Transplanted Mainer needs help with elk in AZ Unit 22

Discussion in 'Elk Hunting' started by desertyankee, Mar 31, 2010.

  1. desertyankee

    desertyankee New Member

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    Mar 31, 2010
    Hello--
    Hoping to get some advice from hunters familiar with Unit 22North, around Payson. I lucked out and got a December bull permit, and I'm trying to decide where to hunt. I don't mind hard hiking, camping out, etc.-- but are there enough elk, and are they big ones, in the wilderness area around Hardscrabble Mesa/Canyon, to make this a rewarding destination? And does the December weather get severe enough to move them down off the mesas into the canyons, or are they just as likely to stay up high? Any advice appreciated-- and when I can figure out how to post a picture here, I'll show you the matched 6 x 6 sheds I picked up last week on Coconino Rim!
     
  2. Parkerb14

    Parkerb14 Well-Known Member

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  3. Dustyswife98

    Dustyswife98 Member

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    Hey there Desert Yankee,
    Your not the only one looking...I got drawn for Bull Elk there too. And I am not complaining...:D Not knowing much about the actual area but since finding out I have done a lot of internet information searches. Speaking with people that have hunted there has been rewarding conversations. I am planing a trip this month over there to see what I can turn up.
     
  4. gnhnt2day

    gnhnt2day New Member

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    Apr 23, 2010
    That can be a hard area to hunt that time of year if you are not familiar with the area. You will find many hunters along "control road" and set up at water holes but stay lower lower near the running river and streams. Grab a spotting scope and sit tight on high ridges. You will be surprised how many hunters will spook the elk out for you. Hard scabble mesa is a good area but many elk will be pushed out of these areas by that time because you will have had 3 elk hunts over and a rifle deer hunt as well.

    This area is traditionally very dry that time of year so use your head and think like a thirsty animal. I've hunted there many times and patience is the key, you will have all the payson boys out and about plus hunters. Focus on the North facing ridges after sun up as I have seen them hunker down and watch the people walk by. There are some big bulls north of "flowing springs". Good luck.
     
  5. azsugarbear

    azsugarbear Well-Known Member

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    Lots of elk in the unit - and lots of hunters. I will assume that you are looking for a 5 or 6 trophy and not a meat spike. Given the fact that your hunt is last, the bulls will be holed-up in the nasty stuff. There will be the ocaissional bull taken off the roads and in the open, but the bulls that survived will be in the thick stuff.

    There are several resident herds that live below the rim on a permanent basis. Look north and east of Star Valley. Several groups can also be found around Tontozona (old ASU football site), but watch the private land holdings. There's another good herd up around Natural Bridge. With Hardscrabble Mesa, the bulls will down in the canyons to the west - the ones that drop down into the Verde River valley. In general, be willing to go where the other hunters will not.

    A more remote hunt: Dollbaby Ranch - west of Payson at the north end of the Matazal Mtn. Wilderness area. Enter off the airport road. Again, look from there down into the canyons to the west.

    I would scout towards the end of the rut. Listen for the distant bugles and you will get the general direction as to where the bulls have moved towards. That's where I would start. Good Luck!

    Karl
     
  6. wasgas

    wasgas Well-Known Member

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    That's good advice, but if it were me I would spend the week out there during the general deer hunt that should give some indication as to what they may do when the pressure is on.

    Have an exit strategy, you could easily pull out a few hundred pounds of meat when it is de boned.
     
  7. desertyankee

    desertyankee New Member

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    Mar 31, 2010
    Thank you both for responding. Since my original posting, I've spent five days scouting in the area, and walked enough miles to develop a strong dislike for manzanita-- and also for whoever the jerk is that hunts elk over a salt lick up above the Control Road. Your salt is in the brook now, whoever you are.

    I'm seeing massive amounts of sign, and I see elk and find antlers every time I step into the woods in this district. I will be putting in for the deer hunt here as well, and if successful in being drawn I'll spend that time mostly for scouting elk. Looking forward to getting down into the Mazatzal canyons; I did a big tour on Hardscrabble but didn't go down over the edge yet. I've been told that an elk from ponderosa forest will taste better than one from P-J habitat-- any opinions on this?
     
  8. WESTERNAERO

    WESTERNAERO Member

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    Mar 22, 2010
    Be careful destroying salt licks, molasses tubes or any other such things you might run across. Those might belong to the ranchers who have the grazing rights to the land and wouldn't like the fact that something has happened to their cattle's goodies. I have heard of people lossing their hunting privileges over such things.Not trying to be nasty, just letting you know. And, you might become the hunted if a rancher sees you. Good luck with your hunt looks like your putting your time in.
    Get your self some upland game pants, they help with the poky bushs. When it pokes, pricks, scratches and bites with every step you know your in Arizona.