Unit 18B – Arizona
Overview: Range conditions vary in this unit. These antelope are far ranging and some scouting is highly recommended.
Areas: There are three main areas to hunt pronghorn in unit 18B. Goodwin Mesa, Bozarth Mesa, and the area to the north of the San Luis Maria Baca Float/ORO Ranch, south of the power line that defines the Unit 18A, 18B boundary. There are also several herds of antelope on Behm and Contreras Mesas outside of Bagdad.
There are two ways to access Goodwin Mesa; from the Upper and Lower Trout Creek roads at mileposts 107.5 and 110.5 off Highway 93 or from Signal Road off Highway 93 at milepost 132.
To get to Bozarth, Behm and Contreras mesas take Highway 97 to Bagdad, and then take Camp Wood Road north. Hunter access will not be permitted through the Bagdad Mine. You can also access the area from Prescott using Williamson Valley Road to Camp Wood Road and heading west.
The far northern portion of Unit 18B is accessible from I-40 at the Anvil Rock Road exit. It’s about 15-20 miles south on the Anvil Rock Road to the power line that defines the 18A, 18B boundary. Everything to the south of the power line is Unit 18B and can be hunted south to the ORO Ranch fence, which is well marked. Anvil Rock Road can be very bad in inclement weather and can get a significant amount of snow. The portion of 18B north of the ORO ranch is usually very productive. Unfortunately development is quickly swallowing up most of the private portions of the checkerboard land. Access is becoming more difficult as more and more gates become locked.
It is essential you scout this unit prior to the hunt. There are 80-plus inch bucks in the unit, but in order to get them it is imperative you do your homework. These large bucks are found on all of the mesas and the area north of the ORO Ranch. Do not overlook the juniper areas north of Strotjost Flat. Antelope can be found back in the trees as well.
Overview: Desert bighorn sheep have been increasing in numbers since the Department transplanted into the area. This is still a low density population but ewe to ram ratio is high and the wildlife managers are beginning to see mature sheep on their survey flights. This can be a hard hunt due to the Upper Burro Creek Wilderness Area, limited access and rocky terrain. Hunters must be prepared for difficult strenuous hiking and be willing to cover a lot of ground to locate a bighorn to harvest. It is highly recommended to purchase a lion tag when scouting or hunting. If a desert bighorn sheep tag is drawn contact the 18B wildlife manager for information and possible access issues.
Areas: sheep are most commonly observed in the Hells Half Acres area. This area can be accessed from the Burro Creek Crossing Rd., this is just south of Wikieup off the highway 93 approximately mile post 132. Other areas that sheep can be found are Kaiser Springs, Burro Cliffs, Red knob, Negro Ed, Burro Creek, Francis Creek, Pinky Canyon, Boulder Creek and Lawler Peak. Sheep moved readily between Unit 16A South and Unit 18B from Kaiser Spring south to the Santa Maria River.
Overview: Bears in these units appear to be increasing slightly in numbers, but are fairly low in overall density. You should locate areas that have had a good berry and acorn crop and concentrate your efforts there.
Areas: The far northeastern corner of unit 18B is probably the best area to hunt bears. Rugged terrain and limited roads do not lend themselves to an easy hunt. Those hunters willing to do some serious hiking or horse backing will probably have the best success. Conger Creek, Pine Creek, and Burro Creek are all good places in the northeastern portion of 18B to look for bears. These areas can be accessed from Bagdad/Camp Wood Road.
In the northwestern portion of 18B, along Trout Creek, there is also some bear habitat, but hunter access is limited.
Overview: The Unit 18B elk hunt, a multi-unit hunt (17A&B, 18B, 19B, 20A&C) is a hunt designed to maintain/lower elk numbers to reduce landowner/elk conflicts. Elk densities in Unit 18B are fairly low, but the hunter density is also much lower here than across the fence in Units 17A&B. Long seasons allow a hunter more time to find an elk to harvest.
Areas: Elk are found mainly in the northeastern corner of 18B, north of Bozarth Mesa and on ORO Ranch. The ORO Ranch will allow access to a limited number of bull elk hunters for a fee. The ORO may allow a limited number of cow elk hunters on the ranch without a fee.
The northeastern portion of 18B, outside the ORO Ranch, can be accessed from the Bagdad/Camp Wood road. Goodwin Mesa and the higher elevation areas to the Northwest should not be overlooked. Hunters are able to access these areas off of Bogles Ranch Rd.
Overview: The javelina herd still appears to be fairing well in Unit 18B. Overall hunt success usually runs around 30 percent. Other than the general rifle season, there is also a H.A.M. hunt and an archery hunt that occur in 18B. Often, javelina can be harder to find during the rifle hunt after being pressured into more remote locations from the archery and H.A.M. hunters. Weather can be a big factor during any of these hunts. When it is cold and wet, look for the javelina to be out on the sunny slopes as soon as the sun comes up, but if it is warm, expect to find them keeping cool in the brush near the bottom of drainages or near springs.
Areas: The most popular place to hunt javelina in 18B is off Burro Creek Crossing Road to the east of Highway 93 (milepost 132). This area is usually populated with many camps and is easily accessible in good and bad weather. This area consists of mixed Mohave and Sonoran desert scrub in the lower portions and more chaparral as elevation increases. There are many drainages and breaks that provide opportunities for glassing.
Two other popular areas are Bozarth Mesa to the east of Burro Creek, and Goodwin Mesa to the west. Hunters will not be permitted to use the Bagdad Mine to access the lower portions of Bozarth Mesa. Bozarth, Behm, and Contreras mesas can all be accessed from Camp Wood Road. Goodwin Mesa can be accessed from the Burro Creek Crossing Road east of Highway 93 at milepost 132, or from the Upper or Lower Trout Creek roads at mileposts 107.5 and 110.5. These two areas allow a hunter to do a lot of glassing with binoculars or a spotting scope. They are large, semi-desert grassland mesas with some canyons and drainages and there is plenty of forage for javelina.
Other areas include: any of the desert areas that can be accessed from the two track roads that run east from Highway 93, areas along Highway 97, or the road at Nothing, Ariz. that goes to Burro Creek.
It is also recommended you purchase a mountain lion tag. Several lions are observed every year during this hunt.
Overview: Overall, Unit 18B has excellent mountain lion habitat. There does not appear to be any shortage of lions, as sightings are often reported, sign is seen, and local ranchers report calf depredation throughout the year. One can hire a guide to hunt lions or attempt predator calling. Both of these techniques have proven successful in the past.
Areas: Most everywhere in Unit 18B is good lion habitat. Some of the more popular areas to hunt mountain lion, although not particularly better than others, would be in the desert regions near Bagdad and Burro Creek, or in the northern portion of 18B near Trout Creek. The Francis Creek and Wagon Bow Ranches south of Goodwin Mesa also report multiple lion depredations each year.
A few of the local ranchers will pay a bounty if you kill a lion on their ranch, so if you are successful you may want to contact the rancher.
Overview: The mule deer population in unit 18B is stable. Water can be found in most of the unit’s dirt tanks and running water can be found in many of the springs.
The eastern portion of Unit 18B holds the highest deer density. The area around Strotjost Flat and south of the ORO Ranch to Burro Creek receive the heaviest hunting pressure. This area is relatively flat with rolling hills and scattered junipers. The open area makes it relatively easy to spot game at a long distance, but a lack of high-points can make it difficult to view a large area.
The portion of Unit 18B west of Burro Creek holds lower deer densities and, in turn, holds lower hunter densities. Hunters that prefer climbing mountains and glassing long distances may prefer the Aquarius Mountains off Trout Creek Road from Highway 93.
The southern desert portion of 18B holds a surprising number of deer. Deer densities are only slightly lower in the desert than they are in the chaparral country in the western part of the unit. The southern portion of the unit also provides opportunity for hunters who prefer to glass. Areas to look at in the southern part of the unit are the Crosby Mountains off Highway 97 and the Grayback Mountains southwest of Bagdad.
All three archery seasons are currently open in this unit, but hunt success is usually low when compared to other GMU’s.
Travel and Camping: The unit is cut in half by Burro Creek and, as a result, a hunter cannot quickly go from one side of the unit to the other. Goodwin and Bozarth mesas are usually passable with two-wheel drive, but wet weather can quickly make the roads impassable even for four-wheel drive vehicles. The majority of the roads in Unit 18B are not maintained and are rough. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended almost everywhere in the unit for ground clearance reasons.
In northwestern 18B, Trout Creek Road off Highway 93 (mile post 110.5) and Burro Creek Crossing Road (milepost 132) both go to Goodwin Mesa and are accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles if it is not muddy. Both the Francis Creek and Wagon Bow ranches allow access on the main road in this area. However if you plan on hunting the Wagon Bow Ranch, it is recommended you get a BLM land status map and learn where you can and cannot go prior to opening day.
Southern and Eastern 18B can be accessed from many two-track roads that run east and north of Highway 93. Also, Highway 97 will provide access to some of the desert areas. Due to recent federal law changes post 9/11 hunter access through the Bagdad Mine is no longer available, so if you are going to hunt Bozarth Mesa you need to come through Strotjost Flat via Camp Wood Road.
Camping in Unit 18B with large camp trailers and RV’s is more difficult due to the small number of maintained roads. Camp Wood Road, Burro Creek Crossing Road, Trout Creek Road and areas adjacent to Highway 97 are the only areas reasonably possible to get a large trailer or RV down. Most of the dirt roads are not maintained, but even the roads that are, are still relatively rough and very long. If you are traveling with an RV or pulling a camp trailer and want to hunt the northeast portion of 18B below the BACA Float, it is recommended you use Camp Wood Road from Prescott to avoid the rougher roads from the Bagdad side.
Overview: Quail populations are directly tied to winter and spring precipitation and their populations usually bounce back fairly quickly following drought years. In years following drought, expect to see few adults and a bunch of juveniles. This can make hunting easier since the juveniles tend to hold tighter since they have not been shot at before.
Areas: Unit 18B has a diversity of areas to hunt quail. In the lower, desert regions, one can hunt just about anywhere east of Highway 93, using any of the dirt two-track roads or off Highway 97 going to Bagdad.
There are more remote areas such as Goodwin Mesa and Bozarth Mesa that consist of high desert, short grass prairies that also hold quail. Parts of these mesas have low densities of cactus and are ideal for using bird dogs. Goodwin Mesa can be accessed off Burro Creek Crossing Road at milepost 132, on Highway 93 or from Trout Creek Road, located about 20 miles farther north on Highway 93. In inclement weather, both of these roads can get bad quickly, but are generally accessible by two-wheel drive. To access Bozarth Mesa take Highway 97 to Bagdad then follow Camp Wood Road north and go west at Strotjost Flat. The mesas are generally good areas to use dogs due to the small amount of cactus. The area around the Big Sandy River is also a popular quail-hunting destination.
Overview: Unit 18B has many stock tanks throughout the unit that are mostly located in remote areas, but do get a fair number of waterfowl in the winter months. Be aware that four-wheel drive is usually required when accessing these tanks in winter. A good map to find these tanks can be a very helpful tool. In addition, Burro Creek and the Santa Maria River usually contain waterfowl.
Areas: As mentioned, any of the stock tanks throughout the unit would be worth trying. I would suggest using a map to locate a number of tanks you might want to hunt in a day or try setting up decoys on Burro Creek or the Santa Maria River. A good map to purchase is the Bagdad 1:100,000.