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Game Management Unit 8

 
Additional Hunting Unit Report pages
- Region I - Pinetop
- Region IV - Yuma
- Region II - Flagstaff
- Region V - Tucson
- Region III - Kingman
- Region VI - Mesa
 

Species within this unit

 

New USFS Travel Management Rule: The Kaibab National Forest has implemented new travel management rules resulting in changes to motor vehicle access on national forest lands. These changes include motorized big game retrieval, road closures and camping restrictions. The Travel Management Rule only allows motorized use on designated roads, trails and areas as identified on a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). These maps are available for free at Forest Service offices. Because of these forest rule changes, only motorized retrieval of elk is permitted in Game Management Unit 8. Motorized retrieval of other wildlife, including all other big game species, is not permitted on national forest lands in Game Management Unit 8. For further information regarding the Travel Management Rule, please contact the Kaibab, Prescott or Coconino National Forest.

Unit Boundaries
Beginning at the junction of I-40 and U.S. Hwy 89 (in Ash Fork, Exit 146); south on U.S. Hwy 89 to the Verde River; easterly along the Verde River to Sycamore Creek; northerly along Sycamore Creek to Volunteer Canyon; northeasterly along Volunteer Canyon to the west boundary of Camp Navajo; north along the boundary to a point directly north of I-40; west on I-40 to U.S. Hwy 89.
 
Species Information  
Pronghorn

Overview: Approximately 95 percent of the Unit is public land administered by the US Forest Service. Ponderosa pine is the dominate vegetation type in the higher elevations above 6,000 feet with scattered gamble oak. The mixed conifer vegetation type is most common on Bill Williams Mountain and the pinyon/juniper vegetation type is found at lower elevations.  Water sources consist of mainly man-made lakes, stock tanks and wildlife waters with the Verde River making up the southern boundary.

The Unit is divided roughly north and south by the western extent of the Mogollon Rim with Sycamore Canyon on the east and the Welch Interchange along I-40 between Williams and Ashfork on the west. The lower elevation ranges from 3600-5500 feet with the higher elevation ranging from 6000 to 9200 feet.  Most roads are on the Kaibab National Forest map. Access is fairly good with two-wheel-drive, but poor weather could cause hazardous conditions that would require four-wheel-drive operations.

Current Information (Updated 09/2012):  The pronghorn population appears to be stable.  The 2012 survey resulted in 215 pronghorn observed for ratios of 35 bucks per 100 does and 55 fawns per 100 does. The 2012 harvest for GMU 8 was 11 bucks, for a 55% hunt success.  Further data can be found in the Game and Fish Department publication, “Hunt Arizona”.

Areas: The two main areas to find concentrations of pronghorn in the unit are Garland Prairie and Wagon Tire Flat.  Other areas to find pronghorn are the areas west of the Hat Ranch, Putney Flat, Sunflower Flat, McDougal Flat and Page Flat.  After opening day look for the pronghorn to move into the trees around these flats.  If drought conditions exist, antelope distribution may vary throughout the unit due to water availability.
Garland Prairie is located in the northeast portion of the unit. Over the years, 50 percent of the harvest in Unit 8 comes from this area. There are private land blocks on the north, west and south ends of the prairie. Be careful of shooting within ¼ mile of a residence, please be courteous.

 
Black Bear

Overview: Approximately 95 percent of the Unit is public land administered by the US Forest Service. Ponderosa pine is the dominate vegetation type in the higher elevations above 6,000 feet with scattered gamble oak. The mixed conifer vegetation type is most common on Bill Williams Mountain and the pinyon/juniper vegetation type is found at lower elevations.  Water sources consist of mainly man-made lakes, stock tanks and wildlife waters with the Verde River making up the southern boundary.

The Unit is divided roughly north and south by the western extent of the Mogollon Rim with Sycamore Canyon on the east and the Welch Interchange along I-40 between Williams and Ashfork on the west. The lower elevation ranges from 3600-5500 feet with the higher elevation ranging from 6000 to 9200 feet.  Most roads are on the Kaibab National Forest map. Access is fairly good with two-wheel-drive, but poor weather could cause hazardous conditions that would require four-wheel-drive operations.

Unit 8 has some outstanding bear habitat with numerous canyons, high-country mountains and high desert areas. Hunters can use a variety of different hunting techniques including glassing, still-hunting, sitting water, varmint calling and pursuit with dogs. The harvest is limited to three sows before the season is closed. Call 1-800-970-BEAR (2327) to determine if your desired hunt unit is still open.

Current Information (Updated 07/2013):  The summer of 2013 saw good grass production throughout the district.  The gambles oak produced acorns in some areas as well as the scrub live oak at lower elevations produced good amounts of acorns this year.  The prickly pear crop appears to be decent.  Water is to be found throughout the district and the bears seem to be spread out well this year.

Areas: Bear distribution is throughout the unit mostly above 5000 feet elevation. Some areas where bears are commonly found include Bill Williams Mountain, Summit Mountain, Round Mountain, Morgan Hill and the canyons dropping off the Mogollon Rim such as Sycamore, Tule, Government, MC, and Hell canyons.   Remember that some areas are remote and access is difficult, warm to hot weather conditions can exist, be prepared to pack out the bear, including all edible parts.

Note: Remember that it is mandatory to call 1-800-970-BEAR (2327) within 48 hours of harvesting a bear and you must physically present the bear’s skull, hide and attached proof of sex to a Department employee within 10 days of harvesting a bear.  See current hunting regulations for more information.
 
 
Elk

Overview: Approximately 95 percent of the Unit is public land administered by the US Forest Service. Ponderosa pine is the dominate vegetation type in the higher elevations above 6,000 feet with scattered gamble oak. The mixed conifer vegetation type is most common on Bill Williams Mountain and the pinyon/juniper vegetation type is found at lower elevations.  Water sources consist of mainly man-made lakes, stock tanks and wildlife waters with the Verde River making up the southern boundary.

The Unit is divided roughly north and south by the western extent of the Mogollon Rim with Sycamore Canyon on the east and the Welch Interchange along I-40 between Williams and Ashfork on the west. The lower elevation ranges from 3600-5500 feet with the higher elevation ranging from 6000 to 9200 feet.  Most roads are on the Kaibab National Forest map. Access is fairly good with two-wheel-drive, but poor weather could cause hazardous conditions that would require four-wheel-drive operations.

Current Information (updated 07/2013):  The elk population appears to be stable to slightly decreasing.  The 2012 survey resulted in 728 elk observed for ratios of 30 bulls (46% spikes) per 100 cows and 50 calves per 100 cows. The 2012 combined harvest for GMU 8 was 512 elk (169bulls/38spikes/283cows/ 22calves), for a 39% combined hunt success.  With the declining bull to cow ratio over the past several years it has become more difficult to harvest a mature bull but with the high calf crop this year there should be a good number of spikes available next year.  Further data can be found in the Game and Fish Department publication, “Hunt Arizona”.

Areas: During the early seasons such as archery and muzzle loader the elk will be found throughout the Unit mainly above 6000 feet elevation.  Good areas to check are Garland Prairie, McDougal Flat, Barney Flat, Round Mountain, Summit Mountain, McCracken Knoll, Jackass Knoll, Dutchkid Knoll, Boyd Knoll, Snyder Knoll and Bill Williams Mountain.  Good access roads are Forest Service Roads 12, 105, 108, 110, 122, 139, 140, 141, and 354.

During the late seasons such as general bull and general antlerless the elk may move to lower elevations if there is significant snow fall at the higher elevations.  Check areas such as Sycamore Canyon, Sycamore Point, Tule Canyon, Lake Pocket, Deadman Pocket, Limestone Pocket, Lonesome Pocket Government Canyon, Secret Pocket, May Tank Canyon, May Tank Pocket, Bear Canyon, MC Canyon, Wild Steer Mesa, Tule Basin, Hells Pocket, Hells Canyon, Devils Pocket, Devils Canyon, Rabbit Bill, and Flat Mesa.  If there is no snow the majority of elk will remain at higher elevations (see above).
 
Mountain Lion

Overview: Approximately 95 percent of the Unit is public land administered by the US Forest Service. Ponderosa pine is the dominate vegetation type in the higher elevations above 6,000 feet with scattered gamble oak. The mixed conifer vegetation type is most common on Bill Williams Mountain and the pinyon/juniper vegetation type is found at lower elevations.  Water sources consist of mainly man-made lakes, stock tanks and wildlife waters with the Verde River making up the southern boundary.

The Unit is divided roughly north and south by the western extent of the Mogollon Rim with Sycamore Canyon on the east and the Welch Interchange along I-40 between Williams and Ashfork on the west. The lower elevation ranges from 3600-5500 feet with the higher elevation ranging from 6000 to 9200 feet.  Most roads are on the Kaibab National Forest map. Access is fairly good with two-wheel-drive, but poor weather could cause hazardous conditions that would require four-wheel-drive operations.

Current Information (Updated 07/2013):  Unit 8 has some outstanding mountain lion habitat with numerous canyons, high-country mountains and high desert areas. Hunters can use a variety of different hunting techniques including glassing, still-hunting, sitting water, varmint calling and pursuit with dogs.  Remember to purchase your lion tag before you head to the hills on your deer or elk hunt as you never know when you might run into one.

Areas: Mountain lion distribution is throughout the unit.  Some areas where lions are commonly found include Bill Williams Mountain, Summit Mountain, Round Mountain, Morgan Hill and the canyons dropping off the Mogollon Rim such as Sycamore, Tule, Government, MC, and Hell canyons.   Key in on areas with good deer and elk sign since this is where the lions will be.

Note: Remember that it is mandatory to call 1-877-438-0447 within 48 hours of harvesting a lion and you must physically present the lion’s skull, hide and attached proof of sex to a Department employee within 10 days of harvesting a lion.  See current hunting regulations for more information.

 
Deer

Overview: Approximately 95 percent of the Unit is public land administered by the US Forest Service. Ponderosa pine is the dominate vegetation type in the higher elevations above 6,000 feet with scattered gamble oak. The mixed conifer vegetation type is most common on Bill Williams Mountain and the pinyon/juniper vegetation type is found at lower elevations.  Water sources consist of mainly man-made lakes, stock tanks and wildlife waters with the Verde River making up the southern boundary.

The Unit is divided roughly north and south by the western extent of the Mogollon Rim with Sycamore Canyon on the east and the Welch Interchange along I-40 between Williams and Ashfork on the west. The lower elevation ranges from 3600-5500 feet with the higher elevation ranging from 6000 to 9200 feet.  Most roads are on the Kaibab National Forest map. Access is fairly good with two-wheel-drive, but poor weather could cause hazardous conditions that would require four-wheel-drive operations.

Current Information (Updated 07/2013) - Mule Deer: The mule deer population appears to be stable to increasing with good fawn crops the last two years.  The 2012/13 survey resulted in 331 mule deer observed for ratios of 26 bucks per 100 does and 45 fawns per 100 does.  There were a number of mature branch antlered bucks surveyed.  The 2012 harvest for GMU 8 was 199 bucks, for a 33% general hunt success.  Further data can be found in the Game and Fish Department publication, “Hunt Arizona”.

Areas: Mule deer will be found throughout the Unit.  Good areas to check at the higher elevations are Garland Prairie, McDougal Flat, Barney Flat, Round Mountain, Summit Mountain, McCracken Knoll, Jackass Knoll, Dutchkid Knoll, Boyd Knoll, Snyder Knoll and Bill Williams Mountain.  Good access roads are Forest Service Roads 105, 108, 110, 122, 139, 140, 141, and 354.  Concentrate on areas that have good acorn production.  At lower elevations check the canyons that drop into the Verde river, access this country from the Verde Ranch Road, the Drake Road, and Forest Service Road 181.

Current Information (Updated 07/2013) - White-tailed Deer: The white-tailed deer population appears to be stable.  The 2012/13 survey resulted in 19 white-tailed deer observed for ratios of 55 bucks per 100 does and 9 fawns per 100 does.  Keep in mind that with such low numbers of deer surveyed there is a large confidence interval associated with this data.  The 2012 harvest for GMU 8 was 8 bucks, for a 11% early general hunt success.  Further data can be found in the Game and Fish Department publication, “Hunt Arizona”.

Areas: White-tailed deer are by far the most difficult big game animal to harvest in Unit 8.  They are found at very low densities in extremely rugged terrain.  Good areas to check are Bill Williams Mountain, Dutchkid Knoll and any of the canyons from Sycamore to I-40 at the 5000 to 6500 foot elevation level.  Most successful white-tail hunters either hunt over permanent water sources or glass the rugged canyon country.  Good access points can be found along Forest Service Roads 12, 105, 108, 181, and 354.

 
Merriam's Turkey

Overview: Approximately 95 percent of the Unit is public land administered by the US Forest Service. Ponderosa pine is the dominate vegetation type in the higher elevations above 6,000 feet with scattered gamble oak. The mixed conifer vegetation type is most common on Bill Williams Mountain and the pinyon/juniper vegetation type is found at lower elevations.  Water sources consist of mainly man-made lakes, stock tanks and wildlife waters with the Verde River making up the southern boundary.
The Unit is divided roughly north and south by the western extent of the Mogollon Rim with Sycamore Canyon on the east and the Welch Interchange along I-40 between Williams and Ashfork on the west. The lower elevation ranges from 3600-5500 feet with the higher elevation ranging from 6000 to 9200 feet.  Most roads are on the Kaibab National Forest map. Access is fairly good with two-wheel-drive, but poor weather could cause hazardous conditions that would require four-wheel-drive operations.

Current Information (Updated 07/2013):  The winter of 2009/2010 saw high mortality in the Unit 8 turkey population.  The 2010, 2011 and 2012 poult productions were fair to good, but with low numbers of adult hens it is taking a while for the population to bounce back, expect to see lower numbers of birds during the 2013 fall hunt than have been found in the past.

Areas: General locations to look for turkeys are around most of the high country stock waters. More specific locations are Barney Flats, J.D. Dam, Pine Flats, Cougar Park and areas around Bill Williams Mountain and Summit Mountain. Spring gobbler hunters should try around the various knolls and small mountain peaks in the district. Popular areas include Round Mountain, Summit Mountain and Dutch Kid Knoll.  Scouting water sources can improve your chances of locating turkeys.

 
Javelina

Overview: Approximately 95 percent of the Unit is public land administered by the US Forest Service. Ponderosa pine is the dominate vegetation type in the higher elevations above 6,000 feet with scattered gamble oak. The mixed conifer vegetation type is most common on Bill Williams Mountain and the pinyon/juniper vegetation type is found at lower elevations.  Water sources consist of mainly man-made lakes, stock tanks and wildlife waters with the Verde River making up the southern boundary.

The Unit is divided roughly north and south by the western extent of the Mogollon Rim with Sycamore Canyon on the east and the Welch Interchange along I-40 between Williams and Ashfork on the west. The lower elevation ranges from 3600-5500 feet with the higher elevation ranging from 6000 to 9200 feet.  Most roads are on the Kaibab National Forest map. Access is fairly good with two-wheel-drive, but poor weather could cause hazardous conditions that would require four-wheel-drive operations.

Areas: Javelina can be found throughout unit 8, however most hunters concentrate their effort at lower elevations and along canyon edges. Glassing is the preferred technique for locating foraging javelina herds. Good areas to locate javelina are Bear, MC and Government Canyons. Other areas to check are the numerous side draws and washes of small side canyons along Highway 89 and those canyons that drop into the Verde River.

 
Unit Summary
Primary Game Species/ Hunting Month(s)
Mule Deer October/November
Elk September-December
Turkey April/May, October
Secondary Game Species/ Hunting Month(s)
Black Bear August-October (Sow quota)
Mountain Lion Year-round
Average # permits in past 5 years
Mule Deer 2300
Elk 558 Rifle,250 Archery/Muzzleloader
Turkey 285 Spring, 475 Fall
 
Climate Information
Month Ave. Temp Ave. Rainfall Ave. Snowfall
January 37° 1.80" 20.0"
February 37° 1.86" 20.0"
March 41° 2.00" 24.0"
April 46° 1.50" 18.0"
May 54° 0.50" 0.0"
June 62° 0.50" 0.0"
July 69° 2.75" 0.0"
August 68° 3.50" 0.0"
September 59° 1.50" 0.2"
October 47° 1.25" 16.0"
November 35° 1.50" 18.0"
December 30° 2.25" 24.0"
Other Pertinent Climate Information
Always check weather conditions during fall hunts. Early snowfall may lead to road closures. Be prepared for winter weather.
 
Cities, Roads & Campgrounds
Major Cities and Towns in or Near Game Management Unit and Nearest Gas, Food, and Lodging
Williams, Ash Fork, Parks, Flagstaff
Major Highways and Roads Leading To
From the East: I-40
From the West: I-40
From the North: State Hwy 64
From the South: State Hwy 89
Developed Campgrounds
U.S. Forest Service campgrounds at Dogtown Reservoir and White Horse Lake open May 1-Sept. 30.
Undeveloped Campgrounds
Camping is allowed on Forest Service administered lands throughout unit.
 
Brief Description of Terrain, Elevation, and Vegetation
Elevation ranges from 4,100' to 9,256' on Bill Williams Mountain; predominant ponderosa pine forest and open prairies at higher elevations and mixed pinyon pine and juniper at lower elevations below the Rim (south). Unit has numerous canyons on Rim area: Bear, MC, Government, Hell, Sycamore, Tule, and Volunteer.
 
Government Agencies and Phone Numbers
Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region II - 928 774-5045
Kaibab National Forest, Supervisor's Office - 928 635-2681 Kaibab
National Forest, Chalender Ranger District - 928 635-2676
Prescott National Forest, Chino Valley Ranger District - 928 636-2302
 
 
 
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