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cbouley's picture
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Elk hunting for dummies

All,

I am moving to New Mexico Jan/Feb 2011. I want to hunt an elk but have never been hunting in my life. I have been trying to use the internet to get more info on the subject but all I keep running into is site for guided tour hunts for thousands of dollars. I don't want to drive a truck up to an elk and shoot it. I wanted to ask everyone on here for advice/tips/help. I am totally inexperianced and know nothing about hunting. I need to know what kind of rifle to use, where to go, what to wear, how to find elk, what to do if I kill one, etc. Thnaks in advance for the help.

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The best place to start would

The best place to start would be the New Mexico Game and Fish web site

http://wildlife.state.nm.us/

 

As far as your other questions have you ever shot a rifle or have any experience around them?  Sometimes hunting can be just luck and other times you have to hunt your rear off.  The best thing to do is once you get moved out there is to see if anyone where you are going to work hunts and see if you can tag along with them if you draw out on a permit.  Then if you do get a permit and manage to find an animal to shoot and it goes down be prepaired for a lot of work.  An elk will be anywhere from 200lbs for a calf to over 1000lbs for a bull.  A rifle is a matter of choice, people use a lot of different calibers for hunting elk but the most popular ones are going to be from a 7mm Remington magnum on up to a 375H&H magnum with a whole lot inbetween.   

cbouley's picture
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Thanks

I am in the Air force, I have shot m-16's/m-4's before but not a "hunting" rifle. I live in Washington state now and here you can just buy a permit where as in New Mexico you have to basically win one. It sucks that I dont have time to do it this year. I think I am going to get a .338 win mag. Any advice on how to get him out of the woods if I kill one? Thanks gain

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One other thing

You can't elk hunt without a permit, and to get that you generally need to apply.  New Mexico typically has better deer leftovers than elk leftovers. 

When you begin hunting you will never look at spending time in the woods the same again.  You may feel like an experienced outdoorsman, but most hikers never leave the trail by a significant distance.  When you begin hunting you will frequently find yourself 3 or more miles from the nearest trail, which is rare for a typical hiker.

What I'm getting at is, try starting with a leftover deer tag in New Mexico just to get more experience in the outdoors if you can't find an elk tag in an area you're willing to hunt.

There is also a series of articles designed for the new person at Colorado's Elk Hunting University.  They kind of walk you through the whole process.

http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/ElkHuntingUniversity

I also wrote an article outlining some of the differences between each state, including application deadlines and fees:

http://www.biggamehunt.net/articles/nonresidents-guide-western-hunting

 

 

 

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and another thing

If you want a little more of a choice in where you can hunt this year, consider coming to Colorado to hunt on an unlimited, over the counter tag.

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lets back up even further

Legally, to even be able to purchase a hunting license, you must first pass a hunter safety class. 

Don't worry about elk rifles yet, just learn to shoot well first.  Do you have any guns right now?

And where do you live now and is there anything to hunt there?  Sorry I didn't see that you weren't moving to New Mexico until after hunting season.

cbouley's picture
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Thanks for the info. I live

Thanks for the info. I live in Washington state now. it would be awesome to hunt a Rosevelt elk but I dont have time this year, its busy fighting a war. Do you use a gps or something like that to find your way back or to find places to hunt? Also, I've been looking at the hunting laws and in NM they have public land to hunt on. I know you draw the liscense and you have to hunt in whatever area you get, but does this mean I can just drive up, park the truck and start hunting?

Joined: 02/19/2010
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A good place to start

Initially, it is very difficult to come up with some good advice in one paragraph.  I have been elk hunting for years and I learn new things every year, both on the hunt and in preparation.  I would recommend you go out and buy a book by Mike Eastman called, "Elk Hunting the West."  it is really good and it is accompanied by a DVD.  The book really explains a lot about elk hunting, from looking at maps and what to look at on the topo maps to narrow down areas to scout, what to look for when scouting, etc...  I got mine at Sportsman's Warehouse for around $20-$24 but I am sure you can get it cheaper on Amazon.com.  There is another book called Elk Hunting 101 that is also very good.  Other than that you'll have to get out in the field and give it a go.  Get some good binoculars, at least 10X42.  The more you spend the better the quality. You want an optic that lets in a good amount of light so that you can use them in the early morning and late evenings.  You will want to get some camo that is comfortable and quiet and preferably matches the terrain you are in.  I frankly think that King's Camo has some good camo patterns for the western states.  They also make some that are really comfortable and quiet.  I archery hunt and King's keeps me warm in the cool morning and cool in the warm afternoon.  A good boot is also a must.  I use Salomon boots personally and have loved them from day one.  They are a little on the pricey side but if you get them from the right place you will be able to get a good warranty.  They are light and made with Gortex so they keep your feet dry.  The weapon you choose should matter.  I used to rifle hunt and used a 30-06.  Then I graduated to a .300 Winchester Short Mag.  This carries a nice punch which provides for great accuracy at close range and long distance.  If I were you, I would not get a wimpy gun.  You will really limit yourself if you go for a gun of small caliber.  While the small gun can get the job done at a certain range, you will really make it more difficult on yourself.  When out in the field, the elk need both food and water and from my experience and from reading, they will not go more than a mile from either.  If you can find a good area with these then you'll have a good chance.  Be quiet, do as much as possible to reduce the amount of scent you leave, and keep a good lookout.

TMH

cbouley's picture
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thanks for the tips

Looks like the book/dvd is the way to go. I've been looking at rifles and from what im gathering I'm probably going to get a .338 winchester mag. I've also been trying to research the best way to get the elk out of the woods. It looks like the best way is to cut it up in quarters, I dont want to cut up the fur because I want to keep it so should I just gut the animal and try to drag it out of the woods? Also, what if i kill an elk twilight and don't get it back to the truck till late, what should i do with it until morning when i can take it to a butcher shop/taxidemist? Thanks again for the help.

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If you want to save the

If you want to save the hide/cape and head then you should have a small tarp with you or access to one quickly after you shoot the elk.  Then once it is cleaned and on the tarp start to skin it on the exposed side.  Once that is done you can remove one front shoulder and a lot of the meat from the bones.  After that is done roll him over and do the same thing to the other side.  If you are saving the whole head you do not want to make any cuts on the hide forward of the rear of the front shoulders except you can split the hide along the backbone upwards toward the antlers but stop before getting to them.  As far as the meat you should have 6-8 good quality game bags made out of a cotton canvas to put the meat into such as these    http://www.huntergamebags.com/Elk-Game-Bags_c2.htm

Then when you get back to your camp and if it is cool (below 60) at night you should be ok until you get the meat to the processor.   One other thing is that most states require for you to leave evidence of sex of the animal attached to the meat so if you cut the head off you need another part left on. 

I'm sure that I have left out some things and others will recomend other ways.   

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