Caribou Gear

Arizona unit 6a opinions/advice wanted

okie archer

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Feb 3, 2015
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So I drew an Arizona 6a archery bull tag with two points. I honestly wasn't expecting to draw Arizona for several years. My plan was to elk hunt Idaho or Colorado on OTC tags and build up experience as I built up Az points. I have never killed an elk. Last year was the first time I have ever elk hunted. I hunted Idaho with a friend from Idaho. So my delima is whether to go guided or not. I have already had two friends with elk hunting experience offer to go with me to Az. I realize this is a hunt on your own forum but considering the situation I'm looking for advice. I normally am a diy hunter. I'm not new to hunting, just new to elk hunting. All my deer and antelope hunts have been diy. Any help would be appreciated. Also I live in Oklahoma so scouting isn't much of an option. And yes money is hard to come by.
 

cedahm

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Sep 22, 2015
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So I drew an Arizona 6a archery bull tag with two points...I have never killed an elk. Last year was the first time I have ever elk hunted. ... So my delima is whether to go guided or not. I have already had two friends with elk hunting experience offer to go with me to Az....I'm not new to hunting, just new to elk hunting. All my deer and antelope hunts have been diy. Any help would be appreciated. Also I live in Oklahoma so scouting isn't much of an option. And yes money is hard to come by.

It's a dilemma, all right :)

First - Congrats!. Did you draw the early archery (I assume so) or the late (November) archery? That might change your opinion. There are hardly any tags issued for the November season, and a ton of them in the early.

From a quick search - Guided archery hunts in that unit seem to be around $5000 - so it's not ridiculous in the grand scheme of guided Elk hunts, but a lot of dough.

I'd look @ it this way - if your friends are really serious about going, that's a huge difference and it's the option I would flesh out first. Especially if they have some Elk hunting experience. It's a big unit. You'll need lots of Google Scouting and with Ponderosa (and Juniper lower) predominating, lots of glass and lots of walking.

If you're looking to start an elk 'career' so to speak, and your buddies will go, I'd lean that way. If you want a much higher chance at a shot opportunity on an animal, and don't plan to continue applying and hunting similar country in the future, a guide will be the better chance (generally speaking).
 

NoWiser

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Feb 12, 2013
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Minnesota
I drew a primo Gila tag two years ago. Odds were (and still are) that I'll not draw it again. I went DIY and ate tag soup. BUT, it was the most exciting hunt of my entire life and the experience I had was awesome. Had I hired a guide I likely would have brought home an elk, but I wouldn't trade those two weeks of running around the mountains exploring and chasing bugles for anything. I made every decision for myself on the hunt and some of them were the wrong decision, but at least they were mine. I left everything out there and have no regrets. It would not have been half as fun had I hired a guide and tagged out the second day. Two twigs separated me from two different 350" bulls, one of which got clobbered by an even bigger bull 35 yards in front of me while I was at full draw! My heart is still beating in overdrive just thinking about it right now.

I say go to Arizona with a good friend, try your hardest, and enjoy every minute of the hunt! If coming home with a bull is the most important thing for you, then a guide might be a good option. Nothing wrong with that, either.
 

okie archer

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Feb 3, 2015
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It is the early September tag. Getting an Elk is very important to me. What should my expectations be regarding size say diy vs. guided?
 

cedahm

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Sep 22, 2015
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Colorado
It is the early September tag. Getting an Elk is very important to me. What should my expectations be regarding size say diy vs. guided?
I only know a smidgen about 6A since I researched it on GoHunt and a little on Google before I applied in AZ this year (late Rifle 6A was my first choice) - so I'm not the right guy to ask, but as a very general rule, an outfitter that knows the unit is going to be able to put you on more and larger bulls more often than your average guy. Even moreso if they have preferential access (6A is 95% public land, so less of this than in other units) or can get you places the average guy can't go (e.g. Packstock).

I'd start researching and talking to 6A outfitters and get a sense for what they offer. Per GH - 25% success rate in recent years for Archery - which is really quite high (especially given the number of tags issued).

Also - the Jay Scott Outdoors podcast recently did an episode that covered most of the AZ elk units. Might be worth a listen.
 

AZBridger

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Oct 6, 2014
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Gilbert, Arizona
Being an AZ native, i have a fair amount of experience with unit 6A, having been on a couple bull kills there. 6A is more of an opportunity unit than a size unit. there are a lot of 300" type bulls but it is not known for Arizona giants. there are elk scattered through the whole unit. i wouldn't think that a guide would be necessary being that it is not a "trophy hunt" per say anyways. there are a couple 350+ bulls killed in there every year, but i would guess the huge percentage of kills are under 300" bulls.
 

Topgun 30-06

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Jun 8, 2009
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Allegan, MI
My buddy drew 6A in 2011 and we were into elk 13 of the 14 days even though we had rain the first 9 days. He drew it again for this September and we'll be there a couple days early and plan to stay the entire two weeks, if needed. It is as AZBridger mentioned as far as size of the bulls, but if you get back in as far as you can away from the roads there is a chance at a good bull in the 340"-350" class. Since my buddy has already killed a 357 3/8'' bull in Wyoming he was after a big one in 2011 and will be again this year. If he eats tag soup, he's still happy when you can get into elk like we did with no previous knowledge of the unit. Now that we've hunted it in 2011 we're really looking forward to the hunt this year.
 

mixedbag

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Nov 22, 2009
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I think the satisfaction of doing it yourself far outweighs paying for a guide.If it was a once in a lifetime tag, then I'd consider a guide.Your hunting a unit you can draw every 5 years.Go with your 2 buddies, split up and try and locate as many bulls as you all can.Then hunt together after those bulls.I find having 3 guys cow calling really works well for bringing in bulls.Learn as much as you can about elk hunting.Elknuts has some good books and videos for learning(you can google his name to find him).If you don't get a bull this year,you will draw the unit again and will then know it well.Dont get too caught up in the "I have to kill a bull" drama.Go, have fun with your friends and a bull is just icing on the cake.I would NEVER pay 5k for an elk hunt.They really aren't that tough of an animal to hunt.And, in archery, they give their locations up from a long ways out by bugling.I'm sure you will be into elk everyday of your hunt,and will learn from mistakes.If you have the 2 weeks to hunt, you should at least get one shot opportunity
 

Malbo

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Aug 13, 2013
Messages
86
Location
Snottsdale, Az
I'd go DIY. If you don't have the time to get out to come to AZ and scout, The AZGFD website has some pretty good unit specific info. They point out some good starting points there. From there you can Google Earth the unit and or buy a unit specific map. Some guides will also do the scouting for you and is cheaper than paying one to go out there with you if you choose to go the guide route. Congratulations on your tag, I hope you get a biggin'!
 

ringer

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Dec 1, 2004
Messages
887
That unit is easily accessible and easy to hunt on your own. Plenty of elk and you will find them every day you hunt. Plenty of hunters to move them around. A guide will know here the bigger bulls are but that unit is not a hard one to figure out. I would pack up and head to AZ and just have a fun hunt. You can get one if you try. Good luck.
 

LopeHunter

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May 31, 2007
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MO-->CA-->NW-->AZ&NW
I hunted that tag when was 6A North and South. The archery unit gets changed. My year was unusually hot with two large fires smoldering so smoke drifted through some zones. The bull elk were quiet after the first few minutes of day break and some mornings heard no bugles. Would hear bugles in middle of night when cooled off. Any water holes were hotly contested by multiple hunters, each feeling they had dibs because of a broken, dusty chair or pop tent or their grand-daddy passed it in a covered wagon long ago. ATVs zoomed every trail. I passed on a shot on a 5x5 that had 6" times. You should get a shot opportunity if hike into position. As I said, my year was a bit unusual do to heat being 10 degrees above normal and the fires but lots of hunters, ATVs and conflict at water holes that had nothing to do with heat or smoke.
 

MtnWest

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May 23, 2012
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Boise
Go DIY, don't cheat yourself out of the adventure of hunting. Tons of elk in 6a, just be off the road at first lite and remember less is more when it comes to calling. Having someone else do the hunting, telling you where to go and when to shoot for $5k is silly. Especially as accessible as that country is, it's flat and has elk all over it. Pretty much the opposite of an Idaho experience. Enjoy every minute and good luck.

Once opening weekend has passed and the majority have gone back to phx the crowds will thin. Look into the quiet areas as well.
 

NCArchery

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Jul 21, 2011
Messages
55
Location
NC
I think this is a perfect DIY hunt. I went DIY in 2013 same unit, great hunt, was into the elk most days of the 8 days I hunted. Saw a couple of monsters, but there are a lot of good bulls that an archery hunter should be proud to take. I took the family to Sedona and Grand Canyon in August and was able to scout for about 1/2 a day. Within an hour, I was in bow range of a small group of cows and spikes. It really raised my confidence level and gave me a game plan for September. The elk had moved about a mile when I was back in Sept. The later you can go the better, the bugling was elevating as I was leaving (could only go opening week). Get away from the roads and be patient, you will be in the elk.
 

hank4elk

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Jan 8, 2015
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SW NM
Tons of elk in there.
Lots of roads.
Get away from roads and let others bird dog them to you.
Every time I have hiked in there I run into elk.
 

dunns7

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Jul 24, 2012
Messages
17
Okie, go diy. I hunted it last year on my first ever archery elk hunt during the rut. I am now a full fledged, card carrying elkoholic. All of the above info is spot on. First thing to do is order a flatline map of the unit, this map is priceless. Then, once you get that pm me. I scouted 4 days and killed a great bull by my standards on day 7. We scouted/hunted all over the unit and found elk everywhere. I hunted with a partner that helped immensely and was awesome to be there with someone who had the same drive as I do.
 

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