Arizona Unit 22N Bull Elk Hunt

Discussion in 'Elk Hunting' started by N.AZHunter88, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. N.AZHunter88

    N.AZHunter88 New Member

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    Hey Guys,

    Im new to the Long Range Hunting Forum, and I just wanted to see if there are some people out there with a little more knowledge than me on unit 22 north. I drew a bull tag for the Nov. 25th hunt and have never hunted this unit before, my only other success in AZ elk was in 5b north in 2007. I am fairly familiar with the area and have already scouted some spots off of the control road as recently as last weekend, but I know that come opening day these areas will be mobbed with road hunters. I've heard about the mazatzal and hells gate wilderness areas, and just wanted to see if anyones hunted there before and knows a good place to start.
     
  2. shortpants

    shortpants Well-Known Member

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    Congrats on drawing a tag and welcome to LRH. I have quite a bit of experience in 22 and will offer my thoughts. The good news is you have a bull tag in your pocket and there is no better place to be in the fall than in the mountains chasin critters. The bad news is I will bet on you not applying for this tag again. Sorry to break it to ya but this is one tough hunt. I used to find a dozen bulls a day in that unit back in the mid-late 90's but as of lately it's a different story. Game and Fish destroyed the late hunts by offering what they call ''more opportunity''. Way to many tags at one time. I guided that hunt last year thinking it would be like it used to be having not been in there much in the past few years and was pretty disappointed. I covered a lot of ground in there searching for bulls including heading deep into the canyons where people don't usually go but saw nothing. On the 3rd day I finally glassed up a small bull in an old honey hole but he gave us the slip. That was our last day. I know of many with the same story and only heard one success story so it is possible. That hunter backpacked in and shot his bull opening morning.
    If your willing to hunt hard then I guarantee you will have a successful hunt but I can't guarantee you will harvest a bull. Effort = success in my book. I'm not saying you won't have a good time and I hate to sound negetive but I just want you to know what to expect. I believe they cut a few tag numbers this year so maybe that will help. Let us know how it turns out and best of luck.
    Jason
     

  3. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

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    I hate to be the bearer or bad news, but all of the Hellsgate Wilderness is in unit 22S and unit 23. Unit 22S is not part of your hunt. Most of the Mazatzal wildeness area is in 22S as well. A little bit of it is in 22N.

    Jason just offered you some good advise. His response was also a typical one for 22N elk. It is hard to come up with a different type of response for this unit and season.

    If you want a solid bull you will have to glass hard hunt hard and even think outside the box.

    Buckhead mesa use to be good but is very flat and thick. This will make a non bugle hunt tough. Other areas like hardscrabble mesa are good also. The control road between HWY87 and HWY260 is a sure bet for the hunter who isnt picky about how big a bull he will take.

    There are 2 things (IMHO) that will hurt you on this hunt.

    1: Unit 22 isnt as good as it used to be. Quality is way down from previous years.

    2: The locals that live around and in unit 22 go after elk like there is no tomarrow. There are some really good hunters that live in Payson, Pine, Strawberry and other areas. You will have very tough competition for good bulls.

    My advice is scout ahead of time. There are lots of flat brushy areas in 22 but there is also some mountainous, hilly and canyonous terrain, rimrock and low valleys. You're best bet is glass, glass and when youre sick of glassing glass somemore. Did I mention glass hard? Oh yeah, glass hard.

    With most hunts in AZ, you WILL get out of them what you put into them and sometimes you will get something great on opening morning 100 yards from the truck. Unit 22N IS NOT neccesarily a unit that you will get out of it what you put into it. Albiet, the harder you work the better chances you will have. You may put everything into it and get nothing. Just work hard and put the odds in your favor.

    Best of wishes and please let us know how you do!
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2011
  4. shortpants

    shortpants Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Michael I meant to mention the wilderness in the wrong unit!
     
  5. N.AZHunter88

    N.AZHunter88 New Member

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    Jason,
    What you say is true, the best part about hunting is being out there, but dont get me wrong im intent on bringing home a bull this year. Why do you say that I wont put in for this unit again? Has the area really gone that far down now? When I was out last weekend I seemed to see quite a bit of sign and what look to me to be good elk country. Granted this is april and im hunting in early december so I understand the patterns will be different.

    Michael,
    After a little map browsing I realized the hells gate wilderness area is not in 22N (thanks for the note of it). As far as the hardscabble mesa area goes, is it better to spend the time scouting tanks, bedding areas and so on, or should I focus on locations to glass from and higher vantage points.

    -Travis
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2011
  6. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

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    I prefer to glass from vantage points but I also recognize that having other tools in the box can help get it done.

    I like to know as much about what and where I am hunting as possible. That includes good glassing areas as well as feed, water and bedding areas even if it is flat and thick. If nothing else, it affords you options and possibilities. Plan A does not always work out. Or plan B, D, E, F or G. The more 'plans' you have the better your chances for success.

    If it is hot and dry, tanks near bedding can be productive IF it isnt a zoo due to other hunters. Still hunting these areas or even sitting near water can be productive.

    All that said, if I could only use one method, I would glass. 90% of the time, glassing leads to success over other tactics in that region during that season. Anything can happen at any time be it glassing or still hunting.

    M
     
  7. shortpants

    shortpants Well-Known Member

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    Travis, There are a lot of elk in there. It is awesome elk country. You can go there and see elk this time of year no problem. During Sept. and Oct. you'll hear their bugles and see them in action. But when 2000 vehicles start rolling in from every direction in late Nov. early Dec. they disappear. Not into thin air but it might as well be because you won't see them. They will hold very very tight to thick cover and deep canyons. Harvesting is not impossible but it will be quite a challenge. It took me 3 days to glass up a raghorn! I'm not hear to brag but I'm pretty good at finding bulls. This has never happend to me and I don't want to have it happen again so for me I would not put in again. Perhaps if I lived in the unit and spent a ton of time in there I would be able to have ok odds of harvesting a bull. I am a trophy hunter and enjoy passing on smaller bulls. I believe if you have an opportunity to harvest any bull on that hunt you should not hesitate. TO MANY PEOPLE, NOT ENOUGH BULLS. Like I said that does not mean you can't have an incredible hunt. If your like me your stubborn and enjoy when things don't come easy. Keep doing your research and hunt your ass off and maybe you can prove the odds wrong.
    Best of luck,
    Jason
     
  8. shortpants

    shortpants Well-Known Member

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    As far as tactics go Michael is right about glassing so I won't say much about that but I will add if you can somehow find a water source that bulls are hitting and people aren't all over it it can pay off big. Also if you have help going with you, doing a drive through the thick stuff can turn up bulls you would otherwise never see. JUST BE SAFE I RECOMMEND LOTS OF ORANGE!!!
     
  9. N.AZHunter88

    N.AZHunter88 New Member

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    Guys,

    Thanks for all the suggestions on tactics and area.

    I think that my next trip out will be to the hardscrabble mesa area and southeast of pine, I agree with the idea of having as many options available as possible when it comes to tactics and locations to set up at.

    I forgot to mention my brother also drew a tag with me so we have a little more flexibility in what techniques we can use. I plan on sitting some tanks and seeps in the morning and evenings, and glassing throughout the day to begin with.

    Our main focus is going to be separating ourselves from the masses, I think that the wilderness areas are our best bet at avoiding 75% of the hunters, seeing that most will be road hunters out of phx, and once the first weekend is over most will be gone.

    Travis
     
  10. youngbuck

    youngbuck Well-Known Member

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    Travis,
    You have gotten some great info from 2 knowledgeable guys on 22. Ive helped 4 or 5 elk hunts ther in the past few years. Expect the worst weather. There is usually atleast one storm that time of year. You may miss it by a week or two but usually comes. It could rain and flood or snow and be very cold. Lots of guys get stuck on that hunt. The past 2 years, it has been pretty cold with snow storms (well below freezing). The year prior it was raining heavily and muddy. It will take some effort to get away form the crowds, but can be done. I prefer to glass in the nastier, thicker secluded canyons to look for bulls. Good luck.

    -Ryan
     
  11. bcdeford

    bcdeford Member

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    I drew that same tag last year. I hunted north of the control road and the elk were thick as long as you got off the road and glassed. I didnt see any big bulls though and ended up bagging a spike. Me and my brother drew the late Archey hunt this year for the same area. We are looking at the wilderness off of Hardscrabble Mesa or down around Little Diamond. We are looking for bigger bulls this year. any suggestions?
     
  12. youngbuck

    youngbuck Well-Known Member

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    IMHO, if you want a "bigger bull" say 300+, be ready to come home empty handed. I'm not saying they aren't there. There are big bulls in there. They got big because they know how to avoid the hundreds of hunter on late hunts. I have on ocasion found good bulls in 22N on late hunts. Most of the time they are busted up. If they arent or even if they are, odds are some one else is looking at him too. Depending on weather you might find some bulls in the secluded canyons with water. Packing an elk out of any wilderness area is a 3 man job minimum for one trip. Some of that country is quite a poke to get into, much less pack a bull out of. If you can, don't waste the middle of the day makin sandwiches in camp. The bulls are still in the unit during lunch time. Glass the thick stuff and spend the time to pick it apart.
     
  13. bcdeford

    bcdeford Member

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    This is my first archery elk hunt so I know the cards are stacked against me. I am not really trophy hunting either just want to do better than a spike this year. The wilderness hunts drag me in because I love getting away from the roads and vehicles. I'll be spending some time getting to know the waterholes this summer but I am getting stationed in NC so I am relying on my brother for post rut scouting. My biggest question is if I should focus on sitting on the waterholes or trying spot and stalk.
     
  14. GNERGY

    GNERGY Guest