After several weeks of travel and about 5,000 miles driven, I arrived in Las Cruces, NM and reunited with my family. Took one day off to rest and prepare for the elk hunt season. My Dad drew a bull tag for NM unit 34 which is located in the Lincoln National Forest. Based on intel from friends he decided to hunt in the Sacramento/Weed area. Base elevations around 7,000 feet and some hikes above 9,000; peak driving trip unofficially at 9,500.
We spotted two small bulls and a herd of cow elk immediately the first morning, then norhing after that for two days. The third day (Monday), we headed into a canyon where several respectable size elk were harvested by other guys in the same RV park. Right around daybreak a herd of almost 50 elk passed through with bulls bugling like crazy the entire time. Dad got a shot off at a big bull (estimated 5×5 or 6×6 with a big body). We pursued the blood trail for 4-6 hours before it disappeared, then searched the entire surrounding area for several more hours but no luck. We think the shot was slightly low and wasn’t fatal. Searched the entire area again the next day but no signs of the herd. Last day still no elk and I had to leave at noon to begin my return travels.
Although my Dad didn’t get an elk, there were some great experiences on this hunt. Time spent with family was worth the drive. Saw tons of different animals in the wild – elk, mule deer, black bear, lynx, red fox, turkey, porcupine, and more I can’t even identify. And hearing so many elks bugle may have been a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Didn’t have time for many photos but the memories and lessons will last forever. Starting the long drive back to Wisconsin tomorrow to start work again Monday. Looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again and planning the next adventure!
Edit: After returning from my trip I was able to process the astro pics. Here are the results from Weed: