The Best Mule Deer Units in Arizona

kaibab deer guides

The Best Mule Deer Units in Arizona

What are the best units to apply for to be able to hunt for the best trophy mule deer bucks in Arizona?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions that we get every year from serious trophy hunters who are interested in applying or have been applying for the mule deer hunts in Arizona. There are several units in Arizona that consistently produce giant mule deer and have the right genetics and proper trophy management strategies in place to ensure that they always will. Of course there are always a few giant bucks taken yearly in Arizona that come out of units that are not known for trophy mule deer but for now we will focus on the 5 units that we feel are the “best of the best” on a consistent yearly basis.

Here is our list of what we feel are the best mule deer units in Arizona.

1st Choice – Arizona Hunt Unit 13 B: I’m sure it’s probably no surprise to anyone reading this post that Unit 13B on the Arizona Strip is our number one top pick for the absolute best mule deer unit in Arizona. The Arizona Strip has a long history of producing giant bucks and has one of, if not the best, trophy mule deer gene pools in the world.

the best guides for the arizona stripUnit 13A also produces absolute giants but the reason we chose 13B over 13A is that 13B seems to have slightly higher numbers of deer and is not quite so tough to hunt as hunting in unit 13A can be. While both of these units can be extremely frustrating to hunt, due to the overwhelming size and remoteness of the area and the very low densities of deer on the Strip, 13B is generally a little more hunter friendly.


There are two separate mule deer seasons in 13B. The first one would be the archery mule deer hunt that starts in mid august.  We feel that this Unit 13B archery hunt ( with the 13A archery hunt coming in at a close second choice ) is hands down the best archery hunt in the world for a bowhunter to try and harvest a world class mule deer buck.


If your goal is to someday harvest a truly giant mule deer buck with your bow this is the tag that you need to apply for your first choice when filling out your Arizona mule deer applications. The next mule deer hunt that is offered in Unit 13B is the rifle mule deer hunt that starts in early November.


This hunt can be a rut hunt for trophy Arizona strip bucks depending on the weather and precipitation that has fallen during the year. We feel that this Unit 13B rifle hunt is the premier mule deer hunt in Arizona for the rifle hunter who is looking to hunt some of the largest mule deer bucks that are walking the face of the earth.

arizona unit 13a mule deer guides2nd Choice – Arizona Hunt Unit 13 A: This unit is the eastern side of the legendary Arizona Strip and, along with unit 13B, consistently produces some of the highest scoring mule deer bucks harvested worldwide.


This unit can be tougher to hunt than unit 13B but the quality of the mule deer that are found here is phenomenal.


13A also offers both an early season archery hunt and a November rifle hunt.


The rifle hunt in 13A starts later than the 13B rifle hunt and offers hunters better rut dates. Unit 13A should be your second choice ( it’s also a great first choice ) when applying for Arizona mule deer.

kaibab mule deer guides3rd Choice – Arizona Hunt Unit 12 A West: The west side of the world famous Kaibab Plateau is our 3rd ranking pick for the top mulie units in Arizona. The Kaibab has produced two mule deer bucks that incredibly net score over 300 inches Boone & Crockett and Arizona is the only state to have 2 mule deer over 300 B&C net in the record books. Unit 12A west offers higher numbers of deer than 12A east and has both archery hunts and rifle hunts for different seasons.


The early season Kaibab archery hunt is a great choice for hunters wanting to harvest a good velvet buck. Unlike the Strip, there are high numbers of deer here and the action is plentiful. The 12A west early rifle season in October does produce some giants occasionally but can be a tough hunt. Your best hunt choice for taking a giant mulie out of 12A west is to apply for the late season rifle rut hunts in late November.


This hunt is one of the most exciting mule deer hunts in the state due to the bucks being in the rut and due to the incredible numbers of deer that you will see during this hunt. The trophy quality can be great as well. This late kaibab hunt in 12A west always produces 200 B&C class bucks and will give you an unforgettable rut mule deer hunting experience.

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4th Choice – Arizona Hunt Unit 12 B: 12B can be a tough unit to crack but it does produce giants.


We feel that the best mule deer hunt to apply for in unit 12B is the late season rifle rut hunt if your goal is to take trophy class mule deer bucks.


The early hunts occasionally produce some super bucks but they are extremely hard to come by due to the fact that the mule deer herd in 12B is mainly comprised of deer that migrate here in the late fall and winter.

arizona mule deer guidesThe population of year round resident deer is very low. That being said, the late rifle hunt in 12B can be one of the best mule deer hunts in Arizona and recently produced a buck that scored in excess of 270 Boone & Crockett points!


Being surrounded by the Arizona Strip, Kaibab, and Paunsaugunt, 12B will always have giant bucks to hunt for the lucky few who draw the late rifle tags here.


5th Choice – Arizona Hunt Unit 12 A East : 12A east, the east side of the Kaibab, is our 5th ranking pick for Arizona’s best mule deer units. The numbers of deer in 12A east are lower than the west side but there are some giant bucks roaming this unit. Just like the west side, we feel that the late season rifle rut hunt in 12A east is the best hunt for trying to harvest the best buck possible out of this unit. Don’t overlook that late hunt in 12A east when applying for Arizona’s best mule deer hunts.

Yavapai Outfitters and McClendons Guide Service are very excited to announce the formation of our new Arizona mule deer outfitters company, Arizona Strip Guides LLC. Arizona Strip Guides LLC was formed by Travis McClendon and David Pereda to provide serious trophy mule deer hunters with the ultimate professional outfitter services for the trophy mule deer hunts on the Arizona Strip and Kaibab Plateau. Combining forces and creating the Arizona Strip Guides Team allows us to pool together our extensive years of experience and tremendous amount of resources to offer you the “Best of the Best” professional guide services for the Kaibab and Arizona Strip. We are your first and only choice in Arizona mule deer outfitters and Arizona mule deer guides. Contact us at any time if you would like to discuss which one of these Arizona mule deer units and hunts would best fit you in your search for the Holy Grail of trophy hunting: a giant mule deer buck.


We guide trophy mule deer hunts and extensively scout in these units every single year and would be glad to come up with a plan for obtaining your own Arizona trophy mule deer tag.