Unit 17B – Arizona
Unit 17B provides good opportunities for antelope hunting. Antelope in some portions of Unit 17B may move to and from adjacent units such as 18B or 19B. This can create a challenge if a buck you have located while scouting decides to move prior to the hunt. Hunter success is generally high. Antelope occur in limited areas where important access issues exist. Most antelope hunting in Unit 17B is on private lands that may be posted where permission in required. Hunters should always pick up litter, leave gates as they are found (usually closed), and never drive off road in any vehicle, including ATV’s. By obeying laws and being friendly and courteous to landowners and other recreational users, hunters can do their part to keep hunter access open in the future.
Areas: Northeastern Portion. Most of the antelope in Unit 17B reside on the Las Vegas, Bar Triangle, and Long Meadow ranches in the northeastern part of the unit. These ranches are predominantly posted private property, and hunting is allowed by permission only and may involve an access fee.
A few pronghorn can also be found in the northwestern portion of the unit, west of the U. S. Forest boundary. These animals frequently move back and forth across Camp Wood Road, which is also the boundary between Units 17B and 18B.
Overview: Unit 17B is combined with other units for bear seasons, so refer to the current hunting regulations for additional information. Unit 17B does not have a high density bear population, but some opportunity exists.
Anyone going bear hunting must contact 1-800-970-BEAR (2327) to determine if a particular hunt unit is still open. If a hunter has harvested a bear, they must contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department within 48 hours of take. This can be done in person during business hours, or by calling 1-800-970-BEAR, which is a 24-hour number. In addition, within 10 days of taking a bear, the hunter shall present the bear’s skull, hide, and attached proof of sex for inspection. A premolar tooth will be removed during this inspection. Keep in mind that local Wildlife Managers may not be readily available to inspect a bear, which may require the hunter to take the animal to a Department office.
When in the field, care should be taken to watch for cubs near a potential game bear. Small bruins are not always visible in dense cover. It is unlawful to take a sow with cubs.
Overview: Unit 17B has relatively low elk densities with herds that move back and forth across unit boundaries. This nomadic behavior results in a challenging hunt that requires equal amounts of skill, pre-hunt scouting, and luck. Unit 17B is combined with several other units for elk hunts. Refer to the current hunting regulations for specifics on which units are combined. The elk hunts in Unit 17B are “Limited Opportunity” and can be very challenging.
The management objectives for Unit 17B are to maintain a limited number of elk far below the carrying capacity of the unit and to minimize elk conflicts for landowners.
Areas: Elk in Unit 17B occur in low densities and are mainly located along the northern boundary of the unit on the Cross U, Las Vegas, and Yolo Ranches. The areas are best accessed from Camp Wood Road (FR 21) and Fair Oaks Road (FR 85).
Overview: Javelina can be found in all of the different habitat types in Unit 17B. Scout areas prior to your hunt to locate fresh sign where javelina travel, bed, and feed. Look for scat, tracks, and rooting. Once you have located an area likely to contain javelina, find a good vantage point nearby to glass from. Many hunters make the mistake of just scanning the hillsides without really picking them apart, thus missing a lot of game. Attaching your binoculars to a tripod will make glassing much more effective, especially when glassing long distances. When hunting in areas where thick vegetation precludes glassing, try sitting waters frequented by javelina.
Hunter success during javelina season can be weather dependent. On rainy or windy days javelina will stay brushed up or in the bottom of draws in an attempt to stay warm. This obviously makes them difficult to locate. However, on calm days with the sun shining, javelina can be found relatively easily feeding on open slopes.
Once a javelina has been harvested, care should be taken to dress and skin it as soon as possible. A common misconception is that the scent gland on a javelina’s back must be cut out. This is incorrect. The gland is contained within the skin, and simply skinning a javelina as you would any other animal will completely remove the scent gland. However, be sure not to touch a knife or fingers to the gland or hair and then touch the meat.
Areas: Fair Oaks Road (FR 85). This road provides access to a huge amount of good javelina habitat. It does pass through some private property, however, so be sure to watch for “posted” areas and ask permission where applicable.
Tonto Road (FR 102). Hunt east of this road towards Granite Mountain Wilderness. Once again, be aware of areas of private land.
Scott’s Basin/Bear Flat. This area is State Land and can be accessed from the Camp Wood Rd (FR 21, aka County Rd 68) out of Bagdad.
Much of the southern part of 17B offers quality javelina hunting. Focus on the areas between Kirkland and Bagdad. Once again be aware of posted private property.
Overview: The turkey population in Game Management Unit 17 has experienced a sharp decline over the past several years. However, the biology of these birds suggests that they will recover quickly once conditions improve. In the meantime, permits will be reduced and hunters should expect much lower hunt success than in years past.
When hunting turkeys during the spring season, make sure the bird you’re about to bag has a visible beard. Don’t rely on a colorful head or even the sound of a gobble when making a decision to shoot. Also be sure no other turkeys are behind or adjacent to the bird you decide to take. Accidentally killing multiple birds with one shot is more common than one might think.
Overview: With the exception of some of the open grassland savannas, mountain lions are found in good numbers throughout Unit 17B. Annual lion harvest numbers in Units 17A and 17B are usually fairly high. Lions are reclusive animals that spend most of their time in rough more remote country. By far, the most effective lion hunting method is trailing them with hounds. However, lions will respond to predator calls, and hunters using this tactic harvest many each year.
When setting up to call mountain lions, pick an elevated calling location that allows you to view a lot of country from one point. Lions will generally come in slow and cautiously, so call on and off for at least 45 minutes, while glassing open areas and rock piles.
Special Note: Successful lion hunters must report their kill by contacting an Arizona Game and Fish Department office, or by telephone (1-877-438-0447), within 48 hours of taking a lion. In addition, within 10 days of taking a lion, the hunter shall present the lion’s skull, hide, and attached proof of sex for inspection. A small premolar tooth will be removed during this inspection. Keep in mind that local Wildlife Managers may not be readily available to inspect a lion, which may require the hunter to take the animal to a Department office. Also, it is unlawful to harvest a spotted kitten or a female accompanied by spotted kittens.
Overview: Unit 17B habitat types are very diverse, and there is varying topography. While ponderosa pine is common in the northern part of the unit, pinyon/juniper woodland, chaparral, grassland savannas, and sonoran desert to the southwest typify other areas. The majority of Unit 17B is public land and hunter access is generally good. However, much of the private land in Unit 17B is posted and closed to hunting. In some cases these private portions block access to public lands. Problems such as vandalism, littering, harassment of livestock, and cross-country travel have caused these landowners to lock their gates.
Areas with open slopes, ridges, or mesas should be meticulously glassed for deer during early morning and late afternoon periods. As with any hunt, pre-hunt scouting will greatly increase your chances for success. A Prescott National Forest map is a good place to start (refer to the west half).
Areas: Tank Creek Mesa, Sycamore Mesa, Cedar Mesa, Smith Mesa, South Mesa, and Anderson Mesa and the associated canyons. Reaching these areas will require a 4X4 vehicle. Look closely at the edges of the mesas and the side canyons leading off the tops.
Tonto Road (FR 102, or County Rd 66). This area is accessed from the Iron Springs Rd (County Rd 10) out of Prescott. Many roads lead both east and west from the Tonto Road, entering good deer habitat.
Cottonwood Canyon (FR 705). This area can be reached from Camp Wood Road (FR 21). Glass the bald slopes such as those at the base of BT Butte.
Overview:Game Management Unit 17B lacks large areas of irrigated cropland that provide optimum dove hunting associated with many other units. Although a few irrigated fields are maintained, they are on posted private property where permission to hunt is required.
Scouting potential areas shortly before the season will greatly improve your hunting success.
Overview: Tree squirrels are associated with ponderosa pine/oak woodland. This type of habitat can be found around the Camp Wood area off Forest Road 21. Hunters can enjoy success by slowly walking through the forest looking and listening. Another tactic is to get in an area with fresh sign, such as cut pine limbs, then sit and wait.
Overview: Quail breeding activity and the survival of young Overview: Quail breeding activity and the survival of young birds is directly related to precipitation. Late winter and early spring moisture generally translates to a good hunting season.
Early in the season, birds will most likely be tied to water. As the season progresses and temperatures fall, they will move away from tanks and washes to the uplands.
Areas: Gambel’s quail are found throughout the unit, although some of the best hunting is in the southern portion. To get there, take the Iron Springs Rd (County Rd 10) out of Prescott to the following areas:
Tonto Road (Forest Road 102, aka County Road 66). Hunt the hills and draws on both sides of the road. Be aware of posted private land and obtain permission to hunt where applicable.
Much of the southern part of 17B offers quality quail hunting. Focus on the areas between Kirkland and Bagdad. Once again be aware of posted private property.