Jan 19, 2009

AZ: Unit Review 2009

In 2008 we had listed the 5 best units in Arizona as Unit 10, 5A, 18A, 19AN, and 4 A/B.

The only difference this year is the removal of 19A from the list.

We guided 3 hunters in 19A last year and had good success, but it wasn't without headaches. The private ranches are sometimes difficult to work with, but there are a couple main factors in our decision to remove 19A from our list for 2009:

1. G&F allowed 80 archery hunters into the north side of the unit - something that hadn't been done in years and by doing so a lot of extra bucks got taken.

2. Word on the street is that there will be another transplant where G&F will remove a large portion of the population and place them elsewhere in the state. I'll double check this when I can to make sure I have my facts straight.

3. This is one that 19A's historic genetics may be able to overcome, but, then again, maybe not - In 2007 after the seasons were all done there were probably 20 bucks left standing that were over 84 inches. In 2008 after the seasons were over there were maybe 2.

As for the other units:

Unit 10 definitely stands alone at the top! We guided 3 hunters in that unit last year and they all took bucks that gross scored over 90 inches. The year before we were 2 for 4 on 90 inchers with the other 2 bucks scoring about 88 and 85. It would be almost impossible to do that in any other unit. The only caveat is that it's a very difficult unit to hunt and scout for some people, especially out of state hunters. Mostly because the antelope are few and far between and the amount of country to cover is enormous. Prepare to spend a couple full weeks if you want a giant. And then don't be surprised if 10 other hunters are camped on your buck opening day! Ugh...

Unit 5A is great for a few reasons. One is that the country is beautiful and fun to hunt with almost unrestricted access. Another is that there always seems to be a bruiser hiding somewhere. Finding the big bucks is another matter altogether.

Unit 4A/B is similar to 5A.

Unit 18A is one of those units that is tough to put on this list, but also tough to keep off the list. It's riddled with private land in much of the prime antelope country, but also home to some of the most beautiful antelope country. The trophy bucks seem to be alternating the years they show themselves, but with the 4 distinct hunt areas within the 18A boundary there is usually at least one boomer to go after. Planning and scouting are major tasks for an 18A tag if you want to cover all 4 areas with any type of thoroughness. Unfortunately you can't narrow down the 4 areas without actually scouting them because all 4 have produced 90 inch bucks in the past - which is also a good thing!

A unit that could take 19A's place...how about 19B? Huge bucks are showing up there once again, but access is possibly even more difficult than 19A. Maybe 17A? Great access, but a very small area to hunt. You will run into the few other hunters in the unit. Good bucks, but not usually the top end. Maybe 18B? A 90 came out of there last season and the unit could definitely be hunted by 1000 people and still there could be a 90 incher that remains hidden. Unit 9? Always a great unit with tons of country, but perhaps one of the more difficult units to dissect. For some reason very few 90's have been taken from this unit - probably due to the difficulty of finding and then relocating bucks. Dylan Woods 95 incher came from here though. Unit 7? I wouldn't put in for here if someone paid me, but that's just my personal opinion. Big bucks are in here somewhere, I know they are. Unit 3A? Nice unit, but some private land and roads that all seem to dead end - very annoying. Unit 1? Someone likes this unit, but it isn't me. Unit 5B? Rumors of giants every year make me wanna go and look...the roads make me change my mind.

Personally, I'm applying for Unit 10 rifle first choice and Unit 10 archery second choice. I think my Dad is applying for Unit 10 and 5A rifle.


Anonymous said...

17b? whats you thought.

Eli Grimmett said...

The guides we know who have good access said that there were almost no antelope in there last year. No idea where they went. Also, of the ones that were there, none of them were big. Getting access to the Vegas and related ranches is required as there is almost no land to hunt other than these few ranches. This place used to be paradise, but the developing of land, etc. is changing all that.

On a brighter note 17B did kick out a couple 90 inchers a few years back and the area definitely holds the giant buck genetics.

John said...

Thanks as always, although I still think if you gave unit 7 a chance you would be suprised


Eli Grimmett said...

I've given unit 7 more chances than you know.

I've scouted the unit every year from top to bottom. I've only seen two bucks over 90 inches in that unit ever and both of them disappeared without a trace.

My dislike of unit 7 doesn't mean I don't scout it. :) Quite the opposite. We probably scout unit 7 more than most people who draw a unit 7 tag.

It's just that, other than Petersen's one buck and the two we've seen that vanished, I don't believe there are any recorded 90 inchers from the unit.

It seems odd, and that there should be several, but I don't know of any.

Do you know something I don't? Do tell... ;)

John said...

well they dont just vanish!!! One of these days I will draw a tag and we can talk all day long!!!

Eli Grimmett said...

We don't have to wait until you draw a tag...send me an email! :)

I'd love to learn something about Unit 7.

Anonymous said...

Eli, were ther any big archery bucks taken in Az in 2008? Was the auction buck in 19B?

Anonymous said...

Eli, I am pretty sure there are more than a few over 84 still in 19A. Certainly not as many as there was August 15th. This transplant certainly isnt going to help anything, thats for sure. I am going 3a/c this year. Would be something if I drew 2 years in a row. (yeah right)

Eli Grimmett said...

I know of a few mid 80's archery bucks last year, but I don't have any photos of them.

Correct, Doc's buck was 19B.

If there were more than a few left over 84 then we must have been in the wrong spot. Now, if you think there might be more than a few over 84 this year, then I'll agree. ;)

Why do you choose 3A/C? What unit did you have last year? And how did you do?

I guided in 3A several years ago. It was a fun experience being able to start from scratch and see what we could find as we had never set foot in 3A before that time.

Never been in 3C before, though.

Big Fin said...

How much does the quality in these units vary each year, depending upon amount of moisture, or possibly even more important, the timing of moisture?

I search the record books, and some years AZ produces many 84+ bucks, then some years, very few.

Is it a function of moisture amount/timing, or just the luck of hunters holding out for these great bucks or not holding out?

I would gladly take a tag any year, regardless of moisture amounts, but was mostly curious of your observations.

Eli Grimmett said...

Good question!

And a difficult one to answer...

I'd say if you were going to lump 10 year cycles together then we'd be looking at a case where moisture, feed, coyote predation, etc. plays a big role, but strictly on a year to year basis I'd say the role is minimal.

The biggest difference we see in horn size from year to year is in the smaller units or units with very few tags and antelope.

A unit like 17A can vary from having 3 bucks over 86 inches to have no bucks over 82 inches in one year. For instance, the unit only has 4 tags and the bucks are easy to find and in a very tiny area. Any hunter hunting the unit will have most likely seen all of the bucks and each hunter will probably get the one he's after.

A unit like 10 will usually always have bucks over 86 inches somewhere. Not only will most hunters never even come close to finding all the bucks, a lot of hunters won't get the one they're after and several of the bucks will be locked up on private land.

So, on a year to year basis, hunter selection does play a big role, but unit size I think is the first factor to consider.

Also, one last thing to note, is that the weapons allowed in the unit will also play a huge role. Unit 8 will always have bucks that escape and not just because it's all timber (although that also plays a role) but because it's a muzzle loader only unit.

Unit 19A had 90 inchers for years and years because no one could kill them with only using a bow.