New Mexico trifecta dream season

So sorry it's been a busy week around the house as usual. Back to this story finally. So I tagged out super quick on the antelope which is what I wanted to do. I got the antelope processed and in the ice chest and traveled South to my elk unit. I was super excited because I have been in this unit twice before on rifle hunts and saw a ton of elk. Nothing huge but great numbers. The trip down was fun as usual with all the different scenery.
IMG_0167.jpgOnce I arrived I decided to clean and organize some of my mess I'd made the last few days before heading elk hunting. Besides it was in the 70s and I suspected elk were laying in the shade somewhere taking it easy. While doing this I had a visit from the local warden and we chatted a bit as he checked everything out. After passing the test I was ready to ride around and see what was happening with the hunters the first day.
Seen half a dozen really nice 6 points either in camps or being packed out. So that seemed great. But dang there were camps absolutely everywhere you turned. 75% seemed to be locals or Texans on the holiday weekend camping trip. I mean some of these camps had 20 people in them. I couldn't believe it and had never seen this. I seen a few elk that evening but not many. The unit was crazy dry and water seemed few and far between. That night I just slept close to the trailhead I wanted to hit so there would be no driving the next morning.IMG_0168.jpg
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The next morning came quickly and I didn't sleep all that great. It got a little colder than I expected with a light frost on the coolers in the back of the truck. After getting dressed quickly I hit the trail. Shortly afterwards while heading up the trail I see headlamps behind me. Once they caught me I stopped and we chatted. The trail split about a mile or two in and we decided we would take separate forks at that point so we didn't get in each other's way to badly. Nice guys! Once we hit the fork I decided to take the right turn. It was still pretty early on the second day of the elk season as I clawed my way in. I crossed the creek bed 4-5 times and finally seen some water on the last crossing. Very little but it was water.

As I was nearing the top a bugle rang out just above me up the trail. I moved a little closer and as it got daylight this bull was pretty talkative it seemed. For a bit I was worried it was another hunter in front of me on the trail. As I closed the distance it seemed to actually be a bull. The slope was super steep above the trail and cliff's in some places. I felt the elk was about 200 yards or so above me on the ridge line in some oak brush but couldn't see him. I slowly left the trail and began picking my way up the slope and around a small cliff. Shortly after leaving the trail I see an elk coming across the slope. It was a spike headed into the area the big bull was sounding off in. He passed by without seeing me and busting out. I saw a big log and decided that could be my shooting rest and tried to get into it. The bull was still sounding off but I couldn't see him, but he was close I felt. As soon as I hit the log I see elk coming down the slope in front of me. About ten cows already had me and was on the move. I then see the big bull coming behind them walking down the hill. Put the binos on him and he was a very large heavy wide 5 point. He probably has about a four foot spread with super heavy mass all the way up his beams. I really wish he had been a six point. I ranged him at 130 yards and at one point he was around 100. I let him walk knowing I may regret that decision later. I really was looking for that next level. He was probably a 300 inch 5 point. A small 6 point followed up the herd. I passed him also. I mean it was the first morning of chasing elk right at the crack of daylight. I wanted to hunt some right!!!????? The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful and I ran upon a couple camping up off the trail for the weekend. I found a good napping spot and began waiting out for the evening hunt. It got hot really fast. I heard a few bugles throughout the day while resting and had four turkeys walk within 20 yards of me through the trees in the below photo.
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That evening I decided to hunt South of my location because the wind was bad for chasing the bulls on the opposite ridge I heard bulging on and off during my nap. I made my way downslope and worked around a cliff line. I hear a bugle on the ridge across from my location. This bull only sounded off a few times all evening and I'd thought I heard a bull over there early in the morning but wasn't sure. As it got closer to dark I decided to hit a park between him and I hoping he may pop out at dark. As I made my way over I bust a whole herd of elk that had been under me all day most likely. They were nestled around a small active spring. I saw one small raghorn but that was it. Could have been more because elk were running everywhere. These elk were living by this water hole and I made a mental note of this spot for later. The bull never showed in the park and I didn't hear him again. Only 3 mulie does came out that evening. I hit the trail back to the truck to grab dinner and sleep. I put in about 7 miles in nasty country.
Day three of the five day muzzy season was just like the day before but hotter. I think it hit 80 in town but was cooler in the higher elevation. I decided to hit another trailhead and look around for the day hearing there were elk in here during bow season in numbers. I climbed up out of the bottom heading North up a steep ridge. This mornings hike was shorter maybe 2 miles up to the glassing spot. I hear a bull sounding off in the oak brush to my left while in the valley. Once I climb up out of the valley I see him and three cows in a small opening about 1,000 yards from me. Small 5 point. I continue on up the ridge to the top to glass the other side of the mountain. No elk were sighted all morning except for the four in the valley after daybreak. No water found anywhere in this area except some small pools in the valley near the access road. I call this area a bust and head to town to ice up the coolers early and grab some real food. Here are some photos from the glassing spot.IMG_0175.jpgIMG_0173.jpg
Evening of day three of the elk season. After having more carbs than a guy should have from fast food I head to my third location. This is a spot I know well and have always gotten into elk. Having said that I wasn't sure if there would be any water and this year was different. I drive the perimeter of the area and found two flowing small streams. So I knew I was good most likely. There was a few trucks at the trailhead but this spot is day hiked a lot. So some were most likely hikers. I got to my spot fairly early around 3pm to glass some nasty country that I wouldn't dive into unless it was a giant. Didn't see a single elk. They were probably there but I decided to leave the spotter in the truck and just use binos to save some weight. The spot I was really interested in anyway was on up the trail.

I got to my spot I wanted to really hunt and no sooner walked off the trail and a bull sounds off in the trees in front of me. I'm trying to locate him but wasn't sure exactly where he was. He sounds off again. Bingo there he is a solid 6 point at 287 yards very nice bull. A shooter for sure! At that point bulls start bulging all over the slope. It must have been at least 15 in this small canyon sounding off. I spot two more solid bulls below me and cows start emerging everywhere. I have just walked into a huge herd scattered all over this slope. I didn't realize it at the time but the first bull I spotted had a half dozen cows between him and I. They had either seen me or smelled me. They begin trotting away. OH NO this sucks! Eventually most all the herd runs further into the timber making the loudest commotion ever. Bulls are still going crazy though they are fired up I guess. But they follow the herd. A few bulls and cows remain below me in nasty country.
I decide to let the herd calm down thinking maybe they didn't go to far and may pop out in the next meadow on the far side of this North slope. It's still early! 30 minutes later I hear the bulls fire up again and the herd has done was I suspected they would. I began making my way through the trees and deadfall. This place reeks of elk odor and is a major bedding area.
I finally emerge on the far side of the trees to find most of the herd was over the next little ridge line and had already crossed the meadow. Two bulls and three cows remained behind. The bulls were in the middle of the meadow doing the mirroring thing. Both were smaller bulls 5 points I thought. So I decided now was the time to think about shooting something considering I had one day left. The last day was gonna be a bust with forecasted high winds. Not good country with all the dead standing trees to roam around in with high winds. Been there done that and never again. I saw a snag about three deadfalls from me to shoot from. I successfully climbed over the trees to get to my shooting position. 135 yards when I ranged them as they circled each other doing what bulls do. That's a poke for open sights I thought. I was trying to get a shot at the better of the two bulls but he wasn't cooperating. I finally decide I was going to take the first bull that gave me a shot. The other bull turned broadside and I fired.
Both bulls just stood there and I thought crap I missed. I threw up my binos. No blood that I can see on my bull so then I think dang my reloads are in my pack three or four deadfalls behind me. Rookie muzzy mistake right there! I begin to eyeball my route back and the bigger bull takes off. I look back at the bull I fired on and then I can tell he is sick and I guess the other bull knew something was up. My bull walks 10 feet and beds down for good. The Barnes did it's job well. My shot was farther back than I wanted but it did the job with zero meat loss.He is not the giant I pictured all summer but he will eat good and it was an amazing time in the mountains in beautiful country. Now in a few weeks the muledeer hunt begins.

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Brownbear, just a question: Is it ok if I hate you just a little bit for a while? If you saw my resident tag luck here you would understand.

No dolls and pins, I promise.

It's perfectly okay the tag God's were good to me this year no doubt. I'd hate on me also! Just finished processing my bull up today lots of great meat.
Congratulations! I somehow missed this follow-up and was wondering today how it turned out for you. Glad to see you brought some meat home. Jealous, and happy for you. Beautiful country.

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