and with a lot of hard work and a tremendous amount of pre season scouting you just might be able to locate and hunt a trophy mule deer buck on the Unit 12B early rifle mule deer hunts.

The late season rifle mule deer hunts in the rut that are offered annually in Unit 12B and Unit 12B West can be some of the most exciting rifle mule deer hunts in the state of Arizona under the right conditions. If the Kaibab Plateau and the surrounding Paunsaugunt Units receive heavy snowfall during the winter months, Unit 12B and Unit 12B West late season hunters will be treated to a very high quality mule deer hunt with lots of bucks being spotted and very good trophy mule deer potential being available. The late season rifle mule deer hunt in Unit 12B recently produced a giant mule deer buck that scored in excess of 270 Boone & Crockett points. Being surrounded by the Arizona Strip, the Kaibab Plateau, and the Paunsaugunt, ensures that Unit 12B and Unit 12B West will always have a few giant mule deer bucks available to hunt for the lucky few mule deer hunters who draw late season rifle tags here.

trophy mule deer hunts5th Choice – Arizona Hunt Unit 12 A East : Unit 12A east, the east side of the world famous Kaibab Plateau, is our 5th ranking choice for the best mule deer units in Arizona. The numbers and densities of mule deer that are found in Kaibab Unit 12A east are much lower than the west side of the Kaibab but there are a handful of truly giant mule deer bucks that are roaming this unit. Just like we previously stated for Unit 12A West, we feel that the late season rifle mule deer hunt in the rut that is offered annually in Kaibab Unit 12A east is hands down the best hunt to apply for if you are trying to harvest the highest scoring mule deer buck possible out of Unit 12A East on the Kaibab.

Yavapai Outfitters and McClendons Guide Service are very excited to announce the formation of our new Arizona mule deer outfitting company, Arizona Strip Guides LLC. Arizona Strip Guides LLC was formed by Travis McClendon and David Pereda to provide serious trophy mule deer hunters with premium quality professional guide and outfitter services for all of the trophy mule deer hunts that are available on the Arizona Strip and Kaibab Plateau. Combining forces and creating the Arizona Strip Guides Team allows us to pool together our extensive years of experience and tremendous amount of resources to offer you some of the “Best of the Best” professional guide and outfitter services for all of the trophy mule deer hunts that are offered annually on the Kaibab Plateau and Arizona Strip. We are one of your top choices in premium quality professional Arizona mule deer outfitters and Arizona mule deer guides. Contact us at any time if you would like to discuss which one of these Arizona mule deer units and hunts would best fit you in your search for the Holy Grail of trophy Big Game hunting: a giant world class mule deer buck. We guide and outfit trophy mule deer hunts in all of the above Arizona mule deer units every single year and would be glad to come up with a plan for you to obtain your very own Arizona trophy mule deer tag this year.