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Hunting the Gila #5500777 12/26/14 08:36 PM
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tb416 Offline OP
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Anyone ever hunted mule deer in the Gila in NM? I believe it's unit 16. Was thinking about putting in for it this next year but don't know much about it or where to go. I know the elk hunting is great but wanna try the deer.

Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5500814 12/26/14 09:06 PM
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I've Elk and deer hunted in 16-A and 16-D and 15 in the past. My last hunt was 2008 in 16-D for Elk so my info is dated. Most Gila units hold a decent number of deer but I wouldn't call them abundant. I've seen some bucks that might push 22 inches wide but I never really saw any real bruisers there. It seems most years a few decent bucks come out of the Gila but as I'm sure you already know the biggest bucks in NM normally come from the NW part of the state in or around the Jicarilla Indian Reservation and in the sand hills near Loco Hills. The deer herds in the Gila and to the east in the Sacramento Mtns continue to decline due to several factors that include over harvest and a failure to compete with the Elk. Sorry my info isn't real specific about places within the units but I used to always foucus on the Elk and carry a buck tag if I could get one just in case! Good Luck with your search, Baker


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Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5500948 12/26/14 10:42 PM
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I spent a good deal of time in 16 several years back around snow lake. I understand they have had a large burn around snow lake and to the west. I spent 10 days back packing in the primative area from snow lake we parked and headed up to iron creek lake and then north. I saw my first black bear and big bull elk around iron creek lake. I moved down to the stream and looked for trails to the water. I didnt see very many mulies but the few I did see were pretty good. Great Country.

Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: BowsnRods] #5500983 12/26/14 11:18 PM
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Beautiful but rough country. Elk better than mulies


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Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5501490 12/27/14 04:29 AM
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I have an old buddy who did it a few times. For elk. Tough drawing out there.


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Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5501515 12/27/14 04:47 AM
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Fairly rough country, be careful of the box canyons. And stay on high ground away from river when there is any threat of rain as it will flash flood fast. Great elk country though not so much mulies. Years ago we took in about 5 miles from the middle fork of the Gila and set base camp right by a spot on the river called Elk Meadows. Hot Springs right there on the river. Plenty of elk but we're skunked on mulies. Good luck.


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Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5501888 12/27/14 02:27 PM
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Difficult area to get a tag. Hunted there in '04 for elk. Bought landowner tags through an outfitter.

Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5501975 12/27/14 03:05 PM
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Good friend of mine has hunted elk twice. Nothing with a wheel and no internal combustion engines allowed. He too said its tough country and horses are almost a necessity.


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Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5502083 12/27/14 03:54 PM
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Hunted unit 16c for 7 years for Elk. In those 7 years I saw some Mule deer but only one that I would have traded my Elk tag for.


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Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5502824 12/27/14 10:16 PM
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I will echo "Halfadozen" suggestions. Stay out of the box canyons if their is a threat of rain. I hiked the same trail on the Middle fork of the Gila two years ago back to Elk Meadow and the hot springs. Granted it was during the summer/rainy season, and the river was fast moving and in places chest deep & I am 5'10". Two days prior it had rained pretty hard and you could see the destruction it caused. The river would have been an additional 30 ft wide and at least another 5-10 ft deep if I would have been on the trail then. Not many escape routes once you get down in it. River shouldn't be more than a trickle during the fall but it only takes one good down pour to change that. Absolutely beautiful country. Ridges and plateaus are great for glassing keeping you out of the canyons unless you see one to go after. Just know the weather forecast.

Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5503035 12/28/14 12:25 AM
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That's good input guys. I appreciate it. You all are talking about certain places in the Gila but could you drop a pin on a map and send me the link?

Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5503452 12/28/14 04:27 AM
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For where I was talking about, just type in Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. You will see the Middle fork of the Gila River north east of there on any map (Google earth, etc). There are several different forks of the river also and the Gila is huge. I mainly have experience with the eastern side of the Gila. I hiked in from the visitors center up the middle fork, back to the hot spring, elk meadow and then jumped back down to the West fork and out back to the dwellings. Crossed the river 76 times, 60+ of it on the Middle Fork, so it's not the ideal trail/route for hunting unless it's just a slow small trickle of a stream during hunting season. There are multiple ways in however so don't let that be a deterrent.

Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: Elkhunter49] #5503917 12/28/14 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted By: Elkhunter49
I've Elk and deer hunted in 16-A and 16-D and 15 in the past. My last hunt was 2008 in 16-D for Elk so my info is dated. Most Gila units hold a decent number of deer but I wouldn't call them abundant. I've seen some bucks that might push 22 inches wide but I never really saw any real bruisers there. It seems most years a few decent bucks come out of the Gila but as I'm sure you already know the biggest bucks in NM normally come from the NW part of the state in or around the Jicarilla Indian Reservation and in the sand hills near Loco Hills. The deer herds in the Gila and to the east in the Sacramento Mtns continue to decline due to several factors that include over harvest and a failure to compete with the Elk. Sorry my info isn't real specific about places within the units but I used to always foucus on the Elk and carry a buck tag if I could get one just in case! Good Luck with your search, Baker


Not to hijack this thread....but I can confirm Elkhunter49's info on Muleys in the Sacramento Mtns. Inferior bucks travelling with larger groups of does. The numbers are down for sure as I saw fewer deer last October than in years prior. The ranch I hunt has a photo album of past hunts back in the glory days of the 70's, 80's, and 90's and they shot some bruisers back then. Now, the herd is affected by over hunting, drought conditions, and competition.


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Re: Hunting the Gila [Re: tb416] #5507319 12/30/14 01:57 AM
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The outfitter I hunted with for Elk in the Gila posted 2 monsters on his website they took this year 180+ but not sure how common they are, he lives their so he knows where their at and probably knows which area to hunt before the season even starts. So they are their but as ithers have said I think the area is better known for its elk. I would consider CO for a higher # of big mulies.

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