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Mountain Lion Hunting – Night Hunting Rules Update

Having taken a few questions from readers, we’d like to update everyone on the following issues & questions:


What type of lights can be used for nighttime hunting in AZ for mountain lions:  The regulations only state that “artificial light” can be used so long as it is NOT affixed or tethered to any motor vehicle.  Therefore you can use a white light, a red lens cover, a green lens cover,  or whatever color of light you believe best.

Can night vision equipment be used?  Yes.  Ron Day from the AZ Game and Fish said the department is currently “neutral” on night vision, there’s no specific regulation covering it, and it is okay to use for night hunting mountain lions and coyotes.  Mr. Day added that the use of such equipment would be evaluated as time goes by and more data comes in from the field and other game management agencies that allow its use.

Are you sure that centerfire rifles CAN be used for hunting mountain lions after dark?  Yes. I reconfirmed with Ron Day that the shotgun restriction is ONLY for nighttime coyote hunting.  Lions can be taken at night with any legal firearm listed in the regulations including centerfire rifles.

Does a multiple bag area close to nighttime lion hunting once the multi-bag quota has been reached?  No.  If the area is listed as a “Daylong Hours” hunting area it can still be hunted at night.  The only change is that bag limit returns to one lion per calendar year in that area/unit.

Where can I hunt once I tag a lion in a multiple bag unit?  That depends.  Mr. Day explained it this way:

  • If you killed a lion in a multiple bag area that HAD NOT closed & reverted back to one per calendar year, that lion DOES NOT count toward your one lion per calendar year.  So, you can still hunt lions anywhere in AZ that’s open to lion hunting including the areas that are one per calendar year.
  • However, once you have killed a lion in an area that only allows one lion per calendar year (including a kill in a multi-bag area that reverted back to one per calendar year), you can only hunt in areas that are multiple bag and have not yet closed.  Ron Day said that this is where a hunter could get into trouble and the hunter MUST call the Mt Lion hotline at 877-438-0447 BEFORE they head out so they are certain the area is still open.

So far in AZ there have been a total of 2 lions taken after dark.  Both were called in.  Both were killed with a shotgun.  One of the lions was called & killed by Wildlife Callers’ Field Pro Dave Martens and his shooter Dan Tone.  The other successful lion callers are unknown to us.

As always, thank you for reading.  If you have any questions or comments please put them in the comments section below.

Mark Healy


The First Mountain Lion Called in and Killed Under AZ’s New Night Hunting Regs

Wildlife Callers’ Lion Calling Expert Dave Martens and his shooter Dan Tone are the first hunters in AZ to record a lion harvest under the new “Daylong” hunting rules.

Dan Tone and Arizona's First Nighttime Lion Since 2011 Rule Changes

Just 2.5 weeks after we reported the new Arizona nighttime hunting regulations for mountain lions on THIS POST, Dave Martens of Wildlife Callers and Dan Tone (who’s been featured on the WC Blog before) set out in one of the nighttime lion hunting areas and connected with a mature 7-9 year old female cougar – the actual age will be determined by the AZ Game & Fish.  The lion took about 30-32 minutes to arrive on the stand and came to a mixed bag of sounds.  Here are some of the details:

Arizona Mountain Lion and Deuce the Lion Calling Jack Russel

Locations:  When you think of nighttime lion hunting think of bighorn sheep.  Heavy lion predation has long been a issue for bighorn herd growth and sustainability around AZ.  Accordingly the locations in AZ for hunting lions at night have been chosen by the AZ Game & Fish biologists to provide the most relief to the Desert and Rocky Mountain Bighorn populations.  There isn’t a hunt unit listed in the Arizona Game and Fish lion hunting regulations that we haven’t scouted or hunted, and not found lion sign in.  Actually, we’ve called lions in many of the special units, so to answer the obvious question “where is the best place to go find lions” — all of the special bag units have lions — actually the whole state has lions.

Sounds:  Dave’s calling style is typically mix-it-up and throw out an active multi-critter sound scene for the predator to get interested in.  We’ve said it here before – you can’t confuse a lion by playing sounds that typically don’t go together – they’re not that smart.  Thus, when you create a completely unbelievable sound scene by playing ten minutes of mixed rabbit & small bird distress, followed by several minutes of deer fights and deer distress, followed by javelina sounds and distress, the lion never says ‘hey…I know that would NEVER happen in nature.”  It’s just sound stimulus – nothing more – there are no bad sounds. Mix it up.

Dan Tone, Deuce, and an AZ Mountain Lion

The Caller:  As is always the case, Dave was using his Wildlife Technologies Mighty Atom 21.  If you haven’t heard one, do yourself a favor and give us a call — truly amazing.

The Hunt:  Dave & Dan chose the calling location based on past experience in the area.  Dave has called near the area before and seen plenty of sign along the long ridge lines and hardpan wash bottoms the area is known for.  They kept the caller less than 20 yards away from them when they set up along the side of a dry wash.  The moon was nearly full and visibility was pretty good.  The plan was to, if possible, leave their spotlights & high intensity flashlights off until a lion was spotted or something was heard nearby that needed lighted investigation.

Dave had been playing his varied & lengthy list of sounds for about 30 minutes when the form of a solitary lion was spotted walking toward the speaker.  The lion arrived on Dan’s side of the caller and was closing toward the speaker in a deliberate and unhurried fashion.  Dan raised his 12 gauge and waited patiently while the lion continued to close on the speaker.  The lone lion eventually cut the distance to the speaker down to just 6-yards and came to a stop.  Dan activated the high-intensity light mounted on his shotgun and looked at the lion for a few seconds.  He immediately confirmed what he already knew, the lion was a large, mature cougar.  Boom! Dan shot the lion with a load of #4 buckshot and at just 19-20 yards away it was killed immediately.

Good View of the Large Shoulders and Head on the Lion

Night Calling Logistics:  Dan said that hunting lions at night should continue to be more and more productive as they learn more about doing it and better ways to set up.  But, he cautioned, the logistics of calling after the sun goes down are more complex than in daylight.  He said that something as small as a poorly designed spotlight or a flashlight that’s not bright enough can ruin a stand.  Stand selection takes longer.  Walking to the stand takes longer.  Tripping hazards with guns, callers, and extra gear makes things interesting.  And oftentimes once you’ve set up and think you’re in a good spot, you turn on the light only to find you really have almost zero visibility and have to move.

Takeaways:  Scouting and field experience cannot be underestimated.  Dave has spent many hours in this area scouting for lion sign, using trail cameras to confirm hunches, and calling during the daytime when it wasn’t legal to call at night.  His expertise and knowledge really paid off.

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Thanks again for reading – your comments are welcome below.

Mark Healy- Wildlife Callers

AZ Lion Hunting Updates – Night Hunting and Shotguns Shooting Shot Approved.

Finally – night hunting for lions is here and is referred to in the G&F Regulations as “Daylong Hours”. I believe this will make calling them more productive and we should see more photos from successful hunts posted here. After studying the Dec 2, 2011 amended AZGF regulations and conducting a phone interview with AZ G&F officer & biologist Ron Day, here’s a summary of what I’ve learned about the rule changes:


A Pair of Cougars Just After Dark

Shotguns Shooting Shot: It’s now legal in AZ to use a shotgun shooting shot (slugs are still okay too) to kill a mountain lion. I called the AZ G&F and asked if there were any restrictions on shot size and was told no. The intent behind the law revision was to allow the predator callers who call lions while armed only with a shotgun to legally take the lion. Mr. Day said that most predator hunters were going to be hunting with shells that would be appropriate for killing coyotes (T-shot & larger) and that those same loads should be sufficient for killing lions.

Centerfire Rifles After Dark: It’s legal to use a rifle for hunting lions after dark. Don’t confuse the AZ nighttime coyote regulations with the new lion regulations – the AZ G&F doesn’t restrict the weapon for lion hunting, they actually added one (shotguns shooting shot). The safety concerns with shooting a rifle across an antelope flat in the dark were greatly reduced in the hilly/mountainous terrain most lion hunts would be conducted in, so centerfire rifles were kept as a legal after-hours method of take.

Hunting After Dark / Artificial Light: Mountain lion regulation note 27 provides for using battery powered lights. Your light can be handheld or mounted on your gun (or a combo of both). It CANNOT be affixed to or plugged into a motor vehicle in any way.

Hunting After Dark / Locations: Night hunting for lions was designed to give relief to bighorn populations, thus the units/areas where hunting lions at night is allowed are limited. At this time the areas are: Units 6A South, 13B, 15B (west of Temple Bar Rd) 15C, 15D, 16A South, 18B South, 22 (south of Hwy 87 and FR 143 and west of Hwy 188), 31, 32, 37B (north of the Gila River), 40A, 42 (south of the Buckeye-Aguila Rd and west of 335th Ave), and 44A (east of Cunningham Wash). Click this link for more details: Amended/Updated AZGF Regs

Hunting After Dark / Seasons:  Hunting in the units/locations listed in the Daylong section is year round – July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2011. Lots of opportunities here – especially during the hot Arizona summer.

Arizona Mountain Lions Travelling Together

Hunting After Dark / Multiple Bag Limits: This rule is exactly the same night/day. If you are fortunate enough to have already bagged a lion and want to keep hunting in one of the multiple bag units, it is your responsibility to make sure the unit hasn’t closed and reverted back to one-per-calendar-year. Refer to the AZGF regs for details.

VERY IMPORTANT!  The Game & Fish asked we recognize that nighttime hunting is designed to help meet certain predation objectives. Taking bobcats and fox during the nighttime hours is always prohibited and the department will seek hunting privilege revocation for folks caught taking them after legal shooting hours. Mr. Day said calling bobcat and fox in the daylight is sufficiently easy to accomplish and they should be given a break in the dark.

As always, if you need a Wildlife Tech Mighty Atom E-caller with cougar sounds on it to chase these big cats, just visit us online or call us toll-free at 1-877-734-1010 and we’ll help you out.

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I think this covers it – please post if you have any questions and I’ll answer it or track it down.

All the best,

Mark Healy – Wildlife Callers