Caribou Gear

Creating my own Novice Guide To Hunting The NM Gila Wilderness


Well-known member
Jun 8, 2019
New Mexico
Access to Elk is tough in 16b just no way else to say it. Finding a trophy bull is a number's game in any Gila unit and when you find them, then lady luck steps in (or not). DFG will do a fly-over after the 2nd archery season to assess the population and calf recruitment. The Gila elk herd management data for 2021 hunting prospects, shows a stable herd or slightly increasing. The bull to cow, calf ratio has been very high. Actually, you would be doing the herds a favor by harvesting an average or under par mature bull. Doing that allows more "giants" to pass on their great genetics to more cows. In the Southern half of New Mexico, water is where you find it. Can't count on a spring or a small stream to be wet all year. There are some wet springs mapped out along trails but typically most are passed on by word of mouth.

The latest 2021 data:
herd size: 21,000 – 23,300* Stable to Slightly Increasing
Bull to cow, calf ratio:
*Note: Elk populations within the Greater Gila herd unit are estimated at the regional level and population estimates are calculated across GMUs 15, 16A, 16B/22, and 16C-E

Jeronimo 56

May 7, 2021
Great stories and info... I really appreciate how much has been shared and the straight forward honesty about what to expect and how to hunt that area. For anybody new reading this thread I can tell you that almost every thread on any forum will tell you the same story - this wilderness is bigger than your imagination and can be brutal... seems like a pretty good summary of it. These stories are really inspiring. My hunt is later in October so I hope to pick up a little more wisdom from all the early hunters.

After my partner broke his ankle, we have hired some scouting and packing help to find location where he can hunt in a walking cast while I can cover a few miles each day. I just turned 65 years old and I am at that point in life where the better decision is to pay some dollars and let another guy earn a living and provide for their family. So hopefully that prep work will pay some dividends. I know we'll not be able to have the ultimate Gila wilderness hunt but they don't allow the option to trade your tag for one next year.. so we'll make the most of it. I like the thought of taking a monster bull but with our limitations this year I'm not setting my expectations on anything specific.

Meanwhile I've been shooting the .308 and dialing things in... looks like Nosler Partition bullets in a custom handload and I'll limit myself to 300 yards or less (unless I become a master marksman between now and the end of October). Along with the shooting I've been making a 2 mile trip up the local ski hill two mornings a week - I also walk back down but the 2 miles up is a lot father than two miles down. I may add another day to the routine for the rest of the prep time... it has been getting easier these past few weeks.

Thanks again for the reports and all the added info.

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