Justin Sparks from Kryptek and I were invited to New Mexico to check out a new potential elk hunting outfitter. Problem was, we had just a weeks notice, and I had just gotten back from a red stag hunt.
Luckily, I’m a spur-of-the-moment guy, and it didn’t conflict with any family activities for Justin either, so we said “sure” (of course we did, we’re not stupid). Both Justin and I were able to skip the New Mexico elk draw and would have New Mexico landowner tags, and we would be hunting for bulls topping out at around 300″ on average. Sounded fun to me!
We showed up at the Albuquerque airport after only minimum problems with a rifle case we borrowed from the guys over at Kryptek.
We’re all bowhunters and nobody had a rifle case…. the lock didn’t work and we almost couldn’t check in our gun. No biggie. Anyways, we fixed the lock on the spot with some super glue, duct tape and a little ingenuity and all was good. The outfitter was there to greet us, check us into the hotel, get our landowner tags, licenses and some dinner. He doesn’t offer lodging or food with his hunts, just guiding and access to a lot of AWESOME private land, which keeps his prices very affordable.
This time of year, this outfitter usually only hunts elk as an add-on to his mountain lion hunts, which would be a super fun way to hunt because you could be elk hunting while the guides are out looking for lion tracks…. but we were here to check out the elk hunting on this trip, so no lions for us. The ranch we were hunting was loaded with game. We saw good mule deer and hundreds of elk. The elk were mostly in big winter herds, but the bigger bulls tended to be by themselves or in bachelor groups.
We eventually found a big herd with a nice bull in it and Justin was up to bat first. We made a good stalk and Justin made a good shot, and I got it all on video. Dom, our guide made short work of quartering the bull and loading it in our Black Ovis Game Bags. Justin let him use his Kershaw knife, and he didn’t want to give it back. Those things are sharp! OK, fun day. One bull out of the way. My turn!
We made a good stalk and Justin made a good shot, and I got it all on video.
Now it was my turn to hunt
Early the next morning we got into a big herd of elk moving out of the sage flats into the pinions for the day, and I could have had my pick of multiple raghorns, 5-points and smaller 6-point bulls, but I didn’t see anything that tripped my trigger so we kept looking. There are lots and lots of elk in this unit, so numbers aren’t a problem. It is almost completely flat, so the walking would be easy, and there were rubs EVERYWHERE, so it was obviously where the elk were during the rut. They have a 100% opportunity rate during their bowhunts and hunters average 250-320 bulls… not bad.
Did I mention the mule deer?… oh, the mule deer… oh how I wish that I would have had a mule deer tag. He can get landowner tags for mule deer, and access to some incredible ranches. You should talk to us about that if mule deer are your game.
We saw a few good bucks that made me wish I had a mule deer tag.
Yes… we are feeding deer chips in the middle of the road. Kinda crazy.
In the end, I didn’t get my bull.
But I had opportunities every day. On the last day we saw a bull that was at least 300″ and by the time we got the camera on him, he took off… that’s the risk of trying to get good video on a hunt. If I was to go back and do it again (which I hope I get the chance to do), I would either go early during the archery hunt, or combo with a mountain lion late. A good hunt at a great price point.
by Cory Glauner