I drew an archery muley tag for Game Unit 12, 23, and 24N. I've never been to this area before so if anyone has any advice on where to go or where to avoid it would be much appreciated. I will be going the first week of the season.
Mostly because the irrigated fields are down lower, but the water is more reliable too. I'd be hunting the scrub oaks near private lands wherever possible.
There's certainly deer up high, but not a lot. Consider the fact that the early high country rifle hunt has only killed a couple of deer in the past 5 or so years.
I would recommend hunting it by getting good with a map and learning how to come in behind some the better private lands from difficult to access public land. It's a pain in the butt tactic but it works. Take a hard look at the blm and state lands. If that's not for you, you can do the high country basin thing but will struggle a bit more
First off welcome to the site and congratulations on drawing a tag. As for your question about the maps, I like the BLM maps and the US Forrest Service maps the most. They have pretty good detail and have not seen a real advantage over some of the high priced maps. You can get them on line so that is not a big issue. Another good map is the Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer available at most big hunting stores or at www.delrme.com. Also get on line and look at the maps the DOW or whatever they are called now has. The hunting atlas has a great topo map and is very accurate. Now as to where to hunt that area is a loaded question. That is a big area and I have hunted it for over 25 years. As Ex Bio said, water is a consideration for sure but there is water if you look for it. What kind of a hunt do you want to do? Do you plan to back pack in or do you plan to set up a base camp and try different areas? Not sure where you are coming from so what kind of shape are you or anyone in your party in as this area is for the most part is 8000 to 10000 feet in elevation or higher. The terrain is anywhere from rolling hills to some fairly steep hills from sage brush and oak brush to thick black timber and even alpine. If you want send me a PM with an idea of what you are looking for and I will help you out with some ideas.
Hunting is not usually a pursuit where instant gratification abounds. It takes a lot of time, practice, resources and patience to be a successful hunter. So when someone decides that an area they hunted only once without taking an animal is worthless and devoid of game, I don't quite understand it. These people usually jump from game management unit to game management unit; trying a new one every year.
Now don't get me wrong, there are people that just enjoy scouting and hunting...