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New Mexico 16D Elk tag. Sept 15-24
Any advice to a Southern Illinois bowhuntin farm boy? My first elk hunt! Yes I know I was very lucky to pull this tag out of state and no outfitter.
If you can, hire Darrell Welty from Limestone Outfitters in Winston/Dusty. I had that tag years ago and they know that area! Incredible hunt!
Um really you should have got your ears wet on some OTC CO hunts before biting into a Gila hunt. You will probably make several bad decisions due to inexperience. If you can afford the outfitter you should go that route.
Buy a lottery ticket - you're on a roll! Get in really good shape and learn how to call. Try to go with at least one sherpa - er friend who can pack weight or you will find the truth in the old saying 'the problem with elk hunting is you might get one!'
Nothing wrong with drawing 16d late hunt for your first ever elk hunt. Except that every elk hunt after for the rest of your life may not compare very well.
Congrats on the tag!
...and I hate your guts. ;-)
Congrats on the tag! If you are a rookie elk bowhunter....I would 2nd the idea of using an outfitter. Tags like that don't come along very often.
So you got a date with Kate Upton. That is awesome, except that you've never kissed a girl before.
Most likely you won't draw this tag again for 15-20 years. So in order to increase your odds of success you have two options:
1. If you can swing it hire a guide for at least the first couple of days.
2. If money is tight then become a member of Elk101 and start hunting in southern CO in an over-the-counter (OTC) elk unit. You buy the tag (about $600) online and the season starts August 26. Hunt in CO for as much time as you can and then drive down to NM a few days before the season.
Try as hard as you can to forget everything you know about hunting deer in Illinois. Deer and elk hunting are almost complete opposites. Most "farm boys" are strong, but don't have much endurance. GET IN SHAPE to hike in the mountains, at high altitude, with a loaded backpack, when you are dehydrated, and tired. You will need quality boots and synthetic pants and shirts. You don't need expensive clothes, optics, etc.
You've drawn a great tag but keep in mind that 80% of bowhunters won't tag an elk there. You've got to hunt smarter/harder if you want to succeed.
Good luck on your hunt and please share your hunt with us when it's over.
Odds are you won't draw this tag again in the next 125 years.
Get there 3-4 days early and stay for the entire hunt. I don't care what you have to do, DO NOT cut yourself short on this hunt. You will never draw this tag again.
I drew a great Gila tag my second year ever elk hunting with pretty limited elk encounters on my first. In 8 days of hunting I gained more experience than if I hunted general or OTC tags in other states for 10 years. You are going to have fun!
I went DIY and ate my tag. It hurts knowing I'll most likely never draw that tag again, but I do not regret it one bit. I drew back on two 350"+ bulls. Had an arrow deflect off of a twig on one and, later in the hunt, I waited for the other bull to take a step, but he got clobbered by a bigger bull while I was at full draw. I feel I got way more out of the hunt by hunting my arse off every single day than I would have if I shot a monster the first morning with a guide. Your priorities might be different, though.
I did glass up a couple of very nice bulls on the south side of Eagle Mtn two years ago. That's some pretty rugged country, though!
The Gila is an amazing place. You will be changed forever. Enjoy every minute of your hunt. Oh yeah, bring rain gear and don't leave it at camp no matter how nice it looks.
Good for you! Enjoy the hunt. C
If you plan on a DIY let me know and I'll try to give you a few tips. I've had the pleasure of drawing 16D 3 time in the past.
My first elk hunt was a very good unit in NM. I hunted them like whitetails and came home empty handed. Hardly anything with whitetails applies to elk, so forget it. Read every elk thread on here for the past two years and buy the university of elk hunting DVD from elk101. Learn everything you can about elk in the next 5 months and take advantage of that tag. I look back at the blown opportunities on big bulls and just think what if I'd have know what I know now.
Its amazing after a few years looking back and realizing the learning curve. I have numerous what if's and I shoulda woulda coulda's, I'm sure we all do. If I were Bill I'd either go with some form of guiding or find a buddy (even someone here) to take him out to call and show him the ropes.
A solo diy could be a swift kick in the junk. Having an elk down can be overwhelming especially your first elk.
I'd offer to "guide" but I'm under qualified and burning vacation on my own hunt. It would be a blast to guide/hunt that unit. If you can't afford an outfitter I'd do as Ohio suggests and try to make an experienced elk hunting friend.
2016 New Mexico Bull from 16d
2016 New Mexico Bull from 16d
I hunted the first season in 16d last year. It is awesome elk country and you will have numerous encounters with bulls. Get in good shape and I also would recommend an outfitter. If you go DIY having a friend along would be of great help, but it can be done alone. There are plenty of elk close to roads so you don't necessarily have to hunt deep. Watch some youtube videos and learn to judge elk because a below average elk will look big to a whitetail hunter. Above all have fun, take a camera, and make some memories!!!!! Good luck!
Instead of a guide, maybe you should do a little fishing for an experienced elk hunter that would want to go along???
Good for you! I drew a good tag on my first ever elk hunt and I hired an outfitter and I was happy that I did. You'll have a great hunt. Good luck
Congrats, I'm your neighbor from IN that got equally lucky with 16C tag the same season. A couple years ago I hunted Arizona unit 1 (after 15 years of points). Unlike you I had hunted elk several times (taking a decent 6x6 in Idaho in '92 on a DIY and had an article published about it in Peterson's Bowhunting). My very first hunt was guided in Montana in late 80's (I learned a lot on that hunt & had my chances) My Ar. hunt I went DIY (after much deliberation). With proper homework and some help from new friends on sites like this, I was in areas to harvest a nice bull (which I can say in unit 1 of Ar. isn't that hard to do - it's heaven on earth and was nothing like any hunt I had ever been on in terms of action - sounds like could be the same in 16D...and I hope 16C). However, being close to harvesting one and actually doing it are two different things. On more than one occasion I blew chances that a more experienced person (or guide) would have likely turned into a shot opportunity. Either way, will be the funnest two week of elk hunting you will likely ever have.
Ditto others on getting in shape, learn as much as you can. If feasible a guide would be well worth it, especially on your first ever hunt. For my 16C I put in with an outfitter to get in better draw odds and have chosen to do the first 5 days with them, knowing these tags are few & far between. In Ar. I videoed a lot of bulls to show my boys (several of them I should have been pointing my arrow at instead of the camera - I'm not taking the cam corder this year!!) But man did I have fun, although video steak isn't any better than tag soup. We'll have to touch base, be happy to offer whatever help I can.
BowhuntBill - I also drew the same tag. I drew through an outfitter though. My second time to put in for a Gila tag. Very luck for sure. A group of us had been putting in and this year we decided to go individual apps. with the outfitter in hopes one of us would draw. I have hunted elk in Colorado for approximately 10 years (mainly bow, but have had muzzleloader and rifle tags) and have never killed an elk. Have had many opportunities but have never loosed an arrow at one. Have been on smaller bulls and cows but always want to see what's over the next ridge, especially when I'm hearing a deep throated bull in the distance. One of hunting buddies that has hunted in the Gila says I'm going to have the same problem in 16D. If you do end up looking for an outfitter, pm me and I'll let you know who I'm hunting with. Who knows we may run into each other on the hunt. Hopefully while packing a bull out! Good luck and shoot straight!!!
Thanks a bunch guys! I have a couple of friends in New Mexico that are going with me that have elk hunting experience but I am going to gather as much info from anyone I can. I have already started training, I turn 55 tomorrow but I am in ok shape for an old guy. Did a half marathon two years ago. Going to get a new Mathews tomorrow and start flinging arrows. I'm used to 30 and under yard shots. My friend Frank says 60 would be more likely so I will get there. Been a bowhunter for 35 years and have a Pope and Young buck at the taxidermist as we speak. I know this is a once in a life time hunt and I am trying to cover every base. I have heard Elk and Deer are a totally different hunt and that is why I'm here taking in all of your words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. Need any advice on river bottom whitetails I'm your guy. Bill
I don't think its a bad idea to be as proficient as you can at distance, but based on my experience and others I've read here it seems 50yds+ shots are the minority. Considering there are numerous consistently successful guys here hunting stick and string. Glad to hear you experienced help. Tip: draw early
Ditto ohiohunter. Being a proficient shot out to 50 yards is a plus, but I've never yet had to take a 50 yard shot at a bull elk. On six elk hunts, my shot distances (in order) have been 17, 22, 27, 22, 28 and 40 yards. Not saying I wouldn't take a 50+ yard shot if the right opportunity presented itself....just have not had to make that decision to date.
I have a good feeling you're going to do great and have the hunt of a lifetime. Man, what a tag!
Great tag...hunted it last year with my nephew and had an awesome hunt. If you're going along, learn to use a call. That's very important. Contact Paul aka elknut. He's got some great information, and loves to talk elk and elk hunting. He's a great person to know... Funny how a lot of the eastern bowhunters talk about being good at 50 plus yards, and it's always a good idea. You'll find bulls that will come running into your calls, and others that will come in slow. Some very big bulls down there that will be running with a lot of cows, and the smaller younger bulls with cows will run from you, afraid to loose what they have. You'll need to learn when to be aggressive and when to back out. Find water and hunt the water in the evenings. You'd be surprised how many big bulls are killed over water instead of being called in.
Don't discount your Whitetail experience. Ambush! If you'd be happy with a 160 inch Whitetail that equates to a 320 inch Elk! The difference in specie measuring equates to 2 inches on an elk equals 1 inch on a Whitetail. You certainly should be stoked!! C
Great unit. Its been awhile since I've hunted it.
Understanding what is going on in that unit is key. One issue is that there are some very savvy cows in that unit that are very hard to trick. I was on 2 very big bulls the time I hunted it....one was at 25 yds with cows shielding the bull [like secret service agents-it was crazy] and it was the cows both times that screwed me. They will put their head on the ground to look under the PJ...they will pattern your footsteps on a sneak.
Killing A BULL will be easy....killing a BIG bull with cows will be tougher.
I have the same hunt dates in a different unit, but my plan is to hit the ground running b/c it will not take the big boys long to put together a harem if they haven't already. From what I hear they rut a lot harder in the 16's, so my thinking is a lot of the elk will already be herded up. Correct me if you think i'm wrong.
I don't think they rut harder, just the bull to cow ratio is extremely high. You'll see big 330" satellite bulls. You'll see evidence of fights everywhere, with lots of broken off bulls. It's the small young bulls that come running into just cow calls, trying to get the cow before a bigger bull comes in.
Best case is when a big bull looses his cows to another bull and comes into the calls mad at the world. Right place, right time to put a big bull on the ground. We seen a lot of broken horned bulls last year that we passed on. Bulls responded great to the calls all day long. It's a great hunt, and when they're hot, you'll experience some great elk hunting...
I've hunted 16C 5 times. You are in for a great hunt. Keys: -start walking. You don't need to be a marathon running for the NM hunts but you will want to be in decent shape. Plan on averaging 8 miles per day on your GPS for walking. Some days more, and once you find elk, much less. -take your family on a summer trip to NM and do some hiking. Great family time and you will find some areas to hunt when you get there in Sept. -Use internet tools to identify water sources and north slopes and meadows. If it's a dry year you can hunt the water tanks (mud holes as we know the in the midwest). Elk will be coming to them. I prefer calling, but your mileage may vary. -Take your wife out this weekend and celebrate. You just drew a world-class tag and if you put in a solid effort you are going to have a GREAT elk hunt.