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Unit 28
Contributors to this thread:
btb 27-Jun-20
btb 02-Jul-20
trouton 02-Jun-21
Minnesota Madman 21-Jul-21
azelkhntr 02-Aug-21
From: btb
Has anyone seen or taken an elk in 28 with a nonpermit tag?

From: btb
I guess that was a dumb question.

From: trouton

trouton's Link
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Apparently no responses. I would be interested to get more info on this. I am trying to find a elk/mule deer location for late in the year. Guessing everyone in the know will be extremely tight lipped. I would be...

From: azelkhntr
This info is from the AZG&F website concerning GMU 28.

Mule Deer

Overview: Unit 28 is quite large and covers approximately 2400 square miles. Because of the open terrain, unit 28 typically has a high hunter success.

Areas: The Gila Mountains north and west of Safford have relatively low numbers of mule deer with a few areas of higher concentrations of deer. Some good places to look in the Gila Mountains are Day Mine Canyon, Oliver Knoll, Solomon Pass, Bonita Creek, Turtle Mountain, the Fishooks Wilderness Area and the Diamond Bar Ranch.

The area around Guthrie Peak, between Hwy 191 and the Gila River offers many canyons to hunt mule deer. This area is east of Safford. The BLM has dedicated a road into this area called the Back Country By-way. It can be accessed from Hwy 191 and there are signs to indicate were to turn.

The Whitlock Mountains are another area commonly hunted for mule deer. The Whitlocks are east of Safford and to get there travel east out of Safford on Hwy 70. The mountains are accessible by turning south onto Haekel Road or Hackberry Ranch Road. Haekel Road provides access from the west side of the mountains and Hackberry Ranch Road from the east.

The Peloncillo Mountains run along the east edge of unit 28 from highway 70 south. Hunters should obtain a map and look for such names as Ash Peak, Woods Canyon, Poppy Canyon, Gillespie Canyon, Sands Draw, Tule Wells, Antelope Canyon and McKenzie Ranch. There are many good areas that a BLM map should be obtained and explored for specific access. At present time, most areas are open.

The outlook for the mule deer hunt in unit 28 is good. It is very important that the first time hunter in the unit spend some time scouting. The unit is quite large and some country is hard to hunt or may contain low deer numbers.

White-tailed Deer

Overview: Unit 28 offers limited whitetail deer hunting. Approximately 10-12 whitetails are taken in Unit 28 each year.

Areas: The majority of whitetails are harvested in the northeastern part of Unit 28, south of Hwy 78. The habitat is very thick with brush and can be difficult to hunt. A few deer are also taken on Turtle Mountain. This area is northeast of Safford and lies between Bonita Creek and lower Eagle Creek north of the Gila River. Four-wheel drive is recommended for this area and depending on the conditions, can be a must. The Fishhook Wilderness Area in the northwest portion of Unit 28, along the San Carlos Reservation, can also hold pockets of whitetail. To be successful on a whitetail hunt it is highly recommended that detailed maps be obtained and that time is spent in the preseason scouting. This will help you become familiar with the area and possibly locate where the deer (bucks) are running.


Overview: Unit 28 offers limited elk hunting. All elk hunts in unit 28 are limited opportunity or over the counter, non-permit tag hunts. Unit 28 is not traditional elk country but there are a few areas where elk will move into the unit from the San Carlos Reservation, unit 27, or New Mexico.

Areas: Elk are not found throughout unit 28. They are found along the boundary with the San Carlos Reservation and in the northeast corner of the unit. Elk can be found anywhere along the San Carlos Boundary in the Gila Mountains but some areas to begin looking are Diamond Bar Ranch, the Fishhooks Wilderness, Day Mine Road, Markham Creek, Pima Gap, and Johnny Creek. All areas are rough to very rough with limited road access. The northeast corner of the unit has very thick vegetation and can be tough to move through. Elk will occasionally be found along the Gila River near Ft. Thomas. An important note is the Gila River Corridor is closed for the over the counter, non-permit hunt. As with any limited opportunity hunt these hunts can be very tough and there is a chance the hunter will not find any elk.

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