Any early Kaibab reports/pics?


Active Member
My brother in law was up there for 8 days and said it sucked. Lots of deer but biggest was a small 150" 4x4. Said people by the thousands it seemed like. 10/10 would not suggest to anyone.


Active Member
My buddies have had early kaibab tags like 4 out of the last 5 years in their big family and said this year was just super tough. The deer had already mostly moved off of the top because of early storms but there was so much water and good feed everywhere in the next level, they all stopped in that thick stuff and just made it very difficult to hunt. Everyone from the game and fish officers at the check stations to several different guide outfits said the same thing, very tough hunting and most of the bucks taken were small.


Active Member
My 2 cents regarding the Kaibab early rifle hunt, as usual take with a grain of salt…

I arrived Oct 16 to scout before early rifle opening in anticipation of helping a hunter who was arriving later in the week. I had previously made 4 trips to Kaibab between Memorial Day and archery opening. Ultra-dry conditions through winter, spring and early summer 2021 clearly affected antler growth and buck vigor, although my scouting deer tally numbers were similar to past 7-8 years, but I didn’t see the usual # of large, heavy, basket-shaped racked 4-pts – plenty of 2x4, 3x4 or mid-size 4x4s. But I did see 3 bucks that would be in the 200-pt class, so I had some hope that some big bucks could be found during the archery and rifle hunts. Heavy monsoon rains from mid-July through late Aug/early Sept resulted in abundant water sources, so bucks dispersed away from usual summer/fall habitats. I also reported potential poaching of large buck during Labor Day weekend. There did seem to be lots of unusual human activity during the archery hunt, i.e. night-time spotlighting UTV traffic, and rifle shots.

Anyway, all was well until the morn of Oct 21, when an unexpected serious health issue sneaked up on me and I ended up in the Kanab ER, and then the St. George Hospital for emergency surgery. Reluctantly I had to pull my camp and back out from the hunt. Good news is that the Doc gave me the all clear a few days ago.

Based on what I had seen from Oct 16 to 21 during my scouting, I expected a tough hunt – many doe seen, very few bucks and nothing bigger than a 150-160 4-pt. I scouted high and low, and everywhere in between. Abundant water, heavy wet snow, cold temp’s, lots of human activity (both tag holders scouting and “overlanding” outfits (saw one caravan of 6 tricked-out Jeeps w/trailers headed toward Crazy Jug and then Jumpup Pt), firewood cutters, campers, tourists, off-road tours, UTV traffic – way more than I’ve ever seen during past 50 years. Soapbox topic – If USFS is going to have a travel mgt plan, but not enforce it (and AZGFD doesn’t care), then yep you’re going to have vehicles everywhere, literally.

Combine all this human activity with spotlighting, use of thermal/infrared imaging, baiting and trailcams (which were pretty useless this year). And last year’s Mangum (not magnum) Fire created a large habitat “hole” because of little of no moisture last year. So it doesn’t surprise me to hear that the early rifle hunt was a bust – I also heard this from the hunter I was supposed to help.

Anyway, I expect there will be some good bucks taken during the late hunt. So good luck to those tag holders! I know it’s late, but I’m available to offer some extra eyes and some on-the-ground knowledge of where to find a late season buck, esp. if you’ve never hunted the Kaibab before. Or if you just want to chat send me a PM.


I’m checking in with an early rifle 12AW buck. I am a NR and drew this tag with one point. Yeah, I’m that guy. I had posted a little here and another popular AZ page in the months leading up to it and got some good advice on both forums. I had a plan to meet up with someone that fell through at the last minute, so I was solo from PA.

I arrived Tuesday before the opener. I met one other solo hunter (AZ) in particular and we checked in with each other daily. Eventually his crew showed up and he did get a buck Sunday night. I wound up hunting with their help on Monday and took this guy in the afternoon. He was the biggest buck I saw on the hoof. I did mess up a chance at a similar sized buck Sunday night but live and learn. First real mule deer hunt.

I have a much more detailed account on the other site for those who want to see more. When I checked out at the AZGFD, they did say that my buck was about #90 and one of the nicer ones checked at that point Tuesday AM.

I was pretty happy with the outcome, met some new friends, and had a fun time. Deer were all over, but the everyone said the big bucks were elusive. I had the advantage of just really hoping for a good, representative Kaibab buck, and I think I got one. 22" wide 4x4 with nifty eyeguards. I'd have definitely had a hard time without their help. I was way out of my comfort zone for sure. I did leave Tuesday AM for the 2100 mile drive home, so I don't know how the second half of the hunt went. It snowed Monday night up top, but I don't know that did much.

Side note - these deer are big! Compared to the whitetails here in PA and even some IA bucks I've gotten, this was the biggest bodied deer I've ever taken. Point of reference, I am 6'5" and 285#.

Sad part is at 58, I might never draw this tag again. It was a blast as a NR. There's no way to get this remote here in PA.




We'll done, sir! Like the fact that you're a lefty, nice rifle. Keep trying to draw, somebody has to be "that guy"!
I guess, since I was that guy, I wanted to make the most out of it.

I put the Savage together late in the fall. It's a featherweight 23" 280AI and weighs just under 7# with no sling or ammo. I probably could have carried a little more weight but a big out of state hunt is always a good reason to build a new rifle!

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