The number of antelope permits issued in Arizona since 1974 has steadily decreased from 1213 down to 473 in 2007. The number of first choice applicants has increased from 6435 in 1974 to 28042 in 2007. All this is cool information you can find in the 2008 edition of the Arizona Survey.
I was wondering if hunters were really prioritizing their tags - if they were really believing that these tags might be the only ones they ever receive. One way to take a look at this is by calculating the average number of hunter days in the field over the years. I would guess that hunters nowadays would spend more days in the field then they may have in the past. The average number of hunter days in 1974 was 2.07 per hunter. The lowest number recorded since 1974 was 1.97. In 2007 the average per hunter was 2.70, the highest average since 1974! The correlation coefficient when comparing the years to the hunter days in the field is .49 which means that the number of days in field per hunter have been steadily increasing.
This could all mean that hunters are definitely realizing that their tags are very rare and that they need to take all the care and time in the field they can. Or, it could just mean that antelope are getting harder to find due to the drastic decrease in the pronghorn population over the last 30 years.