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New Mexico Unit 12 2nd Archery Dream Hunt

stickbuck

Active member
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
32
Location
Bothell, WA
This is going to be an amazing experience and I still pinch myself not knowing if this is real. As the days pass by, this dream is quickly becoming a reality. So just before the New Mexico deadline, my buddy talked me into putting in for deer, elk, and Barbary sheep in the state of New Mexico. I have grown up hunting my entire life in the state of Washington and have never hunted out of state so this was a huge step for me. I have been building preference points in Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona, but never actually applied to hunt another state until this year. I have been somewhat reluctant due to the commitment it would require, not just going on the trip, but being able to afford it and at the same time leaving my family for two plus weeks. It took some encouragement from my buddy Mike, but I did it. I decided that since I was going to put in for the draw that I would also put my wife Katie in for deer and elk. Figured that it might lessen the amount of grief that I would get from her. Well, it actually worked until she logged into our credit card to pay some bills. It took a day or two for her to get over the initial shock. I told her that it was would be fine since our draw odds were super low and that the money would be refunded if we didn't get drawn. Fast forward to the end of April when the New Mexico draws came out. It was just before 6am and I quickly logged into her account and both deer and elk showed red. Shoot! I was really hoping she would draw. Next, I logged into my account and of course all three species showed red. I was definitely bummed, but the thought of $2800 returning to our credit card wasn’t going to hurt my feelings.

Fast forward to June 4th. This is when the story turns in a totally unexpected direction. Just before 6:30pm, my wife Katie is sitting in the living room opening the mail while I was in the kitchen. She said something about me receiving an envelope from the New Mexico Department of Fish and Wildlife. I told her that it was probably just some sort of junk mail or a receipt documenting our refund since we were not successful in the draw. I told her she could toss it or shred it like she normally does and she quickly asked if I cared if she opened up. Of course I was okay with it so she did. Katie calmly asked me to come into the living room and appeared to be holding something. I asked her what it was and she said that it was a carcass tag for bull elk. No way I told her! How is that even possible because I logged into the website and it even showed red. I quickly called my buddy Mike to explain this new predicament and he is beside himself too. I log into the department’s website and now it shows my elk permit as green. How did this even happen? I still have no idea and just like others have said, who cares! Time to get prepping and e-scouting.

From everything Mike told me prior to submitting my application, unit 12 2nd archery would be an amazing hunt. Not a super high density elk unit, but it was an extremely good unit when it comes to producing giant bulls. One thing that Unit 12 definitely doesn’t lack is genetics. I quickly started pouring over websites and social media and was completely overwhelmed by the pictures of bulls I was seeing. 370’s?!? 350’s?!? Even bulls scoring north of 400!!! Having never killed a bull bigger than a 5x5 raghorn (bull pictured below), I knew this would be a special experience. To top it off, my 74 year old father is going to join me on the hunt. My dad introduced me to hunting at a very young age and I have been obsessed with the outdoors ever since. Being able to share this hunt with him will really give me an opportunity to thank him for everything he has taught me over the years. I know that will make the experience one that we will enjoy together and something we will never forget. Now, with just a couple weeks until the 9/15 opener, I am quickly starting to feel the pressure building. It will be a 1,400 mile drive from my home in Bothell, WA. We will be leaving on the morning of September 12th and should arrive in the unit near Quemado on the evening of the 13th. One day of scouting will hopefully help us figure out the most active water holes and some good glassing points to sit. Still on cloud nine and I can’t believe that I am getting to go on a hunt in a state that I have always dreamt about. Thank you all for reading this. I will post pics and videos throughout the trip. Looking forward to an incredible time in the elk woods! -Matt


6D3ABE96-161D-4F13-92C6-09FB836E32FB_1_201_a.jpeg
 

QELKhunter

Active member
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
87
Location
South Central CO
I grew up in that unit. Haven't hunted in 15 years but still have friends that live there and get lucky enough to draw a tag fairly consistent. Some great bulls come out of they unit every year. Best of luck! Can't wait to read your follow up posts!
 

Gila

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
Messages
476
Location
New Mexico
Congrats! To be honest it will most likely take you a few days to figure things out and find places to hunt. The week of the fall solstice is usually the best time to stick a big bull. At least down here. I have not been in there, but the rules on NM state lands are different than the BLM. The flies can be horrible in Sept. and that drives the bulls to wallow more often.

It happens quite often that they give a tag to the next draw if there is a problem with the app or someone withdraws at the last moment. Good thing you didn’t toss the letter, eh? Good luck on your hunt.
 

stickbuck

Active member
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
32
Location
Bothell, WA
Congrats! To be honest it will most likely take you a few days to figure things out and find places to hunt. The week of the fall solstice is usually the best time to stick a big bull. At least down here. I have not been in there, but the rules on NM state lands are different than the BLM. The flies can be horrible in Sept. and that drives the bulls to wallow more often.

It happens quite often that they give a tag to the next draw if there is a problem with the app or someone withdraws at the last moment. Good thing you didn’t toss the letter, eh? Good luck on your hunt.
Thanks for the reply. I definitely owe her big time for opening that envelope. Can’t even imagine what would’ve happened had she tossed it. I totally agree that it will take 2-3 days to get things figured out. That is one of the big benefits of having a 10 day season. It should give me a solid week of hunting once I have a good idea of what the elk are doing. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.
 

swhunt21

New member
Joined
Jul 29, 2018
Messages
13
Best of luck! I will be next door in unit 13 at the same time. This whole area has been getting good monsoon moisture throughout the summer. Was out scouting last week and got socked in by a heavy rain storm. Most livestock tanks were full and lots of green grass!
 

USMC hunter

New member
Joined
Sep 13, 2021
Messages
2
This is going to be an amazing experience and I still pinch myself not knowing if this is real. As the days pass by, this dream is quickly becoming a reality. So just before the New Mexico deadline, my buddy talked me into putting in for deer, elk, and Barbary sheep in the state of New Mexico. I have grown up hunting my entire life in the state of Washington and have never hunted out of state so this was a huge step for me. I have been building preference points in Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona, but never actually applied to hunt another state until this year. I have been somewhat reluctant due to the commitment it would require, not just going on the trip, but being able to afford it and at the same time leaving my family for two plus weeks. It took some encouragement from my buddy Mike, but I did it. I decided that since I was going to put in for the draw that I would also put my wife Katie in for deer and elk. Figured that it might lessen the amount of grief that I would get from her. Well, it actually worked until she logged into our credit card to pay some bills. It took a day or two for her to get over the initial shock. I told her that it was would be fine since our draw odds were super low and that the money would be refunded if we didn't get drawn. Fast forward to the end of April when the New Mexico draws came out. It was just before 6am and I quickly logged into her account and both deer and elk showed red. Shoot! I was really hoping she would draw. Next, I logged into my account and of course all three species showed red. I was definitely bummed, but the thought of $2800 returning to our credit card wasn’t going to hurt my feelings.

Fast forward to June 4th. This is when the story turns in a totally unexpected direction. Just before 6:30pm, my wife Katie is sitting in the living room opening the mail while I was in the kitchen. She said something about me receiving an envelope from the New Mexico Department of Fish and Wildlife. I told her that it was probably just some sort of junk mail or a receipt documenting our refund since we were not successful in the draw. I told her she could toss it or shred it like she normally does and she quickly asked if I cared if she opened up. Of course I was okay with it so she did. Katie calmly asked me to come into the living room and appeared to be holding something. I asked her what it was and she said that it was a carcass tag for bull elk. No way I told her! How is that even possible because I logged into the website and it even showed red. I quickly called my buddy Mike to explain this new predicament and he is beside himself too. I log into the department’s website and now it shows my elk permit as green. How did this even happen? I still have no idea and just like others have said, who cares! Time to get prepping and e-scouting.

From everything Mike told me prior to submitting my application, unit 12 2nd archery would be an amazing hunt. Not a super high density elk unit, but it was an extremely good unit when it comes to producing giant bulls. One thing that Unit 12 definitely doesn’t lack is genetics. I quickly started pouring over websites and social media and was completely overwhelmed by the pictures of bulls I was seeing. 370’s?!? 350’s?!? Even bulls scoring north of 400!!! Having never killed a bull bigger than a 5x5 raghorn (bull pictured below), I knew this would be a special experience. To top it off, my 74 year old father is going to join me on the hunt. My dad introduced me to hunting at a very young age and I have been obsessed with the outdoors ever since. Being able to share this hunt with him will really give me an opportunity to thank him for everything he has taught me over the years. I know that will make the experience one that we will enjoy together and something we will never forget. Now, with just a couple weeks until the 9/15 opener, I am quickly starting to feel the pressure building. It will be a 1,400 mile drive from my home in Bothell, WA. We will be leaving on the morning of September 12th and should arrive in the unit near Quemado on the evening of the 13th. One day of scouting will hopefully help us figure out the most active water holes and some good glassing points to sit. Still on cloud nine and I can’t believe that I am getting to go on a hunt in a state that I have always dreamt about. Thank you all for reading this. I will post pics and videos throughout the trip. Looking forward to an incredible time in the elk woods! -Matt


View attachment 192518
Congrats!!! With I had the same luck..just got back from being scammed by Valdez northern NM Hunting Adventures...sick to my stomach waited a year...spent a ton of money...glad you had better luck
 

BoulderBulls

Active member
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
177
Based off your initial write up can't wait for the full recap. Good luck tomorrow and safe travels
 

stickbuck

Active member
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
32
Location
Bothell, WA
Made it into the unit yesterday about 3pm. Found a good spot to camp around 4pm and got everything all setup. Headed out for some evening scouting and instantly got into elk. We had parked the truck just a short distance from camp and as we were loading our packs several bulls were heard bugling within a half mile of where we were parked. Sounded like they right near the tank we were walking into to scout. With the elk in there, we opted to setup and watch several draws and sit where we could overlook a small valley. Just after 6:30pm, two cows and two bulls emerged only 100yds away. The two bulls ended up walking by at just 25yds. The wind was great and they had no idea we were there. They continued out into the meadow to feed. Bulls were now bugling all around us. We figured there were at least 5 or 6 different bulls. By the time it got dark, we had cows and several more 5 points walk by within now range. We never even blew on a call, we just happened to be right where they wanted to go. Heading out to a glassing point this morning and planning to watch where the elk in the area go to bed. It has been a great start to the trip!
 

stickbuck

Active member
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
32
Location
Bothell, WA
So far the hunt has been great. Have had elk encounters pretty much every time we have stepped out of the truck. Lots of bugling bulls, but it’s primarily the young satellite bulls doing all the work. I called in a bachelor group of 5x5’s opening morning. Definitely took some will power to not let an arrow fly. One of them had a really nice back end, but I’m trying to hold for a 300+ 6pt. Sat on a waterhole last night and had cows and a young five come in, but nothing worth letting an arrow fly. The days have been in the mid to upper 80’s so the bulls usually quit bugling about 9:30am once they hit their beds. Winds this morning were super shifty and every time we’d get a bull moving in, you would feel the wind at your back. Always amazing that everything can be going so good and then foiled by the wind at a crucial time. Back sitting on water tonight due to the constant wind out of the west. Definitely makes it hard to hear and chase bugles when the wind won’t lay down. Another variable I wasn’t anticipating is moisture. This area has had an incredible amount of moisture and every tank we’ve checked except for two or three have had water. There is feed pretty much everywhere and most elk aren’t having any trouble finding water that’s convenient for them. Feel pretty lucky to be having such a great time on this hunt. Hopefully things line up and a shooter presents himself in the remaining 8 days.
 

hank4elk

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 8, 2015
Messages
4,829
Location
SW NM
So far the hunt has been great. Have had elk encounters pretty much every time we have stepped out of the truck. Lots of bugling bulls, but it’s primarily the young satellite bulls doing all the work. I called in a bachelor group of 5x5’s opening morning. Definitely took some will power to not let an arrow fly. One of them had a really nice back end, but I’m trying to hold for a 300+ 6pt. Sat on a waterhole last night and had cows and a young five come in, but nothing worth letting an arrow fly. The days have been in the mid to upper 80’s so the bulls usually quit bugling about 9:30am once they hit their beds. Winds this morning were super shifty and every time we’d get a bull moving in, you would feel the wind at your back. Always amazing that everything can be going so good and then foiled by the wind at a crucial time. Back sitting on water tonight due to the constant wind out of the west. Definitely makes it hard to hear and chase bugles when the wind won’t lay down. Another variable I wasn’t anticipating is moisture. This area has had an incredible amount of moisture and every tank we’ve checked except for two or three have had water. There is feed pretty much everywhere and most elk aren’t having any trouble finding water that’s convenient for them. Feel pretty lucky to be having such a great time on this hunt. Hopefully things line up and a shooter presents himself in the remaining 8 days.
I been offline,ill & hit by lightning (my well) or I would have chimed in earlier.Thanks to fellow HTer who fixed my pc I'm following your trip now. I'm in12.
Had a dozen cows & calves pushed by a nice 5x5 head out of my place this morning after daylight. This guy was the 1st this year to bugle so late in the day.
The big boy yesterday quit 0530 and went out at sunrise,solo. Big Boy.
Like you said lots of feed & water in my area too.
Have another fellow HTer coming in tonight to try tomorrow.

Good Luck & Good Hunting!
 

stickbuck

Active member
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
32
Location
Bothell, WA
I been offline,ill & hit by lightning (my well) or I would have chimed in earlier.Thanks to fellow HTer who fixed my pc I'm following your trip now. I'm in12.
Had a dozen cows & calves pushed by a nice 5x5 head out of my place this morning after daylight. This guy was the 1st this year to bugle so late in the day.
The big boy yesterday quit 0530 and went out at sunrise,solo. Big Boy.
Like you said lots of feed & water in my area too.
Have another fellow HTer coming in tonight to try tomorrow.

Good Luck & Good Hunting!
Awesome! Hopefully he can connect. I’ve been driving all over to find tanks that are getting hammered. Makes it difficult to sit water when there’s so many options right now. Hoping the rut activity continues to increase each day.
 

stickbuck

Active member
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
32
Location
Bothell, WA
Just a quick update for day 3 as it was pretty limited on elk encounters. Dad wanted to sleep in this morning after he walked 9 miles on day 1 and then 8.5 on day 2. I left camp at about 4:30pm and started the drive to the morning destination where we had hunted the prior two mornings. I got my stuff on started hiking. About a half mile in to my walk, it appeared there was a set of headlights heading my direction. I was hoping they would see my truck parked and turn back, but that wasn’t the case. I watched their headlights pass my pickup and then continue down the old worn out sandy two track. As the pickup got closer, I figured they would see my headlamp and turn around. Unfortunately they did not and they kept coming towards me and proceeded to pull up next to me about a mile from my where I had parked. The passenger rolled down his window and asked me the direction I was planning to hunt. I told them I was going to continue to the north. The driver assured me that they were going to park a few hundred yards up and proceed to the west. They had already drove past several bugling bulls and mewing cows. It wasn’t the best case scenario, but at least I knew there were 4-5 bulls bugling another mile to the north so I continued on in the dust trail of the Ford pickup from Oklahoma. I was nearing a large meadow that I would have to cross and pleased to hear at least three throaty bulls bugling ahead of me. The wind was great and I pushed on before the sun came up over the hill. Just as I started to cross the meadow, I look to my right and those two gentleman from white Ford pickup were standing just 40 yards away. They hadn’t walked to the west, but instead decided to walk to the north where we agreed I was going. I was a little upset as the younger guy told me they were going to cross the meadow and go after the bulls. I didn’t have anything good to say so I bit my lip and retreated two miles back to the truck. It was just one of those crappy mornings that happen every once in awhile. Hopefully everything is positive from here on out.

The evening hunt was fairly uneventful. I got a hundred mosquito bites and the elk didn’t move to the water until after dark. Kinda was par for the course considering how the morning hunt started.
 

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