NW Arizona Archery Elk with a side of Deer

AZ4life

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I saw that the 2015 adventure forum was up with no stories started yet, and decided to give it a try for the first time. Hopefully I will have enough updates to keep it interesting.

Most of my life I have mainly been a muley hunter and have taken several with a rifle as a kid and with a bow as an adult.

In 2014 I had a really good year. I got lucky and drew one of the only 4 archery bull elk tags for the unit I live in. I was able to scout alot of mornings since the hunting area was 30 minutes away. I got the biggest bull I could find on the mountain dialed in pretty well and was lucky enough to put him down after calling him in on the opening morning. This isn't a trophy class unit, so with it being my first bull, I was more than pleased.

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I had so much fun last year that I just had to figure out a way to go elk hunting again as soon as possible. My 2014 unit would be almost impossible to draw for a second year in a row, so I did some draw odds research and put in for a couple of hunts with around 12 to 15% chance of me drawing as a resident with minimal points.

I was pretty surprised to find out that the stars aligned once again and I drew one of Arizona's early archery bull tags in a "Limited Oppportunity" multi-unit hunt. This means that the elk are lower in number and density generally in these six grouped units than most elk units throughout state. It can be hard hunting if you don't know the units or cannot put in sufficient scouting time. The herds move around from year to year depending on feed, water, pressure etc, but these hunts can be very good with very large aged animals often taken.

I plan to give scouting updates as frequently as I can make it out, with hopefully some archery deer thrown in a month before the elk hunt starts.
 

AZ4life

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On the second scouting trip to my elk area I took my two daughters. We were just going to drive some country go on a few hikes, check some waters and set up some cameras. We didn't find alot of elk sign in the areas we covered, but I ended up finding a muley shed hotbed!
I found a couple of sets.

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I found 13 sheds within 3 hours and thought things couldn't get better.(We were at the truck and the younger one had already shed her shoes:)

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Then while driving from the road on the way out I spotted an antler on a hill(truck in background),

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Which then led me to a second knarly 6 point shed 50 yards away from that:

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I have never seen anything like it in all my days in the hills of NW Arizona. We ended up with 15 Sheds for the afternoon.

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We put two cams on some game waters and called it a day!
 

AZ4life

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Our last outing included my 3 yr old daughter and my 19 month old son. We just drove some new country and checked some waters. Wasn't able to get out and hike. No elk spotted, not alot of elk sign. Getting a little worried that the elk concentration areas may be harder to find that I was thinking on this multi-unit hunt. Saw one herd of does, one dark rattlesnake, 400 jackrabbits. I have several cameras on waters out and I'll let them "soak" for at least a month and hopefully will be able to show you some elk a deer from those.
 

AZ4life

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337
I couldn't wait any longer and had to run out this morning to check my cams. I'm glad I did! One bull really looks like he is going to be a bruiser! I only got clear pictures of him on June 9th. He is a 7x8 if you count his devils points, and his front end is huge, check out those thirds! Since he still has two full months left of growth from the time I have pictures of him, his back end should really finish nice. Haven't seen any huge bucks or anything yet, the one looks like he will be pretty wide. Youtube video shows what looks like a 6x6 in fading light walking away. I through in a smattering of other animals to spice things up.


https://youtu.be/RgYIshKTDWA





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AZ4life

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337
I took a scouting trip yesterday. I didn't turn up any elk, but found an area with alot of sign and rubs from last year's rut, more than any of my other scouted areas. The monsoons have been pretty consistent this summer, and I believe that has caused the bigger bulls to be able to stay away from established waters. I didn't get any real mature bulls on camera over this last period over 6 weeks and I'm attributing it to that. I did have pictures of several 5 points, all sorts of raghorns, cow and calfs, mountain lions, and a few good muley bucks. I was also hoping to find some mature bucks coming into water during the day, but they are coming in mostly at night. The area is thick and pretty much impossible to glass, so I'll probably wait to the winter hunt to go after mulies.
The elk hunt starts 9/11, so less than a month away. I'm getting my gear all lined up and dialed in.
Last 30 days rain
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Crazy spike deadhead
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AZ4life

Active Member
Messages
337
I opted to not scout too much as the hunt approached after I had decided where I was going to hunt. Since this is a Limited Opportunity area, there really are not alot of elk. The units are nowhere close to what their carrying capacity is. You will see elk in one spot, then you won't see elk in that area for a month, then the next month you will find them there again. They move around alot depending on where rain falls, feed, pressure, and whatever suits their fancy.

Scenery isn't bad out in Gods creation:
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Hiked almost 60 miles in 6.5 days of hunting. Our sweet spot was in one of these:
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One sample pic of a bull on one of the waters during the hunt, looks like good fronts, skinny, but long:
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Wallow that the bulls were using alot early in the hunt before it rained a bunch.
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It was a fun but difficult hunt. Hot days, lots of hiking, only three mornings where we had bugles. Those three mornings were sure fun though up on a mesa in the wilderness area, they would come in to cow calls and had some great action. Buddy killed the fourth bull I called in for him:
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After those three days, it got warm and the rut shut down and/or we overhunted our sweet spot. Could not find the couple herds that were up there. Was down to crunch time. The last day of the season my dad joined me and we got out an hour before light and started a big loop in the wilderness area. No bugles. We called in a little rag horn, but no other elk. I was really thinking about calling it a hunt after the morning ended. We got back to the truck, checked a couple of waters, and I almost headed home, but dad and my wife encouraged me to just try one of the waters that had some sign of recent elk even though it rained two days ago.
I was very glad I decided to stick it out. My bull came in to make a wallow at the water several minutes after her cows had come in to drink and play. It was around 1:50pm in the afternoon and very hot. I could not believe my luck after just getting settled into the natural made blind. I almost made the mistake of calling it quits too early. I'll work on a video of the hunt to maybe post as the final entry.
The unique bull on the ground:
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AZ4life

Active Member
Messages
337
Here is a summary video of the hunt. I was so so close to getting the whole kill sequence on camera, but just couldn't reach over and push play soon enough or quick enough or without fear of getting spotted by a cow. Hopefully you enjoy what I did get.


 

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