NM Elk

dirtytough

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
854
This year was a good year in NM for us. My wife really wanted to kill an elk this year. I have a good otc spot in Colorado. But its steep, rough, and well otc. You never know how many people are going to be hunting it. I figured I would apply her for some better than average areas in most states and use the Colorado area as a fall back plan.

The NM app period was up and I decided to apply her through the outfitter draw to up her odds. And since we were applying her through there I figured I might as well also :) I talked to an outfitter an we got a game plan set. I was going to apply for muzzy hunts that ran Oct 5-9 and she was going to apply for rifle hunts Oct 12-16. The outfitter liked a unit that was actually an easier draw by NM standards. He said there were good elk if a hunter was willing to put out some effort. I asked Katrina if she wanted to apply for anything else in NM and she decided on oryx also. I applied for 5 species I believe.

The results came out and we both drew elk and she also had a green box next to oryx. The bad thing was somehow I messed up the apps and applied us for the exact same hunts. Instead of drawing muzzy I drew rifle. The good thing was we both drew the same unit. (Easier to draw unit) It would of been kind of crappy if we would of drawn different units during the same season.

The oryx hunt was first. The hunt is a lot different than I was expecting. Its a short hunt @2.5 days. It got even shorter though because we weren't allowed on base Friday and had late start Saturday and Sunday. We saw some nice oryx and she ended up missing a giant Saturday. With it being a short hunt Sunday the plan was to shoot the first decent oryx we came across. Well this cow gave her a shot and she took it. We boned it out as fast as possible because it was hot and got it on ice. It was a pretty fun hunt that we all got to enjoy.

Katrina NM Oryx.JPG

We cruised home and worked for a couple weeks and headed back down. I was planning on being there a couple days early to scout. But we went through Colorado as the first storm of the year hit and it added another 10 hours to the drive. We made it to elk camp mid morning Friday and met one of the guides. He told me he had heard a couple bugles earlier down below camp that morning. I took a little walk and sure enough I ended up hearing a few also. I took that as a positive.

We split up that night to scout before the opener. Katrina and I checked one area, while one of the guides (Eric) hiked into another area. The other guide (Matt) wasn't going to be there until later so he was going to scout around camp. Katrina and I ended up seeing 5 bulls. One was a stud. One of the biggest frames I have seen on a bull. We decided to hunt that spot first thing in the morning. Two hunters beat us there in the am. They were heading into where I had spotted the big bull. So Eric and I walked out the ridge in one direction while Katrina and Matt hunted the ridge in the other direction. We both saw bulls but either no shots or in my case they were just across the property line.

The unit is pretty thick with some open meadows and a few burned areas. So back to camp for lunch and to make a game plan for the evening hunt. Eric and I decided to hike into where he scouted Friday since he saw some bulls. And Katrina and Matt headed back close to where we were at that morning since they saw a nice bull that was just to far away for a shot. It was dead for them that evening. Eric and I had some decent action though. We had a herd feed out right before dark. Biggest bull ended up being a 4x5 in that herd. We slowly made our way across the top of a small meadow before we enter the timber and we heard some elk. We sat there just below the top of the ridge. I check my watch and there is like 5 minutes of legal light left. The elk are breaking sticks etc about 100 yards away just on the other side of the ridge. After a few minutes we hear a bugle 150 yards away or so. Almost instantly a really good sounding bull bugles just over the ridge from us. 60-70 yards at the furthest. I check my watch and legal light is up. We stood there for awhile not wanting to spook them and they made there way up the ridge to the big meadow where the other herd was.

Sunday morning Eric and I decided to go back in there and make a day of it. That morning was the slowest for elk the entire trip for me. We didn't see any. I don't think the full moon was any help on the hunt. We hiked to the backside of the ridge in a burn where the elk had came up the previous night and there was a ton of sign. We settled in there and glassed and listened all day. We ended up seeing a lot of elk and 4-5 5 and 6 points. Nothing I really wanted to shoot though.

Katrina and Matt had decided to hunt below camp Sunday because when we all got back Saturday 3-4 different bulls were bugling. They spooked one bull first thing they couldn't get a shot at. And saw 3 more bulls walk across the meadow @400 yards. No shot opportunity because the way the terrain rolled they could only see heads and necks. They hiked back down a few hours before dark and positioned themselves in the middle of the meadow. They heard elk closer to the end they enter from so moved that way and sat. About 15 minutes after sunset some cows and a bull enter the meadow. Matt tells her its a decent bull and starts telling her the range. She is sitting with the gun resting on her knee. She had put her ear plugs in so I'm not sure what she actually heard Matt say. He was still reading her the range though when she shot. The elk dropped instantly.
Katrina NM.JPG

It ended up being just over 200 yards. High shoulder and slightly up hill angle. The bull dropped and zero follow up was needed. I'm still not sure how after seeing the entrance hole and how high it was. Tikka SL 30-06 with Berger 168 VLD going 2814 fps. Gun was zero'd @275 so she could hold dead on out to 300 yards. When I looked at the scope it was dialed up another 1.5 moa so she must of bumped it while hunting. And of course never checked it while sitting there. That obviously didn't help with shot placement either. Eric and I got back to camp, hiked down to help finish up the last of the butchering and load up packs. Between the 4 of us we got it packed out. While heading out there were bulls bugling everywhere.

Monday morning we decided to hunt the same area since there were a lot of bulls bugling and we had got in really late. We got on a bull first thing which ended up being a small 4. Couldn't turn anything else up. It seemed like they were heading to the thick stuff extremely early. We decided that night we would drop into the bottom and wait. Then slowly side hill out and hunt the scattered meadows along the ridge. The plan sorta worked. Except we got pinned down by a herd of cows @20 yards. They fed out into the meadow right as we were getting ready to enter it. We waited with elk 20-40 yards from us for 30 minutes and they finally got far enough away for us to start moving. By then it was about dark.

Tuesday morning we hunted a new spot. We saw some elk but they were on the wrong side of the boundary. Tuesday afternoon we decided to go back to hunt the area we had hunted Saturday evening and all day Sunday. Katrina and Matt were going to scout one side of the mountain/ridge, and Eric and I were going to hunt the backside where we had seen the elk Sunday evening. Sunday there had been a really good sounding bull that we never laid eyes on. Probably the same bull that had bugled close to us Saturday night.

We got hiked in, glassed, and listened. We are sitting on a really steep burned hillside, with kind of a rolling ridge down below us that is burned also. Its still pretty thick even though it was burned previously. Just a lot of standing snags still. We ended up seeing a few cows and little bulls start making their way into the burn below us. But they are on the next for ridge. Bulls are bugling down there. I heard the first bugle about 4. Finally around 6 I spotted a good bull. Eric kept track of it while I tried to find a decent rest. It was hard with all the blow down and being on a steep hillside. Plus even if you found a good rest you might not be able to see the bull with all the standing snags in your way.

After about 20 minutes I was as comfortable as I was going to get. Eric had the bull in the BTX 95. At the shot the bull stood for a second and then took off at a quick walk angling up the hill. Eric and I both missed where the bullet went because he jumped at the shot. And I had my scope so low power wise which I didn't realize until after the shot. The bull walked about 20' then started rolling down the hill. We gave some high fives and text Katrina and Matt bull down. By the time they made it to us it was dark.

A couple years ago Katrina had tore her patella tendon. So even though its healed up she isn't real confident on uneven ground. Up and over blow down on a steep hill in the dark wasn't going to be easy and it would slow us down. I told her she should go back to the truck with Matt, and Eric and I would go find the bull. It almost turned into a fight but in the end all four of us went to look for the bull. Well after the shot it took us 3.5 hours to get to/find the bull. It was just tough with everything looking the same, Katrina picking her way through all the blow down, and it being dark. We got it cut up and hung some of the meat. We hiked out and made it to camp about 430 the next morning. Later that day we hiked in for the rest of the meat and the antlers. I killed my bull with a 300 PRC and 225 ELD M. If you look right behind his arm pit that big lump is what's left of the bullet stuck in the hide on the offside.
Branden NM.JPG

Thanks for reading.
 

efnm

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2015
Messages
306
Great writeup, especially the day-to-day planning and the packout. Congrats to both of you!
 

KHNC

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2013
Messages
1,404
Location
NC
Great story! What outfitter did you end up using? Congrats on both of your success!
 

NYSKIER

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Messages
233
Location
New York
Awesome Elk and Oryx! I'd like to take my wife to take and elk one day but being a teacher and living in NY doesn't exactly make that easy other than early season
 

jd30069

Junior Member
Joined
May 14, 2019
Messages
25
What Outfitter did you use? I am currently planning on taking my son elk hunting next year - 2019 -and would love to do NM but have not come across a draw area that might ... might give-up two tags.. Even if i could get the outfitter to guide me through the draw choice it would be very helpful..
 

keller

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2017
Messages
159
Location
wi
Congrats I did the same thing with my cousin this year Oryx and 10 days later elk had a great time on both.
 
OP
D

dirtytough

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
854
We used Reaper Backcountry Outfitters. Chip Ortiz is the owner. They did a good job since Katrina and I are so different when it comes to hunting. She has never elk hunted and this is only her third year hunting. I've elk hunted a fair amount and most years I'm on a handful of different hunts.

Thanks for all the congrats.
 

RCL

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2014
Messages
306
Congratulations
Excellent write up. Thanks for sharing.
 
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