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Bird Hunting in Arizona, Scaled, Mearns, Gambel’s Quail, Chukar, Grouse, and Pheasant

Bird Hunting in Arizona, Scaled, Mearns, Gambel’s Quail, Chukar, Grouse, and Pheasant

Bird hunters walk in on a quail point in Arizona

Temperate, expansive and beautiful — bird hunting in Arizona is an icon in Southwest quail hunting as well as other upland game.

Don’t let the deserts of Arizona (there are actually four different types of desert there) fool you. They might not be the places you want to build your nest, but they are the places many birds call home. As such, bird hunting in Arizona is alive and well. The great thing about that, too, is how much public land is available for bird hunting. In fact, about 60 percent of Arizona is public land. In addition to that, there is a great deal of private land open for hunting thanks to the Land Access Program. If you want to see what Arizona has in store for you, expect to pay $20 a day for a short-term nonresident combination license. Residents pay $15 for the same license, but can also buy an annual license for $37. 

SpeciesSeason Daily/Possession Limits Unit Restrictions
Scaled, Gambel’s and California QuailOct 18 – Feb 9, 202015/45 (no more than 8 can be Mearns)See State Book
Mearns’ Quail Dec 6 – Feb 9th, 20208/24 Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges)
ChukarSept 1 – Feb 9, 20205/15Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges)
Blue GrouseSept 1 – Nov 10, 20193/9 Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges)
PheasantSept – – 15, 20192/6 Roosters Only 40B
Mourning and White-winged DoveSept 1 t- Sept 15, 202915/45Statewide
Late Mourning Dove SeasonNov 22 – Jan 5, 202015/45Statewide
Band-tailed PigeonOct 4 – 17, 20192/6Statewide
Tree SquirrelOct 4 – Dec 31st, 20195/15Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges and Unit 11M)
Any tree squirrel except the Mount Graham red squirrel
Tassel-eared tree squirrel July 1 – June 30, 20205/15 31 only
Tassel-eared tree squirrel Sept 1 – May 31, 20205/1533 Only
Cottontail RabbitJuly 1 to Jume 30, 202010/30Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges, Units 11M, 25M, 26M, and 38M)
Cottontail Rabbit Sept 1 – Feb 9, 202010/30Bill Williams River, Buenos Aires, Cibola, Havasu, Imperial and San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuges
Cottontail Rabbit Oct 18 – Feb 9, 202010/30 Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

The Quail Species of Arizona

There are four species of quail available for hunting in the state: Gambel’s, scaled, Mearns’, and California quail (valley quail). This is what Arizona has become famous for in the upland hunting world with very strong populations over the years. Many venture to this quail hunting mecca to target primarily scaled, Gambel’s, and Mearns’ quail. Of the four, Gambel’s quail is perhaps the most abundant and can be found statewide. Gambel’s is most often hunted in the open desert. As for the scaled quail (sometimes referred to as blue quail), you can find them in eastern parts of the state. The Mearns’ quail has been known to make its habitat in lower parts of southern Arizona. 

A hunter hands a mearns' quail to another bird hunter in Arizona.
Mearns’ quail is one of the most common birds hunted in Arizona. Image from the making of the Project Upland film, All Wild

The season for Gambel’s and scaled quail runs from October 6 to February 11, with a daily bag limit of 15. The season for Mearns’ runs from December 8 to February 11. 

Dove and Pigeon Hunting in Arizona

Dove hunting in Arizona has been around for awhile now. Recently, however, law changes made 1 million acres of open desert accessible for dove hunting. That is a lot more territory to explore for dove hunting in Arizona. There are three species of dove that can be hunted in Arizona. The mourning dove, white-winged dove, and the invasive Eurasian collared-dove. Arizona is proud of its dove season and has pushed a lot to the community aspect that dove hunting can create. They also offer opportunities at the band-tailed pigeon for a limited window in October.

The season dates for native doves runs from September 1 to 15, 2019, then again November 22 to January 5, 2020. The Eurasian collared dove season, since it is deemed invasive, is open year round with unlimited daily and possession numbers.

Blue Grouse

It might not surprise anyone that blue grouse, also known as dusky grouse, get their name from their color. You can look for them in forests above an elevation of 8,000 feet. Because of this limitation, however, they are found exclusively in the mountains of Arizona like Escudilla and Chuska. Blue grouse are a good option for someone looking to add some difficulty to their bird hunting in Arizona. 

The blue grouse season runs from September 1 to November 10, 2019, with a daily bag limit of 3. 

Chukar Hunting in Arizona

Chukar hunting in Arizona is not as common as other states yet you can find populations between elevations of 5,000 and 9,000 feet. As a non-native species, the ones that dwell in Arizona are believed to have originated in India. Efforts were made between the 1930s to the 1970s in 37 locations to populate them but the program widely failed. Today’s population are in the Northwest portion of the state above the Colorado River in canyons.

Chukar season runs from September 1 to February 9, 2020, with a daily bag limit of 5.

Other Species for Bird Hunting in Arizona 

A select number of other species are available for bird hunting in Arizona. Ring-necked pheasant can be hunted in the state, but it’s limited to Area 40B in the Yuma Valley region. There is a further application and draw process as well as separate tags for anyone wanting to hunt pheasant. One can also pursue the overlooked common snipe (Wilson’s snipe) with generous seasons running October through January.

Southern Arizona Quail Forever

Pheasants Forever

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA)

The Hunter Safety Course and Dog Training for Bird Hunting in Arizona 

If you want to buy a small game license in Arizona, you will not need to possess a hunter education certificate. Only children under the age of 14 will need to complete the required hunter education courses. Check out the course schedule for Arizona hunter education.

To train your dog for bird hunting in Arizona, you will need to obtain a free special use permit. It will allow you to release and take pen-raised birds specified on the permit, for no more than 10 consecutive days.

The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the website for Arizona Game and Fish Department for the most up-to-date information on bird hunting in Arizona. 

View Comments (4)
  • Some of the suggested locations, such as grouse are on reservations. AZGFD *and* the tribal management office regulations overlap and apply. Reservation regs (usually more strict) overrule AZGFD laws on reservations. Those rules and regs change often without notice. Most importantly, there are delicate cultural considerations to be taken in to consideration when hunting on reservation lands. Some reservations will not allow anyone to possess a firearm on their lands except when on a state or federal funded roadway, only passing through. Usually it’s strongly suggested to hire a guide specializing in hunting on reservations.

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