This region of canyons, plateaus, mesas, and thickly forested mountains is famous for its wide-racked mule deer. Great genetics, rugged and thick habitat, remoteness, and limited firearms permits allow muleys to thrive. Bucks with 30- to 40-inch spreads are taken every year, and Coconino County alone has produced 40 B&C; muleys. The prolonged drought has not affected this area as severely as much of Arizona, and there was good precipitation this winter.

“Best opportunities for good antlers in mule deer are in units 12A (West and East), 12B, 13A, and 13B,” says big-game management supervisor Brian Wakeling. “Most bucks here reach their potential by age 5. We are managing for 5 years and older because antler measurements seem to plateau after that.”

Plan on hiking into the backcountry and doing lots of glassing. “Getting off the road is the best advice,” says Wakeling. “Walking a few hundred yards off the beaten path really ups the odds for those bigger bucks.”

Recent trophies include 215 and 2263/8 nontypicals, both taken in 2001. They are among dozens of record-book bucks that have come from this area: the state’s top 10 nontypicals, including a 3241/8, fifth in the world; and the top typical, 2162/8, third in the world.

Nonresident license: $232