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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. 

SpeciesSeasonDaily/Possession Limits Notes
Scaled (Blue) QuailOct. 13, 2023 – Feb. 11, 202415/45 combined species (no more than 8 can be Mearns)Open areas Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges)
Gambel’s QuailOct. 13, 2023 – Feb. 11, 202415/45 combined species (no more than 8 can be Mearns)Open areas Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges)
California QuailOct. 13, 2023 – Feb. 11, 202415/45 combined species (no more than 8 can be Mearns)Open areas Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges)
Mearns’ Quail Dec 1, 2023 – Feb 11, 202415/24 combined species (no more than 8 can be Mearns)Open areas Statewide, including San Bernardino
National Wildlife Refuge (excluding all other National
Wildlife Refuges)
ChukarSept. 1, 2023 – Feb 11, 20245/15Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges)
Dusky (Blue) GrouseSept 1 – Nov 5, 20233/9 Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges)
PheasantSept. 1 – Sept. 15, 20232/6 Roosters Only 40B Only
SnipeOct. 23, 2023 – Jan. 31, 20248/24Statewide
Mourning and White-winged DoveSept 1 t- Sept 15, 202315/45Statewide
Late Mourning Dove SeasonNov. 17 – Dec. 31, 202315/45Statewide
Eurasian Collared DoveYear roundUnlimitedStatewide
Band-tailed PigeonSept. 29. – Oct. 12, 20232/6Statewide
Tree SquirrelSept. 29, 2023 – Jan. 31, 20245/15Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges and Unit 11M)
Any tree squirrel except the Mount Graham red squirrel
Tassel-eared tree squirrel Jul. 1 – Jun. 30, 20245/15 31 only
Tassel-eared tree squirrel Sept. 1, 2023 – May 31, 20245/1533 Only
Cottontail RabbitJul. 1, 2023 to Jun. 30, 20245/15Open areas Statewide (excluding National Wildlife Refuges and
Units 11M, 25M, 26M, and 38M) + Buenos Aires and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuges
Cottontail Rabbit Sept. 1, 2023 – Feb. 11, 20245/15Cibola, Havasu, and Imperial National Wildlife Refuges
Cottontail Rabbit Oct. 13, 2023 – Feb 11, 20245/15Kofa National Wildlife Refuge
Cottontail RabbitAug. 25, 2023 – Feb. 29, 20245/15Leslie Canyon National Wildlife Refuge
*These season dates were last updated on August 7, 2023, and may not reflect any changes since that date. For the most up-to-date information visit the Arizona Game & Fish.
A hunter hands a mearns' quail to another bird hunter in Arizona.

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. 

The season for Gambel’s, scaled, and California quail runs from October 13, 2023 to February 11, 2024 with a daily bag limit of 15. The season for Mearns’ runs from December 1, 2023 to February 11, 2024. 

A band-tailed pigeon in Arizona

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 mourning and white-winged dove runs from September 1 to 15, 2013. Then again November 17 to December 31, 2023 for mourning dove only. Band-tailed pigeon runs from September 29 to October 12, 2023 with a daily bag limit of 2.

The Eurasian collared dove season, since it is deemed invasive, is open year round with unlimited daily and possession numbers.

A dusky (blue) grouse in Arizona

Dusky (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 5, 2023, 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, 2023 to February 11, 2024, with a daily bag limit of 5.

hunting with dogs in Arizona

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.

Upland bird licensing fees for Wisconsin

General Hunting$37.00N/A
Combination Hunt & Fish$57.00$160.00
Short-term Combination Hunt & Fish (per day)$15.00$20.00
Youth Combination Hunt & Fish$5.00$5.00
Migratory Bird Stamp$5.00$5.00

*These fees were last updated on August 7, 2023, and may not reflect any changes since that date. For the most up-to-date information visit the Arizona Fish & Game Department

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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