Fall means the anticipation of carving pumpkins, sipping on apple cider, devouring pumpkin everything, and for some: hunting wild game. Turkey, deer, dove, quail and even bear season starts this October, and Castillo Law is here to make sure it’s safe and enjoyable and free from citations or arrests by reviewing a few Arizona hunting laws.
Know your AZ Hunting Regulations
Arizona Game and Fish posts an extensive yearly Hunting Regulations Booklet on theirArizona hunting website, which outlines everything someone needs to know about hunting in Arizona. This booklet outlines all of the rules and regulations pursuant to the game and fish statutes in A.R.S. 17-340. Violators of these rules may face revocation of their hunting license and exposure to civil liability. In more serious cases, a hunter may face criminal charges. To underscore the serious nature of these offenses and the importance of knowing the Rules, consider Unlucky Bob’s scenario:
After a long day’s hunt with no success, Unlucky Bob is exhausted, discouraged, and frustrated. On the way home and after sunset, Unlucky Bob sees an amazing kill on the opposite side of the roadway. Unlucky Bob jumps at the opportunity to not come home empty handed. Stopping the car, Unlucky Bob leans out his window with his rifle; aims; and discharges his firearm. Unlucky Bob kills the buck of his dreams. Unlucky Bob is so excited that he fails to notice the Game and Fish Official stationed behind him. Under the Game and Fish statutes, it is illegal to discharge a firearm or shoot any other device across a maintained road or railway. A hunter also cannot shoot a firearm out of a moving vehicle nor can he hunt after daylight hours. Because he killed the buck unlawfully, and he used his firearm improperly, Unlucky Bob now faces potentially civil penalties and criminal charges.
Don’t be careless or reckless while hunting
More serious criminal hunting citations and arrests are due to the careless or reckless use of a firearm or bow. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, a hunter can face disorderly conduct charges; assault charges; and/or aggravated assault charges. If a person dies as a result of a hunter’s reckless use of a firearm and/or weapon, a hunter could even face involuntary manslaughter charges.
Wearing orange is not a requirement but encouraged
In the State of Arizona, hunters are not required to wear hunter orange. This makes it easier for someone to mistakenly shoot a fellow hunter. For this reason, it is still encouraged for hunters to wear orange. What you wear is not the only precaution you should take but you should also follow these basic firearm safety tips regardless of your skill:
- Assume that a firearm is always loaded. There is no such thing as an unloaded firearm.
- Don’t hunt with an unfamiliar firearm or bow.
- Don’t hunt with an unsafe hunter, even if it’s your best friend or a newly met in-law.
- Dont mix alcohol with hunting.
- Don’t put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot your target.
- Don’t trust a safety or de-cocker.
- Don’t jerk the trigger or rush a shot.
- Don’t use the scope on your firearm to identify an object that is coming towards you. Use binoculars or a rangefinder, and know what is beyond the target, near the target and between you and the target at all times.
- Do not discharge a firearm within a quarter mile of an occupied resident
- Always aim within your zone of fire (the 45 degrees in front of each hunter).
- Always keep muzzle in a safe direction
- Don’t go through someone’s property in order to get to a location for purposes of killing wildlife. Always obtain permission to trail a shot deer before you follow a deer that makes it onto a property you do not have permission to access.
- If you question a shot, don’t take it; and most importantly, be a safe hunter.
Some Animals cannot be hunted
Other common criminal charge inexperienced hunters face are for killing wildlife unlawfully. While accidents and mistakes happen, it is a class six felony to barter, sell or offer any wildlife parts or whole taken unlawfully or during off-season. The punishable fines for these charges are dependent on the type of wildlife killed. For more information on how to lawfully kill specific wildlife, refer to the Game and Fish’s Website. Wolves, jaguars and ocelots are endangered species in the United States. Thus, under federal law it is prohibited “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct”. Violators of this law may be subject to federal and state prosecution.
If you face any of these charges, please consult an experienced attorney to defend your case. Castillo Law Phoenix is available 24/7. We give free consultations regarding any AZ hunting law charges as well as most criminal charges in Arizona.