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(LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? #5921459 09/10/15 05:16 AM
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ttechcolleyville Offline OP
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Back in February, I sought some input regarding a high fence elk hunt I was considering. I have bow hunted elk for several years with an outfitter in NM on private land where the bow hunting success rate was less than 25% while rifle hunting success rate was basically 100%. I didn't know how many more years I would be able to go - age, family and cost - but as much as I wanted to harvest an elk, I was not willing to give up a bow hunt for a rifle hunt. Hence, I was considering a ranch that had 10,000 acres of high fence elk hunting where I could hunt with a bow, but if unsuccessful switch to a rifle toward the end of the hunt. Having no experience whatsoever with "high fence" hunting, I posted on this forum asking for opinions while I was trying to decide.

There was one response in particular that really summed it up and it was along the lines of - you have to ask yourself if you get an elk in the HF are you going to be comfortable sharing that you took it there. That question haunted me all summer as I changed my hunt back and forth from the high fence to their free range hunt. I wasn't going to know the answer unless and until it happened and I decided to hunt the HF. I just got back a day ago and given all the commotion over my original post, I thought I would provide an update.

It was not what I expected. It was not the 10,000 acres I included in my original post but probably closer to 5,000 huntable acres plus a sanctuary area that must have been at least 1,000 acres which we drove the perimeter once but could not hunt directly or even the fringes. It was surrounded on all sides by 30,000 acres which was hunted as free range. I am not sure how effective the high fence is because I saw two Shiras moose and several other guys saw bears and maybe a couple of mule deer does, all of which were subject to free range hunting and licensing requirements.

There were some big bulls but getting in bow range seemed next to impossible. The terrain was very tough Ė heavy brush and steep inclines. If you wanted to see more than 100 yards, you had to go to top of the hills. The winds were nasty and every single stalk ended with a wind change and an elk bolting away before I was in bow range. There wasn't a lot of bugling so it was pretty much spot and stalk or ambush style. We all saw elk but came back empty handed from every hunt.

On the last morning I took my bow and rifle, but left the gun in the ATV. Another guide had spotted 3 bulls heading in our general direction and we headed toward the trail my guide thought they would come. I thought this was it and got in position and waited. We could hear them right as they came into view, something spooks them from behind and they charge right into us. Problem is that there are 10-15 elk, not 3, and one of them is going to run over me if I donít jump out of the way. When I do, all hell breaks loose as they scatter then disappear altogether. I am leaving that afternoon and it hits me that the hunt is over. Another season without an elk.

Iím done - physically and mentally Ė and tell my guide it is time to head back to camp. He is having none of that and says we are not giving up yet, grab you gun. We hit several spots to glass the hills but see nothing as most of the elk have bedded down. Iím even more physically exhausted when we abandon the ATV and start up a long, narrow trail which includes yet another steep incline before reaching another area where we can glass the opposite hill. Thirty minutes later he spots a bull about 500 yards out that eventually beds down about 350 yards away. Not being a big rifle hunter, I did not want to shoot more than 150 yards so we work our way toward him, closing to 300 yards. Still too far and we work our way back around another trail to about 100 yards away. But it is so thick we canít see him and we canít get closer without spooking him.

We try another route with the same results before going back to our original point and working our way to 265 yards. Any further and we are too low to shoot across to the other side. He sets his spotting scope up so that I can use it as a rest and I find the elk in my scope. I tell him no way I can make that shot. He urges me on saying I can do it. He said he is going to cow call and start working his way down toward him until he stands up and when he does, for me to put the crosshairs on him and shoot. Sure enough, the very first cow call and the bull slowly stands up broadside.

I have such little confidence that I can make that shot that I am not really that nervous. I aim and very slowly and intentionally squeeze the trigger and fire. Nothing happens, he just stands there. My guide says "shoot again, shoot again" and I do. He appears to take a step forward but then he is gone. I canít see him anywhere and assume I missed. My guide thinks I hit him but I am thinking he is just trying to be nice. It takes us about 40 minutes to get where we thought we shot him and there he is, dead in his tracks.

I got my first elk and I took it with a rifle. It scored 316 and I am very proud of it. That was the hardest, most grueling hunting I have ever experienced, much harder than the NM free range hunts I have previously been on. I do wish it had been a true fair chase hunt and I am hopeful that I will get at least a couple more chances. If I do, they will be free range bow hunts. But if not or if I am unsuccessful, I still got my bull and no one can ever take that away from me.


Last edited by ttechcolleyville; 09/10/15 06:24 PM. Reason: Typo
Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921466 09/10/15 05:33 AM
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Great write up and great story. Thank you for sharing and providing a follow up. That is a trophy that you can be proud of, no matter the height of the fence and no one can take that away from you cheers

Congrats on a great bull and good luck on your next adventure up


Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921479 09/10/15 05:52 AM
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Double eye guards are cool. Glad you had a successful trip.

Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921491 09/10/15 06:10 AM
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Man, that is out of the park, you took one hell of a bull and earned every right to be proud, well done sir up

BTW, thanks for the follow-up and great read, I remember your other thread, heck of a job!!


Die young,,,,as old as you can....

"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

Dennis

Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921493 09/10/15 06:12 AM
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Cool story and congrats.


Originally Posted By: bill oxner
I just turned it on . I was looking bird dogs in the butt this morning.


Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: Duck_Hunter] #5921530 09/10/15 10:37 AM
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great hunt and great elk - never look back


You can't fix stupid
Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921539 09/10/15 10:56 AM
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Congrats! Great write-up. I'm headed to a New Mexico private land hunt next week.

Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921547 09/10/15 11:17 AM
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cheers



"It is the same boiling water that softens the rice, which hardens the egg." It's not always about the circumstances, but what you are made of....
Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921550 09/10/15 11:21 AM
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Thanks for sharing that with all of us and congrats on a great bull.
Here is my take on HF/LF Elk hunting. I elk and mule deer hunted every fall for over 25 years in New Mexico/Colorado/Wyoming and Montana. All of this was on public land or fair chase hunts. I hunted with the same group of men everytime and I understand how tough it can be to fill a tag on public land as I was unable to do just that many times. I can't even imagine how many miles I've hiked seemingly straight up or down just to return to camp in the dark with nothing to show for it but sore feet.
Several of the men I hunted with were older than me and have since passed away but a few years after we stopped hunting as a group I got a call one fall from several of them and they were going on a HF Elk hunt in Utah and invited me along.These guys couldn't get around too well anymore but loved to hunt Elk so much they found a way to stay in the game! I couldn't make it but I encourged them have a great hunt and let me know how they did!
A few weeks after they returned one of their son's posted a few photo's of their bulls on a hunting website and most of the responses just reminded me that a lot of the internet hero's that post on these forums have no clue what they are talking about but are more than free with their smart [censored] comments.
Both of these men have more public land miles logged than most "guides" working out west today and to see some [censored] clown criticize their bulls and call them "not real hunters" made my blood boil!!

Thanks for your post sir and I hope you are proud of your bull as well you should be. You own nobody on here an explination on where you hunt as long as it's legal. Your bull will make a beautiful mount.

I'm sorry for the rant but I guess I'm still pissed off over my buddies treatment a few years back!!!
Later Floks, Baker

Last edited by Elkhunter49; 09/10/15 11:21 AM.

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Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921555 09/10/15 11:32 AM
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It sounds like you had a really satisfying hunt. People need to understand, it's not the fence, it's the hunt that counts.


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Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921559 09/10/15 11:35 AM
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Great story and beautiful bull.

I would tell the world about that bull and hunt. There are free range elk killed every year strolling toward a golf course like you have them on a string.

Haters are gonna hate. They are people who aren't happy with their own lives so they lash out at people who are.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us. cheers

Last edited by Pitchfork Predator; 09/10/15 01:45 PM.

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Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921575 09/10/15 11:46 AM
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Outstanding and Congratulations Sir!!!


Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921600 09/10/15 11:59 AM
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cheers


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Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921650 09/10/15 12:28 PM
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That's a dream of mine, glad yours finally came true!

Congrats


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Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921663 09/10/15 12:40 PM
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Hell ya!!!!!!!!!!

Congrats!!!! Ironically I was just about to send you a pm to see how your prep was coming!!!

Extremely happy for you, well earned animal!!! Thank you again for sharing your story.


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Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921668 09/10/15 12:42 PM
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awesome bull, great story up


Originally Posted By: cameron00
If I send my neighbors a text and ask them to give me feedback on my lawn and plant rye into a giant dong pattern, I'm probably going to get some less than positive feedback. Same goes here.
Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921702 09/10/15 12:59 PM
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Great bull...thank you for sharing your story up

Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921737 09/10/15 01:28 PM
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Great bull & great write up. Thanks for sharing.

Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921752 09/10/15 01:41 PM
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It doesn't matter what you say, some people think all hf places are petting zoos. If you ever doubt that your hunt wasn't fair chase, re read your story. I would be as proud of that elk just as any other that came off a lf place. 5000 acres is a lot of ground to cover, and you worked hard for him. I say well done, congrats and good write up!

Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921758 09/10/15 01:44 PM
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Beautiful symmetry! Congratulations on an outstanding hunt and thank you for writing up your story!


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Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921806 09/10/15 02:35 PM
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Great recap, and congratulations on a well earned trophy, sir!



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Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921857 09/10/15 03:14 PM
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Thanks for all the congrats. I am still reveling in it. The second best part of the hunt, after getting an elk of course, is that I have more appreciation for rifle hunting. Yes it is a different challenge to get within 20-40 yards of an animal than 100-200 yards. But it dang sure isn't easy. I think I am going to be spending some more time at the rifle range going forward.

Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921893 09/10/15 03:34 PM
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It is important that you had a good hard experience and you are proud of it.

I will never hunt high fence, because it will always come to my mind even if it was 50,000 acres. I do accept I've already had free range hunts easier than what many high fence hunts are. That said I also have many friends that hunt and guide high fence hunts and the overwhelming majority get their 150-250 inch deer first evening and ones that don't are hunting a specific deer (in their size price range to the 10").

Each man has their ethics. I bait, build food plots, use scents, rattle, hunt in rut, use a long range rifle, wear camo, use scent control, but I won't hunt high fence.

I have more respect for your high fence hunt and your honesty. These guys putting 250" deer on their walls and keeping it a secret it was high fence are going to a special kind of hell in my book. If you look at my trophy wall I will be honest which ones took me weeks and a couple hunts and which ones I tagged out the first hour. None of my scores are green camp scores either, I have a very conservative official scorer dry score all my animals and it usually ends up 5-10" below camp scores.

Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921941 09/10/15 03:57 PM
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Congratulations that is a trophy!


Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.

Re: (LONG READ) Update - Can you have a fair chase elk hunt on a high fence ranch? [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5921977 09/10/15 04:21 PM
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Sounds like you had a great hunt and made a great memory....Congrats

Last edited by TonyinVA; 09/10/15 09:58 PM.
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