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  1. #1
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    Hunting elk in dry units

    I've got a NM archery elk tag for a unit in the middle of the state. The terrain consists of a line of mountains that go up to 8-10k. The surrounding area is all PJ and scrub oak that goes down to 5-6k. When I talked to the game warden, the first thing he said was to hunt water. Cool. The only problem is that every tank has a road going to it. There are some springs in the backcountry, but nothing that I can verify actually has water and is a spring versus snow melt runoff. Most of the tanks are down low, near private and near the most roads and people. There is a lot less water up high, but the temps and terrain are much more "elky". I'm trying to determine a good strategy for hunting water, but staying away from the crowds and roads. I know there are elk up high, and there has to be water up there - but I've got no way to find it other than boot leather. How would you hunt water in a unit like this?

  2. #2
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    Every tank I see has a road, they needed one to get the equipment in. I don't worry about it.

    dry NM area, spot n stalk, shot at 2 steps (about 1/4 mile from a subdivision)

    Last edited by wapitibob; 1 Week Ago at 10:48 AM.

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  4. #3
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    It is important to put boots on the ground so you can find isolated water holes that are getting continuing use. Pick out water holes on a good topographic map and then locate them on the ground. I know of no way around that. You may get someone to tell you about a good location, but that someone had to be there and see the evidence. The things I want at a good water hole are elk stink, muddy water, fresh tracks, and recent rubs. Multiple trails showing fresh tracks from different animals can be helpful. Good cover in the area is a benefit and proximity to a bedding area can improve your situation too. It is great to have a tree capable of holding a stand and giving you some cover.
    Be careful to find out that you have continuous use not just a herd passing through. The rubs in the area are a big help there. As I mentioned, I like an isolated water hole where the elk and I will not be disturbed when we get together.

  5. #4
    Member TreeWalking's Avatar
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    Sometimes using Google Earth you can see an isolated area with trees. That usually means seasonal water at a minimum but could be a year around seep or spring.
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  6. #5
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    I would probably be tempted to hunt higher because I always want to avoid roads and private. I'd probably look at google earth during the greenest times to find water and put in lots of miles if necessary to find it on the ground.

  7. #6
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    I haven't been able to identify any seeps or springs from aerial imagery. Everything that is labeled as a spring on the maps looks a lot like a snow melt runoff creek and not an actual water source.

  8. #7
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    I have found very green spots are likely seeps or springs. Aspen groves, willow or alder patches can be good. I don't find a lot on G.E. either. My finds are more from topo maps, that I will check on G.E., but often when I go to look at a spot I found on the map there is nothing there. I may find something else on my hike in or out. I like to hike out a different way than I went in, just so I have another opportunity to find a good water hole.

  9. #8
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    I might be able to offer some insight....


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  11. #9
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    What is that and where do I get it? Right now I am using caltopo aerial and topo imagery to mark every tank, spring, trick tank, etc. hoping to find a few unmarked gems. I've got one so far. Hard to tell from the pics, but that looks a lot like my unit.

  12. #10
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    send me your email, you're working way too hard.

  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by wapitibob View Post
    send me your email, you're working way too hard.
    PM sent. Thanks for the help!

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  15. #12
    Senior Member TexanSam's Avatar
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    Following this thread because the unit that I'm hunting is almost identical to that

    Sent from my Z988 using Tapatalk

  16. #13
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    It's quite possible that the roads are closed, depending on who manages the land. A part of Unit 9 has a lot of guzzlers that are behind gates, so while there's roads, access is (supposed to be) on foot.

    Like you, I'm drawn to the high country, but I'll be hunting an area where past experience tells me there's elk down low among the roads, and although I'll certainly look up high, I'm not too proud to hunt where the water and elk are, rather than where I want to hunt.

    I'm not sure how much you've hunted NM, but my experience so far is that even in roaded areas during elk season, there aren't swarms of people. I met only 3 in an area reticulated with roads only 2 miles off the main highway. I'd definitely have backup places, but you might be surprised at how light the hunting pressure is (and some of them could be hunting deer).

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