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Mar 25th, 2012
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NM Unit 51 - anyone hunted this unit? #5322114 09/23/14 04:44 PM
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Mavric Offline OP
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I drew an Elk tag for Unit 51 Oct 18th...I have driven through that area several times but never hunted Carson NF. The terrain from the topo maps looks fairly open with rolling hills. Curious about temp ranges - it's hard to find temp averages for that region....does it ever snow that early in the season?

I'm an avid whitetail hunter, this will be my first Elk hunt and unfortunately my scouting will be limited to topo maps and insights others can offer. I have read a couple decent books on Elk - a few good tips for post-rut bulls. I suspect calls are worthless that late and do more harm than good, is this true? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Still vs constantly roaming
Hunting water sources...is this effective?
I assume bulls are back to nocturnal and traveling solo, bulls are moving down past dusk to feed or coming up from the meadows at dawn

Sam

Re: NM Unit 51 - anyone hunted this unit? [Re: Mavric] #5322251 09/23/14 05:58 PM
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Cobbio Offline
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I went 10 years ago and the week we were there it was hot and humid, the day we left a storm hit and it was a whiteout for the next four days. We didn't have much luck hunting the high areas and all the deer harvested were taken in the flats areas.

Re: NM Unit 51 - anyone hunted this unit? [Re: Cobbio] #5324042 09/24/14 04:50 PM
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Mavric Offline OP
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Thanks Cobbio...I guess the takeaway there is pack for anything/everything!

Re: NM Unit 51 - anyone hunted this unit? [Re: Mavric] #5333307 09/30/14 02:57 AM
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I've hunted 5a in sept (bow), 6c and 45 in oct (second rifle in both) and I agree....Pack for anything. Seen temps from 75 degrees to 9 degrees in a 5 day spell at 8,600', and out hunt in 45 at around 10k' it lightly snowed and stayed in the teens for the better part of 5 days.

Google earth is a great tool for seeing the terrain. Get a Carson National Forest map for seeing the road network the best. Santa Fe National Forest and Carson National Forest Maps have, in my experience, had the best maps hands down for navigating the roads. Topos will show them, but I have found them less dependable in their labeling and classifying of roads.

You should expect to cover a LOT of ground each day. And don't let those topos fool you, I've never been to 51, but that can be some steep terrain up that way. 6c could get rugged in areas (it burned badly a few years back though), as can 45. 5a however is lower altitude rolling terrain (alot of mulies). I haven't looked at 51, so don't know what it looks like.

Hunting pressure will drive most animals to sanctuary parcels if there are any around. Reservations, large private ranches, etc. wherever there's less people/pressure. You can hunt the borders of these, like most other people will. Or you can choose to break from the crowd and go deep for animals that are holding out, but these animals require a LOT of work to get out. Carson, if I remember correctly, is "non-mechanised". Meaning you can't even use a bicycle or cart, it's foot or hoof only.

I'd contact a few guides in the area, and find out what packing fees might run if you drop one deep. In conversation, they will usually tip their hand to whatever area they will be hunting too. A lot of times they will give discounted rates for a few days if they tag a customer out early in a hunt. We had one guide charge us $100 a day for horse rental, he went out with three of us each day for the last two days of our hunt. He was already setup and there, and hung around to make money. After 5 days of scouting and hunting, we were happy to each pay a bill a day for transportation. Payed off for one of our guys too.

Call the local ranger office and ask about Elk movement, they will tell you what they know. They will also tell just about everybody else too though.

The problem with public hunting is, for me, getting away from other people. It's tough to do on foot. We always go about 3-4 days early, to scout and get our bodies acclimated. We like to be settled in and comfortable with camp when the season starts so we can focus on hunting. We typically avoid the obvious areas, and explore the PITA areas to access. Areas where you might have to leave the unit all together, then re-enter from some obscure little local road. If you can find something like this, you'll usually leave the crowd behind, but will be hunting with the locals, and they can get territorial. I've never had a confrontation, but have had a hunt ruined deliberately by a local. Texas plates on your truck at a trail-head are a dead giveaway. Not much you can do about this, just beware, it can happen. Most will be really friendly.

I am the "resource and map" guy of the group. Another is the "info" guy, another is "provisions", and another is "camp". We share all expenses, but we each have a discipline to focus on. It makes it easier than everyone having to worry about every little thing, and we avoid mass duplication of efforts, and gear, too.

"One Map Place" in Addison is a great resource for National Forest and other maps. Call them to check stock on anything, but they can get, print, laminate maps for you pretty quickly. They were the best before google earth, and before topo software became so good. But I still get some stuff from them now and again.

Precook meals at home if you can, freeze them, and heat them for dinners in camp. Trays of good Lasagna are always a big hit. This shortens prep/cooking time when everyone is worn out from hiking all day (hopefully packing out meat), you can get your women in on this to cook a round of your favorite meals too, and the frozen goods keep well at altitude (cold temps) and serve as block ice til you thaw them out. And do everything you can to get there a few days early. It can make a huge difference in familiarizing yourself with the terrain and maps, acclimatizing, and generally getting comfy with your surroundings. Avoid duplication anywhere you can, have planning meetings with your group. Amounts of gear can get way out of hand with a group of three to four guys, and you always have to leave room to bring an elk or two home as well. Find meat processing plants ahead of time. If you get a bull early, sometimes they can have it cut up and ready to haul home before your short season is over. And locate a dry ice source before you go. Makes bringing that valuable home easier.

We setup a separate tent for cooking and eating. The single most valuable thing we bring every time is,,,,,,,the fish cooker. You have to watch the ventilation carefully, but a fish cooker will heat up a large tent, even with all the windows and door wide open, in about 5 minutes. It is literally a portable campfire.


Tolerance is the virtue of a man without conviction.

The end of the world began the day it was created, and life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease.


Re: NM Unit 51 - anyone hunted this unit? [Re: Mavric] #5338568 10/02/14 07:24 PM
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Mavric Offline OP
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Wow psycho thanks for that great writeup and tips! I have topo maps but you are so right about the forestry roads and just being able to navigate. I met a great guy through this forum and he's been PMing with his lessons learned as well.

I have been on Google earth for weeks now - you are so right it is THE next best thing to on foot scouting. I have marked a Plan A location, B, and C. I heard hunting pressure can be extremely heavy in certain areas and I've got those marked. I've been training cardio wise for months so hopefully up to the physical demands of hiking miles each day. That was another guy tip about divide and conquer....I end up being the defacto planner in my hunting group so a couple will no doubt show up and ask me where to hunt. We are going in 2 days early to acclimate and get comfortable with the forestry roads.

I haven't locked down a processor but at least I have a town...dry ice is another great suggestion. I was told nearest place is Taos for that (as well as diesel).

Thanks again, can't wait for the next 2 weeks to fly by...

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