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I haven't used the 85 micro, but have used other Nikon and non-Nikon macro lenses from 60 to 180mm. Shooting without some form of stable support is a no-no IMO. Doesn't necessarily have to be a tripod, though - beanbags are workable for field use. At or near to MFD, DoF is wafer thin. The tiniest fore and aft movement whilst hand holding will give very blurry shots. In many cases, you'll have to focus-stack a number of images to get a good final shot with sensible depth and for that a tripod is essential.
I've heard and read a lot about the razor thin DOF. I'm thinking maybe a Monopod may be suitable, what do you think? I have a tripod but it seems like it would be a pain to move around every time you take a shot.