Fall hunting seasons in full swing

Arizona has long been known as a sportsman’s paradise and here is why.

The state is home to a plethora of both big game and small game, along with predators.

Currently there are a number of animals that sportsmen can hunt.

Quail season is open, as is waterfowl including ducks and geese. Waterfowl hunters need an Arizona Hunting Information Program (HIP) stamp, plus a federal duck stamp.

Limit on ducks is seven, and successful hunters must leave a feathered wing on their birds until the hunters reach home.

Small game hunters can hunt squirrels, cottontail rabbits and jack rabbits. Other species that can be hunted include crows (not ravens, which are federally protected) chukars and blue grouse.

Predators are also in season and they include coyotes, foxes, bobcats and even the funny critter called a coati mundi, which is found in the southern part of the state.

There is a season on prairie dogs and currently they can still be hunted, but hunters that seek these critters on the Boquillas Ranch, are advised they must have a valid permit to hunt on this 750,000-acre ranch.

Bear season is also open, but hunters must call the Arizona Game and Fish Department to ascertain what units are open. There are restrictions on the taking of female bears, and females with cubs are not legal to take.

Mountain lion season is also open throughout the state, and hunters must have an Arizona hunting license and tag to hunt these rarely seen big game animals.

The most popular big game animal in Arizona is deer. Arizona has two species of deer, the Coues whitetail and Rocky Mountain mule deer.

Tags are required to take deer and in northwest Arizona the general rifle hunts will start Friday in units 10, 16A, 17A & B, 18A and 18B.

Deer hunters are being asked by the department to bring in the head of any deer taken this fall.

The department will take samples of these deer and the information gathered will be used to determine if our deer herds have Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Deer can be taken to any regional office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Saturday and Sunday and holidays.

In 2016 the department checked in 1,200 deer from all over the state, and none were found to be infected with CWD.

Hunters are reminded that if you hunt in Arizona, you are required to possess a valid hunting license.

Hunters are also required to know the law, and the old adage of “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” is always applicable.

Fall is a great time to be in the great outdoors in Arizona. But it is everyone’s responsibility to know and obey the game laws.

Game laws are passed to protect not only the resource, but hunters, anglers, landowners and private citizens as well.

It is strongly suggested that hunters should take a hunter education class before going into the field.

Classes are held periodically throughout the year and to sign up for a class, go to the AZGFD website at www.azgfd.com

Go to the bottom of the page and click on hunter education.

There will be classroom and field day only classes listed, along with the dates of the classes and where they are going to be held.

Hunters who take and pass the class are awarded a permanent bonus point for all of Arizona’s big game.