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Joined the site to hopefully gain a little insight from others with knowledge to share.  I got lucky being pulled as a non-resident for Unit 9 and am extremely excited.  I was fortunate enough that my dad started accruing BP's for me when I was younger and I kept it going every year, I believe after 18 I finally hit.  I guess I can say I'm not new to the game, I'm just new to the playing field and am looking for a little guidance.  I've hunted SD,ND,CO and Mexico before for antelope, mulies, elk etc. but this AZ hunt will be my first time stepping foot anywhere in your state besides the airport.

This likely is a once in a lifetime tag for me, and I already know I will get the responses of "hire a guide".  While that is something I ordinarily would do I don't think it's going to be in the cards for me this year, the budget is going to be a little tight because the day I found out I drew is the same day the wife told me kid numero uno is on the way!  Big mixture of emotions there.  With that being said, I will be coming to hunt unit 9 and don't mind going the DIY route.  I'm not looking to steal spots, just some general vicinities I can key start with when I show up a few days early to scout.  I'm guessing between guides and the other 30ish residents with tags I'll be behind as it is going into it so I'd appreciate any help I can get.  I'm thinking I'll likely need to have multiple goats spotted that I'd be willing to pull the trigger on too based on the amount of other people who are hunting the unit.

If I'm way off with my thinking here I apologize for my ignorance.  It's been a few years since I've had a trip out of state planned and I love every minute of the preparation and research almost as much as actually having my boots on the ground with the gun in my hand.  Thank you in advance!

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Congrats on the tag!!!  You are correct on it being once in a lifetime.  You were even lucky to pull it with your points.  Looks like you had about a 1.4% chance even with all those points!   I would think really really hard about hiring Eli at pronghorn guide service.  I know you said money is tight but take a loan or sell some guns or something as this is your one chance at the plate for a 87-90” antelope.  Could you kill one DIY?  Yes for sure.  Being able to sort out what is what is the problem.  If you don’t really care so much about size then you won’t have any trouble on your own.  Antelope are easy to find and easy to kill as you probably know.  Telling the difference between and 82” and an 87” is the tough part.  Good problem to have though.  If you do decide to DIY.  I would strongly suggest you take your time off before the hunt.  Show up about 3-4 days early even if it’s at the expense of missing days on the end of the hunt.  The biggest bucks will get killed right away on opening morning so if you just roll in then you are at a huge disadvantage.  Take a camera and take tons of pics of bucks so you can look them over side by side.  I’m jealous.  I’ve killed a bunch of antelope but never a giant.  Sorry I’m really no help in 9 as I’ve only passed through.  Should be antelope in all parts of the unit, from the pines to the cedars to the prairie.   

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You got insurance right? The kids covered! Spend the money on a few scouting trips and an extra week on the ground  before the hunt. If your not going guided, you’ll need to locate a few before the hunt starts so you can make a list for day one.

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Thanks for the info and I definitely will consider a guide. As of right now I’m planning on giving myself 2 full days of scouting minimum, probably more. My main concern if I went the DIY route would be not knowing what the population density is like. Researching seems that people say most of AZ is managed for quality over quantity which is great but it makes me wonder if that then means more miles of scouting to find them. Obviously whatever it takes I’ll make happen. If I did go solo, would there be any areas to camp? 

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There’s a ton of forest service up there.  You can camp anywhere you want.  Antelope hunting is just getting out and driving and looking.  The more hours you can spend behind the wheel and behind the glass the better chance you have of turning up a big boy.  I wouldn’t stress too much about scouting in the summer.  Use that time leading up to the hunt.  If you can scout for a week beforehand that’s even better.  I’d take 5 days of scouting and only having opening morning to hunt over having 6 days there during the season.  Call the warden in that unit, they will point you in the right area where there are antelope but I’m guessing they’re gonna say they are everywhere, because they are.   The common places with lots of antelope will have more hunters as well. 

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Unit 9, unlike many other units, has a lot of "broken" antelope country. It's a less conventional antelope unit, with less "typical antelope country" than many other areas. It's a big unit, with antelope scattered. It might take some time scouting to turn up a buck worth shooting. I would concentrate on the southern third of the unit, on both sides of the highway. Good luck!

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I drove thru 9 last month varmint calling. Just off of the roads we probably saw over 100 antelope. There everywhere.

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My boy had this tag 2 years ago and drew it with 2 points I'm up to 22points now go figure. We scouted a lot before his hunt. He shot one that was 82 and change.  I'll PM you. 

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