Sitka Mountain Gear
NM Elk hunting Journal 2012
New Mexico
Contributors to this thread:
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
vichris 17-Sep-12
surefire 17-Sep-12
surefire 17-Sep-12
joewiz 17-Sep-12
Mike_Parson 18-Sep-12
Don K 18-Sep-12
vichris 19-Sep-12
loopmtz 20-Sep-12
smarba 20-Sep-12
mrelite 21-Sep-12
marv833 25-Sep-12
vichris 29-Sep-12
cantgetdrawn 29-Sep-12
glunker 02-Oct-12
glunker 02-Oct-12
vichris 04-Oct-12
StormCloud 13-Jan-13
WapitiBob 13-Jan-13
Z Barebow 16-Jan-13
arctichill 17-Jan-13
From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
This year’s elk hunt started out as a dud. For the first time in several years I drew a blank on the NM hunt draws. I spent a good part of the summer in the doldrums. As it turned out it was a blessing in disguise. Due to this wonderful (NOT) Obama economy, the land owners were having some difficulty selling their tags at their normal asking price. There were a good number of unsold LO tags just 2 weeks before the September archery hunt was to begin. I negotiated a great price on a LO tag in the Jemez mountains of north central NM. My doldrums turned to giggles….I was going to be chasing elk after all. I quickly arranged 2 scouting trips. My son Chris accompanied me on both trips and one of his friends Steve, decided to join us on the second foray.....continued

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
My son had previously arranged a labor day trip to South Carolina, so he would not be with me opening weekend. Steve though got so excited by the whole experience that he decided he wanted to join me for the labor day weekend. During that 2nd scouting trip we ran into some other hunters that were setting up stands in the general area we planned to hunting in. We stopped by to meet and greet them while they were eating some lunch. They turned out to be some great guys and we quickly built some rapport. I decided I would set up camp just up the road from their camp. Eric A. and Darryl S. are welcome at my campfire any time.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
I had hunted this unit about 5 years previous. I was somewhat familiar with the area. The scouting trips confirmed two things. There were elk in the area, and it was going to be a tough hunt. Hot and dry conditions had left the area a tinderbox with water holes at a premium. Spot and stalk was going to be a tough proposition. Every step sounded like you were walking on corn flakes. I decided I would spend as much time as possible set up on, or near water.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
We arrived at our camping spot Aug 31 and spent the morning setting up camp. That afternoon and evening we spent scouting and found several new rubs right near our camp including a new one right behind our tent. Opening morning was very hopeful. Steve and I were surprised to hear not one but three bugles near an area just down the road from our camp. We had found some fresh rubs while scouting and decided we would hunt the area that morning. Our high hopes were quickly dashed by the amount of human activity that quickly erupted that Labor day weekend. The forest was alive with dirt bikes, ATV’s and recreational shooters. There were times when the forest sounded like a war zone.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
By Sept 3rd, Labor day afternoon things had started to quiet down but I had not seen an elk. I had heard a few bugles and even a bull making a rub but had still not yet seen an elk. As the next few days went on, conditions only got worse…..hotter and dryer and not a single sighting FOR A FULL WEEK. And then to top it all off I lost my cell phone which surprising work pretty well right in my camp.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
During that week Eric and Darryl kept me company and invited me over for dinner on a few occasions. We traded stories, joked around, and generally encouraged each other. I took an afternoon and went into a local town to contact my son and girlfriend to let them know I had lost my cell phone. I also dropped by the Land owner that I had bought the tag from to ask about other areas that might be useful to hunt. They encouraged me to stay in the area I was hunting and hope for some cooler wetter conditions.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
My son Chris joined me Friday night Sept 7th, and brought with him some rain and cooler conditions. Saturday morning brought the sound of bugles but still no sightings. Saturday afternoon I decided to try an area that I had hunted back 5 years previous. As it turned out that was a major turning point. We located a saddle that was a major focal point of big game activity. For the first time we SAW elk. A cow and a calf and a pair of coyotes. I also learned something about the trail we set up on. We needed to move our ambush point. We were busted by both the coyotes and the elk. As I searched the area I found a hidden bluff overlooking the saddle and two large fairly open burn areas. For the first time I felt some confidence in an location. We also heard a number of bugles.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
Sunday morning Sept 9th we decided to give that area a rest and we tried a different area near a pond I had located earlier in the hunt. As we made our way to the pond we heard a number of bugles. One of the bugles sounded suspiciously like another hunter so we moved away from there and up a trail. We finally stopped to rest and take a break when we started hearing more bugles. The rain had brought some quiet conditions so we made our way towards one for the bulls bugling. We found a well traveled trail and set up just inside the tree line. We sat for awhile and both dosed off. I woke up the sound of cow calls and the sight of elk moving through the trees not 40 yds away. I don’t think the elk ever saw or smelled us but just kept moving by and out of sight. At least we were seeing elk and their activity had picked up.....the rut was kicking in, finally. Chris had planned to leave that afternoon so we stopped by Eric and Darryl’s camp. They had seen some elk too so we knew conditions were improving. They also invited me over for dinner.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo

I was a little down as my son Chris headed back to town that afternoon and it only got worse after he left. When he left he also accidently took the key to his truck (which I was using during the hunt). Now I was without a cell phone or any transportation. Eric happened to stop by my camp and we used his cell phone to contact my son and let him know about the key. Eric was headed into town for some gas and supplies so I went with him to retrieve the key. We had a great time joking and telling stories. We got the key and treated ourselves to a late lunch at a fast food place and headed back to the woods. It was raining and we were having such a good time we just decided to road hunt that evening. We saw a couple of nice bucks playing around in the rain. I think they were as happy to see the rain as we were. Just before dark we ran across some fresh elk tracks that crossed the road so Eric dropped me off to hunt that area while he ran back to camp. There were several bulls going crazy bugling but never showed themselves. I had a great time in the rain bugling back at them. Eric came back just as it got dark. He had made some red chili and I had some ground elk that we added. Between the red chile a pan of refried beans and a batch of tortilla’s we had quite a feast.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
The next morning, Sept 10, I headed back to the bluff. I spent some time quietly clearing the area of downed wood, sticks, and debris. I also carry a set of pruners with me, so I spent some time trimming some brush and trees to open up some clear shooting lanes. After I got settled I started hearing some indications that game was starting to move. Between the sounds of alerted squirrels and the sound of rocks rolling and sticks breaking I knew there was going to be some activity. A doe and her fawn appeared in the burn area and then quietly slipped into the timber. And then it struck me. Eric’s red chile from the night before was making itself known. Over the next ½ hour my gut was doing a helluva rumble. Nature was calling with some urgency. I moved off the bluff and far enough away to keep my ambush location a well kept secret. I was far enough away to keep the noise and scent down but I could hear the squirrels and movement over at my ambush point. When I finally arrived back at the bluff I could see the fresh tracks down below and hear the movement down below in the timber. Foiled by a batch of Chile!

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
Oh well, I had a fat chipmunk that kept me company the rest of the day. As evening came on the woods were alive with the sounds of bugles and cow calls under a light rain but nothing showed itself. As I hiked back to my truck I recognized the bugle of a good sounding bull with a unique double chuckle at the end of his call. He started out as a distant call earlier in the evening but had moved into the basin I was hunting.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
Sept 11 broke with a cool breeze and a hint of rain. I quickly did my morning chores and wolfed down a breakfast burrito. I did a quick check of my gear and headed to the bluff. As I parked the truck I was filled with anxiety. Today was my last full day of hunting. I needed to be back at work the next night so I would only have the morning hunt on Sept 12. I had no sooner stepped out of the truck when I heard that big bull with the funny double chuckle sound off. He had hardly moved from where he was the previous evening. As I worked my way back to the bluff he must have bugled a half dozen times. I settled in and noted that the bull sounded like he was headed in my direction. As he continued to bugle several other bull began to answer his calls. Finally I noticed some movement. There were several cow elk feeding along one of the bench/burns that I was watching and moving in my direction. The big herd bull was definitely moving in my direction too. As the cows came into bow range I debated whether to shoot one of the cows or wait for the herd bull to appear. Anxiety got the best of me and I decided to take one of the cows. I chose one that was in the open ranged her and drew for the shot. Just as I was about to release the arrow she moved behind a bush I tried to follow and released the arrow I heard the arrow rattle through the brush and the cow took off with no apparent damage. I sat there cursing myself for letting that arrow fly and thinking I had blown my chance. But then he bugled again. He was still in the timber a ways off and unaware of the commotion that happened just below me. I got another arrow ready and watched and waited. Four minutes passed and he really let out a scream with his signature double chuckle finishing it off. Suddenly a large cow broke out of the timber and headed right up the trail out in the open and stopped just below me. She was partially hidden by some brush and had no idea I was 20 yrds from her. Then another cow mewed and broke out into open headed up the trail quickly trailed buy the herd bull screaming out his call. Man he was a sight to see. The cows stopped and looked around. The bull just kept on coming with me watching him through my range finder

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
He stopped at 57 yds. The cows decided to head into the timber and out of the open and he turned to follow. I stopped him with a loud mew. I drew on him but his vitals were partially covered by a smallish fir tree. He took a step back to see what made the noise and snaked his neck around the fir tree and looked up at me. I had a really small window exposing his vitals just under his chin. I let it fly and saw the arrow disappear just under his chin/neck. Well the timber erupted with the sound of him busting branches and downed wood. I listened trying to pinpoint the exact direction he was headed. I waited for about 5 minutes up on the bluff then headed down to the spot he was standing when I shot. I found his track but no sign of blood. I determined to wait forty minutes to give him time to settle. I broke out some water and snacks and played a few games on my Rhino 110 GPS. After about 25 minutes I heard some loud wheezing coming from the general direction he had headed. When the forty minutes were up I took up the trail but quickly lost it in a jumble of downed timber and other elk and cattle tracks. I continued on hoping to find some blood and tracks. After going about 150 yrds I stopped to rest and get a drink and decided I was going to go back and start all over. I took off my pack and peeled off my camo hoodie. Suddenly I noticed something out of place. There he was just up ahead piled up with his antlers stuck in the ground, his head facing straight up and his legs tangled in the brush.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
I quickly took a few pics, and marked him with my GPS, back trailed him and found my arrow…….in one piece. First time that has happened to me

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
I noticed when I marked him with the GPS he was very close to a small pond I had marked earlier in the hunt. As it turns out just 200 ft from the pond with an ATV trail leading to it.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
I headed back to my truck and over to Eric and Darryl’s camp. Eric’s son Lance and his girlfriend Jasmine happened to be at their camp too and everyone loaded up to help get my bull out.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
It was sure nice having everyone’s help get the herd bull out. We drug him straight down to the trail and did the hard work from there.

From: vichris
17-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
.

From: surefire
17-Sep-12
Wow! Nice bull and great journal story. Good thing you had all that help to get him out or you'd have had to miss work!,

From: surefire
17-Sep-12
Wow! Nice bull and great journal story. Good thing you had all that help to get him out or you'd have had to miss work!,

From: joewiz
17-Sep-12
Awesome job and great story. Persistence and patience paid off. Way to get it done.

From: Mike_Parson
18-Sep-12
awesome job... can i ask what unit you were in? again, great job and awesome bull.

From: Don K
18-Sep-12
Thanks for sharing!!

From: vichris
19-Sep-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
Thanks guys.....Mike Parson PM sent

From: loopmtz
20-Sep-12
Nice job, thanks for sharing.

From: smarba
20-Sep-12
Fantastic bull and great story/photo journal. Congrats and thanks for sharing. Carl

From: mrelite
21-Sep-12
Congrats on a great Jemez bull!

From: marv833
25-Sep-12
Nice job, Sounds like you had a great time!!!

From: vichris
29-Sep-12
Thanks again...loopmtz...smarba....mrelite.....marv833

From: cantgetdrawn
29-Sep-12
Congrats on a nice bull.

Great story and pics.

From: glunker
02-Oct-12
Great bull, you muat be the best shot in the state or you would have not attempted that shot at that yardage.

From: glunker
02-Oct-12
Great bull, you muat be the best shot in the state or you would have not attempted that shot at that yardage.

From: vichris
04-Oct-12

vichris's embedded Photo
vichris's embedded Photo
LOL Glunker.......no, not by a long shot. I do practice almost exclusively at 40-80 yards, from my knees, with Slick Trick BH's starting in Aug of every year. I've killed elk at over 50 yds the past 3 years, and killed a good bull in 2008 at 68 yards while it was raining pretty good, but gotta admit.....this was the most difficult shot I've made. All of the elk I've killed have been from my knees. It's just a much more stable platform and I feel it makes me a more confident shooter.

Thanks though

From: StormCloud
13-Jan-13
Interesting. I hear you Glunker.

From: WapitiBob
13-Jan-13
The Bulls aren't die'n if the arrows aren't fly'n.

Still enjoy the read Chris. congrats again

From: Z Barebow
16-Jan-13
"You will miss 100% of the shots you never take"-Wayne Gretzky

Thanks for your story. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

From: arctichill
17-Jan-13
The recent comments made by WapitiBob and Z Barebow are both true. Not all things that are true are right. I've shot with vichris and am not the least bit surprised at his ability to flawlessy execute this shot. Kudos to vichris for acquiring the ability he has, knowing the ability he has and making the right decision.

The elk I shot last September was closer than 57 yards. The shot angle was somewhat similar. My shooting skills are not as good as those earned by vichris. It was cold. I was shivering. My shooting glove was soaking wet (sticky). The fog was thick. I knew in my heart that I didn't have the confidence necessary to make this shot given these circumstances. .....But I had worked so hard to get into this position. If I didn't decide quickly the bull would wind me....as he had in our previous encounter.

"The bulls aren't die'n if the arrows aren't fly'n"

"You will miss 100% of the shots you never take."

The string escaped my fingers. I lost sight of my fluorescent fletches in the fog half way between my kneeling position and where the majestic 7X6 bull proudly stood. His massive body lunged forward. His long sweeping brow tines tore through the fog as if he were using them to carve a path through the thick cold air. I made the cow sounds instinctively, unintentionally, unknowingly. The bull stopped and looked back at me. I begged my Swarovski's to function like an x-ray machine through the fog. I could see the bull, but no clearer than if he were a ghost. I stared intently looking for blood or the latter half of an arrow shaft or any other sign of what might have just happened?? Within a second the bull effortlessly leaped over a section of old 3 strand barbed wire fence. He disappeared in complete silence. My frozen ears strained to hear a crash in the timber. I could only hear the half-frozen raindrops land on the dried oak leaves around me. As I tied a short length of surveyors tape on the tree that had graciously hid me, I felt a sick feeling in my stomach.I hope never to feel that again. I knew I hit that bull. I knew I didn't hit him where I wanted to. The blood I found where the bull stood when I shot confirmed my first gut instinct. The 1.67 mile tracking job that followed, confirmed the second. I found the dead bull just before dark. His death was not quick enough, nor was it clean enough. I never should have released that arrow.

We all love to kill bulls, but bowhunting is a lot more than fly'n arrows towards die'n bulls. Sometimes, the shots we should be most proud of are the shots we never take.....at least that's how I feel every time I look at last year's bull hanging on my wall.

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