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Hey folks - have a first season archery tag in the gila. Sept 1-14. I’ve got 7 days of PTO. Question is - do I go early and take advantage of undisturbed elk, or late and hope to catch more bugling. Anyone with experience down there have thoughts/advice on that? Thanks!!!
I'd ask NMWapiti he's taken some great bulls early in the Gila.
What are your expectations? First season is great as long as you kind find the big bull as they will be alone. Smaller bulls running with the cows. Second season later you go better chance big boys move in and show themselves but more challenging with all the eyes. I typically like late season better
have some family report you missing and go 14 days. then mysteriously find your way out at last light of the last day of early season.
I'd use the PTO and then see if you can just take a few more days off unpaid and go as long as you can. A lot of workplaces are aware that rare opportunities pop up in people's lives and sometimes you need to do that. I'm not familiar with the unit nor NM's draw system, but I've herd good things about Gila. Have a great hunt!
On my one hunt in the Gila, I was there for the whole two weeks. First week I took all the locals advice and went high, and saw no sign, no elk. No bugling. Second week, I heard bugling right where I was camped. Lots of bugles the second week.
I like being there early. If there aren't many other hunters pushing them around, they will still be talking. Some will have herds, some not. Last year some loud guys from OK came into out area and blew everything out for the next week.
You will definitely get into more talkative elk towards the end. If you want more aggressive elk, go later. They do tend to move around more and can get pushed pretty deep by pressure. The real rutting will just be starting when your season ends and the second one starts.
Pick your poison. As mentioned above, go as long as you can. It can take a while to find them and get an opportunity. Should be a great year for big antlers.
You can get into some hot action early....big bulls aren`t with their cows yet and you will hear some bugling. I prefer hunting them undisturbed and call wise.
I've drawn tags on both sides of the season. To repeat what others have already said, time is your best ally on the early hunts. Always some dry spells where there is no daylight talking and you can spend a couple days just trying to find them. I can't say that I like early over late. I'm just happy to be there...What unit did you draw?
I've had bulls fired up and acting like it's the third week of September during the first week and witnessed herd bulls with 30 - 50 cows and lesser bulls harrassing and doing what rutting elk do. When I say "lesser bulls", the caliber of bull i'm talking about would be dominant herd bulls in most other units in NM and most other units in other states. Best of luck in the Gila!
I like hunting elk the first season so they're less disturbed. But it's the Gila so they probably are disturbed all year.
That said. Just quit your job and go all 14 days.
Tried early several times. If you get a temp break, you can get into some sunrise/sunset action. Works especially well if you kind of know where they come from as you can call in bigger bulls, but they usually will come in silent. We quit going early because without the temp break, it can be tough. Good luck
I would go second week. I only like first week if you can scout extensively and know where to go.
Good info above from what I remember from years way back when tags were easier to draw. I think that you have the right handle for that country as those herdbulls can take you for a long chase in that country. Plan your setups, listen to those above and have a great hunt.....Badbull
Thanks all. Great info. Starting to lean towards taking my chances of having to hike deeper in that second week, with the potential for more vocal bulls. I was down there about a month ago just to get a feel for the country. Never did find any really great glassing opportunities. My partner and I are more the run and gun or spot and stalk types - so absent good glassing I’m thinking covering country and chasing bugles is our best bet. Thanks again!!
Labor Day weekend will likely be a mess. More risk of surpressing heat early on. Hunted there 3 times. I’d go later.
I vote later...more than likely bulls will be cowed up.
For myself, it doesn't matter the State or Unit chosen, I'd take those last 7 days without blinking an eye! I occasionally glass but my heart leans in the direction of calling in bulls.
If you are a huge Glassing; Spot & Stalk, sitting water sources guy then the first 7 days will most likely be your best dates as the elk haven't seen much pressure & are in the normal routine. So, choose dates that play into your Strength's!
I drew this year....I'm going 7-15 Unit 23