Hunting in the McDowell Mountain Regional Park and Scottsdale Sonoran Preserve


McDowell Mountain Regional Park and Scottsdale Sonoran Preserve offer hiking, biking, horseback riding, and other forms of recreation – as well as hunting opportunities – but for new hunters, hunting within these parks can be confusing. To help with this confusion, The Times reached out to resident Amy Burnett – known locally as Ranger Amy.

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Deer hunters in Arizona will typically have to travel quite far for quality game, but there is one great place in the northeast Valley just 30 miles from Phoenix: McDowell Mountain Regional Park is an oasis nestled into the lower Verde River basin northwest of the Valley with over 50 miles of multiuse trails with spectacular views, boasting full program schedule and breathtaking sights such as camping, hiking, horseback riding, and stargazing. Be sure to practice good trail etiquette and always bring plenty of water with you for optimal hunting results!

The park is home to numerous wildlife species, such as antelope, quail, coyote, and javelina, that you may wish to hunt; however, you must first be licensed. Furthermore, in order to pursue in the park, you’ll require an official hunting permit; normally these permits are free, but you must verify this with a local office.

McDowell Mountains offer many varieties of hunting opportunities, but hunters must be mindful of any regulations and restrictions before heading into the field. For instance, it is illegal to hunt within 1/4 mile of any developed picnic area, campground, shooting range, or occupied structure – for more information regarding state hunting laws, visit the Arizona Department of Game and Fish’s website.

Unit 25M offers hunters numerous legal methods of taking Gambel’s quail. Quail season runs from early October until early February, when hunters may use archery equipment, firearms with centerfire ammunition or muzzleloaders, handguns with fixed sights or scopes, and air guns equipped with fixed sights or scopes to hunt these birds. Fall season offers peak numbers, so now is an excellent time to visit this unit!

Hunting in County parks and preserves listed above is permitted, provided they do not restrict hunting by means of this Commission Order or referential Note numbers in this publication. Hunters should stay more than 1/4 mile away from any structures when hunting within these County units.


Those spending any amount of time in the desert will inevitably come across herds of javelina at some point; these stinky hoofed raiders are known for wreaking havoc in campsites and residential gardens – they can rip up cactus pads into shreds, shatter hedgehog cacti with their hooves, and consume slimy green interiors of prickly pear cacti! Javelina can be found throughout Texas, Mexico, and Argentina.

Collared Peccarys are easily identified; their color ranges from tan to brownish in hue, with salt-and-pepper stripes of white along their black fur, which gives them a distinctive salt-and-pepper appearance. Adult collared Peccaries typically weigh 35 to 60 lbs.

These animals live throughout Arizona, but their population numbers have been decreasing over time. To control population levels, the Arizona Game and Fish Department recently implemented a quota system.

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding hunting in the McDowell Mountains Park and Preserve. Due to its extensive size and terrain, anyone hoping to pursue there needs to conduct adequate research first.

McDowell Mountain Regional Park is an outstanding example of Sonoran Desert beauty located near Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Home to over 50 miles of trails as well as an exciting program schedule featuring fantastic mountain range views – there’s something here for every outdoor recreationist! The McDowell Mountain Regional Park combines Sonoran Preserve beauty with outdoor recreation opportunities like hiking, biking, horseback riding, and stargazing, providing visitors with an outdoor recreation destination just minutes from Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, and Tempe.

Javelina is an integral component of the ecosystem at the Park and Preserve. Their herds serve as food sources for birds while also maintaining balance among plant life in the region. Furthermore, these animals help prevent invasion by eating seeds of unwanted weeds that proliferate throughout their territory.

For this upcoming season, hunters have an animal quota of 1,000 animals and must obtain a hunting license before January 23rd. Permit holders are subject to all state and federal hunting regulations, as well as wearing a muzzleloader vest at all times while hunting.


No one would expect the harsh Sonoran Desert to host many animals, yet you would be amazed to find plenty of mammals here. White-tailed and mule deer roam freely through the park, as do coyotes and bobcats; cottontail rabbits, kit and gray foxes, badgers, gophers, ringtails, and skunks also call this area home, not forgetting a variety of birds that reside here and feed off seeds, fruits and insects for sustenance.

Coyotes are intelligent, adaptive animals that take every opportunity to feed themselves. In your yard or neighborhood, they could scavenge for birds, rodents, livestock feed, pet food, and unattended trash in search of sustenance; water sources or shelter could also provide nourishment; they may become aggressive toward pets larger than them with retractable leashes while hunting small dogs and cats for meals.

Arizona law mandates that anyone hunting coyotes must obtain a hunting license from either the State Fish and Game Department or their county sheriff, which must then be carried with you at all times during hunting activities. As with any hunting experience, newcomers should get their permits as early as possible to ensure success on their first outing.

McDowell Mountain Regional Park features numerous hiking trails for visitors to enjoy in addition to hunting activities, with Dixie Mine Trail providing an ideal place to observe native birds and other forms of wildlife. Open to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders – please practice proper trail etiquette by carrying plenty of water with you and informing someone where you plan to go before setting out on any treks!

The park lies northeast of Phoenix and Scottsdale in the Verde River basin, where its elevation reaches up to 3,000 feet along its western boundary at the base of McDowell Mountains. With 50 miles of trails for hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and equine enthusiasts – not forgetting its stunning Sonoran Desert beauty showcased through deer, javelina, coyotes, and birds – it is a popular recreational site among residents living within the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.


McDowell Mountain Regional Park boasts an abundance of flora and fauna to draw in bird lovers, including numerous species of raptors and songbirds. Furthermore, over 40 miles of hiking trails range in difficulty from easy to strenuous for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, picnic areas, and campground facilities at this park.

Hunters may take coots and gallinules from designated areas in the park during winter hunts, with daily limits set at 50 animals; each coot or gallinule may only be taken once during this daily bag limit. These animals may be captured with a shotgun, bow, crossbow, falconry, falconry, and falconry hunting methods available – plus there’s even a Migratory Bird Stamp included as part of youth combo hunt and fish licenses!

In springtime, the area surrounding a park becomes abundant with geese, ducks, and pheasants as these birds come south to escape harsh cold conditions in northern parts of the United States.

At other times of the year, the region offers ample wildlife hunting opportunities. Beginning September 1st, there is a two-week mourning dove season and mid-November through early January geese hunts with bag limits for 40 white geese (including blue and Ross’ Goose ) and ten dark geese such as Canada cackling Brant white-fronted geese).

There are often misconceptions surrounding hunting in the McDowell Mountains. Due to its complex nuances, anyone intending to pursue either Park or Preserve should do their homework first before heading out on the trail. To help dispel some of this uncertainty, The Times reached out to Amy Burnett (known locally as Ranger Amy).

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is one of the largest urban parks in the US, housing unique geological, historic, and archeological features special to desert habitat. Connecting north with three million-acre Tonto National Forest and southeast with McDowell Mountain Regional Park as an unbroken wildlife corridor, also serving as an outdoor laboratory for scientific research and education purposes – Scottsdale, Arizona takes great pride in protecting this valuable asset!