Unit 18A – Arizona
Overview: The Unit 18A antelope population has a history of rising and falling depending on precipitation levels and range conditions. Remote real estate subdivision development is taking a significant bite out of available hunting area. The Mormon Peaks, Chino Wash, Markham Well Flat, Echeverrias Flat, Aubrey Valley, and Antelope Valley subdivision areas are all being negatively affected. Most areas are still huntable, but extreme caution and knowledge of your location are mandatory. Other areas include Truxton Flats, 74 Plains, and Hackberry.
The most productive hunting strategies are generally glassing and stalking. Preseason scouting is important to serious antelope hunters. Hunters will learn where to hunt, maybe even for a specific trophy buck, and where not to hunt. There are private lands in the area. Do your best to get permission to hunt the area and preserve hunting opportunities in the future.
Overview: Black bears are not common in Unit 18A, but they do either live here or travel through on a regular basis. This is not a hot bear unit, but there is an opportunity to harvest a bear most years.
Areas: Check water holes or creek bed areas in the west half of the unit. The Willow Ranch area along Knight Creek and the edge of Truxton Flat along Wright Creek are two of the best places to look. Isolated waterholes in the central part of the unit should be checked to see if tracks are present.
Overview: Unit 18A is presently being hunted for elk in combination with Units 15A, 15B. Please check the annual hunting regulations for the correct unit combinations by season. Limited opportunity archery and general elk tags are issued for Unit 18A. Within the general season, early rifle, and late rifle hunts are included. Tags are issued for “any elk” or for “antlerless elk.” “Any elk” tags are legal for the taking of cows, calves, and bulls while “antlerless” tags are legal only for taking cows or calves. Many hunters use “any elk” tags as if they were issued for bulls only and refuse to take cows or calves while hunting for trophy bulls. “Any elk” tags are intended to allow hunters to harvest a cow or calf even if they can’t find a bull while at the same time helping to control the elk population. “Antlerless elk” tags are intended to affect population control while allowing hunting opportunity.
Scouting is important to locate elk in this unit because elk are not evenly distributed. Hilltop glassing and checking waterholes are prime methods for scouting and hunting. Elk may be called during the early seasons.
Areas: Anvil Rock Road, Jolly Road, Black Mountain, Denny Ranch, Nelson Canyon and the Fort Rock area are good areas to scout for elk. Caution should be exercised in all these areas because subdivisions are intermingled throughout, and boundary lines exist where hunting is not allowed. State Land portions of the X-1 Ranch, Truxton Flats and the Willow Creek areas all hold elk. Fort Rock Ranch and the private land portion of the X Bar One Ranch are closed to public access. Guided hunts are offered on the X Bar One.
Remote real estate subdivisions are common all across Unit 18A. Extreme caution is necessary when choosing a location to hunt. Be respectful of private land developments and the wishes of remote area residents.
As stated above, scouting is mandatory. Elk are located in pockets across the unit and do move from year-to-year depending on water available and forage conditions. Hunt hard where you find elk or elk sign and be persistent. Remember to sign in at all ranch access boxes, and attach a green access permit to your vehicle window.
Overview: Javelina are relatively plentiful across Unit 18A, but can be difficult to actually get a look at during the general season. They are much easier to find during the archery hunt. Many of the herds observed during winter wildlife surveys are located in the higher elevations, frequently in relatively dense Pinyon-Juniper country. Hunters need to preseason scout areas to learn where javelina are present. Check as many water holes as you can. You will likely find sign around them even in the winter. Set up and hunt nearby. Depending on the vegetation type in the areas you hunt, glassing can be vital to success. Tracking javalina is another method that can get you close to a herd. Sitting on a water hole with plentiful sign can also be productive. Random calling with a predator or javelina call will sometimes produce a shot. If you don’t find sign in any particular area, just keep looking.
Areas: Javelina are spread all across Unit 18A from the lower desert country on the west end to the higher Pinyon-Juniper country and grassland fringe on the east side. The Knight Creek drainage is usually good as are the Trout Creek, the Big Sandy, and Wright Creek areas. The Willow Creek drainage contains many herds, some in higher Pinyon-Juniper country as well as along I-40. There are javelina throughout the Cottonwood Cliffs. Cross Mountain, the Juniper and Black mountains are all good for javelina. The Denny Ranch area holds many javelina as well. Remote housing is common. As always, know where you are hunting and respect private property developments.
Overview: Unit 18A has a healthy mountain lion population. The mule deer population in this unit is in a real slump partly due to a high level of predation by lions, coyotes, and other factors. Any lion harvest here will help reduce mortality to the deer population. It is best to hunt lions on a fresh snow, but those hunters with good dogs can hunt on dry ground as well. Good snow conditions are more rare here than some other areas, especially in the lower elevations. Hunters calling for coyotes and bobcats will occasionally call in lions. Callers who want to call specifically for lions should call from one location for at least 30 minutes to one hour or more. Many lion tracks around a water hole may indicate a nearby kill and the lion may still be near. Call near the site. It would not be uncommon for a hunt for another species to turn into a lion hunt with the location of a heavy amount of fresh lion sign.
Areas: The Truxton Flat/Walkover Mine area, Jolly Road and Juniper Mountains are all worth checking out. Watch out for remote real estate developments.
Overview: Mule deer are found all across Unit 18A with the exception of wide-open grassland areas. Population densities are relatively low, and hunting success can depend on time spent pre-season scouting. Remote real estate subdivisions are common all across Unit 18A. Extreme caution is necessary when choosing a location to hunt. Be respectful of private land developments and the wishes of remote area residents. The Fort Rock and the private land portion of the X Bar One ranches is closed to public access. Remember to always sign in at the ranch access boxes and put a green permit tag in your vehicle window.
Much of Unit 18A is covered with dense stands of pinyon and juniper trees. Glassing is possible in some of the country, but still-hunting (creeping through ‘the cedars’) and sitting at waterholes can also be productive. Mule deer bucks rivaling the Kaibab or the Strip occasionally come out of Unit 18A, but they are few and far between.
Areas: The Truxton Flat-Walkover Mine area in the northwest corner of Unit 18A is mostly public (BLM) land and accessible to hunters. State Land sections and undeveloped private lands across Unit 18A are generally open to hunters who are careful and mindful of private land developments and ranching operations. The Juniper Mountains, Mormon Peaks, Black Mountain and Cross Mountain on the eastern side of the unit have good deer populations. The Cottonwood Cliffs and the Northern Aquarius mountain range on the southwestern side of the unit have been good areas to hunt mule deer in the past. The Nelson Area north of the unit has also produced good bucks in the past. Scouting for areas to hunt is almost as important as looking for deer within Unit 18A. Care should be given to boundary lines and subdivisions not accessible to hunting within the unit.