Backpack Hunting in the Gila Wilderness

trophyhill

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
2,149
Location
Tijeras NM
Welp? I've been blessed to draw the Gila again! Nowhere else id rather be even if im not hunting. Every day is an adventure in the Gila.

I have no doubt i have stepped on ground where virtually no human has stepped. I've seen the wild at its wildest. And it's not always good. Ive seen where wolves have killed multiple elk. I've seen what bears do to full grown elk in the Gila.

I've seen so many Turkey's you'd swear you were listening to a Tyson slaughter yard befor the slaughter. I've felt the watchfull eyes of big cats on me even though i did not see them. I've seen so many bears that i stopped fearing them. Until one attempted a predation on me while scouting in 2019.

There is predator sign everywhere you go in the wilderness. As well as prey. During a wet year, everything is so green and gorgeous. During a dry year everything is so rugged and brown. I wonder how these animals survive. Huge rocks turned over everywhere lets you know bears feed here.

My first pack in huntin 2015 was spooky. I did not sleep that first night in the backcountry. Everytime i heard a noise, my mind played tricks on me. I just knew a mountain lion or a bear was going to rip thru my tent at any moment. And the sounds of bugles at night kept me awake. But i conquered my fear of solo hunting and camping where noone would hear me scream if things went south.

Now i wouldnt have it any other way. In 2017 i had daily encounters/opportunities but came home empty. Still though i felt fulfilled. I had given it all i had and left it on the mountain. The memories are what brings me back time and again.

In 2019 i blew more opportunities. And late in the hunt killed a giant. Some call him a unicorn with nearly 60" main beams. But i know better. He wasnt my first encounter with a Gila Monster. My techniques have put me within bow range on probably a dozen big bulls in the Gila since 2012. They do exist!

This year i will do my hybrid style of hunting. I will pack camp in and have a tent at the truck. Instead of taking everything in at once, i will hunt my way back to the truck every couple days. Truck camp does have its advantages. You can get clean, eat good, and get rejuvinated after some rugged hot sweat filled days.

It also has its disadvantages in that i hate leaving elk once I've found them. Unless you pack 10 days of food and water in though, you have no choice. Water is the biggest issue when hiking from the truck into the back country. I've seen it both ways where there is plenty, and when there is none. Still though i have to get back. The adventure of the Gila is 2nd to none. Whether i make a kill or not, new memories, new locations will be etched in my elk brain forever. See you in the elkwoods!
 

Gerbdog

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
598
Location
CO Springs
I'll also be in the Gila this year helping my brother fill his tag... my strategy is gonna be tail Trophyhill here and try to get between him and the bull he is calling in.... wish us luck!

BTW, can i bother you to help us pack meat out Trophyhill? ;)

Just kidding, was a nice writeup, but truthfully will be in 16B with my brother this year and am also stoked. Never know what you'll run into in the Gila
 

huntnful

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
642
Location
Central CA
I'll also be packed into the Gila somewhere. I set up camp and sleep with earplugs in, without a care in the world haha. I like it better that way.

Post up a pic of your 2019 bull!!
 
OP
trophyhill

trophyhill

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
2,149
Location
Tijeras NM
I'll also be in the Gila this year helping my brother fill his tag... my strategy is gonna be tail Trophyhill here and try to get between him and the bull he is calling in.... wish us luck!

BTW, can i bother you to help us pack meat out Trophyhill? ;)

Just kidding, was a nice writeup, but truthfully will be in 16B with my brother this year and am also stoked. Never know what you'll run into in the Gila
Ill shoot you my inreach info as we draw nearer. Best of luck!
 

Gerbdog

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
598
Location
CO Springs
Yea i miss being a NM Resident sometimes.... mainly around tag drawing season.... luckily my family all still lives down there so i may not let the arrow go but im still gonna have an absolute ball calling in bulls.... really might be the better part of the hunt haha.
 
OP
trophyhill

trophyhill

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
2,149
Location
Tijeras NM
Yea i miss being a NM Resident sometimes.... mainly around tag drawing season.... luckily my family all still lives down there so i may not let the arrow go but im still gonna have an absolute ball calling in bulls.... really might be the better part of the hunt haha.
Yeah I’m torn every year. I drew unit 34 on my first ever elk hunt and first ever bow hunt in 2008. I ain’t been right in the head ever since. But somehow I can’t bring myself to apply in 34 anymore after 4 years of trying. But one of my buddys seem to draw a muzzy tag every year and I get to go call them in. That muzzy hunt can be unbelievable! They are literally screaming non stop it seems in mid Oct which has led me to question what I’ve been told about peak rut time. But what fun!
 

Gerbdog

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
598
Location
CO Springs
Ive heard of that happening in NM also, later peak rutting periods, was dead quiet in the opening 2 weeks down in NM last year where my moms husband was hunting. Heck i dunno though, i was under assumption that the amount of hours of daylight is what triggered the cows, but.... probably doesnt help when its blazing hot still and dry. Nothing wants to move when thats happening down in NM

Pray for rain and way less fires.
 

Wheels

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 22, 2016
Messages
627
Location
Missouri
Best of luck to those of you that drew a tag. I have hunted the Gila wilderness about a dozen times and have had some incredible encounters there. It’s a wonderful place, but has gone downhill from the late 80’s and 90’s when I hunted it most.
Last drew a tag in ‘19 and although I had a great time, the elk numbers were way down from the 2011 which was the last previous time I drew. There are numerous reasons I believe for the lower numbers, but it’s still a magical place and I would happily go back if I ever draw again.
Watch out for the monsoon rains, very dangerous in the canyons!
 
OP
trophyhill

trophyhill

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
2,149
Location
Tijeras NM
Best of luck to those of you that drew a tag. I have hunted the Gila wilderness about a dozen times and have had some incredible encounters there. It’s a wonderful place, but has gone downhill from the late 80’s and 90’s when I hunted it most.
Last drew a tag in ‘19 and although I had a great time, the elk numbers were way down from the 2011 which was the last previous time I drew. There are numerous reasons I believe for the lower numbers, but it’s still a magical place and I would happily go back if I ever draw again.
Watch out for the monsoon rains, very dangerous in the canyons!
No doubt the predators and particularly bears have wreaked havoc.....
 
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