Mathews Inc.
OMG - Valle Vidal!
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
Sunset 07-May-21
midwest 07-May-21
Brotsky 07-May-21
Sunset 07-May-21
IdyllwildArcher 07-May-21
Sunset 07-May-21
Beav 07-May-21
Scoot 07-May-21
Rickm 07-May-21
orionsbrother 07-May-21
t-roy 07-May-21
bad karma 08-May-21
Sunset 08-May-21
SteveB 08-May-21
butcherboy 08-May-21
Big John 08-May-21
ohiohunter 08-May-21
Dave B 08-May-21
Zim 08-May-21
Sunset 09-May-21
ElkNut1 09-May-21
Southern draw 10-May-21
Sunset 12-May-21
deserthunter 12-May-21
BowmanMD 12-May-21
butcherboy 13-May-21
Beginner 13-May-21
tru_flyfishing 23-Aug-22
bigeasygator 23-Aug-22
OTC_Bowhunter 24-Aug-22
Rut Nut 24-Aug-22
bigeasygator 24-Aug-22
Jordan 24-Aug-22
Castle Oak 25-Aug-22
bigeasygator 25-Aug-22
Rut Nut 26-Aug-22
JSW 26-Aug-22
midwest 26-Aug-22
MA-PAdeerslayer 26-Aug-22
Orion 26-Aug-22
LINK 26-Aug-22
MA-PAdeerslayer 26-Aug-22
Castle Oak 26-Aug-22
Rut Nut 26-Aug-22
Orion 26-Aug-22
Jordan 26-Aug-22
LUNG$HOT 26-Aug-22
mrelite 27-Aug-22
mrelite 27-Aug-22
Castle Oak 27-Aug-22
Rut Nut 27-Aug-22
bigeasygator 27-Aug-22
Orion 27-Aug-22
EmbryOklahoma 27-Aug-22
bigeasygator 27-Aug-22
midwest 27-Aug-22
Sunset 28-Aug-22
grasshopper 28-Aug-22
Sunset 28-Aug-22
Tracker 28-Aug-22
butcherboy 28-Aug-22
HDE 30-Aug-22
bigeasygator 30-Aug-22
drycreek 30-Aug-22
HDE 30-Aug-22
From: Sunset
07-May-21
I am truly blessed! After many years of applying, I drew a coveted Valle Vidal first season (Sept. 1-14) archery elk tag! I am humbled and in awe to have drawn this OIL tag. I’m excited beyond words. Now, 2 1/2 weeks after drawing, I’m still pinching myself and wondering if it’s actually real!

First, a little background.....I’m a long time Bowsite reader and a rather infrequent poster. I’m 69 years old and had my second total knee replacement just over 4 months ago in December. My hunting partner (Castle Oak) and I both live in NC and are lifelong whitetail bowhunters that have become addicted to bowhunting elk out west. We are primarily DIY hunters.

Preparation has already begun for this hunt. I’m trying to get these old legs and knees in the best shape I can by September. I’ve reserved a camp site on the Cimarron Campground, ordered USFS maps, topo maps, and satellite maps of the VV, and am researching every old thread I can on the area. E-scouting is already taking place as well. We plan to arrive a few days early to scout and are prepared to stay the entire season if necessary.

With that bit of background, I would like to ask fellow Bowsiters who may have previously hunted the VV for any tips or pointers you might be willing to share. General information on areas to avoid or areas to focus our scouting on would be graciously appreciated. Private messages are actually preferred. Thank you in advance and I will try to do a Bowsite write up about this OIL hunt

From: midwest
07-May-21
Ooooooh boy! Congrats on the amazing tag!

From: Brotsky
07-May-21
Congrats on an awesome tag! Best of luck on your hunt!

From: Sunset
07-May-21
Thank you guys! I am over the top excited!

07-May-21
Grats. Did you and Castle Oak draw together?

From: Sunset
07-May-21
Idyll, I believe there was only 2 tags available for nonresidents for each season and one would go to a hunter through an outfitter. So, we’ve been applying separately - one for the first season and one for second season - with the understanding that if either of us drew, the other would go along to assist and call.

From: Beav
07-May-21
Congrats and good luck!

From: Scoot
07-May-21
Outstanding! Congrats on a wonderful tag.

From: Rickm
07-May-21
Sunset, Congrats on a great tag. I hope you both enjoy the ride!

07-May-21
Can’t help other than to wish you the best!! Have a great hunt!!

From: t-roy
07-May-21
Congrats on drawing a great tag, sunset! I don’t know anything about the area, other than it is definitely a coveted area to hunt elk. You said you are prepared to stay the entire season, if necessary. Sounds like you have plenty of time at your fingertips. Any thoughts on going out to scout more than just a few days before season?

From: bad karma
08-May-21

From: Sunset
08-May-21
Absolutely, t-roy, a lot of thought. Heck, I think of little else right now! Logistically, it will be difficult being so far away but certainly not outside the realm of possibilities.

From: SteveB
08-May-21
That’s awesome!!

From: butcherboy
08-May-21
Best hunt I have ever been on for elk. Mine was the second archery hunt. Really cool place! You need to check out all the history about it as well. We stayed at Cimarron Campground as well. If I could do it again I would take a camp and backpack in a few miles. You still need to get quite a ways from the main road because there is a lot of traffic on it.

It’s fairly easy to get around on the high side. Lots of old overgrown logging roads

From: Big John
08-May-21
Congratulations and enjoy your hunt. Please post the story and pics after the hunt!!!

From: ohiohunter
08-May-21
Something that really helped me out was having a poster sized map. Wished I had it prior to my hunt, but ended up buying it from a gentleman who had just finished his hunt. I’d lend you mine, but it’d probably be easier to just buy one. But offer stands, any suggestions on a shipping tube?

From: Dave B
08-May-21
Pm me, I was there last year for second rifle.

From: Zim
08-May-21
PM me.

From: Sunset
09-May-21
I sent several of you guys PMs. Thanks.

From: ElkNut1
09-May-21
Awesome! Good luck bud!

ElkNut

10-May-21
Good luck!

From: Sunset
12-May-21
Many thanks for all the well wishes and congratulations! And very special gratitude to several of you for your private messages! Bowsiters are the best!!

From: deserthunter
12-May-21
I would contact Robert Ortega with USO Outfitters. He has been guiding elk hunter on the VV for 20 plus years. I used him a couple years ago and was very pleased with him and Tiny. He has options for fully guided or you bring your own camp. Plus he keeps horses up there to pack your bull out. 575 770 2441. And I am saying this even though I did not kill a bull.

From: BowmanMD
12-May-21
I second what deserthunter said. We used Robert Ortega and Tiny for my son's VV hunt and had a great experience. We provided our own camp and everything else and they guided us during the day. We actually hunted on our own for the first 2 days and then hunted with them for the last 3 days. We only paid for the 3 days, but they still gave us info on where to go and how to hunt for the first 2 days. Then when we killed on day 4, they had horses and packed us out, which was really good since we were 3-4 miles back in the actual Valle Vidal. Awesome hunt and great memories!

From: butcherboy
13-May-21
We just backpacked ours to a logging road then took them out with a good deer carrier. A few more trips in and out but saved some money. If you will be by yourself then hiring someone to just pack your elk with horses might be a good idea

From: Beginner
13-May-21
Congrats, I wish I am so lucky in CA. Have 19 pts and may never draw a tag in my lifetime.

23-Aug-22
I got the Valle Vidal hunt 2022 1st archery. Starts soon!! If anyone has any info for me please message me. Doing a DIY. I’ve definitely read all the old posts as well lots of good info ?? just trying to sponge as much as possible

From: bigeasygator
23-Aug-22
Wonder how Sunset did?

24-Aug-22
Everyone wants info, but they can't give us any inspiration with a kill shot.

From: Rut Nut
24-Aug-22
can't even come back and tell us how they did, apparently.............................................

If I started a thread and then got help from some very generous Bowsiters, I would feel obligated to at least come back to the thread with an update after the hunt! But I guess that 's just me............................................. ;-)

From: bigeasygator
24-Aug-22
Most of the Valle Vidal threads seem to go that way unfortunately!

tru_flyfishing, I added thoughts on another thread from last year on the VV. If you’ve read all the threads, you’ve got my advice!

From: Jordan
24-Aug-22
Bunch of easy info seeking fuggers apparently.......no respect. ;)

From: Castle Oak
25-Aug-22
I'm sure Sunset will respond. He's busy prepping for our CO hunt with Forest. Short answer is, we had a great time and had an amazing hunt ( I was the caller and kitchen bitch). VV is the most beautiful place I've ever hunted.

From: bigeasygator
25-Aug-22
Good to hear it, Castle Oak! The VV certainly holds a special place in my heart as well, and it’s nice to relive the moment through other people’s hunts there.

From: Rut Nut
26-Aug-22
Are you sure Castle Oak? It’s been 15 months since his last post.............................

From: JSW
26-Aug-22
I'm fairly tired of taking the time to give advice on a limited area and then the guy never bothers to let us know how it went. It happens more often than not.

Personally, I'm not very likely to give advice anymore unless I know the person asking. Bad manners to say the least.

From: midwest
26-Aug-22
Agreed Jim!

26-Aug-22
He’s been busy prepping for Colorado since he finished in VV

From: Orion
26-Aug-22
He's been busy prepping for a year?

From: LINK
26-Aug-22
If you get you tail handed to you in the VV then you need all year to prepare for CO otc.

26-Aug-22
Hahaha link. Ryan there was a little sarcasm thrown in there lol

From: Castle Oak
26-Aug-22
Interesting comments from the sexual intellectuals. As I mentioned earlier, the VV is the most beautiful place I've ever elk hunted. But, it has some problems. We indeed had the hunt of a lifetime and I probably had more fun than Sunset because I was not the tag holder. The problems, well, cows and damn 1000's of them. Just prior to the opening of the 1st archery season, the rancher who has the grazing rights for VV hauled in tractor trailer after tractor trailer load of cows. By official estimates (direct from the local wildlife enforcement officer) more than double the permitted number. The rancher, who is also the president of the NM Grazers Association, then set up camp in the middle of the VV. His cowboys worked cows on the entire western half of the unit with horses and dirt bikes every single day. The rancher is also a licensed outfitter who offered to pack us in to where the elk had moved to due to his illegal grazing activities. Pretty nice gig don't you think. Displace the elk, and then try to charge unwitting hunters $2800 each just to pack you into a more remote area. We met some hunters who fell victim to this scam. We were not as gullible, so we chose to try to find areas that two old men could access away from all the cows and cowboys. To say we were disappointed that such a pristine area would be a victim of gross mismanagement is an understatement. Heresy I tell you. We met some really nice folks, had a great time, saw some amazing country, saw way more 300" elk tha I've ever seen in one place, and received an education in how not to manage public land. I hope Sunset will take the time to give you a blow by blow. Oh, and the armchair quarterbacks should just STFU.

From: Rut Nut
26-Aug-22
Very classy reply- I bet you boys get a lot of help in the future! ;-)

From: Orion
26-Aug-22
If you can't kill an elk in the Valle Vidal then you should probably quit elk hunting

From: Jordan
26-Aug-22
hmmmmmmmmmm

From: LUNG$HOT
26-Aug-22
Shot his elk and rode off into the sunset!

From: mrelite
27-Aug-22
Would have been nice to see an update a long time ago, it's the right thing to have done.

I also would have liked to hear more about the cattle in a timelier fashion. I also would have liked to have called that LEO to confirm what he saw or at least determine if he actually knew what the allotment was suppose to be. Did you know that TU, RMEF and the NMG&F Habitat Stamp Program has spent a massive amount of effort and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to restore that very riparian area. Why did that area need a massive restoration effort you ask......cattle!! If cattle were lumped in there as you say they were everyone should be freaking outraged. To hear about this a year later WTF! I don't know if you are right about this or off base but since you felt it wasn't important enough to talk about then maybe that's my answer, right or wrong the issue is important.

I got on the Citizen Advisory Committee for the NMG&F HSP so that I could contribute instead of just wondering why things aren't better. I am learning quick the why, Part of the reason is that we are in a vicious circle of butting heads with cattle, they destroy riparian areas, we try and restore them and pay to install barb wire fences, they knock the barb wire fences down we pay a second time to build pipe fences and even the pipe fences aren't invincible. In the case of the VV we cannot put fences up because the project is so massive, 3 years of effort that I know about. Keeping cattle out or at a minimum while the area regenerates is crucial to the success of the restoration, this very issue was brought up and talked about.

Below is a current project proposed for this year, read the description that I cut and pasted, it's great that they are finally admitting the area is devastated and that they have the pipe to build a fence but they want 136,000 dollars of HSP money to pay for labor to install. In my opinion the Range biologist that oversees the land and the permittee should have never let this important riparian area be degraded to this point. Until people/the public start holding parties accountable this will continue, public money to fix things that are preventable by sound and practical land management. I personally have no issue with ranching and cattle but they shouldn't want the land and riparian areas to be devastated either, why aren't the permittees the ones paying for it? if they did have to pay for it they would not let areas get this bad. Same thing for the VV permittee, why on earth would he want to trample a massive restoration project that only benefits his grazing lease? the only reason that comes to mind would be that he doesn't care that the watershed is on the brink of collapse.

Cut and Pasted from a project proposal, Background Information Shush Kin Fen is a rare habitat type in the Cibola National Forest that provides an important water source for big game and other wildlife within the larger landscape. Heavy livestock grazing has caused the Fen to become degraded to the point that it is beginning to exhibit characteristics not associated with this type of habitat feature. Much of the wetland vegetation has been lost and portions of the area are drying out. The forest has made a decision to construct an exclusionary fence to conserve this habitat and allow it to begin the recovery process. In addition to the fence, cattle guards will be installed at two points where the fence line crosses the forest road.

Proposed Management Action NMDGF, in collaboration with the Cibola NF, will contract the construction of a new pipe rail fence. The perimeter of the fenced area will be approximately 2 miles, with a total enclosed area of approximately 500 acres The fence will be constructed of 2 3/8" pipe, with a pipe top rail and supports and two 5/8" cables as the middle and bottom rails. Projected costs for this pipe fence are approximately $13.00/ft, as the USFS has already acquired the needed fencing materials. Once constructed, the fence will require little to no annual maintenance • Google earth link Estimated Budget for HSP: $136,000

From: mrelite
27-Aug-22
One thing about the other project I mentioned, it's great that the USFS decided to take this away from the permittee but they should have moved to fence the area before it was completely devastated, it might not come back without dumping another 100g or more in a restoration effort.

From: Castle Oak
27-Aug-22
MRelite, thanks for showing some grace even though I may not be deserving. I'm somewhat sorry; however, the unwarranted jabs at my buddy stirred my Irish blood. I felt it was not my place to do the hunt recap as Sunset was the tag holder. He visits here often but usually does not contribute although he has much to contribute. I can assure all that assisted him with info that he is most grateful for bowsiters' generosity. Your valuable intel saved two old guys many miles of walking. I know that Zim reached out to him by phone just a few days ago. Maybe he can add his insights to this thread. Some would see my rant as an excuse for not being successful. Our hunt was very successful but it's not my place to do the hunt report. We too were appalled at what we found. Not having any history, we assumed early on the grazing lease was on the up and up. No one we received intel from mentioned cows and cowboys as a problem. As stated in my earlier post, on the second day of scouting we ran into the local WEO on the west side. Of course during our conversation we asked about the grazing activities and he is the one that filled us in. We trusted his word as truth since the camp caretaker also seconded what the WEO told us. The roads and trails were a mess. We had to creep through areas in the dark due to cows being all over the roads. We found elk on our first day of scouting but these elk quickly dispersed as the cows moved up the mountain. Per the camp caretaker, elk were easily accessible prior to the cows arriving. Afterward, the elk herded up many miles north and south of the main road. We found evidence of the habitat studies as there were exclosures along all the riparian zones and we wondered why such pristine area was overrun with cows. But, we run into overgrazing where we usually hunt in MT, so we just figured this was the status quo for public land. You can imagine Sunset's frustration as he had the tag and we had driven all the way from NC to enjoy the once in a lifetime experience. In retrospect, we should have carried gear for spike camping but those who provided us with info said it was not necessary. I'm not blaming them as I'm sure they were right. We eventually found areas that had elk and we were in elk almost every hunt. I'll stop here and hope that Sunset can provide more. He did mention that his account may be inactive. If so, I'll handle any questions or inquires ya'll have. And I promise to be less thin-skinned in the future.

From: Rut Nut
27-Aug-22
“I felt it was not my place to do the hunt recap as Sunset was the tag holder. He visits here often but usually does not contribute although he has much to contribute.”

So he comes here often for information, but does not feel the need to contribute....................

“I can assure all that assisted him with info that he is most grateful for bowsiters' generosity.”

So grateful that he couldn’t take 10 min to give an update when he got back...................and if what you say is true about the cattle grazing, it would be vital information for any future tag holders!

I guess common courtesy is not too common these days.....................

From: bigeasygator
27-Aug-22

bigeasygator's embedded Photo
bigeasygator's embedded Photo
If you can't kill an elk in the Valle Vidal then you should probably quit elk hunting

Looks like ~70% of the people that have archery hunted the unit in the last four years should quit elk hunting then.

From: Orion
27-Aug-22
Yep they probably should, there is no reason anyone should not kill an elk in there. Did you have a guide holding your hand when you hunted it?

27-Aug-22
bigeasy… true statement there! Buddy of mine drew the VV in 2020 as a NR. This guy has killed a BUNCH of elk in OTC units in Colorado and draws from surrounding states. VV has its own unique problems for sure. It’s not just a poor hunter issue.

From: bigeasygator
27-Aug-22
Not sure where the insecurity comes from; maybe you can’t afford guided hunts or maybe you need to tell yourself you’re a superior human because you don’t go on guided hunts. Either way, it’s not a good look, Orion.

100% Rick. Definitely all kinds of issues leading to unfulfilled tags - too many elk, holding out for better bulls, blown stalks, swirling wind, you name it.

I agree that the unit is probably as easy as it gets for killing an elk - and still only 25-30% make it happen there on average each year.

From: midwest
27-Aug-22
Put me in coach!

From: Sunset
28-Aug-22
First, I really do appreciate the intel I received and the criticism I have received for not following up on this thread is deserved. I should have given an update and I didn’t. I apologize. I have been in touch with a couple of individuals who provided intel and did pass on real time intel to a hunter who had the second season tag including how to get in on the big bull we worked the last couple of days.

The Valle Vidal is an absolutely amazing place and I will always cherish the time we spent there. To have all the cattle dumped on the area just before our hunt was extremely disappointing. Maybe I should have reported it to the wildlife agency or the Forest Service but that seemed pointless. The local Conservation Officer was the one who pointed out to us that he estimated at least twice as many cattle as he had ever seen before, so they were aware of the situation. And there were dozens of not hundreds of cattle within sight of the agency office buildings. You even had to be careful traveling the road to keep from hitting a cow!

The cattle clearly impacted our hunt by pushing many of the elk into areas inaccessible to my 70 year old legs with double knee replacements. One example: the high ridge between the two big valleys on the western end of the VV was referenced by several people as being a prime area loaded with elk. It’s about 2.5 to 3 miles long and a great bedding area for elk using the two big valleys. Two to three was doable for us, so this area was high on our list. However, both valleys were full of cattle. No elk were seen, no bugles heard and no fresh sign was found on this ridge. A verify young man camped near us hiked to the head of the big valley behind the large corral and found a herd of elk that he estimated at 350 animals! His GPS showed he was 5.5 miles in. An 11 mile round trip was out of my reach. Please don’t misunderstand - we found elk in little corners and pockets where we got away from the cattle. It was just more difficult than it otherwise would have been. In fact, we worked a really nice bull the last couple of days about 2.5 miles in an odd corner where we saw no cattle.

In the end, we spent 17 days in the Valle Vidal - the most magical elk paradise God ever created. Although no arrows were released, it was the best elk hunt I’ve ever been on! I am thankful and grateful for the opportunity and will always cherish the memories of my time spent on the Valle Vidal.

From: grasshopper
28-Aug-22
The measure of a good hunt is not the take, it's the glory gift you recieve..

It sounds like you had a great time, and are cherishing it. Good for you. I've drawn a few premo tags, came home with no meat, but joy in my heart.

From: Sunset
28-Aug-22
First, I really do appreciate the intel I received and the criticism I have received for not following up on this thread is deserved. I should have given an update and I didn’t. I apologize. I have been in touch with a couple of individuals who provided intel and did pass on real time intel to a hunter who had the second season tag including how to get in on the big bull we worked the last couple of days.

The Valle Vidal is an absolutely amazing place and I will always cherish the time we spent there. To have all the cattle dumped on the area just before our hunt was extremely disappointing. Maybe I should have reported it to the wildlife agency or the Forest Service but that seemed pointless. The local Conservation Officer was the one who pointed out to us that he estimated at least twice as many cattle as he had ever seen before, so they were aware of the situation. And there were dozens of not hundreds of cattle within sight of the agency office buildings. You even had to be careful traveling the road to keep from hitting a cow!

The cattle clearly impacted our hunt by pushing many of the elk into areas inaccessible to my 70 year old legs with double knee replacements. One example: the high ridge between the two big valleys on the western end of the VV was referenced by several people as being a prime area loaded with elk. It’s about 2.5 to 3 miles long and a great bedding area for elk using the two big valleys. Two to three was doable for us, so this area was high on our list. However, both valleys were full of cattle. No elk were seen, no bugles heard and no fresh sign was found on this ridge. A verify young man camped near us hiked to the head of the big valley behind the large corral and found a herd of elk that he estimated at 350 animals! His GPS showed he was 5.5 miles in. An 11 mile round trip was out of my reach. Please don’t misunderstand - we found elk in little corners and pockets where we got away from the cattle. It was just more difficult than it otherwise would have been. In fact, we worked a really nice bull the last couple of days about 2.5 miles in an odd corner where we saw no cattle.

In the end, we spent 17 days in the Valle Vidal - the most magical elk paradise God ever created. Although no arrows were released, it was the best elk hunt I’ve ever been on! I am thankful and grateful for the opportunity and will always cherish the memories of my time spent on the Valle Vidal.

From: Tracker
28-Aug-22
Orion said: Yep they probably should, there is no reason anyone should not kill an elk in there. Did you have a guide holding your hand when you hunted it?

Wow what did he do to you to deserve this comment?

From: butcherboy
28-Aug-22
Interesting you had that experience with the cows. They were there on my hunt in 2013 and the elk herds were sharing the meadows with them. Always have to avoid the cows on the road pretty much anywhere in NM. That stinks they dropped off cows then as they are usually running them down to lower elevations or prepping them to be loaded up and moved out by then. It’s definitely a special place and so glad the state owns it instead of the private oil company that did before. I just wish it wasn’t an OIL tag.

From: HDE
30-Aug-22

HDE's embedded Photo
Valle Vidal Total
HDE's embedded Photo
Valle Vidal Total
These are the complete results for Valle Vidal over the past 3 years. Most success rates based on returned surveys show an average of 33% for both archery hunts over the three span. That is not to say the opportunity rate wasn't significantly higher.

Most success rates in VV are based on lofty goals the unit just cannot provide, aka, 375" bulls...

From: bigeasygator
30-Aug-22
That is not to say the opportunity rate wasn't significantly higher.

Depends on how you define opportunity, but it's gotta be about as close to 100% as you can get.

From: drycreek
30-Aug-22
Congrats Sunset, kill a biggun !

From: HDE
30-Aug-22
Opportunity for me is defined as an elk at normal bow distance but something keeps the shot from happening, or a clean miss.

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