At the start of the 2022 OTC deer season in Arizona, Arizona Game and Fish implemented some big changes. The end of the first full deer season since those changes is here. Lets recap the first year.
After week one Monsoons and storms hit all of Arizona making the first week of the new changes wet and challenging. Ultimately only one unit closed and that was unit 1 with 45 out of the quota of 38 deer. That came no surprise to hunters as that unit has been a draw unit in the past. Plus offers some of the best deer hunting in the state.
With the season continued on and units slowly started to get shut down. We started to see the true effects of the the new quotas. 10 units hit the quota before the December season even had the chance to kick off. These were all were either any antler deer units or Mule deer units. No Couse units closed in the first half of the year. The first half of OTC season Ran from August 9th- September 8th.
As the first half of OTC seasoned closed Arizona Game and fish announced a cap on Non resident hunting licenses starting in 2023 Only 2890 permits will be available for non residents hunters starting this year and those licenses sold fast.
The second half of the season was off to races. Hunters did not seem to hold back on the deer they harvested as they were ultimately in a race to get their deer before the quota was hit and the unit was closed. They closed down another 29 units. Most of these unit closed before the rut even began through out Arizona. Hunters closed triple the amount of units, it is clear that hunters were trying to get their harvest before the unit was closed down.
Lets break the numbers down on the first year of changes. There were a total of 75 different units that you could hunt of those 75 of those 38 (50%) units closed or hit quota. 3070 deer allowed to be harvested in the 22-23 otc season. The quota was set at 1720 for coues deer and were 521 harvested. Mule deer was set at a total 570 and 504 were harvested. Any antlered deer either mule deer or coues deer there where 780 and a total of 734 were harvested. With a grand total of 1759 deer Harvested.
It will be interesting to see moving forward how OTC and archery deer hunting changes over the years in Arizona. With the trends of units hitting over the target quota I would expect AZGFD to start making more draw units for archery in Arizona. Especially with Mule deer seeming to be targeted the most through out the season. Moving forward with changes happening with non residents in the state will units shut down faster do to the fact the non residents want to harvest their deer before a unit closes. The future of the OTC season in Arizona is changing some may argue for the better some for the worse. Over the coming years I would expect non resident licenses to decrease along with the units where OTC will be available.