Game Management Unit 17A
Species within this unit:
Antelope, Black Bear, Elk, Javelina, Merriam's Turkey, Mountain Lion, Mule Deer, Dove, Tree Squirrel , Quail
Beginning at the junction of Williamson Valley Road (County Road 5) and Camp Wood Road (FS 21); westerly on Camp Wood Road to the west boundary of the Prescott National Forest; north along this boundary to the Baca Grant; east, north, and west around the grant to the west boundary of the Prescott National Forest; north and east along this boundary to Williamson Valley Road; southerly on this road to Camp Wood Road.
Overview: Game Management Unit (GMU) 17 is divided into a north (17A) and south (17B) half, with Camp Wood Road (Forest Service Road 21, a.k.a. County Road 68), being the dividing line. Both units provide extremely high buck-to-doe ratios, with good trophy potential. Unit 17B has a larger population of antelope than GMU 17A. For both units, antelope occur in specific, limited areas where important access issues exist. Hunters should always pick up litter, leave gates as they are found (usually closed), and never drive off road in any vehicle, including ATV's. By cooperating with these landowners, hunter access will be available in these areas in the future.
Areas: New Water. This area is located in the extreme northwest portion of the unit. Access is from Forest Service Road (FS) 2, off Williamson Valley Road.
Cowden's. This area is on the northeast border of the unit, just west of Williamson Valley Road, up to the forest boundary. The above two areas are both within the Yavapai Ranch, which is a checkerboard of U.S. Forest Service and private land. Access has been granted through an agreement between the ranch and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. To ensure this agreement continues in the future, hunters should obey all ranch requests such as road closures, driving only on existing roads, and limiting travel on roads during wet weather to reduce rutting.
Extreme southeast corner. This area is accessed from FS 21 on the south and Williamson Valley Road to the east. Much of this area is deeded private property owned by the Barney York and Bar Triangle Ranches. Hunting on the private sections is allowed by permission only and may involve an access fee.
Overview: Unit 17 is combined with GMU 18B, 20A and 20B for fall bear season, so refer to that page for additional information. Anyone going bear hunting must contact 1-800-970-BEAR (2327) to determine if a particular hunt unit is still open. If a hunter has harvested a bear, they must contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department within 48 hours of take. This can be done in person during business hours, or by calling 1-800-970-BEAR, which is a 24-hour number. In addition, within 10 days of taking a bear, the hunter shall present the bear’s skull, hide, and attached proof of sex for inspection. A premolar tooth will be removed during this inspection. Keep in mind that local Wildlife Managers may not be readily available to inspect a bear, which may require the hunter taking the animal to a Department office.
When in the field, care should be taken to watch for cubs near a potential game bear. Small bruins are not always visible in dense cover. Hunters cannot take a sow with cubs.
Overview: Game Management Units 17A and 17B have relatively low elk densities with herds that move back and forth across the unit boundaries. This nomadic behavior results in a challenging hunt that requires equal amounts of skill, pre-hunt scouting, and luck. Units 17A and 17B are combined with Units 18B, 19B, 20A, and 20C for the archery and general hunts.
The management objectives for Unit 17A are to maintain a limited number of elk far below the carrying capacity of the unit and to minimize conflicts on private land.
Areas: The elk population is mainly concentrated in the western portion of GMU 17A from Camp Wood Road (FS 21) to the unit’s northern boundary. Other elk herds utilize the eastern part of 17A on the Yavapai and K4 Ranches as well as the southeastern corner on the Bar Triangle and Barney York Ranches. Unless you are familiar with these areas, pre-hunt scouting is recommended.
Overview: Hunter success during javelina season is weather dependent. If temperatures are low with cloud cover and precipitation, javelina will stay brushed up or in the bottom of draws in an attempt to stay warm. This obviously makes them difficult to locate. However, on calm days with the sun shining, javelina can be found relatively easily feeding on open slopes. When hunting in areas where thick vegetation precludes glassing, try sitting at waters frequented by javelina.
General javelina seasons last for seven days and if a storm moves in, much of the hunt can be lost due to poor weather. Archery season, however, lasts nearly a month, allowing a hunter to plan one or more trips during periods of optimum weather conditions. This is just food for thought when filling out the spring hunt applications.
Whenever you hunt, find high points that allow you to see large amounts of country, sit down, and start to glass. Many hunters make the mistake of just scanning the hillsides without really picking them apart, thus missing a lot of game. Attaching your binoculars to a tripod will make glassing much easier, especially when looking long distances.
Once a javelina has been harvested, care should be taken to dress and skin it as soon as possible. A common misconception is that the scent gland on a javelina's back must be cut out. This is incorrect. The gland is contained within the skin, and simply skinning a javelina as you would any other animal will completely remove the scent gland. However, be sure not to touch a knife or fingers to the gland and then touch the meat.
Areas: Yavapai Ranch. This ranch, located in the northern portion of the unit, is checker-boarded private and U.S. Forest Service land. Access to the private land has been obtained through an agreement between the ranch and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. To ensure these lands are open to hunters in the future, drive only on existing roads, close gates, and limit travel on wet roads to prevent excessive rutting. Access to this area is off County Road 5, on Forest Service Road (FS) 1 and 2.
Most of the rest of Unit 17A has good numbers of javelina. Many of these areas, however, are covered with thick vegetation making location of javelina challenging.
Overview: The turkey population in Game Management Unit 17 has experienced a sharp decline over the past several years. However, the biology of these birds suggests that they will recover quickly once conditions improve. In the meantime, permits will be reduced and hunters should expect much lower hunt success than in years past.
When hunting turkeys during the spring season, make sure the bird you’re about to bag has a visible beard. Don't rely on a colorful head or even the sound of a gobble when making a decision to shoot. Also be sure no other turkeys are behind or adjacent to the bird you decide to take. Accidentally killing multiple birds with one shot is more common than one might think.
Overview: With the exception of some of the open grassland savannas, mountain lions are found in good numbers throughout Game Management Unit (GMU) 17. Annual lion harvest in GMU 17 is consistently among the highest in the state. Lions are reclusive animals that spend most of their time in rough more remote country. By far, the most effective lion hunting method is trailing them with hounds. However, lions will respond to predator calls, and hunters using this tactic harvest many each year.
When setting up to call mountain lions, pick an elevated calling location that allows you to view a lot of country from one point. Lions will generally come in slow and cautiously, so call on and off for at least 45 minutes, while glassing open areas and rock-piles. Calls that imitate a cottontail or jackrabbit in distress are effective.
Special Note: Successful lion hunters must report their kill by contacting an Arizona Game and Fish Department office, or by telephone (1-877-438-0447), within 48 hours of taking a lion. In addition, within 10 days of taking a lion, the hunter shall present the lion’s skull, hide, and attached proof of sex for inspection. A premolar tooth will be removed during this inspection. The premolar tooth (very small) is located on the upper jaw just behind the large canine. Keep in mind that local Wildlife Managers may not be readily available to inspect a bear, which may require the hunter taking the animal to a Department office. Also, it is unlawful to harvest a spotted kitten or a female accompanied by spotted kittens.
Overview: Game Management Unit (GMU) 17 is divided into two separate mule deer hunts. Unit 17A to the north and GMU 17B to the south are divided by Camp Wood Road (Forest Service Road 21, a.k.a. County 68). Unit 17A is dominated by rolling hills with pinyon/juniper and oak woodland with interspersed grasslands to the north. To the south and western portions of the unit, large areas of Ponderosa pine are present. Unit 17B is a little more diverse in terms of vegetation and elevation. While Ponderosa pine is common in the northern part of the unit, pinyon/juniper woodland, chaparral, grassland savannas, and sonoran desert to the southwest typify other areas. Arizona Game and Fish Department personnel have worked with many of the ranches in GMU 17 to obtain access for hunters on private land. Problems such as vandalism, littering, harassment of livestock, and cross-country travel may cause these landowners to revoke this privilege and lock their gates. Hunters who observe these types of actions and report them to an officer help ensure private lands remain open in the future.
During the early archery season and the general season, sitting on waters can be a productive tactic. Areas with open slopes, ridges, or mesas should be meticulously glassed for deer during early morning and late afternoon periods. As with any hunt, pre-hunt scouting will greatly increase your chances for success. A Prescott National Forest map is a good place to start (refer to the west half).
Areas: Camp Wood and Hyde Mountain west to the Yolo Ranch. Forest Service Road (FS) 21, off Williamson Valley Road from Prescott, can access this area. This area is predominantly Ponderosa pine with large granite boulder piles. Glassing in this area will be limited, although still-hunting and sitting waters can yield good results. The pastures north and south of the Yolo Ranch headquarters are private and no hunting is allowed.
Cross U Ranch, FS 21 north along Hitt Wash. This area is mostly gentle hills with pinyon/oak woodland. Glassing will be more effective in this area. Some of the private sections along Hitt Wash have been closed to vehicle travel by the ranch to promote regeneration of the riparian area. Foot access is permitted in these locations.
Walnut Creek Road (County Road 125) parallels a popular corridor for deer hunters. Although this road goes through a good amount of private land, where permission is required, it is the northern access point for FS 9 and 95.
For those willing to get away from the roads and hike or go horseback, Juniper Mesa Wilderness will be the ticket. Best access is from the north off FS 7. The mesa is mostly Ponderosa to the west, grading to pinyon as you head east.
Haystack Peak (FS 664). This area is a checkerboard of U.S. Forest Service and private land, which is owned by the Yavapai Ranch. Access to the private land has been obtained through an agreement between the ranch and the Department. The ranch maintains the road system, and it is asked that when weather conditions make these roads muddy that people refrain from using them, or at least limit travel on them to avoid extensive rutting.
Happy Camp (FS 1). Access is through the Yavapai Ranch headquarters.
Overview: Game Management Unit 17 lacks large areas of irrigated cropland that provides optimum dove hunting associated with many other units. Although a few irrigated fields are maintained, they are on private property where permission to hunt is required.
Some of the tanks in the southern and eastern portion of the unit may provide good hunting opportunities. Scouting potential areas shortly before the season will greatly improve your hunting success.
Overview: Tree squirrels are associated with Ponderosa pine/oak woodland. This type of habitat can be found around Camp Wood off Forest Service Road 21 and Happy Camp to the north, off FS 1. Hunters can enjoy success by slowly walking through the forest looking and listening. Another tactic is to get in an area with fresh sign, such as cut pine limbs, then sit and wait.
Overview: Quail breeding activity and the survival of young birds is directly related to precipitation. Late winter and early spring moisture generally translates to a good quail season.
Early in the season, birds will most likely be tied to water. As the season progresses and temperatures fall, they will move away from tanks and washes to the uplands.
While pockets of quail can be found throughout Unit 17A, the best hunting in GMU 17 occurs in southern 17B.
|Primary Game Species/ Hunting Month(s)|
|Secondary Game Species/Hunting Month(s)|
|Month||Avg. Temp||Avg. Rainfall||Avg. Snowfall|
|January||Max 50°/Min 20°||1.72"||4.50"|
|February||Max 54°/Min 23°||1.51"||3.50"|
|March||Max 59°/Min 23°||1.53"||3.90"|
|April||Max 68°/Min 33°||0.72"||1.10"|
|August||Max 86°/Min 56°||3.45"||0.0"|
|September||Max 85°/Min 50°||1.49"||0.0"|
|October||Max 72°/Min 38°||1.22"||0.20"|
|November||Max 60°/Min 28°||1.33"||1.90"|
|December||Max 52°/Min 23°||1.80"||5.60"|
Other Pertinent Climate Information
Temperatures and precipitation levels vary considerably due to the wide range in elevations. High-elevation climate information is from Prescott. Higher elevation areas, such as Camp Wood, will experience cooler temperatures and considerably more snowfall.
Cities, Roads & Campgrounds
Major Cities and Towns in or Near Game Management Unit and Nearest Gas, Food, and Lodging
Prescott, Bagdad, Seligman
Major Highways and Roads Leading To
From the East: State Hwy 69
From the West: State Hwy 97
From the North: Williamson Valley Rd
From the South: State Hwy 89
None. All camping is primitive.
None. All camping is primitive.
Brief Description of Terrain, Elevation, and Vegetation
Elevations range from roughly 5,000' up to more than 7,200' near Camp Wood. Terrain is very diverse, encompassing mesas with associated canyons, steep mountains, and wide flats. Vegetation varies from large expanses of chaparral and short grass meadow with interspersed pinyon-juniper, to coniferous forests.
Government Agencies and Phone Numbers
Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region III -928 692-7700
Prescott National Forest -928 443-8000