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Game Management Unit 33
 
Additional Hunting Unit Report pages
- Region I - Pinetop
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Species within this unit: Javelina, Mule Deer, White-tailed Deer, Cottontail Rabbit, Dove, Tree Squirrel, Quail
 
Unit Boundaries
Beginning at Tangerine road and AZ Hwy 77; north and northeast on AZ Hwy 77 to the San Pedro River; southeast along the San Pedro River to I-10 at Benson; west on I-10 to Marsh Station road (Exit 289); northwest on the Marsh Station road to the Agua Verde road; north on the Agua Verde road to its terminus then north 1/2 mile to the Coronado National Forest boundary; north and west along the National Forest boundary; then west, north, and east along the Saguaro National Park boundary; continuing north and west along the Coronado National Forest boundary to the southern boundary of Catalina State Park; west along the southern boundary of Catalina State Park to AZ Hwy 77; north on AZ Hwy 77 to Tangerine road.
 
Species Information back to top
Javelina

Overview: Javelina can be found throughout the unit feeding on prickly pear and other roots on hillsides, on the flats, and down in wash bottoms. A commonly used technique for hunting javelina is to work in wash bottoms that have fresh javelina tracks and sign. Another technique that is recommended is to try to find a hill or ridge and glass. Generally, glassing offers better results. Saguaro National Park is within this unit and is closed to hunting. In addition, hunters must respect landowner rights. Care should be taken not to offend or scare homeowners and never discharge a firearm within 1/4 mile of a building.

The quality of your hunt depends on you. Preseason scouting, preparation for the environmental conditions, and physical conditioning are important factors. The success and quality of your hunt will likely increase with the distance from your vehicle and roads.

As with many areas, unit 33 has some important access issues. When you are out hunting or scouting, be sure to know your location and the ownership of the land you are on. It is every hunter's responsibility to respect private property. Always remember to obtain a minimum of verbal permission and preferably written permission when hunting on private land. When you leave, be sure you have removed all litter and leave the area in a better condition than when you arrived.

Areas: Highway 77/Oracle Rd. to the Biosphere Road is a popular hunting area. Scouting should be done ahead of time to learn the boundaries of the residential areas. This area is well signed and is beginning to be developed into home sites. Pay attention to all signs and posted private property. The best access is obtained by parking off Hwy. 77 and walking into the area. There are several good herds in the mesquite flats, but preseason scouting is a must!

The Charouleau Gap area is accessible. Access is obtained by taking Golder Ranch Road east in Catalina then going north on Lago del Oro Parkway. Take Lago del Oro past Edwin road (~1.5 mi) to the new Arizona Game and Fish access road. If you go to Saddlebrook you have gone too far. At the access road, sign in at the kiosk and you are on your way. The road is rough and requires a 4WD or quad vehicle. The road is closed to hunting until you cross Canada del Oro wash and you are past all the houses. There are several side roads off the main road so explore and use your binoculars. The road will eventually drop over Charouleau Gap into Canada del Oro canyon. The road does go into Oracle, but is generally inaccessible except for vehicles with short wheelbases and lockers.

The Peppersauce Canyon area offers some good opportunities for javelina hunters. To get there take highway 77 north to Oracle. From Oracle go east through town to Forest Road 38/Mt. Lemmon Road. Head south on FS 38 until you reach the foothills of the Catalinas. You can also drive up the bottom of Peppersauce to hunt the lower desert. Go south out of San Manual until the pavement almost ends. Just before the bridge take a right turn and go west. Peppersauce wash will be on your left. Javelina can be found from the chaparral zone all the way to the San Pedro River.

Davis Mesa has good hunting if time is taking to scout the area.  Access is gained at milepost 27 on Redington Road.  All users must sign in at the access box to cross the private property at the 6 Bar Ranch. After signing in continue past the ranch to the right to one of the two roads to the top of the mesa.

Areas in Happy Valley host javelina as well. To get there, go north on the Mescal Rd. exit off I-10 (#297). Follow FS road #35 north and look for prickly pear covered hillsides. Make sure you are aware of private property areas and ask permission if in doubt. For those die hard hunters, if you can get into (i.e. hike) the area by Redrock Tank, you might see good herds of javelina with less hunting pressure.

The Little Rincons can be accessed from Ocotillo Road north of Benson. Follow Ocotillo Road north to Simon Rd, then travel west and hunt the washes and brushy lower country. The road makes a loop to the north and connects again to the Ocotillo Road. To make the complete loop, a 4WD vehicle is necessary. The best method for hunting is sitting on ridge tops and glassing.

Javelina hunting requires some patience and recognition of what good habitat is. Pre-scouting as well as an understanding of the animals' habits and behavior will help to increase the chances of a successful hunt. Look for permanent water sources and bedding areas. Remember javelina have the magical ability to hide behind bushes smaller than they are. Be patient and glass using quality optics mounted on a tripod.

 
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Mule Deer

Overview: Mule deer can be found primarily in any of the desert scrub habitat around the bases of any of the mountains. Also look for big bucks out in the flats where they are difficult to find. During these years of drought, only the "wisest" bucks will be able to avoid predators and find the necessary food and water, so they will be "wise" to hunters as well. Spend time before the season scouting and glassing. This will increase your chances for a successful hunt. This information is to help a hunter locate hunting areas not give specific animal locations. Hunters need to scout and locate animals themselves not just show up and expect to harvest a buck without any hunter effort. Use the following information and scout before you hunt to increase your success. 

The quality of your hunt depends on you. Preseason scouting, preparation for the environmental conditions, and physical conditioning are important factors. The success and quality of your hunt will likely increase with the distance from your vehicle and roads.

As with many areas, Unit 33 has some important access issues. When you are out hunting or scouting, be sure to know your location and the ownership of the land you are on. It is every hunter's responsibility to respect private property. Always remember to obtain a minimum of verbal permission and preferably written permission when hunting on private land. When you leave, be sure you have removed all litter and left the area in better condition than when you arrived.

Areas: Highway 77/Oracle Rd. to the Biosphere Road is a popular hunting area. This area will have the most pressure from quail, archery deer, and rifle deer hunters. The large amount of hunt pressure has made the deer wary and the bucks are few, but does abound in this area. Scouting will be essential to learn where the bucks are located. Scouting should be done ahead of time to learn the boundaries of the Biosphere and location of the houses in Saddlebrooke. The best and easiest access is obtained by parking off Hwy. 77 and walking into the area.

The area east of Oracle State Park is another good spot. Access is obtained by taking the Mt. Lemmon Hwy. in Oracle then when the road forks, go east on Webb Rd. toward San Manual. Take the gas line road into Smelter Wash then park and hunt the ridgelines. This area can also be accessed from Redington road going to San Manuel. Oracle State Park is closed to hunting so be aware of the park boundary.

The Mt. Lemmon Control Road provides access into additional mule deer habitat. Access can be obtained by driving through San Manuel and taking the Oracle Ridge Mine Road or by taking the Mt Lemmon Road in Oracle and heading towards Peppersauce Canyon. Hunt the lower elevations east of the Mt. Lemmon control road along the washes.

Redington Rd. (FS 371) is a popular spot for deer hunting. One should expect to meet a lot of other hunters, making hunter safety foremost on everyone's mind. This area has both species of deer, so species identification is paramount. On several occasions, mule deer and white-tailed deer have been seen running together. To get there take Tanque Verde Road in Tucson as far east as possible. It will turn to dirt and become the Redington Pass road (FS371). There are several spots in this area to try. Areas close to town have a lot of recreational use from off-highway vehicles, target shooters, and other hunters. The further east on the Redington road you go (past MP 8), the fewer recreationists you will encounter, and the better your chances of a quality hunt.

The A-7 Ranch, located at the east end of Redington Road, is composed of State Trust land and land owned by Pima County. Mule deer can be found on the ranch all the way down to the San Pedro river. Respect the land and sign in at all sign in boxes. Hunt low rolling hills and be prepared to walk to get away from the roads.

Happy Valley also offers good hunting opportunities. To access, take exit #297 off of I-10 (Mescal Exit) and head north. This area also receives a lot of pressure from hunters and recreationists, so keep safety as your first priority. The foothills of the Rincon Mountains and the Little Rincons provide opportunities for mule deer. Keep in mind there is a lot of posted private property here and you need to respect the landowners. Check with local landowners and permission to hunt their land is sometimes granted. Mule deer can also be found along the east foothills of the Little Rincon mountains all the way down to the San Pedro river. To access, head north on Ocotillo Road from Benson and continue north on Ocotillo road for approximately 10 miles and look for areas away from the houses and private property. Again, respect the landowners and the land.

 
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White-tailed Deer
Overview: Unit 33 had several large fires in 2002-2003 that have rejuvenated habitat. The fires have asssited with the high protein content in the deer browse that helps to grow deer and deer antlers. It takes 4-5 years for a buck to mature and grow large antlers in the 90-100 inch class. Good winter and summer rains are needed to have good fawn crops. Unit 33 has high whitetail deer population and has continually grown big bucks, but it also has high hunter numbers. So, for hunters who hope to harvest a large antlered whitetail buck, be patient it takes time and a little luck. This information is to help a hunter locate hunting areas not give specific animal locations. Hunters need to scout and locate animals themselves not just show up and expect to harvest a buck without any hunter effort. Use the following information and scout before you hunt to increase your success.

Hunters must be willing to do a lot of hiking and a lot of work to get a deer. Quality optics and their proper use play a major role in hunter success and the location of game in the rough terrain of this unit. It is advisable to do pre-season scouting to help ensure hunter success. It is a good idea to carefully glass ocotillo stands. There are some nice bucks in this unit, but it will require preparation and patience to bag them.

The quality of your hunt depends on you. Preseason scouting, preparation for the environmental conditions, and physical conditioning are important factors. The success and quality of your hunt will likely increase with the distance from your vehicle and roads.

As with many areas, Unit 33 has some important access issues. When you are out hunting or scouting, be sure to know your location and the ownership of the land you are on. It is every hunter's responsibility to respect private property. Always remember to obtain a minimum of verbal permission and preferably written permission when hunting on private land. When you leave, be sure you have removed all litter and left the area in better condition than when you arrived.

Areas: All of the oak-covered fingers coming off the Catalinas have white-tailed deer. The Oracle Control road going up to the top of Mt. Lemmon is a good place to start. Deer will be found along the Mt. Lemmon Control Road to the closed gate.. This area was difficult to glass due to the dense vegetation, but the Aspen and Bullock wild fires have opened up the hillsides. A hunter will still have to hike, but working unburned areas might pay off.

The Peppersauce Canyon area offers some good opportunities for white-tailed hunters. To get there take Highway 77 to Oracle. From Oracle go east through town to Forest Road 38/Mt. Lemmon Road. Head south on 38 until you reach the foothills of the Catalinas. The area will be thick with manzanitas and oaks.

The Charouleau Gap area is accessible. Access is obtained by taking Golder Ranch Road east in the town of Catalina then going north on Lago del Oro Parkway. Take Lago del Oro past Edwin road (~.5 mi) to the Arizona Game and Fish access road. If you go to Saddlebrooke you have gone too far. At the access road, sign in at the kiosk and you are on your way. The road is rough and requires a 4WD or quad vehicle. The road is closed to hunting until you cross Canada del Oro wash and you are past all the houses. There are several side roads off the main road so explore and use your binoculars. The road will eventually drop over Charouleau Gap into Canada del Oro canyon. White-tailed deer are present the entire distance. The road does go into Oracle, but is generally inaccessible except for extreme vehicles.

Another productive spot is the Molino and Sycamore Basins area. This area can be reached by taking Catalina Highway north to Molino Basin Campground or Prison Camp. A trail map is a good idea. Park and take the trails out of the basin. This area will require some walking and extra glassing. Check with the Forest Service about parking fees and developed camping areas before you leave home. You can park between MP 1 and MP 5 and take Soldier Trail or Babat Duag Trail.

The Redington Pass area is a well-known spot for deer hunting. One should expect to meet a lot of other hunters making hunter safety foremost on everyone's mind. This area has both species of deer so species identification is imperative. To get there take Tanque Verde road in Tucson as far east as possible. It will turn to dirt and become the Redington Pass road (FS371). There are several spots in this area to try, depending on the time of year of the hunt. If you were drawn for the early hunt, try to stay towards the higher elevations like in the area around the Bellota Ranch Headquarters. During the late hunt (December) it might be productive to look in the ocotillo stands to the east. Areas close to town have a lot of recreational use from off highway vehicles, target shooters, and other hunters. The further east on the Redington road you go, the better your chances of a quality hunt.

The Bellota Ranch Headquarters road is clearly marked just past milepost 10. Go north past Laguna tank and the AZ trail for about ~1 mile. There is a gate at the turn off. This road takes you past Chimney Rock and you can park and walk anywhere here for hunting. You may go straight past the turn-off and gate towards the ranch. Right before the ranch, turn right towards Woods Tank. Deer are present in the thick brushy ravines.

In the vicinity of milepost 8 is the Three Feather's parking area (which is across the road from a corral). This parking area is used to access the Chiva Falls area and other surrounding country. This road is extremely rough and a 4WD is definitely required. The low country at the base of the Rincons provides good habitat for both types of deer and they are occasionally seen together. Once you're back in this country start heading up the mountain and look for those white-tailed deer. This area meets the northern boundary of Saguaro National Park. Be sure to know where this boundary is since the park is closed to hunting.

Another area in Redington Pass is Italian Trap. To get there; follow Redington Road to milepost 12.5. Italian Trap is marked FS 4417 on the Forest map. At the end of the driveable road, it turns to a trail that leads to Park Tank. Working this area towards the south and back to the west toward Chiva Falls can be productive in finding whitetails. The northern boundary of Saguaro National Park is only a few miles to the south of Park Tank and runs farther north along the Rincon’s toward Chiva Falls, so be careful of your location and remember you cannot hunt on the park.

Edgar Canyon and Davis Mesa are additional white-tailed deer areas. Access is gained off the Redington Road. This is best accessed either from Benson or San Manuel rather than the rough Redington Road from Tucson. After turning off the Cascabel/San Manuel Road go west on the Redington Road towards Tucson. The Edgar Canyon turn-off is your first right (MP 27) about ~1mile in. Take this road past the gas line through the ranch private property all the way to the base of the Catalinas. This is a long drive, so consult a topographic map. Hike up the mountain and use your binoculars.  At the top of Davis Mesa look back east on the flats for whitetail. In Edgar Canyon you can hike the trail up to Evans Mountain. Evans Mountain has good hunting in the grassy oak habitat around the mountain. This area burned during the Bullock fire.

 The Rincon and Little Rincon’s demand that a hunter be in shape and willing to glass. Access is very limited on the eastern side of the Rincon Mountains. There is no access from the Cascabel Road across the San Pedro River except at Redington Road. One popular whitetail hunting area in the Rincons is Happy Valley. The best way to get into the area is to take I-10 to the Mescal exit #297 between Tucson and Benson. Follow Mescal Road (FS 35) north into Happy Valley. The rolling hills to the east and west of the road will produce some good hunting opportunities. White-tailed and mule deer are often seen together in Happy Valley. Make sure you are positive of what you are shooting. The Miller Creek and Turkey Creek areas are promising. Saguaro National Park forms the western boundary of the hunting area in Happy Valley. Happy Valley receives a lot of pressure from hunters and recreationists, so safety should be foremost in everyone's mind.

The Little Rincon Mountains may also yield some white-tailed deer. Access is limited, but can be gained from both the east and west sides. It will require some walking to get into some of the better areas. To access the west side follow Mescal road (FS 35) north of I-10 and to access the east side take Ocotillo road north from I-10. Be cognizant of private property and respect the landowners.

It is good to note that this unit with a high deer population also has a high mountain lion population. All that is required is a hunting license and mountain lion non-permit tag to harvest this big game species. So please don’t forget to purchase a mountain lion tag prior to your deer hunt. There is also a 48 hour mandatory reporting requirement after taking a lion. Within 10 days after taking a lion, the hunter shall present the lions skull, hide, and attached proof of sex for inspection.
 
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Cottontail Rabbit
Overview: Cottontails are generally most active during the morning and evenings and run to cover when spooked. You will find this quarry most frequently in washes and gullies. Cottontails are found in just about every habitat type within the unit.

Area: Cottontails are spread throughout the unit. Oracle Junction offers some good cottontail hunting. The Redington Pass area is another spot that may produce some good hunting opportunities. The desert washes off the San Pedro River have good rabbit populations. In addition, broken areas east and west of Mescal road are good spots for hunting rabbits. The Ocotillo Road, heading north out of the Benson area, could provide hunting opportunities.

A hunter should pick up US Forest Service and BLM maps for access into these areas as well as a copy of the hunt regulations. Popular hunting spots in the unit have also been recently annexed by the city and there are ordinances that prohibit shooting.

It is important to remember that cottontails will try to hide from the hunter and may use a "freezing" tactic to elude him. Try to use a stealthy approach but more importantly watch where the rabbit stops and don't give up.
 
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Dove
Overview: The most common tactic for dove hunters is to find a tank or an agricultural field and shoot at birds flying by. There are some decent areas for hunting doves in the unit, but may require some work before you limit out. Remember to pick up a copy of the dove regulations and that the early hunt is a half day hunt except for juniors.

Areas: The Redington pass area has some tanks that will produce some hunting opportunities. To get to the tanks take the Redington Pass road east. Tanks are located on side roads between mileposts 8 and 14. Use a Coronado Forest Service map for more detail.

One can try Happy Valley, which can be accessed by taking the Mescal exit (#297) off of I-10 between Tucson and Benson. The rolling foothills of the Rincons have a few water tanks to hunt off of.

The stock tanks in the flats along Highway 77 between Catalina and Oracle have some doves. It is best to scout before season to locate flights.

Hunting opportunities are limited, and better hunting may be located in Unit 37A in agricultural areas with good grain crops.
 
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Tree Squirrel
Overview: Unit 33 has been a convenient spot to hunt squirrels for several years before the Aspen and Bullock fires. There are hunting opportunities in this unit, but due to the Aspen and Bullock fires, many former areas were burned. A visit to Mt. Lemmon is a must to locate squirrels.

Area: Mt. Lemmon off the Mt. Lemmon highway above 7000 feet away from homes and developed recreation sites.
 
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Quail
Overview: The most likely areas to find quail will be in the vicinity of water sources. Find a secluded stock tank and work from there.

Area: On the east side of the Catalinas, the area between San Manuel and the Control Road provides ample opportunity. Almost all dirt roads in the area follow a wash at some time, and some lead to cattle waters (a productive quail spot).

The area west of Oracle on the south side of Highway 77 also has some quail. You can pull off the side of the road and park or pull into the road to Biosphere and park. Remember to respect private property and stay at least a ¼ mile from any structures.

The desert and foothills areas north of Mescal and Ocotillo roads will offer some quail hunting opportunities. Follow these roads north and hunt areas near stock tanks and along washes. Some lucky hunters may find some Scaled Quail in these areas also.

Redington road provides limited opportunity for quail hunting, and is easily accessed from Tucson.

The further north one goes beyond Oracle, the better your success will be at finding birds.
 
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Pertinent Climate Information
Travelers using Mt. Lemmon Highway after winter storms may need chains.
 
Cities, Roads & Campgrounds
Major Cities and Towns in or Near Game Management Unit and Nearest Gas, Food, and Lodging
Tucson, Benson, Oracle, San Manuel, Mammoth
Major Highways and Roads Leading To
From the East: I-10
From the West: Ina Road, Tanque Verde
From the North: State Hwy 77
From the South: None
Developed Campgrounds
The Forest Service administers Pepper Sauce Campground near Oracle, and Rose Canyon, Spencer Canyon, and General Hitchcock campgrounds on Mt. Lemmon; Arizona State Parks administers Catalina State Park near Oro Valley and Oracle State Park in Oracle.
Undeveloped Campgrounds
None
 
Brief Description of Terrain, Elevation, and Vegetation
Terrain is characterized by flat desert plains cut by washes and canyons at low elevations and steep, rocky mountains and deep canyons at high elevations. Elevations range from 2,500' in the deserts to 9,100' in the mountains. The Santa Catalina and Rincon mountains are "sky islands" with Sonoran and Chihuahuan desertscrub transitioning to chaparral, coniferous forest, and spruce fir forest.
 
Government Agencies and Phone Numbers
Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region V - 520-628-5376
Coronado National Forest -520-670-4552
Saguaro National Park -520-733-5153
 
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  • 2014-2015 Arizona Hunting Regulations [PDF, 6mb]

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  • Hunt Arizona 2014: Survey, Harvest and Draw Data
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  • 2014 AZ Fishing Regulations
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  • 2014 Urban Fishing Guidebook
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  • 2013-14 Raptor Regulations [PDF]
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