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Game Management Unit 5B

 
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 Coconino 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 the Forest rule changes, motorized retrieval of wildlife, including all big game species, is not permitted on national forest lands in Game Management Unit 5B. For further information regarding the Travel Management Rule, please contact the Coconino National Forest.

Unit Boundaries

Beginning at Lake Mary-Clint’s Well road (FH3) and the south rim of Walnut Canyon (mp 337.5 on FH3); southeasterly on FH3 to AZ Hwy 87; northeasterly on AZ Hwy 87 to FR 69; westerly and northerly on FR 69 to I-40 (Exit 233); west on I-40 to the bottom of Walnut Canyon (mp 210.2 on I-40); southwesterly along Walnut Canyon to Walnut Canyon National Monument; southwesterly along the northern boundary of the Walnut Canyon National Monument to the south rim of Walnut Canyon; southwesterly along the south rim of Walnut Canyon to FH 3.


 

ATTENTION HUNTERS

There is a modified closure in place on certain State and Private lands in the vicinity of Meteor Crater. Entrance is allowed for hunters with a valid big game permit tag and their assistants during the season and for three weeks prior to the season for scouting purposes. Hunters must check in andshow their tagat the Meteor Crater RV Park to get a pass to access these lands. Those people accompanying the hunter must check in concurrent with the hunter. Some rules to be aware of for this closure are that vehicles must stay on designated roads, no cross country vehicle travel is allowed even for retrieval of big game and those persons assisting a hunter must stay within the immediate vicinity of the hunter. Please respect these and all other posted rules so that we may maintain hunter access to this land.

Raymond Wildlife Area-RWA

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of hunters on Raymond Wildlife Area. This increase in human activity has caused the buffalo to leave the wildlife area and go onto adjacent private ranches during big game hunting seasons. This has led to Raymond Wildlife Area being closed in 2013 to elk and pronghorn hunting. A new rule is now in effect on Raymond; the public is prohibited from being within a ¼ mile of the buffalo herd.

NEW FOR 2014 During the October antlerless elk and late bull elk seasons the buffalo herd will likely be placed in a new holding pasture just north of the Raymond headquarters. The public is prohibited from being in the holding pasture when the buffalo herd is present, but the rest of Raymond Wildlife Area is open to hunting game in season.

Raymond Wildlife Area Rules
Please obey the posted rules to reduce disturbance to the buffalo herd.

    • All terrain and utility type vehicle use is prohibited on Raymond Wildlife Area (this includes ATV’s, UTV’s, and 3-wheelers)
    • It is unlawful to approach buffalo within ¼ mile
    • Public camping is permitted in designated sites only (located directly west of the Wildlife Area Headquarters)
    • Travel is permitted on existing roads only. Roads marked with a red sign are closed to public access. Only roads marked with a green sign post are open to access.
    • Any off road travel is prohibited except for big game retrieval (cannot be done with any type of OHV)
    • Some roads will be closed during wet and muddy conditions.


      Hunting (in season): Hunting is allowed during open seasons. Each buffalo hunter is accompanied by a department employee, who designates which animal to take. Raymond Wildlife Area is in Game Management Unit5B.

      Wildlife watching: The combination of ponderosa pine forest and grasslands on Anderson Mesa provide important habitat for a wide variety of watchable wildlife, from migrating birds to pronghorn antelope, bison, mule deer and elk. Habitat protected within Raymond Wildlife Area, particularly wetland and riparian areas, may provide homes for several sensitive and rare wildlife species (see Special Status Species, below).
 

Attention All Hunters:  The Jacket Fire Closure Forest Order in no longer in effect.  The Coconino National Forest would like to remind hunters that motor vehicle use is prohibited within the Padre Canyon Roadless Area.  All motor vehicle use is prohibited within this special area, including ATVs and motorized game retrieval.  CHAMP hunters may not use a motor vehicle to access the Padre Canyon Roadless Area.  Please respect your natural resources and fellow sportsmen and women.  For more information about the Padre Canyon Roadless Area contact the Coconino National Forest: Supervisor’s Office, 928-527-3600 or visit www.coconinoforest.us.

As of July 2011 there is a modified closure in place on certain State and Private lands in the vicinity of Meteor Crater. Entrance is allowed for hunters with a valid big game permit tag and their assistants during the season and for three weeks prior to the season for scouting purposes. Hunters must check in and show their tag at the Meteor Crater RV Park to get a pass to access these lands. Those people accompanying the hunter must check in concurrent with the hunter. Some rules to be aware of for this closure are that vehicles must stay on designated roads, no cross country vehicle travel is allowed even for retrieval of big game and those persons assisting a hunter must stay within the immediate vicinity of the hunter. Please respect these and all other posted rules so that we may maintain hunter access to this land.

In recent years there has been an inexplicable increase in the number of hunters on the Raymond Wildlife Area. This increase in human activity has caused the buffalo to leave the wildlife area and go onto adjacent private ranches during big game hunting seasons. The Game and Fish Department would like hunters to consider other alternatives especially during the antlerless elk season. The high hunting pressure and low populations of big game animals on Raymond Wildlife Area mean that a person could likely have a higher quality hunt elsewhere. If you do choose to hunt the Raymond Wildlife Area please steer clear of the buffalo and observe them only from a distance.

   
Species Information  
Antelope

Overview: (Updated 7/13) Antelope can be found in just about any open grassland area of Unit 5B and many areas that are sparsely to moderately forested. The population is divided between Anderson Mesa and the lower country between the Mesa and I-40 with approximately 2/3 of the population being on Anderson Mesa during hunting seasons.  The antelope population decline that took place in the 90’s to early 2000’s appears to have reversed itself in the last several years. Fawn survival has been good for most of the last 10 years. The 5A and 5B pronghorn herds were previously managed under alternative management guidelines that called for higher than normal buck to doe ratios until 2008. From 2009 to 2012 hunts were structured to reduce the buck to doe ratio to within standard guidelines. This objective was met and in 2013 permits were reduced to stabilize the buck : doe ratio. For the foreseeable future permits should be relatively stable.  

Areas: Antelope can be found on Anderson Mesa from Vail Lake south to Long Lake, Melatone Mesa and Duke Tank Mesa near Jack’s Canyon. There are many large and small open areas within this area and though pronghorn aren’t always in every one of these areas they do use them all at some point. The area between Kinnikinick Lake and Ashurst Lake is probably the most well known habitat in the unit but it gets the most hunting pressure and often has the lowest buck to doe ratio on the Mesa. While a little more difficult to hunt I would advise individuals to at least scout the areas south of the Sawmill Hills, the area between Willow Valley Dam and Tremaine Lake and south of Yaeger Lake. At lower elevations, antelope are found throughout the grassland between the Winona and Meteor Crater roads (including the Hopi Three Canyon, Flying M and Bar T Bar Ranches). In recent years pronghorn have been seen increasingly in the area burned by the Jacket Fire which is located between the power lines near Winona and approximately Twin Arrows Road.

Whether a person chooses to hunt the Mesa or the low country they should focus on areas that receive good monsoon precipitation. These areas will have significant green up and more water available. The pronghorn will seek them out and spend most of their time there. Scouting just a week or two before the hunt will allow the hunter to locate these areas better than early scouting will.

The privately owned land sections of the Hopi Three Canyon Ranches are now Hopi Trust Lands. This effectively means that they have the same status as reservation lands. The Game and Fish Department and the Hopi Tribe have entered a cooperative agreement which allows the Department to manage wildlife on these lands. Access is granted to hunters on Hopi Trust Lands and all Game and Fish rules and laws apply. Please treat these lands with respect.

 
Black Bear

Overview: (updated 7/13) The bear hunt in Unit 5B is held in late October. This late opener is to shift the harvest toward the males and away from the females. Normally by early November, female bears, especially those with cubs, will start to den. Male bears normally remain active into late November and December and are thus available for harvest. Additionally, this later opener provides bear hunting opportunities when many other units in the state have closed. Unit 5B is considered to have a moderate bear population.

Areas: In the fall, bears are frequently found in or near Gambel Oak thickets when acorns are available. In 5B North hunters should concentrate on the canyons coming off of the North and East sides of Anderson Mesa. These include, but aren’t limited to, Walnut, Cherry, Mormon and Grapevine. In 5B South look around Jack’s Canyon and the Hutch Mountain area.

Special Regulations: Remember a bear hunt can close on each Wednesday. Sows with cubs are protected. All successful hunters must report the kill to the AGFD within 48 hours must physically check their bear with the Department.  Check the hunt regulations for details.

 
 

Elk

About 5B Elk: (updated 7/13) If you haven’t hunted 5B before (or even if you have) here are some things that should answer some of the common questions I get about elk in this unit.

  • The elk herd is more dense in 5B south than in 5B north but there is a higher bull to cow ratio in 5B north.
  • Generally speaking there are bigger bulls in 5B north than 5B south although some of the large 5B north bulls will come into 5B south for the rut and be available to archers.
  • Every inch of 5B south is elk country so generally there are no “bad” spots.
  • The herd has been reduced by approximately 50% in the last decade to account for drought and existing habitat conditions. As of 2011 the strategy is to stabilize the population and not let it drop any further.
  • Elk use open grasslands and sparsely forested areas more than most people think, and since these areas usually have fewer roads it is much easier to escape hunting pressure in these areas.
  • If you draw a “general season” bull elk tag for 5B you may hunt both units 5B north and 5B south. This was done to let elk availability determine hunter densities and allow hunters to pursue elk wherever they can be found.
  • If you’ve hunted 5B in the past and found a spot that had elk, it will most likely still have elk. There have been no major changes in the habitat and elk are still elk so they don’t move from an area unless they’re forced out by other hunters.
  • The best area for elk hunting is where YOU find elk. I can’t name every place where elk hang out because they hang out everywhere. I’ve done my best to highlight some key areas but part of the fun of hunting is getting out and discovering things on your own. Be patient, be observant, be smart and ethical about how you hunt and you should have a good experience even if you don’t get to fill your tag.

Overview: Elk can be found throughout the unit. The majority of the elk now spend most of the year on forest service land. However, a relatively small number of resident elk persist in traditional winter range, which is mostly on state trust and private lands. These lands are not public land, but they are open to hunting. Concern over the forage base (from elk residing year-round) and hunter distribution, led to the creation of the Two Guns, Twin Arrows and Grapevine subunits in 2001. This has allowed us to increase hunting pressure on the resident elk population in this area. Hunters need to pay close attention and be knowledgeable of their hunt unit boundary during each hunt. Three large private ranches occur on the winter range: the Flying M, Bar T Bar and Hopi Three Canyon Ranches. Please be respectful of these landowners. Close gates, stay on roads and pack out all of your trash.   

The privately owned land sections of the Hopi Three Canyon Ranches are now Hopi Trust Lands. This effectively means that they have the same status as reservation lands. The Game and Fish Department and the Hopi Tribe have entered a cooperative agreement which allows the Department to manage wildlife on these lands. Access is granted to hunters on Hopi Trust Lands and all Game and Fish rules and laws apply. Please treat these lands with respect.

The elk population in 5B is strong but hunts over the past few years have been designed to reduce the population from its high of the 1990’s. The elk population is now being managed for the current forage conditions to prevent damage to habitat and to minimize competition with other species.
 
Areas: 5BN
After opening morning of a rifle season it is unlikely to catch any elk out on Anderson Mesa during daylight hours. If you are not lucky enough to fill your tag first thing then it is time to look a little harder. Travel corridors to and from feeding areas are a good start. Elk will still use the open grasslands but primarily at night. Being on a travel route to or from a bedding area in the morning or evening is a good bet. Look for trails that connect a mountain or canyon bedding area to a feeding area. The area above and below the Anderson Mesa rim from Chavez Pass to Walnut Canyon has numerous well used travel corridors.

Early Seasons: Elk will be found throughout Anderson Mesa. As noted above they will not likely be in the wide open areas for very long after daylight. Look around the rim of Anderson Mesa. If water is a critical factor elk will likely be found within a mile of standing water both early and late in the day. Some areas to check out include the stretch from Jaycox Mountain to Kinnikinick Lake, Ashurst Run, and the area between Ashurst Lake and Marshall Lake. There are also good numbers of elk below Anderson Mesa. Elk tend to concentrate around the canyons on the east side of the mesa. Elk can be found anywhere from Walnut Canyon on the north side to Diablo Canyon in the south. There are also scattered bands of elk between Winona and Padre Canyon out near I-40.

Late Seasons: Elk locations don’t change a lot during the hunting season unless there is significant snowfall on Anderson Mesa. If the mesa has a fair amount of snow on it then most elk will move to lower elevations. If there is little to no snow then all of the above mentioned areas will still be viable places to hunt. The possible exception would be for mature bulls. After the rut many of the adult bulls will head to lower elevations whether there is snow on the ground or not. The canyons on the north and east side of Anderson Mesa are a good place to find bulls. In the late season one can expect to find spikes or raghorn bulls still running with the cows but the mature bulls will be off by themselves or in bachelor herds. Generally one should look for rugged country with few roads and very little disturbance.

Areas: 5BS
This unit is approximately half as large as 5B north but the elk population is estimated to be almost double that of 5B north. There is no part of the unit that is not elk habitat and as such elk can be found just about everywhere. 5B south consists primarily of national forest land but there are a few residential areas in the unit. Hunters should be aware of the locations of these developed areas and be cautious not to trespass on private property and not to shoot within ¼ mile of any structure.

Early Season:
The early season hunter has numerous options. Since elk can be found throughout the unit the hunter only has to decide how many people they want to deal with. Most hunters will be in the vicinity of Hutch Mountain, Pine Hill and Duke Tank Mesa. Those looking to get away from others should look at areas such as the Sawmill Hills, Sawmill Wash, Turkey Mountain and the area around Hay Lake. In areas of high road density the elk will tend to stay away from roads during daylight hours. Often only a short hike away from the roads is all it takes to find elk. Be sure to move slowly and keep the wind in your face. Many hunters also find success by sitting on game trails. In areas with high hunter pressure elk will often get “pushed around” and by sitting on or near an “escape” trail a person can let others push the elk to them.

Late Season: 
As with 5B north it takes a lot of snow to get elk to move to lower ground. A couple of inches of snow in the high country will not mean that all of the elk have moved out. Snow will only make them easier to track. For antlerless elk all of the areas mentioned above will have elk. While bulls can be found throughout the unit during the late season the best places to look are going to be those that offer security. Look for areas with low road density such as the area between the Sawmill Hills and Tremaine Lake. This area is also the lowest elevation of 5B south and may serve as a “staging” area between summer and winter range. Within these areas bulls will tend to gravitate toward canyons or hills as bedding and cover areas.

Special Note: The Hay Lake property is now in public ownership and is open to hunting. However, a vehicle closure for the area is in effect and there is no vehicular retrieval of game.

 
Mountain Lion

Overview: Mountain lion can be found throughout Unit 5B. However, they will concentrate mostly in and along the rougher canyons, rims and mountains of the unit. 5B has a moderate but healthy lion population. Lions are taken primarily by houndsmen in this unit but it is not uncommon for hunters pursuing other species to see a lion.

Areas: The eastern rim of Anderson Mesa and the canyons extending north offer the best lion habitat. Some of the better canyons include Padre, Mormon, Cherry, Kinnickinick, Grapevine, Diablo, Anderson and Jacks Canyons.

Special Regulations: There are special regulations in place regarding hunters who successfully take a lion refer to the hunt regulations for details.

 
 
Mule Deer

Overview: (updated 7/13) The mule deer population in 5B seems to be on a slight increase over the last couple of years. This reversed about a 13-year decline due to persistent dry conditions. Most bucks that hunters see will be yearlings but there are some large mature bucks scattered throughout the unit. A deer’s forage needs are more specific than those of elk so hunters should familiarize themselves with deer biology to determine if the area they are scouting is likely to hold deer. The best habitat types to find deer in include mixed conifer and pine / oak woodlands. Some of the larger bucks seem to hang out in areas dominated by junipers but with browse species nearby.

Areas: Some good deer densities can still be found around the Hutch Mountain from approximately the 125 (Kinnikinick Lake) Road down to Bargaman Park. Other areas to check include the fringes of the Jacket Fire between Winona Road and Twin Arrows roads, the vicinity of Long Lake, and the western fringes of Anderson Mesa along the Lake Mary Road corridor. Areas with good patches of cliff rose and a good water source nearby, wherever you find them, will likely have deer nearby.

There are a few small populations of whitetail deer in 5B as well. They are primarily located in and around Walnut and Cherry Canyons and Jacks Canyon.
 
Merriam's Turkey

(updated 7/13) Unit 5B has a moderate turkey population concentrated mostly in 5B south. Hunters trying to locate turkeys in 5B should make themselves familiar with what makes good turkey habitat and seek that out. Turkeys can be found just about anywhere where there is a hill, ridge or canyon with mature ponderosa pines and good cover and forage nearby. The small patches of mixed conifer within the unit are also good areas to find turkeys.

Areas: In 5B north the hunter is limited to the northern and northeastern rim of Anderson Mesa. Good places to find turkeys are the areas around Marshall Lake and Walnut Canyon down to Mormon Canyon. In 5B south the western portion of the unit from the 124 road all of the way down to Hwy 87 is turkey country. Hunters should probably not waste their time in the flatter areas but concentrate on the various hills and canyons scattered throughout the area. The Hutch Mountain complex and Pine Mountain are good choices as are the canyons and ridges in the southern portion of the unit.
 
Waterfowl

Anderson Mesa has numerous small lakes spread across it that may or may not hold water during the duck season. Following a good winter most of the lakes will hold water and therefore will hold ducks. Some lakes attract more ducks that others so scouting the water you’re interested in hunting is recommended. There are very few resident ducks on 5B waters so the hunter will primarily find migratory birds. The availability of birds is dependent upon weather in more northern states. Some lakes to look at include Marshall Lake, Vail Lake, Horse Lake, Tremaine Lake and Long Lake. Jump shooting can also be productive and there are several smaller lakes and stock ponds that lend themselves well to this technique.

 
 
Unit Summary
Primary Game Species/ Hunting Month(s)
Elk September to December
Deer (Mule & White-tailed) August, October/November
Buffalo October/November
Secondary Game Species/ Hunting Month(s)
Antelope September/October
Waterfowl October/November
Average # permits in past 5 years
Elk 3129 (all hunts)
Deer (Mule & White-tailed) 400 (combined 5A & 5B)
Buffalo 20-30
Antelope 10 Rifle, 10 Archery
 
Climate Information
Month Ave. Temp Ave. Rainfall Ave. Snowfall
January Max 42°/Min 15° 2.04" 20.5"
February Max 45°/Min 18° 2.09" 19.0"
March Max 49°/Min 21° 2.55" 24.4"
April Max 58°/Min 27° 1.48" 11.9"
May Max 67°/Min 33° 0.72" 1.9"
June Max 78°/Min 41° 0.40" 0.0"
July Max 82°/Min 50° 2.78" 0.0"
August Max 79°/Min 49° 2.75" 0.0"
September Max 73°/Min 41° 2.03" 0.1"
October Max 63°/Min 31° 1.61" 2.5"
November Max 51°/Min 22° 1.95" 10.7"
December Max 43°/Min 16° 2.40" 17.8"
Other Pertinent Climate Information
Average annual precipitation is almost 23 inches.
 
Cities, Roads & Campgrounds
Major Cities and Towns in or Near Game Management Unit and Nearest Gas, Food, and Lodging
Flagstaff, Clints Well
Major Highways and Roads Leading To
From the East: State Hwy 87, Meteor Crater Rd
From the West: Forest Hwy 3
From the North: I-40
From the South: State Hwy 87, Forest Hwy 3
Developed Campgrounds
Lakeview Campground at Lake Mary and Ashurst Campground at Ashurst Lake, both administered by the Forest Service.
Undeveloped Campgrounds
Kinnickinick Lake Campground and Long Lake Campground, both administered by the Forest Service.
 
Brief Description of Terrain, Elevation, and Vegetation
South and east portions of unit are higher elevation, reaching approximately 7,000', with ponderosa pine forest and scattered grasslands-summer range. The north portions are lower elevation at approximately 5,000', with grasslands and pinyon-juniper woodlands.
 
Government Agencies and Phone Numbers
Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region II - 928-774-5045
Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff - 928-527-3600
Walnut Canyon National Monument - 928-526-3367
 
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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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