NM 16A, Anyone with firsthand knowledge?

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
So I've been fortunate enough to obtain a coveted first season rifle tag for a Mature Bull in this unit and I'm going to try my best to not blow it.
I plan on getting out that way ahead of time to scout, but with travel restrictions being put in place due to current events, I'm not sure how well that's going to work out.
I'm interested to see if any fellow hunters have seen the conditions out there for themselves and are willing to share some general tips or parameters of expectations I should have, any insight is greatly appreciated.
Cheers.
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
Don't be expecting 400 class Bulls around every turn. I've been lucky to be going on my 7th hunt down there with family. I've only drawn it 1 time and ended up killing a rage horn 5x5 looking for a 350 plus. We passed a 330ish on opening day and later regretted it. But with rifle even that early hunt after the mobile impaired the big Bulls are long gone. We seen about 40 Bulls last year with cows and still bugling but nothing over 320ish and we covered a lot of ground. If you want a good bull u better be ready to go to the nasty canyons. I was with my daughter last year so she chose to shoot a freak bull out in the flats that made for an easy 400 yards pack out. Damn wolves have the elk moving also. Where we usually find elk, last year we seen a wolve and zero elk in that area. The unit is huge with lots of nasty area's so be in shape just in case you have to go in deep.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Don't be expecting 400 class Bulls around every turn. I've been lucky to be going on my 7th hunt down there with family. I've only drawn it 1 time and ended up killing a rage horn 5x5 looking for a 350 plus. We passed a 330ish on opening day and later regretted it. But with rifle even that early hunt after the mobile impaired the big Bulls are long gone. We seen about 40 Bulls last year with cows and still bugling but nothing over 320ish and we covered a lot of ground. If you want a good bull u better be ready to go to the nasty canyons. I was with my daughter last year so she chose to shoot a freak bull out in the flats that made for an easy 400 yards pack out. Damn wolves have the elk moving also. Where we usually find elk, last year we seen a wolve and zero elk in that area. The unit is huge with lots of nasty area's so be in shape just in case you have to go in deep.
Thanks for the honest and realistic feedback. This is my first bull tag and my expectations are modest, anything with antlers will be something I'd be proud of. I've also had some unfortunate set backs in my exercise routine this past winter so I'll put some extra attention that way moving forward.
Still going to do my best to get out there a couple of times and get a view of the landscape and see how it feels to go from 4.5k to 9-10K lol.
Cheers.
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
Anything with antlers u can find all day as the cows will have a few rag horns with them. But then again it just depends. 3 years ago we drew the last rifle hunt and there were decent 320ish Bulls with the cows, then last year my daughter drew the hunt 1 week before so we were pumped that the bigger Bulls would still be around but nope they were gone. My daughter hurt her leg so I couldn't take her into the nasty stuff. She shot a freak bull on the 3rd day. Here is the European mount I did for her.

20200423_191453.jpg
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Anything with antlers u can find all day as the cows will have a few rag horns with them. But then again it just depends. 3 years ago we drew the last rifle hunt and there were decent 320ish Bulls with the cows, then last year my daughter drew the hunt 1 week before so we were pumped that the bigger Bulls would still be around but nope they were gone. My daughter hurt her leg so I couldn't take her into the nasty stuff. She shot a freak bull on the 3rd day. Here is the European mount I did for her.

View attachment 6386
I appreciate the feedback and love the unique mount your daughter has there, he must have looked quite the beast on hoof!
Cheers!@
 

Sanjuanfly

Member
Messages
8
I drew the second rifle in 2017. Hit the second esterus cycle perfectly. Heard over a thousand bugles on opening Saturday. Couldn't even take a nap the bugles kept us up. Had my scope on a 370ish bull, but lost him in the thick stuff. Got a gash on my knee from a nasty fall. Ended up with a 280ish 7x6 on the second day.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
I drew the second rifle in 2017. Hit the second esterus cycle perfectly. Heard over a thousand bugles on opening Saturday. Couldn't even take a nap the bugles kept us up. Had my scope on a 370ish bull, but lost him in the thick stuff. Got a gash on my knee from a nasty fall. Ended up with a 280ish 7x6 on the second day.
Thanks so much for the input. I just got my "rugged map" of the unit in today and plan on trying to get out there next week for a couple of days and see the lay of the land. I've been doing what I can via ONX but nothing beats "eyes on" and I don't want to wait til the opening day to try and figure it out. My plan right now is to concentrate on the west side of the unit but we'll see how that changes once I get a look at it.
thanks again!
 

WVHUNTER

Active Member
Messages
871
I hunted 16D second rifle in 2018 with an outfitter. The only other hunter in camp was hunting 16A. This was the year of the spring drought and fires.
Long story short, we both ate our tags. I think we were both looking for something 320 or bigger and never found it. Saw a lot of bulls in the 250 to 300 range.
So I guess my advice is unless you are willing to eat your tag shoot the first 300 bull you see.
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
Like I said before, the big boys are gone by the end of Mobil impaired hunt. In 7 rifles hunts in 16A that's I've tagged along on i have only seen 3 bulls that were 350 plus. Two of them around the 370ish Mark. And we have covered many many miles in that unit. But we tend to keep going to the same areas as before because we know the trails well. This year we may wing it and try a different area.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Like I said before, the big boys are gone by the end of Mobil impaired hunt. In 7 rifles hunts in 16A that's I've tagged along on i have only seen 3 bulls that were 350 plus. Two of them around the 370ish Mark. And we have covered many many miles in that unit. But we tend to keep going to the same areas as before because we know the trails well. This year we may wing it and try a different area.
I'm a novice, got a cow out of 34 last year and this will be my first bull attempt, so I'm certain I won't suffer from "Oh, that ones not big enough!" so I'm going to be thrilled to get within range of anything legal.
I've got this week free and I'm trying to work up the nerve to head out and just get a feel for the landscape this week.
My gut is telling me to focus on the area to the west of the unit, looks a bit steeper and rougher, but I'll check out the areas that were burned just a few years ago, (just west of Snow Lake) and then head deeper west as my guts and truck will allow.
I appreciate all this feedback, I take them as words of encouragement. I don't expect much, but realize nothing will come without putting in the effort, so I'm going to do what I can to put in the work ahead of time. Cheers!
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
If you have help, all 5 days to hunt and are willing to go into the deep canyons I would not shoot the 1st bull that you see. You can find 300 class all day long with the cows and will still be bugling on that 1st hunt. I'm hoping to get my daughter a little further in then we did last year and hope to turn up a good 350ish. Just a FYI there are lots of trails that lead to water holes but with all the recent deed fall of trees it makes it impossible to cross via ATV but makes for a good walk as you know nobody can get back there and run them off with the noise of a bike.
 

Red1281

Member
Messages
18
Hey, newer to the forum, but have hunted 16A. Did so in 2018, 2nd rifle. Like some of the others, I passed on a 320 ish bull early and it was a mistake. Most people I saw who took bulls were killing rags or small 5 and 6 pts. I ended up taking a 5x5 the last morning of the hunt. Weather was a problem for me, rain and snow caused fog which made it tough to glass up high most days. Finally cleared out the last day and a half. Definitely not a gimme hunt. I was down there for 10 days, 5 before and then 5 for the hunt. But have talked to guys who did well in the past, but that was back in 2012 too. Best of luck to you. PM me if you want and I will share whatever info I have. More than willing to try to help you be successful.

IMG_1039.JPG
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Hey, newer to the forum, but have hunted 16A. Did so in 2018, 2nd rifle. Like some of the others, I passed on a 320 ish bull early and it was a mistake. Most people I saw who took bulls were killing rags or small 5 and 6 pts. I ended up taking a 5x5 the last morning of the hunt. Weather was a problem for me, rain and snow caused fog which made it tough to glass up high most days. Finally cleared out the last day and a half. Definitely not a gimme hunt. I was down there for 10 days, 5 before and then 5 for the hunt. But have talked to guys who did well in the past, but that was back in 2012 too. Best of luck to you. PM me if you want and I will share whatever info I have. More than willing to try to help you be successful.

View attachment 6631
That is a magnificent bea
If you have help, all 5 days to hunt and are willing to go into the deep canyons I would not shoot the 1st bull that you see. You can find 300 class all day long with the cows and will still be bugling on that 1st hunt. I'm hoping to get my daughter a little further in then we did last year and hope to turn up a good 350ish. Just a FYI there are lots of trails that lead to water holes but with all the recent deed fall of trees it makes it impossible to cross via ATV but makes for a good walk as you know nobody can get back there and run them off with the noise of a bike.
If you have help, all 5 days to hunt and are willing to go into the deep canyons I would not shoot the 1st bull that you see. You can find 300 class all day long with the cows and will still be bugling on that 1st hunt. I'm hoping to get my daughter a little further in then we did last year and hope to turn up a good 350ish. Just a FYI there are lots of trails that lead to water holes but with all the recent deed fall of trees it makes it impossible to cross via ATV but makes for a good walk as you know nobody can get back there and run them off with the noise of a bike.
I'm going to take at least two days ahead of time to get settled in and all five days will be available if need be.
The issue at hand will be if I'm on my own or not, my primary hunting buddy, my son, is currently serving in the military and won't be able to get leave, so not sure if anyone I know will be able to commit the time. And even if someone I know does, it's really about if they're willing to commit to my set of goals, ya know like if I'm willing to go in deep, tent camp and follow them where they go, well if someone says they're willing to "tag along" but needs a bit more luxury, well it's about who's willing to compromise.
Main reason I'm hoping to get out there a few times and see whats possible. Like can you set up a reasonable tent camp as far as your truck can go, and still manage a pre dawn hike in every day? I guess I'll figure that out.
Or better to hike in, find em, and just pitch a one man tent and try not too freeze at night. I need to study up and see how cold it gets mid Oct.
Thanks for all the input, plenty of food for thought.
Sure wish my boy was available, he'd be all in!
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Hey, newer to the forum, but have hunted 16A. Did so in 2018, 2nd rifle. Like some of the others, I passed on a 320 ish bull early and it was a mistake. Most people I saw who took bulls were killing rags or small 5 and 6 pts. I ended up taking a 5x5 the last morning of the hunt. Weather was a problem for me, rain and snow caused fog which made it tough to glass up high most days. Finally cleared out the last day and a half. Definitely not a gimme hunt. I was down there for 10 days, 5 before and then 5 for the hunt. But have talked to guys who did well in the past, but that was back in 2012 too. Best of luck to you. PM me if you want and I will share whatever info I have. More than willing to try to help you be successful.

View attachment 6631
That's a beauty of an animal, one that I'd be more than proud to take home so I think you did great! Congratulations on your accomplishment! Thanks for your generosity, I may just take you up on it!
 

Muleman

Active Member
Messages
221
Like others have said they are big bulls in the unit but not a ton of them. There are a-lot of 320 class bulls, if you show a little patients you can get one of those, be realistic in your goals. I was Just there last weekend, its drying up but a slight green tint to most of the grass which means should be enough for a good antler growth year. As with all the Gila and surrounding area where the elk will be is driven by rain fall. Scouting now wont help you much other than learning your way around.

Another thing to remember is the hunts are a week later than normal. Chances of rut activity will be less this year.

If you have fun on your hunt then you didn't " blow it" regardless of harvest. Last hunt I was on there we saw 40+ bulls and had a blast. It took a couple of days to locate the elk, first day we didn't see 1 bull. You can usually road hunt and kill a bull in that unit, if you really hunt you should have a blast.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Like others have said they are big bulls in the unit but not a ton of them. There are a-lot of 320 class bulls, if you show a little patients you can get one of those, be realistic in your goals. I was Just there last weekend, its drying up but a slight green tint to most of the grass which means should be enough for a good antler growth year. As with all the Gila and surrounding area where the elk will be is driven by rain fall. Scouting now wont help you much other than learning your way around.

Another thing to remember is the hunts are a week later than normal. Chances of rut activity will be less this year.

If you have fun on your hunt then you didn't " blow it" regardless of harvest. Last hunt I was on there we saw 40+ bulls and had a blast. It took a couple of days to locate the elk, first day we didn't see 1 bull. You can usually road hunt and kill a bull in that unit, if you really hunt you should have a blast.
Thanks for reminding me that the experience can really be what it's all about!
Also about the expectations for getting out in the unit now.
I'll keep in mind that even if I see activity at this point, not to pin any hopes that that's where they'll be in Oct., but as you already mentioned, being new to that part of the state, I need to just get used to the lay of the land and figure out how many of those 2 tracks are navigable in my f-150.
Any early trips will be casual ones, driving, general sightseeing and maybe some recreational fishing at snow lake just to relax.
Thanks again to you and all the fellow sportsmen who've been so gracious and encouraging~!
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
I'll let you know where I will be camped and if you need a pack mule and I'm available I'll be happy to help out. As long as it's not like 10 miles deep😂
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Plus you have to let me do the taxidermy work and mount that bad boy. 🤔😉😂
Now that's a given! I did ok doing a "Euro" on my cow skull last year (did it just to practice), but practice on a pronghorn didn't turn out so well, lol. So even if I get something that's not worthy of a shoulder mount, I'm likely to turn it over to someone who knows what they're doing lol.
 

flycrewsupe

Active Member
Messages
233
I had this hunt in 2018 during the first rifle hunt. I went guided. It was a down year due to drought conditions and poor antler growth. I shot a 300 inch 6 point. The other hunter in camp shot a 375 7X8. We didn’t see many elk. Little to no bugling. Beautiful country. The outfitter had hunters Units 15 for the muzzy hunt and 16D with the same slow small bulls. That being said I would love to draw it again.
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
Hey Muleman actually this year's hunt starts 2 days earlier than last year. My daughter is lucky as hell she drew it last year and this year. it's the 1st rifle after Mobil impaired which was Oct 19-23 this year that same hunt starts on Oct 17th
 

Muleman

Active Member
Messages
221
Your referring to the wrong hunt.

Last year first rifle mobility impaired hunt started on the 5th, first Rifle on the 12th, this coming year first rifle starts on 17th

The 2nd hunt started on the 19th last year, this year 2nd rifle starts on 24th
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
Muleman, you are correct I just found my daughters last year's license. I guess we were out there on the 12th. Dang it.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Well, I just got back from two days of looking over 16A a few hours ago and if I were asked to sum up the unit, in one word... Intimidating...

I focused on the Western/Central area of the unit, Corner Mt and the drive down out of Reserve. I drove over to Snow Lake to get a look at that area and spotted cows at almost every turn.

I probably put 100 miles on my truck just driving around the inside of the western portion of the unit and I didn't even scratch the surface of all the 2 tracks I saw branching off.

I camped out overnight overlooking a valley that I saw lots of action on the first morning only to see nothing at day break the second day, lol, but I did run into two other hunters who were out doing the same thing and they were pleasant and offered words of encouragement.

I plan on going back out in two weeks and repeat the same process on the eastern side of the unit...Simply get a general lay of the land, see what the roads are like and start getting pumped up and get an idea of what I'm in for.

Seeing as this is my first bull hunt, I figure people might be more likely to respect an occasional request for a gentle "nudge" in the right direction if I can demonstrate I've at least been willing to put in some work on my own, but I gotta say, this 8+ hr one way drives do take a toll, lol.
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
. You will find elk in any part of that unit. They should still be bugling a bit. All you need to hear is one bugle. Also you don't need to try and bring him to you. He will be a smaller bull 250-300ish range and will have some cows. He spent all September and 1st part of Oct waiting to get his chance and now he has cows. He won't leave them to fight so easy on the bugle. Last year we were driving out on that hunt on Monday at about 9 A.M and seen 3 bulls each with about 5 cows off the side of the roads. Like I said before the big boys will be about a few miles deep. Get to a vantage point and just glass. They are resting from the rut and will show very little activity. They are tough to find as they move for food and water very early and almost Last light. Last year we see over 150 elk and about 30 Bulls in just 3 days. Got there and looked around on Friday and on the road back home Monday morning. Also don't rely on water holes now. Depending on the rain in Sep/Oct there might be water everywhere. That road from Bearwallow over corner Mountain is rough on a bike I would imagine it's brutal on your truck. Last year I gave a guy a ride back into Reserve as he broke a ball joint on that road. His truck stayed there a couple days till a mechanic could get up there and fix it.
 

bjn7f0

Active Member
Messages
112
Hey Geno,
My father in law has the mobility impaired hunt in 16d. Set your daughter up by elk mountain and we'll chase some big ones over to you for her hunt..lol
 

BUGLEnmIN

Very Active Member
Messages
1,977
Thanks for the honest and realistic feedback. This is my first bull tag and my expectations are modest, anything with antlers will be something I'd be proud of. I've also had some unfortunate set backs in my exercise routine this past winter so I'll put some extra attention that way moving forward.
Still going to do my best to get out there a couple of times and get a view of the landscape and see how it feels to go from 4.5k to 9-10K lol.
Cheers.

Hit the Jack pot man. Plenty of good bulls . " Anything with antlers"?
It's this type of attitude that usually gets blessed with big antlers brother.😅🤝
There's units with more elk that are easier to draw.. just saying
 

tallpine13

Active Member
Messages
121
I hunted 16D second rifle in 2018 with an outfitter. The only other hunter in camp was hunting 16A. This was the year of the spring drought and fires.
Long story short, we both ate our tags. I think we were both looking for something 320 or bigger and never found it. Saw a lot of bulls in the 250 to 300 range.
So I guess my advice is unless you are willing to eat your tag shoot the first 300 bull you see.

2018 was brutal.we were in D and a 300” bull that year was a good bull... chased a bull we called frizz for days and when we finally got in archery range he was just a big ol 5x saw one bull over 320.... worst year I’ve seen in the Gila for horn growth..... driving out had a herd of 40 cross the road with a 340-350”6x7..... gotta love it
 

WVHUNTER

Active Member
Messages
871
On the day we started home we had a bull run across the road in front of us not far from Apache Creek. Probably a 320-330 bull. Biggest bull we saw the entire trip.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Just got back yesterday from another couple of days of scouting. My wife turned out to be a great "wingman", she had an eagle eye and spotted lots of wild life while we bounced around those god forsaken donkey trails the forest service dares to call roads, lol.
Put up my first game cameras and had some real close encounters with some Mule deer that wandered into camp...will be back up there in two weeks to put up more cameras and check the ones already in place...I know it's early but I'm determined to put in the work.
First bull tag and don't want to blow it!

100_0158.JPG


100_0162.JPG


100_0165.JPG


100_0183.JPG


100_0190.JPG
 

wideflange

Member
Messages
5
Anything with antlers u can find all day as the cows will have a few rag horns with them. But then again it just depends. 3 years ago we drew the last rifle hunt and there were decent 320ish Bulls with the cows, then last year my daughter drew the hunt 1 week before so we were pumped that the bigger Bulls would still be around but nope they were gone. My daughter hurt her leg so I couldn't take her into the nasty stuff. She shot a freak bull on the 3rd day. Here is the European mount I did for her.

View attachment 6386
I'm 99% sure I saw this bull in southern part of Unit 15. Very cool! I had him at 80 yards and he winded me, snorted and stomped, then blew out into the timber. Awesome mount.
 

tallpine13

Active Member
Messages
121
I'm 99% sure I saw this bull in southern part of Unit 15. Very cool! I had him at 80 yards and he winded me, snorted and stomped, then blew out into the timber. Awesome mount.

That would be a haul for him to get shot in A coming from 15.
 

BUGLEnmIN

Very Active Member
Messages
1,977
"Or better to hike in, find em, and just pitch a one man tent and try not too freeze at night. I need to study up and see how cold it gets mid Oct."

It can get cold. Had this weather move in in 2018. First time we experienced it but just shows you it's possible! It's no secret that 16A has great bulls. Which is why you may not ever draw it again. Hell of a tag for a new elk hunters to have, or anyone for that matter! Rifle bull from next door 2018

39920.jpeg


39916.jpeg


59783.jpeg


39925.jpeg


39926.jpeg
 
Last edited:

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Those are some beautiful and inspirational pics! I plan on driving back out next week, check current cams, put up more and do more hiking..keep in mind, these are 8+ hour drives for me..EACH WAY..so ug, I'm putting the miles on the truck hahaha.This sort of "learn as you go" process I've undertaken is a bit nerve wracking. I mean I go out there. I hike a bit, I see obvious signs of elk activity, as well as TONS of cows and calves, but I guess I'd have to get really in the deep stuff to see bulls at this points.
I'm guessing maybe the trail cams might pick up somebull activity, and I'm hoping at this stage if I can just spot active movement lanes and general elk activity...that's sort of what I'm supposed to be doing?
Hell, I don't know, but the quiet time, communing with nature, I'm enjoying that either way..just hoping it's going to be some added benefit as the hunting season draws closer..
 

Buxndiverdux

Member
Messages
36
It can be cold. I was in 16A in September and we had frost every night for 7-8 days, and down to shorts and short sleeves by mid day.
 

TFAvalanche

Member
Messages
61
16E in mid October last year was high teens low 20s during the day and 60s -70s with no inclement weather the whole trip.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
So I'm thinking I should start a new thread or try to change the name of this one...something like "Adventures of a first time Bull hunter-A Noobs Tale", something like that would be fitting.
So I've been out there five or six times at this point...they're sort of all blending together now, and this last trips was exciting for a couple of reasons.

1. A HUGE reality check. I did my first deep hike into the thick terrain, and boy, did I bite off a big chunk of **** sandwich. An approx 4 mile hike, up and down and down and up, ended up taking me 11 hours. The terrain was BRUTAL and I went straight through the thick stuff. I've now learned to identify the thorn fields from a distance, nothing more disheartening than realizing your're 100 yards in, to a 200-300 yard size field and might as well keep going down hill because going back up would be worse. In short, just because there is elk tracks going that way doesn't mean a human can really go that way, lol.(note, didn't really spend whole 11 walking,I did stop for about an hour on a distant hill to glass for an hour, that hill was my goal, but total time out of my camp was 11 hrs)

2.I'm actually seeing bulls moving around with my own two eye holes, not just blurry images on my game cameras! This was a first for these trips. I managed to bump 5 bulls during this short trip and it was quite exhilarating to get that close to them.

3.I actually found some sheds, one was a really dried out 3 point, I would say it was deer due to lack of mass, but the shape is all wrong, would have to be a young elk, the other was a decent size 5 point elk...really gave me the energy to get through that 11 hour hike lol.

All in all, I'm learning more every time, about myself, about the unit, about my gear, and now, about how these elk are acting. I'm still nervous about the actual hunt, but as I'm going into this solo, I'm not sure how much more I can do than get in the field as much as possible, research as much as possible and be humble and ask questions.

Thanks to this site and others like it for tips, and bigger thanks to those that have personally reached out to help this old guy reach a milestone.

Here are some pics from this last trip.

0.jpg


100_0263.JPG


100_0288.JPG


Atypical.JPG


Bull3.JPG


Bull1.JPG


20200715_104749.jpg


MFDC0054.JPG


MFDC0238.JPG
 

Bluehair

Very Active Member
Messages
2,341
That looks like a little raghorn elk shed. I would say you are making really good progress. (y)

I used to make an 8 hour one-way drive every weekend when I had a bighorn tag. Would try to sneak away early on Friday, drive all night, strap on the pack, and turn around and head for the house at sundown on Sunday. I slept all day at work on Monday. LOL. It was exhausting but it paid off having a plan.;)

Careful on those long drives.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
That looks like a little raghorn elk shed. I would say you are making really good progress. (y)

I used to make an 8 hour one-way drive every weekend when I had a bighorn tag. Would try to sneak away early on Friday, drive all night, strap on the pack, and turn around and head for the house at sundown on Sunday. I slept all day at work on Monday. LOL. It was exhausting but it paid off having a plan.;)

Careful on those long drives.
Yeah, I got you on those drives...my wife is a nurse so our schedules clash..she finally caught what I was doing this last time...you see I get off working a night shift, then just GO that first day...she happened to be off when I was loading the truck and was like "You're leaving NOW! You haven't had any sleep!" And I was like, well I got to get there...I won't get there until this afternoon, I'll barely have time to set up camp, check the close game cams, won't get to really hike til tomorrow, needless to say she gave me the third degree, but for good cause. The excitement of what I might find each time really does keep me pumped up, But also knowing bow season comes soon, and although I have a 1st season rifle tag, I don't intend to interfere with anyone else's hunt, so the way I see it, I've only got a handful of these trips left.
But I do take the advice to heart..
 

junior

Very Active Member
Messages
1,256
I took my first 300"bull with a bow 16a, awesome unit. Those elk get pushed around a good bit during archery, and private isn't to far away. Knowing the hot spots and location now may very well pay off during your hunt! Good luck!
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
I took my first 300"bull with a bow 16a, awesome unit. Those elk get pushed around a good bit during archery, and private isn't to far away. Knowing the hot spots and location now may very well pay off during your hunt! Good luck!
I sure hope so..I'm well aware that I've got to wait out 3+ weeks of archery hunters in Sep, then the week of limited mobility hunters right before me...but I'm hoping that the limited mobility folks aren't going to be where I've been looking and that in the interval after the archery folks that maybe things will have calmed down a bit.
Congrats on the bow harvest...that undergrowth and overall rough terrain can't make it easy to be sneaky...well done!
 

BUGLEnmIN

Very Active Member
Messages
1,977
That country you're focusing on is really very productive. The locusts suck ! The elk love them though. The old burn is full of that crap. There's great density in the unit as well as good quality! What you're doing right now is definitely the way a guy can be successful in any case. Enjoy the work my friend! That's the second hardest first rifle hunt in the state to draw so soak it up!
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
That country you're focusing on is really very productive. The locusts suck ! The elk love them though. The old burn is full of that crap. There's great density in the unit as well as good quality! What you're doing right now is definitely the way a guy can be successful in any case. Enjoy the work my friend! That's the second hardest first rifle hunt in the state to draw so soak it up!
Thanks for the words of encouragement, I'm definitely treating this as a "crash course" in elk hunting to make u for all those opening days I missed. One thing I have going for me is I'll be satisfied pulling just about any bull out of that unit. As long as EVERYTHING doesn't get scared off, and I don't totally choke when my week comes...I'm optimistic. That uncertainty is just nerve wracking though... there is so much open and deceptively EASY ground in that unit...do I stick to the THICK stuff that I've been scouting, or do I ditch that plan and be tempted to "road" hunt the big herds that hang out along the easy roads in the middle of the unit...my gut tells me those will be congested with the folks that haven't been doing what I'm doing, so don't get tempted to bail on all my hard work and stick to the plan...so we'll just have to see if I can stick to my guns, do what my gut tells me, and stay where my game cams have been telling me to stay...lol...
 

Muleman

Active Member
Messages
221
Don’t make up your mind where to hunt yet. Keep learning the unit. where the elk are now has no influence on where they will be when your huts starts in particularly the mature bulls. If your not finding mature bulls now your not looking in the right places yet.

You will be able to shoot a raghorn relatively easy, so dont sweat it too much. Rains are hitting and bulls are finishing off, August is a great time to see what your unit is going to produce this year.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Don’t make up your mind where to hunt yet. Keep learning the unit. where the elk are now has no influence on where they will be when your huts starts in particularly the mature bulls. If your not finding mature bulls now your not looking in the right places yet.

You will be able to shoot a raghorn relatively easy, so dont sweat it too much. Rains are hitting and bulls are finishing off, August is a great time to see what your unit is going to produce this year.
Thanks for the advice, five days seems short, so I'm going to have to show some discipline to let a 5x5 walk away on that first day, lol. But I've caught some big boys on my game cams so I know they're out there....I keep telling myself to at least do that...
I'll be back out there again in a week and a half to see what I can find. To hike a new area, see what current cams show and maybe set up a new one and move and old one...I'm already having fun, but of course, I want this investment to pay off in the end.
The brain trust here has been very helpful!
 

WestKwapiti

New Member
Messages
2
Good luck on your hunt! My brother and I have the late rifle hunt in 16 A this year. We hunted the early rifle in 16 B last year. Awesome country! Tons of elk!!!
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Good luck on your hunt! My brother and I have the late rifle hunt in 16 A this year. We hunted the early rifle in 16 B last year. Awesome country! Tons of elk!!!
good luck to you guys as well. I'm not hard to spot. I'm the only idiot not on an ATV/UTV driving an f-150 where it probably shouldn't be, lol my truck is pretty unique, big american flag on the side, so I'm not hard to spot, I always like to stop and chat with folks. Hope to see all of us post some success here after our hunts!
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
Make sure you practice 4, 5 even 600 yard shots. If you see a bull in that burnt area you may have to take a long shot from a vantage point because once you get into that nasty stuff you may never be able to get a clean shot or even see him.
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
Looking at last year's harvest reports I'm stunned to see the 1st rifle hunt last year had only 47 % success and the 2nd hunt was a bit more at 49%. Guess the other 50 percent were holding out for a monster. Would have thought that 1st hunt would have at least 75 % due to the fact it started like Oct 12th ish. Hope they saved the big boys for us this year.
 

BUGLEnmIN

Very Active Member
Messages
1,977
I'm sure it's exactly what you're thinking. With 3% draw success rate my guess is that some seasoned hunters probably were only Willing to take big bulls. It's almost a once in a lifetime hunt ( unless you're related to Geno Ortega) so people are trying to kill big bulls .
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
Hey brother unless you're my wife that drew it 3 years in a row or my daughter that drew it 2 years in a row. Don't get it twisted it's not me .I have zero luck 😂 I've been applying for that pinche bow Hunt for 12 years and nothing but RED.😭😭. But if history repeats itself I'm attaching to my daughters app next year and screw the damn bow. 😂😂😂
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
So I'm not at my computer now, but I wanted to post an update after my last outing. This will likely be old news to you "old heads" out there, but I found this interesting none the less.
So on this past weeks trip out I happened to stumble into my first signs of other hunters out scouting...with the exception of the ones I've personally ran into and spoken with.
That means I've ran into someone else's game cameras, and I've found other people on mine, lol.
I'm still out there using the "prayer" method of securing my cameras...just strap them up and pray no one, or no thing destroys them. But the first camera I cam across....well it was impressive indeed. Like a gun safe or something...and HUGE padlock...my compliments to the owner!
And the pair of gentlemen that I caught on my camera....I thank you for being honorable gentlemen and not messing with my gear. True ambassadors of the sport. I'd post the pic, but don't want to violate their privacy.
Ok, now on to my biggest observation...overall elk activity...it was WAY DOWN as compared to my previous visits.
The visit before this I'd bumped 5 bulls on my own hikes, this trip, I didn't personally bump a single one.
Now I only hiked about half the hours, but I'm feeling I still should have caught a couple by surprise.
Oh and it wasn't just my time on the ground. At first I thought my game cameras might have quit working or something, but previous cameras that caught dozens and dozens of animals over two week interval, now maybe caught 2-3...
I'm guessing this might be due to an increase in human activity as it gets closer to hunting season and now more people are getting active out there.
Oh well, I'll add a couple of photos when I get home, and although there are a couple of stand outs...I think the largest couple of bulls I've caught on cam have already previously been posted.
Oh, I did get to hear some awesome vocalizations between a cow and her calf as they wandered down a mountain, it was pretty neat to watch through my spotting scope as the cow would get a little ahead and the calf would sort of call out to momma, lol, very cool.
 

Bluehair

Very Active Member
Messages
2,341
I had someone break a camera while they were opening it to look at my chip, but never had one stolen. I'm kinda in the hope for the best camp as well. Sometimes I hide mine so well the animals can't even find them.

The dog days of summer keep things bedded. They don't have to move far to get everything they need except maybe water. Things will start changing when the big guys start stripping the velvet in a couple weeks.

It's sometimes discouraging when you know they are there but can't find them. I never could figure out why some days you see critters everywhere you look. Just thankful to be out lookin.:)

Good luck and post those pics.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
I had someone break a camera while they were opening it to look at my chip, but never had one stolen. I'm kinda in the hope for the best camp as well. Sometimes I hide mine so well the animals can't even find them.

The dog days of summer keep things bedded. They don't have to move far to get everything they need except maybe water. Things will start changing when the big guys start stripping the velvet in a couple weeks.

It's sometimes discouraging when you know they are there but can't find them. I never could figure out why some days you see critters everywhere you look. Just thankful to be out lookin.:)

Good luck and post those pics.
Will do and thanks for the words of encouragement. I was talking to a friend and guide up from northern NM and I mentioned to him that I could have sworn that in a couple of those pics, it looked like some of those bulls had horns that were already stripped...he seemed to think that although it was technically "possibly" it was highly unlikely...it was just two pics....I'll be posting them later today for the "brain trusts" review and comment. Admittedly I only looked at them through my little card reviewer, didn't even have a chance to bring them up on my computer since I got home, just been busy. So we'll see how it looks once they're on a bigger screen.
These mid shifts are killing me lol.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
MFDC0025.JPG
MFDC0166.JPG
Well I've missed posting my last couple of trips for a couple of reasons...and man...have I been thrown a curve ball. Two trips ago, I was hitting a peak...seeing amazing movement, running into bulls on the move. I mean it was really starting to peak, the excitement was ever building....but then I left for what was to be my last 3 day scouting trip before the archers had their chance...and wow...what a twist of fates.I'll keep it brief, but wow, this was the first time I've cut a scouting trip short, and this was the first time I drove out of those mountains on a true low..Now after a good nights sleep and time to reflect, I realize it's all part of the learning process and as a new hunter trying to make this a "crash course" hopefully my efforts are allowing me to accelerate that learning. So with an eye towards keeping things brief.
1. Weather...I arrived at camp right as a horrible rain/hail storm broke out.. I hadn't checked the weather..an oversight on this trip, I normally do and had clearly taken it for granted.
2.Had my first game camera stolen,and before anyone asks, no I didn't have them in lock boxes...yeah I know I was taking a risk, my co workers had told me as much, but once I got them, I was so excited to get pics I couldnt wait. The sad thing is I've been waving at other cameras near mine for weeks...But anyway, lesson learned. Funny thing is this camera was the easiest one to get to, and not even really needed, like 75 yards off a road, right by a watering hole...if someone thinks they're going to scare other hunters off some secret spot...they're kidding themselves, it's no secret elk like water, but still a shame..another footnote is I had another camera 50 yards from this one, that was untouched, but at the same time, unable to catch the culprit...needless to say I moved that one.
3. Lost my first piece of gear in the field...had stopped to check another, more remote camera, I somewhere on that hike lost something..not super pricey, but now I'll remember to double and triple check all gear.
4. worst part of this trip was i saw NO ELK, nada, zilch, ZERO, not a cow, not a bull, and this is unheard of. I've always seen TONS of elk in this unit. Herds of cows roaming around, but on this trip, the first two day, nothing. Not even one on the drive in, and none on the two days of hiking. I heard some barks and mews early morning in the dark, but it was depressing. For those familiar with 16A, the north south road that bisects the unit, as I was leaving there was a herd near the private ranches just west of that road...but that was it..nothing in the hinter lands where I hope to hunt.Now I'm attributing that to the increased human traffic as archery season approaches, but I'm also ignorant as to how elk act during and right after a major rain storm.
So that's a question I have for the crew out there....any insight on elk response and activity around heavy rain?
Well, I've got 3.5 weeks or so to let the archers move stuff around before I can go out again, so I leave this post with a couple of pics and I'll see if a funny video clip will post.
thanks again, and I hope to meet a couple of you faithful contributors out there.
Cheers.
MFDC0098.JPG
 

BUGLEnmIN

Very Active Member
Messages
1,977
I was up there last weekend and the elk were moving Buddy! Already starting to scream and saw a couple smaller 6/6’s (280”-300”) pushing some cows! The elk movement right after the rain storm was awesome! Keep at it ! I hope you kill a big boy you’ve definitely humbled yourself and have worked harder than most!
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
I was up there last weekend and the elk were moving Buddy! Already starting to scream and saw a couple smaller 6/6’s (280”-300”) pushing some cows! The elk movement right after the rain storm was awesome! Keep at it ! I hope you kill a big boy you’ve definitely humbled yourself and have worked harder than most!
thanks for the positive feedback, I guess my timing was just bad. I'm already pushing the negatives out of my mind, focusing on the lessons learned, tightening up my gear and focusing on e-scouting and my archery deer tag coming up next week (another FIRST for me!)
I wish the archers and limited mobility folks all the luck in the world, just hope they leave some for the rest of us, lol.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Well I just got back from my last scouting opportunity before "1st Rifle" in this unit and as any of my faithful readers already know...as a first time Bull hunter...I've somehow found myself at the same time full of excitement...and full of "second guesses"...
I've read, and re-read all the comments and bits of advice through this long journey and tried to soak it all in...so as I sit here, going over a mental packing list, looking at POIs I've dropped on my hunting apps, etc etc (you all know what this process entails)...
I now find myself second guessing almost EVERYTHING I've done in preparing for this hunt...
You guys have repeatedly told me...."Don't expect the elk to be in the same place you find them early in the year as you will later in the year" (or some version of that)
Well trust me, I kept that in mind...but HOLY ****...I didn't expect them all to get abducted by aliens...they've dried up and blown away in the wind. If I were out taking a general census of elk, just a literal head count. I'd say that 80-85% of the elk have just "moved" since June/July. Now I'm sure a month of archers chasing them around can't have helped, but seriously even the cows have disappeared.
I did manage to get lock boxes on the rest of my cameras, so I'm only 1 game cam down, lesson learned there...
OH, and what's going on with all the SMOKE in the western half of 16A. That was the first thing I looked up when I got home. From my camp site I watched the orange glow of the fires at night...possibly prescribed burns..but I can't find any list of any prescribed burns in this unit either and I'm positive I have no clear line of sight into Arizona...this smoke had to come from the fires I saw from within the unit...made for quite an unsettling couple of nights sleep.
The smoke was so bad that it significantly hindered glassing.
And to wrap it up I do have to say that one thing going for me is my EXTREMELY LOW bar for success...lol, I'm a friendly guy and I stop and talk to everyone I see, I share pics, I don't care. I'm sort of like a karma guy, like if I send good vibes out, I hope some come back. Well one thing I've noticed, and this is no slight against other hunters, I'm just in a different place as a new hunter, is that I can show them pics of bulls I've caught and I can see it in their eyes...they don't give a FU**...I'm super excited, and they're like "Um, yeah, ok, cool".
I literally stopped to talk with a guy TODAY, who was super nice, no slight against him at all....but I shared a pic with him, something that I would have shot on opening day with NO hesitation and he grinned, and said "Yeah, well, cool, I'll look around and maybe I'd come back to that on the last day if I couldn't find anything else."
I get it, folks come to this unit to find mythical beasts...so maybe that will help me out...
Thanks again folks...for the monster hunters out there...I wish you well...and hope it works in my favor by you guys pushing the little ones my way, lol.

100_0406 - Copy.JPG


MFDC0009 - Copy.JPG


MFDC0027 - Copy.JPG


MFDC0111 - Copy.JPG


MFDC0128 - Copy.JPG


MFDC0858 - Copy.JPG


MFDC2568.JPG
 

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
Like I said a few times, the Giants are few and far but they are there. You won't ever get the chance if you shoot one of those in your pics on the 1st day. You should be able to find that caliber of Bulls throughout the hunt they will be with the cows. Last year on day 3 we seen at least 7 Bulls like those so if you have all the days to hunt I would wait till at least day 3 or 4 before dropping the Hammer. Hell who knows my daughter might drop the Hammer on the 1st bull we see😂. Good luck to the MI hunters you all should have a blast making smoke.
 

DeerHunter53

Very Active Member
Messages
1,500
I know you are going solo but have you given any thought to the drag out of one of those nasty canyons.
Do you have any help if you do get one?
From the sounds of it you will probably kill a bull since you are not holding out for a monster. But you talked about that canyon taking you 11 hours to get in and out of.
Did you give any thought to what you would do if you shot a big bull all the way back in there with no help?
We shot a big bull in Idaho a few years back and what a drag it was brutal and I had my son who is 40.
Keep up the good attitude you will find the bull you want I am sure of it you have put the time in.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
Like I said a few times, the Giants are few and far but they are there. You won't ever get the chance if you shoot one of those in your pics on the 1st day. You should be able to find that caliber of Bulls throughout the hunt they will be with the cows. Last year on day 3 we seen at least 7 Bulls like those so if you have all the days to hunt I would wait till at least day 3 or 4 before dropping the Hammer. Hell who knows my daughter might drop the Hammer on the 1st bull we see😂. Good luck to the MI hunters you all should have a blast making smoke.
You've been a great source of encouragement and advice Geno...but as I mentioned in this latest update...the second guessing and doubts are starting to creep in...and not without cause.
A couple of months ago, they were more evident...but this last trip (and smoke was a factor...I'll admit) but I only personally laid eyes on a single bull. If you look at some of the pics I posted, these were from weeks ago on my cams...
Like I said, even the "mediocre" bulls that I'm posting pics of, they're just not really showing themselves...and I'm not just out there riding the roads. I'm hiking through some thick ****...places where I used to bump bulls, but just haven't seen em out there...
Maybe I'm just psyching myself out....
When I get out there my plan will be to have around 4 days before the hunt and then to stay for the entirety...and I won't even be rushed to get out of the place in a hurry...as I've got a Wyoming pronghorn tag afterwards that runs through the end of the month, and I'll get to it when I get to it.
I guess I'll just get in place...take a couple of deep breaths and come up with a plan.
More importantly is to just embrace the things I can't control...wait to see conditions when I arrive...and be persistent...
Thanks again....I'm sure you and your daughter have to be getting pumped up as well! Cheers!
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
I know you are going solo but have you given any thought to the drag out of one of those nasty canyons.
Do you have any help if you do get one?
From the sounds of it you will probably kill a bull since you are not holding out for a monster. But you talked about that canyon taking you 11 hours to get in and out of.
Did you give any thought to what you would do if you shot a big bull all the way back in there with no help?
We shot a big bull in Idaho a few years back and what a drag it was brutal and I had my son who is 40.
Keep up the good attitude you will find the bull you want I am sure of it you have put the time in.
So I've made the mistake of misjudging this terrain a few months back..and I won't underestimate it again...
I'm just going to savor the hunt...hope to find an animal I can bring to bear in my crosshairs, and then if it all comes together and I can enjoy those few seconds of elation ....snap a few pics...then begin to embrace the suck...lol
Well I guess my first decision is how I want to capture the event for posterity, ie, trophy.
With my health issues and the reality of us never knowing if we'll see another "opening day" (not to get to morbid), if I'm fortunate enough to harvest an animal, will I want to get a shoulder/pedestal mount, or Euro mount and possibly save the hide...
Once that decision is made, then it will be about breaking down the animal all at once...and HOPING that there is enough light to do that.
I carry a powerful pocket flash light and a nice headlamp with me...but those only last so long...and THEN, if I have a long pack out..ug.
Now temps are going to be in the low 40's over night...which is pretty safe for meat, but lots of this unit has suffered from historical burns so it can be issues hanging meat...so getting an animal broken down, packed in game bags and hung (if possible) and then hiking out, just to hike back in and start round trips...
Well the reality isn't lost on me.
I've got game bags, got para cord enough to hang them if possible...so I'm just hoping that is a problem I get to deal with!
 

toklat

Active Member
Messages
388
You are putting too much stress on yourself! You have put the work and time in. Enjoy the hunt and all that comes with it. Remember, all hard work pays off! Good luck and post some pics!
 

Muleman

Active Member
Messages
221
It’s dryer than I have ever seen that country for this time of year. Rut is on but it’s all at night, bulls are shutting up early.
Your smoke is coming from AZ there is a fire on the border by the Blue Wildernes. Should be calmed down by your hunt.
The bulls aren’t going to leave that country but the constant pressure of scouters, bow hunters, and all moves them. To find the mature bulls your going to have to work at it. They don’t hang around the roads a lot. Stay positive you are going to have a good hunt and you will get your chance if you put forth the effort.

What folks said about packing one out is no joke. Packing out all the meat and horns of a mature bull is going to be around 250lbs bones out. Packing all that 1 mile by yourself is not easy. There will be people with horses at Willow Ck and Loco mountain trailheads. If you get one down far from a road, might not be bad to check if you can pay someone to pack it out. It’s worth it IMO.

Also it will be close to freezing at night but a bull will spoil overnight if you leave the guts and skin on them. If you get one down at dark, get him skinned, quartered and hung no matter how long it takes. If you do that you will have a couple days to get the meat out without issue.

Stay positive and have a great hunt
 

Buxndiverdux

Member
Messages
36
I've enjoyed your thread so far. You are doing everything right from what I can tell. At this point, my only recommendation is to be positive and expect some bumps in the road. Most every hunt I've ever been on has been tough at some point, but a positive attitude has produced more effort and results plenty of times.
You have allotted yourself plenty of time to get this done. My experience in 16A was archery, but many here are correct. Some of that terrain is steep and a PITA to get out of with normal gear, much less an elk quarter.

I would definitely recommend getting a packer lined up and his phone number. Make sure he will be available during your hunt and have a back up packer as well. Go ahead and get this part out of the way before you leave the house. Then you can kill a bull in any country with no hesitation. Enjoy it. I wish I could tag along for the experience. Good luck! And keep us updated if you can.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
You are putting too much stress on yourself! You have put the work and time in. Enjoy the hunt and all that comes with it. Remember, all hard work pays off! Good luck and post some pics!
Thanks for the reminder...
You know...the time I've spent in the wilderness has truly been priceless. Every person I've stopped to speak with has been a joy, well to me anyway, lol.
I just finished cleaning out my chest freezer, the primary reason of freezing block ice to take with me (I fill gallon jugs about 3/4 full and find that in shade, in a decent cooler, they last over a week), but of course there is hope that I'm making room for meat.
You're right....I need to enjoy this entire process...don't stress myself out...and be thankful for this amazing opportunity that I have...I'll do my best, but ultimately...let the chips fall where they may...
I appreciate the reminder..
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
It’s dryer than I have ever seen that country for this time of year. Rut is on but it’s all at night, bulls are shutting up early.
Your smoke is coming from AZ there is a fire on the border by the Blue Wildernes. Should be calmed down by your hunt.
The bulls aren’t going to leave that country but the constant pressure of scouters, bow hunters, and all moves them. To find the mature bulls your going to have to work at it. They don’t hang around the roads a lot. Stay positive you are going to have a good hunt and you will get your chance if you put forth the effort.

What folks said about packing one out is no joke. Packing out all the meat and horns of a mature bull is going to be around 250lbs bones out. Packing all that 1 mile by yourself is not easy. There will be people with horses at Willow Ck and Loco mountain trailheads. If you get one down far from a road, might not be bad to check if you can pay someone to pack it out. It’s worth it IMO.

Also it will be close to freezing at night but a bull will spoil overnight if you leave the guts and skin on them. If you get one down at dark, get him skinned, quartered and hung no matter how long it takes. If you do that you will have a couple days to get the meat out without issue.

Stay positive and have a great hunt
Thanks again for the words of wisdom Muleman....
I'm truly taking in all these words of wisdom...and I can't thank this community enough for being so gracious with the advice and tips.
To be honest I wasn't sure how the "old heads" out there would take to a newcomer like me...coming hat-in-hand as I have, seeking tips from braintrust. I understand that this knowledge doesn't come without a cost and I'm trying to put in the work...I get it that I'm rambling a bit...but I sincerely appreciate the advice and encouragement...
Cheers.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
I've enjoyed your thread so far. You are doing everything right from what I can tell. At this point, my only recommendation is to be positive and expect some bumps in the road. Most every hunt I've ever been on has been tough at some point, but a positive attitude has produced more effort and results plenty of times.
You have allotted yourself plenty of time to get this done. My experience in 16A was archery, but many here are correct. Some of that terrain is steep and a PITA to get out of with normal gear, much less an elk quarter.

I would definitely recommend getting a packer lined up and his phone number. Make sure he will be available during your hunt and have a back up packer as well. Go ahead and get this part out of the way before you leave the house. Then you can kill a bull in any country with no hesitation. Enjoy it. I wish I could tag along for the experience. Good luck! And keep us updated if you can.
Thanks so much for the advice...I'm still trying to see about a couple of folks that are showing some interest..
It's weird because I have some folks showing some "soft" interest but you can't really hang your hat on that....
But that terrain is no joke...Thankfully I don't live at sea level, lol, but still going from 4k to 8k to near 10k is something you feel.
I do notice when I go for my 2-3 day scouting trips, that I feel a lot better on the day I leave than the day I got there...so I figure showing up on a Tuesday for a Saturday hunt, should have some added benefit...
 

Deerlove

Long Time Member
Messages
5,208
I know you are going solo but have you given any thought to the drag out of one of those nasty canyons.
Do you have any help if you do get one?
From the sounds of it you will probably kill a bull since you are not holding out for a monster. But you talked about that canyon taking you 11 hours to get in and out of.
Did you give any thought to what you would do if you shot a big bull all the way back in there with no help?
We shot a big bull in Idaho a few years back and what a drag it was brutal and I had my son who is 40.
Keep up the good attitude you will find the bull you want I am sure of it you have put the time in.
If your trying to "drag" a elk you doing something wrong?
 
Last edited:

ortegageno

Active Member
Messages
187
Not sure where I'll be camped at but once I decide I'll send you a PM. Come by if you need help . Leave a note on camper with location and if I'm not busy packing my daughters elk out I'll go help you.
 

Azn505

Member
Messages
10
Well, I just got back from two days of looking over 16A a few hours ago and if I were asked to sum up the unit, in one word... Intimidating...

I focused on the Western/Central area of the unit, Corner Mt and the drive down out of Reserve. I drove over to Snow Lake to get a look at that area and spotted cows at almost every turn.

I probably put 100 miles on my truck just driving around the inside of the western portion of the unit and I didn't even scratch the surface of all the 2 tracks I saw branching off.

I camped out overnight overlooking a valley that I saw lots of action on the first morning only to see nothing at day break the second day, lol, but I did run into two other hunters who were out doing the same thing and they were pleasant and offered words of encouragement.

I plan on going back out in two weeks and repeat the same process on the eastern side of the unit...Simply get a general lay of the land, see what the roads are like and start getting pumped up and get an idea of what I'm in for.

Seeing as this is my first bull hunt, I figure people might be more likely to respect an occasional request for a gentle "nudge" in the right direction if I can demonstrate I've at least been willing to put in some work on my own, but I gotta say, this 8+ hr one way drives do take a toll, lol.
Are u the guy I met off the bear wallow rd months ago. I was on a quad I think u were from clovis or somewhere. It might.not be u
 

jacosta619

New Member
Messages
2
I ran into lcgamer out there i believe monday morning near Bursom Road. We had a pleasant chat and got on our way to looking for elk. As for my hunt? i hit a 5x5 lost the blood trail and never found him. Hope lcgamer had a asuccessful hunt!
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
I ran into lcgamer out there i believe monday morning near Bursom Road. We had a pleasant chat and got on our way to looking for elk. As for my hunt? i hit a 5x5 lost the blood trail and never found him. Hope lcgamer had a asuccessful hunt!
Were you in a White truck? I remember you well...so well I've spoken to my family about you, I hope you and your friend did well...I was just getting ready to post my "wrap up"....it's taken me a while to wrap my mind around the experience...hope we run into each other again...I met so many kind folks out there.
Hope the next round of hunters do well.
 

jacosta619

New Member
Messages
2
Were you in a White truck? I remember you well...so well I've spoken to my family about you, I hope you and your friend did well...I was just getting ready to post my "wrap up"....it's taken me a while to wrap my mind around the experience...hope we run into each other again...I met so many kind folks out there.
Hope the next round of hunters do well.
very kind of you thank you, i mentioned to my wife of our conversation. hats off to you for the enduring bravery of solo hunting it challenged me as well. not to mention the preparation. not long after our chat (yes the small white pick up) lol ...

i hit a rock underneath and dislodged the exhaust pipe from the catalytic converter. Not sure if I sounded more like aside by side or quad but I'm sure it scared off most of the game in the area.
 

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
It was a long and rough hunt. If you've never been to this part of NM, the Gila mountains, and seen it for yourself, well I just don't have the photographic skills to give you an idea for what you're up against. My first big hike there was nine LINEAR miles, as measured by my GPS, but with all the ups and downs of the ridges, hills, valleys...it had to be way more actual "mileage" than that. It took me ten hours to do and the last two hours were in the dark.
During the trip I gave it my all, heard bull vocalizations, some as freakishly close as maybe 75-100 yards away from my tent in the middle of the night and once at a water hole at last light, but he just wouldn't step out while there was still shooting light...
Long story short, not only did I not bring home a bull, I never saw a bull.
No one is more disappointed than myself, but at the same time, I took away experiences that were all new to me as well.
I've never camped out alone in the wilderness for that long...I've never gone without a shower for ten days (the aroma's are unique!@ lol) I've never been charged by Javelina's...they're aggressive! and I've never had a dozen cow elk walk within 35 yards of me and not notice me...

The biggest highlight were the personal ones. The people from this community that wished me well, and who tried to help the helpless, lol.
You guys were great.
To Geno and his family...First of all, he is real, not a computer created entity that just lives in the online community. I have to thank him as well as his cousin and daughter for not only hosting me in their camp for an afternoon, but for feeding me some REAL FOOD, lol. Mt House and MRE's are find for a few days, but by then I'd been eating not but those for going on 5 days, and was dying for something REAL!
Since his daughter was already tagged out, he even took me out for an evening hunt on day 2, but of course my bad luck is contagious so I couldn't even get a bull to show for the man himself.
Then there was Dave...I don't want to out him here because, to be frank, he was SOooo helpful, I don't want folks to bug him for help, lol. He was so very encouraging. He texted me often, to see how my success was going, then to offer suggestions and new ideas.. A genuine stand up guy.
So to all those that were rooting for me, I appreciated it, but as a first time bull hunter, doing it solo, I knew I was in for an uphill climb.

When I walked back into camp after sundown on day five, needless to say, I was pretty despondent...I really felt like I had put in my best, honest effort...I'd climbed to the LITERAL top of Corner Mt and hunted along it's north face, I'd hiked to ever back hole I thought worthy, I'd built up blisters, popped and drained them, and built new ones up...I lost 15 lbs in that ten days up in the Gila...not that I didn't have the weight to lose, but I mention it to show I was putting in the work, so it felt pretty sickening to not get the desired result. That night my attitude was sort of like..."**** this place...." But the next day I told myself to quit being a little *****....and I'm determined that 16a will stay at the top of my list as long as I'm applying for elk in NM....

Maybe I'll draw a tag next year and have another opportunity..
What I'm learning about hunting, is that your reward may not always be what you went after...you may bring home something just as valuable that you never intended on seeking in the first place...

20201014_094224.jpg


20201014_172309.jpg


20201018_122414.jpg


20201018_160228.jpg


20201020_010142.jpg


20201021_100111.jpg


20201021_102446.jpg


20201021_174339.jpg
 

Attachments

  • 20201019_170453.mp4
    79.6 MB · Views: 0

icgamer

Member
Messages
89
very kind of you thank you, i mentioned to my wife of our conversation. hats off to you for the enduring bravery of solo hunting it challenged me as well. not to mention the preparation. not long after our chat (yes the small white pick up) lol ...

i hit a rock underneath and dislodged the exhaust pipe from the catalytic converter. Not sure if I sounded more like aside by side or quad but I'm sure it scared off most of the game in the area.
What horrible luck....and I remember you mentioning (that like me), you were out there in your daily driver...so that's gotta suck.
I was straight up with my wife and I told her that I thought my lack of mobility around the unit hampered me quite a bit and although I have no intention of "jumping the gun", if draw results come out and I find I'm lucky enough to draw this unit again...I'm going to figure out a way to work an ATV/UTV into the budget....I've proven I'm willing to hike the canyons, but if I hike 2 hrs in and then 2 hrs out...if I can't quickly transition to a new spot...well heck, your day can be shot...
So the afternoon of the last day I spoke with a couple who were scouting from CO, Chris and Martja, very nice folks. I'd met them the day earlier...now I still had seen nothing. I ask them how their scouting had gone..they said "Oh since we saw you yesterday, we've seen 10 bulls."
I wanted to die...the kicker was that very morning, last day of our hunt. just a mile or so from where I was climbing a hillside , blindly hoping to find a bedded down bull. they rounded a corner near bearwallow, where we'd first met the day before and came across two bulls standing in a field eating...they told me the bulls looked up, and then they turned off their atv and the bulls went just back to eating. They told me both were easy 250 yard shots...
I'm genuinely happy for them, and all other successful hunters...but when I hear those stories, well, just hurts my heart a bit, lol.
But hey, we're tough...we're men of the world, and we have to have faith we'll get another chance brother...
 

BUGLEnmIN

Very Active Member
Messages
1,977
Icegamer ! Your humbling approach to this hunt has no doubt gained you respect! I was routing for ya my friend! Chalk this one up as a success in the matter of you learning a lot! Although odds of you drawing that tag again are definitely against you, apply your new learnings toward wherever you go and keep up the grind and you will definitely lay hands on the mystical beast one day! We were in a couple different units for the first rifle hunt and it was a tough one!
 

bonepicker

Very Active Member
Messages
1,042
Great thread! I just stumbled across this and was loving reading through, I was cheering for you the whole time was reading it! Bummer to not get a bull but it finishes off the real elk hunting experience. Sounds like you did everything you right, you started early, you worked hard scouting, learned a lot and worked your tail off on the hunt. That's all you can control. With what you learned this year, you'll be so far ahead for the next time you draw a tag, even if you draw for somewhere else.
 

Buxndiverdux

Member
Messages
36
Icgamer... Don’t feel down on yourself. I had the archery tag and didn’t fill it either. It’s hunting. Sometimes your best effort doesn’t produce. That’s what makes the successful days so much better.
 

AaronS

Member
Messages
67
It sounds like you're one to embrace what the hunt is truly all about. Kudos on busting your tail on a challenging hunt. I know you wanted to bring home some meat and horn, but congrats on a great experience and leaving it all on the hill. Enjoyed the read, hope you draw another tag and can get after it next year.
 

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos
Top Bottom