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Arizona Bonus points- worth it or not for the december hunts?

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I was curious as to what some of you folks that know multiple units down in AZ think as to the worthiness of building points to be used toward the late December rifle hunts.  I have 10 points as a NR again, and have hunted the grey ghost down there twice unsuccessfully in unit 32.  Saw tons of deer the first hunt as it was cool weather, just couldn't put it together, and didn't hardly see deer the second hunt with much warmer weather.  I want a solid buck that will look good mounted on my wall and a quality hunt.  I also now have a better work schedule that will allow me to hunt the late December time frame instead of the early hunts.

The question is are the AZ late coues hunts truly worth the bonus points they require over the next tier of hunts?   According to TopRut.com: The hardest do draw units 22 & 23 are 15 points, the next level units 24a, 27, 29 take 11-12, then the tier I can draw next year-6b, 24b, 31, 32, 33, 6a take 8-10 points, then you have the border units taking 3-6 points for 30b, 30a, 36a, 35a, 34b, 35b, 36b, 34a, 36c.    Are there really that much better hunts in the high point units?  Are there more deer?  Bigger bucks?  I won't have time to come scout and locate a buck, so will just be relying on my glassing skills and getting lucky.  I will take the entire season off to hunt if needed though.

Bottom Line: Will I have a chance at a better buck (all else equal as to luck of location picked to go and ability to find a buck) on a 10 pt draw hunt vs a 5 pt draw tag if I average my points with my hunting buddy that has a big fat 0 points?  Said buddy will go along either way, but easier to convince his wife to let him go along if he also has a tag and he might be able to play hooky more days. 

Thanks for the input!

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My 2 cents: The same deer are in the same unit no matter what the season is. The rut is what makes the big boys more visible. The problem is that coues deer aren't rutting in December most years. You may get some pre rut, but rut is Jan and Feb. December tags are not what they are cracked up to be. If I were in charge, the premium tags would be issued for super bowl weekend.

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You are in the game too far now to waste all them points on a early hunt especially if you cant scout any. The early hunts you can pattern certain bucks if you have the time to scout a lot.

The late hunts you will have almost 3 weeks to hunt, therefore you will likely see a better buck in that time. A Lot less people running around the woods in the late hunts as well.

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The only Coues hunt I have ever done was a 24B December hunt.  Had no idea what I was doing.  Shot the biggest buck I saw in 5 days.  I was quite underwhelmed back then....

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BC is right...don’t waste those points on an early season hunt. I’ve hunted all the seasons in several of the southern units and definitely saw the most and biggest bucks on the late Dec hunt. They may not have been rutting great, but they were definitely moving more. Fewer hunters was a huge plus too. 

I think you could have a great hunt in any of the border units you’ve listed without having to wait longer. Pick one of your 8-10 pt units as first choice and one of the 3-6 pts as second and see what happens!

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December hunts are cooler but i wouldn't say better than any other time of the year. The advantages are FAR fewer tags resulting in less pressure (unless there are OTC archery hunts at the same time), longer season, cooler weather and a chance of rutting activity near the end of the hunt. I prefer the early season hunts because i can draw them every year and the bucks are still in their summer patterns until the shooting starts. Being a nonresident, I'd suggest you stick to drawing your December tag then start applying for the earlier hunts where you can draw tags every year or two. 

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The benefit of December tags is basically the following things:

- Better weather / more active deer

- Longer Season (by 2X)

 - Fewer hunters

In terms of the units you listed it’s almost an inverse relationship of the points required to draw and quality I would expect. The border units have far more deer than the 20’s units. The biggest thing that drives their draw odds down is their proximity to phoenix and distance from the border. But I wouldn’t count on finding more deer or bigger deer in 22 than in 36B.

There are some units that aren’t close to phoenix but also don’t have the border issues. Unit 27/28 or 31 would be examples. 

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Thanks for the info.  I am definitely going to hold out for a December hunt in hopes of prerut activity.

Flatlander, Thats exactly what I figured was going on.  To me, the higher deer numbers make for a higher quality hunting experience.  It should give you more bucks to chase, and I feel quality can be a numbers game going in blind unless you get lucky and pick the right pocket with a great buck to start with.  

 

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Go to Mexico.  Use your points for a big mule deer someday.  Comparing apples to apples, big coues deer are way cheaper to hunt them big mule deer.  To shoot a big muley you gotta be really really really good, or have a bunch of points or a bunch of money.   You can go to Mexico for $2500-5000 every year and hunt unpressured bucks in January when they’re actually rutting.  

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I'd rather have a big coues any day of the week over a big mule deer at this point of my hunting career.  I have been very fortunate on mule deer hunts in Colorado and used to manage a large ranch that didn't allow outside hunters and already have 8 trophy muleys on the wall between the wife and I.  I do however, believe that a truly trophy sized mule deer is becoming one of the hardest to find treasures of the hunting world.   I am building points for them in other states, and have burned 26 points between 2 solid rifle tags in the past 2 years without even chambering a round.  Just didn't see a buck that floated my boat with size or character.  

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For what its worth I think you would enjoy the late hunt.  October hunt you have a chance to kill a good buck if you find his home turf.  After the shooting starts it gets tougher by season, deer hunker down and become tougher to turn up, move less during the day in the open.  Late December is definitely better as bucks start to travel more looking for groups of does, you definitely see more deer on their feet.  Bucks may not be with does but they will not be far and likely on the move. It's a super fun hunt and if you will see lots of deer and maybe a good one.  If you're lucky you might see a little pre/early rut action if it cools down especially after Christmas.   North/central they rut a little earlier but generally lower populations and thicker country, South they rut later but more deer in general and more glassable IMO.  If I were not familiar with areas I would stay away from the 6's, 30A&B.  I'm not a fan of the 21-24's personally...some are...

 

 

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I had the 35A December tag this year. My mom and I both shot decent bucks but the rut did not start until Jan 7 this season. Don’t expect a rut hunt on the Dec tag, but do expect to have far less hunting pressure and be able to hunt much longer. Also beware if you do get to scout. My #1 and #2 bucks that I scouted prior to the first season were killed before my tag. One was killed on the first season and was 109 the second was killed in the third season and was almost 90. 

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