Have you ever been on a hunt, and felt like giving up?
Well, I have. I was on a 1000-mile journey from Iowa to New Mexico for my first New Mexico Elk Hunt. It was a perfect ride there until we got within 300 yards of parking, and somehow, we managed to smash the windshield out of the UTV. That was the first of a streak of obstacles that kept getting in our way of a perfect Elk Hunt.
Now, I’ve been on great elk hunts before, including a few of the top states to hunt bull elk such as Colorado, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. Other top states to hunt elk that are on my list include Idaho, Washington and Pennsylvania. Here is a successful Montana Elk Hunt that we like to call “Bugling Frenzy”.
What to Expect on an Elk Hunting Trip
On this elk hunting trip to New Mexico, the first evening we were there, we were sitting at a waterhole where as many as 16 elk bulls had been seen on trail cameras every day for the last week. Unfortunately, that night not a single elk showed up. It likely had something to do with the torrential first rain that drenched us walking in and out that evening. It hadn’t rained there in over 30 days.
For the next couple of days, we’d prepare our hunting packs and gear, hike to our hunting blinds, check the stealth cams we set on video mode at the other water holes and see where the elk were watering during daylight hours. All three trail cams read the same thing. The elk had been coming to the watering hole in droves at night, but not one of them was coming during daylight hours.
So, we altered our hunting tactics and went to our proven method of calling to the elk. Elk cow calls are typically a perfect way to draw in a bull. Unfortunately for us, that evening, the bull we had been training had gone to bed early due to the day’s 90-degree temperatures.
The next day we had another rainstorm, so no elk showed that evening either. But being persistent, or stubborn, however you want to describe it, we weren’t going to give up. Besides, after such a storm everyone knows the elk will be going nuts in the morning. Well, no one told the elk. These elk had decided to just hide and not talk – or share grunts – with anyone, especially another elk or us making elk calls trying to sound like another elk.
How to Call a Bull Elk
Finally, 9:30 a.m. on the fifth day of a six-day hunt and then it happens. A bull answers one cow call and all the issues seem to just vanish. I focus on calling the elk in a little closer to get the best position on the elk vital zone.
Another call to the elk, and another answer. There he is. Steady. Aim. And 20 minutes later you watch an arrow disappear behind the shoulder of a beautiful 6-point bull, and the effort and frustrations that were faced over the past several days give way to a state of elation. Five days of hard hunting in all kinds of weather with all kinds of obstacles and yet I had the privilege to fill my first New Mexico elk tag a beautiful 6-point bull.
Lesson learned was to hang in there no matter what. In hunting and in life, because you never really know how it will turn out if you stop trying!
Elk Hunting Season in New Mexico is September 1 – January 31. For more information on hunting in New Mexico, visit their official website. And, for more about our New Mexico Elk Hunt, and to follow us on our next adventure, Like Us on Facebook.