Arizona: 2023 Hunting Application Details

Home to some of the most unique hunting opportunities in the United States, Arizona offers 10 big game species, all accessible through public land hunts. Unique terrain, including mountains, mesas, canyons, and deserts, helps support a healthy population of big game, and presents unique opportunities and challenges for hunters. Most Arizona hunting licenses are processed through a draw system, with the number of allocated permits adjusted annually. Application season is the first step of most Arizona hunts—keep reading for the information you need to get started.

Arizona has some of the best elk hunts in the nation, and is a must-apply-for state if a trophy bull is your long term goal. The state uses a bonus point system, but it is possible to draw a premium big game tag in Arizona with zero points if you’re lucky enough in the random portion of the drawing. There are two separate application periods in Arizona: a February deadline for elk/antelope and a separate, early June deadline for deer/sheep/bison.

Check your draw odds with TopRut

New 2023 elk/antelope or 2023 deer/sheep regs, season dates and quotas can be found on the Arizona Game & Fish website here.

Application deadlines for pronghorn antelope and elk close on 11:59 PM (Arizona time) Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, and tags for deer, bighorn sheep, and fall bison are drawn the second Tuesday in June. More detailed information on Arizona big game draws can be found below. 

Hunters may apply for tags with Arizona Game & Fish here.

Huntin’ Fool’s Arizona page is an excellent, updated resource for ongoing Arizona draw changes. 

Arizona hunting application species for 2023 - elk, deer, antelope and bighorn sheep

Arizona Draw Process FAQs

Application Dates and Deadlines: Huntin’ Fool lines out Arizona dates and deadlines.

Free for onX Elite members, Hunt Reminder’s Arizona page is also an excellent resource for timely application season reminders.

Hunting license and species costs for tags usually include:

  • Application Fee
  • Hunting License Fee to apply (usually need a qualifying license before you can apply)
  • Species Fee (This is what you pay for the animal you want to hunt. Some you pay upfront at application, some you pay for once you get the tag.)
  • Points-Only fee (fees for people just buying points and not actually applying for a hunt)
Arizona hunting application deadlines for 2023

Point System

Arizona uses a traditional bonus point system. bonus points are like raffle tickets: the more you have, the more “chances” you have in the draw. You get one chance for your current application, and then one additional chance for every bonus point you have (so with three points, you’d get four chances. If you apply for a tag and are unsuccessful, you will be awarded a bonus point for that species that will apply to next year’s application, or you can also choose to apply for a bonus point each year to accumulate bonus points.

If you apply for five consecutive years for any species, you will be awarded an additional loyalty bonus point for that species, but you will lose that if you fail to apply in a year. You can also accumulate an additional and permanent bonus point for every species if you complete an approved Hunter Education course in the state of Arizona.

onX Elite benefits

To help increase your success, we’re adding new benefits to your Elite subscription—including access to Toprut.

Tag Allocation

For every individual hunt code, 20% of the total number of tags for that hunt will be awarded to the applicants with the most bonus points (called “bonus pass”). The remaining 80% of tags for any given hunt code will be issued in the random draw (called the “half pass”).

For elk, deer and antelope up to 10% of the total number of tags can be issued to nonresidents. This 10% is not guaranteed, but most buck or bull tags have sufficient nonresident demand to trigger the full 10% allocation. Of the 10% nonresident tag pool, a maximum half (50%) of those tags may be issued in the bonus point drawing.

As an example:

Hunt Code X has 100 total tags:

  • 20% will be issued in the bonus pass: 20 tags
  • 80% will issued in the random draw (half pass): 80 tags
  • 10% of the total number of tags can be issued to nonresidents: 10 tags total
  • 50% of the total number of nonresident tags can be issued in the bonus pass: 5 tags total
  • The remaining nonresident tags will be issued in the random draw: 5 tags total
  • Of the 100 total tags, nonresidents can draw 10 (five in the bonus pass, five in the random draw)
  • Residents will draw a minimum of 90 tags (15 tags in the bonus pass, and 75 in the random draw)

Useful Links:

  • Access the onX Complete Package for Western Application Research
  • Look Up Your Arizona Preference Points Here
  • Log Into Toprut Today to Start Your 2023 Application Season
  • View Arizona Hunting Regulations Here
  • Apply Here for Your Arizona Hunting Tags
Arizona Point system for hunting

Toprut’s Top Three State Application Tips

  1. If you’re hoping to draw a tag in the random draw, on your application you generally want to put the harder to draw hunt as your first choice, and the easier to draw hunt as your second choice. If you’d actually prefer to go on the easier to draw hunt, move it to your first choice and consider choosing another easier to draw hunt as your second choice so you can maximize your overall odds to at least draw.
    TopRut Arizona elk tags
    1. You must purchase an annual hunting license ($160 for nonresidents) in order to apply, in addition to a $15 application fee per species. Once you’ve purchased the hunting license, it’s cost effective to apply for multiple species even if your primary intent is to hunt a specific species (elk, for example). Arizona has a number of late-season rifle elk hunts—in good units—that are outside of the rut but traditionally have much better draw odds.
    1. For $10 per species (or $25 for PointGuardPlus, an additional tier of PointGuard service which allows hunters to surrender their hunt permit-tag for any reason without losing their coveted bonus points) you can also purchase “Point Guard,” an insurance of sorts that allows you to give your tag back AND still keep your accumulated points in case you draw and are for any reason unable to go on the hunt.

    The Complete Service for Your Western Application Needs

    To maximize your time spent researching and applying—and to help you build your strategy to successfully draw in 2023 and beyond—we’re providing onX Hunt Elite Members with FREE services in one comprehensive package:

    Toprut: In-Depth Draw Odds and Application Tools

    Huntin’ Fool: Boots-on-the-Ground Research and Insight

    HuntReminder: Worry-Free Text and Email Reminder Service

    onX Hunt: Map Your Hunt With Application Research Layers

    73

    Jess McGlothlin

    Before taking the role of onX Communications Writer, Jess McGlothlin worked as a freelance photographer and writer in the outdoor and fly-fishing industries. While on assignment in the past few years she’s learned how to throw spears at coconuts in French Polynesia, dodge saltwater crocodiles in Cuba, stand-up paddleboard down Peruvian Amazon tributaries and eat all manner of unidentifiable food.