GILA COUNTY, ARIZONA HUNTING UNIT 24B

Species within this unit:

White-tailed Deer, Mule Deer, Javelina, Bighorn Sheep, Black Bear, Mountain Lion, Dove, Quail, Rabbits

 

Unit Boundaries

Note that the boundary for Unit 24B has changed due to the creation of new Metro Units (25M and 26M).

Beginning on U.S. Hwy 60 in Superior; northeasterly on U.S. Hwy 60 to AZ Hwy 188; northerly on AZ Hwys 188 and 288 to the Salt River; westerly along the Salt River to the Tonto National Forest boundary near Granite Reef Dam; southeasterly along the Forest boundary to Forest Route 77 (Peralta Rd.); southwesterly on Forest Route 77 (Peralta Rd) to U.S. Hwy 60; easterly on U.S. Hwy 60 to Superior.

For up-to-date information visit the Arizona Game and Fish Website.  

SPECIES BRIEF

Information Credited To The Arizona Game & Fish Department
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White-Tailed Deer

Whitetail deer may be found throughout much of Unit 24B. A general rule of thumb is that they occur in brushier habitats above 3,500 feet in the unit. However, whitetail have been showing up in the past few years at elevations of about 2,500 feet in what would usually be considered as mule deer habitat. The more typical whitetail habitat is located from the central to the eastern portion of the unit, and is comprised of chaparral, oak woodland, and conifers. Whitetail are also found on most of the mountain ranges in the western portion of the unit as well. These habitats are primarily high desert or chaparral and may also contain mule deer.

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Mule Deer

Mule deer can be found throughout much of Unit 24B in areas that are generally below 4,500 feet in elevation. Such areas tend to provide the more open habitats that mule deer prefer. Typical mule deer habitat in 24B includes desert scrub in the peripheral portions of the unit, as well as the higher desert and grassland vegetation found within the mountainous interior portions of the unit. Due to the variety of habitat types found in Unit 24B, it is common for mule deer and whitetail deer to be found in the same areas. This requires careful identification by hunters.

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Javalina

Javelina occur throughout most of Unit 24B. They can be found on the lower desert flats all the way up to the oaks and pines of the higher elevations of the unit. They are most easily hunted in the intermediate desert and grassland habitats. In these areas the terrain tends to be fairly open, and numerous ridges and canyons provide excellent glassing opportunities. The average size for javelina herds in 24B is about eight animals.

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Big Horn Sheep

Historically desert bighorn sheep occupied many of the mountain ranges around the greater Phoenix area. Most of the sheep disappeared at the turn of the century with the arrival of settlers and livestock.  A viable bighorn sheep population has been restored in the Superstition Mountains. Restoration efforts began in the early 1980’s and concluded in 2002 with the first desert bighorn sheep hunt offered in the area. Desert bighorn sheep are managed to allow for a harvest of 15-25% of the estimated Class III and IV rams each year.  Sheep are now regularly observed in the areas of Fish Creek Canyon/Horse Mesa, Canyon Lake, Superstition Mountain, Hewitt/Millsite Canyon, State Trust lands surrounding Tule and Whitlow Canyon, Coffee Flat Mountain, and the Goldfield Mountains.

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Black Bear

The upper elevations of central and eastern Unit 24B contain low to medium densities of black bears. These areas typically consist of oak or conifer woodlands mixed with chaparral, and are often located in rugged or mountainous terrain. Moist, cool canyons are a very important component for bear habitat in 24B. These provide good cover, food, and travel ways for the bears. A large part of the bear habitat is within the Superstition Wilderness. Since bear numbers tend to be low in the unit, a short hunting season and a one female harvest objective are in place. For Bear season dates refer to the current Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations for season dates, bag limits and other rules.Even at 5,000 feet or above, temperatures can still be hot in 24B.

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Mountain Lion

Unit 24B has a robust population of mountain lions since much of the unit is considered excellent mountain lion habitat. The rough canyons and ridges within the chaparral vegetation zone and upper Sonoran desert provide mountain lions all they need.  The intense heat, the ruggedness and lack of snow cover over most of the unit make it difficult to hunt using hounds, but some with good dogs can do quite well.  The majority of the total yearly harvest comes from hunters using hounds. The remainder of the yearly mountain lion harvest comes from, deer hunters who spotted a lion while on their hunt, and some hunters who were predator calling. If you do draw a deer tag or go bear hunting in Unit 24B, you would be wise to get a mountain lion tag before you head out into the field. Additionally, if you decide to hire a guide be sure to get references and talk to them about their hunting experiences in 24B or similar terrain before hiring anyone. Some guides are definitely better than others at helping you fill your lion tag.

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Dove

Since there are no agricultural areas in Unit 24B, most dove hunting in this unit takes place around desert stock tanks. This has its advantages and disadvantages as far as hunting is concerned. The obvious disadvantage is that you will not encounter the number of doves that are found in some of the agricultural areas. The advantage is you won't have to get up quite as early in the morning to hunt. Doves typically leave the roost a little before sunrise and fly out to feeding areas. After feeding, they fly to water sources before resting during the mid-day. In desert habitats, a common practice is to locate one or more stock tanks (or other water sources), and wait there for the doves to come in for a drink. Activity around these desert waters usually picks up about an hour or two after sunrise – in some locations it may be as late as two-and-a half hours after sunrise before the hunting gets good. In the afternoon, doves will again visit these water sources prior to roosting. This activity usually takes place just before sunset. Another hunting method is to locate local flyways that are used by doves during the morning or afternoon flights. Look for doves following major washes or crossing over ridgelines.

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Quail

Gambel's quail are the only species of quail that are hunted in 24B. They are found throughout the unit primarily at elevations below 5,000 feet. In the lower desert areas, look for quail along mesquite-lined washes or arroyos. Another desert plant species that indicates good quail habitat is the desert hackberry. In the mid-elevation areas of the higher desert or grasslands, cover is again important. Concentrate on hunting around drainages that have mature vegetation. Quail also occur in the higher oak or juniper portions of the unit, but the larger trees and thicker vegetation make for difficult hunting conditions.

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Cottontail Rabbits

Hunters can find cottontails just about anywhere in the unit, the deserts in the southern portion of the district will have higher densities of rabbits. The northern area of the district does have rabbits but the dense underbrush may keep the hunter from being successful. Keep in mind that the following areas are recommended areas to scout and do not guarantee success.

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