NM 16A, Anyone with firsthand knowledge?

icgamer

Member
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
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
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
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.

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icgamer

Member
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.

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

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icgamer

Member
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.

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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
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.

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
. 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
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
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
 
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
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
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!

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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.

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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.
 

BUGLEnmIN

Very Active Member
"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

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icgamer

Member
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..
 

icgamer

Member
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.

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Bluehair

Very Active Member
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
 

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