Had someone told me that we would not see a single elk during the entire hunt, I never would have believed them. In fact, I would have been willing to bet a significant amount of money that we’d not only see elk but that we’d get a shot opportunity since anything with antlers was fair game. Turns out I would be sitting here counting my losses, skunked!

 bull elk in velvet  elk watering

    Scouting - thrilling & motivating to discover bull elk                  And turned up a number of mature bulls too

When my son drew a rifle elk tag for unit 7 West in Arizona, we were both ecstatic to say the least! After 7 years of trying, Carson had finally drawn his very much anticipated out-of-state tag. While the post Thanksgiving Day hunt was still months away, we immediately began planning a summer scouting trip to familiarize ourselves with the unfamiliar-to-us area.

 petroglyphs  coues deer antler shed

      Scouting - Didn’t expect to come across petroglyphs...            Or this coues deer antler shed, nice surprises

Our mid-June trip was very productive! We felt like we got a great lay of the land. We explored the more open areas of the high country (Kendrick Peak) as well as the thickly covered ponderosa lowlands. Within the area we located many livestock ponds, ‘tanks’ as they are referred to in Arizona, and observed an abundance of wildlife and nearby tracks.

 javelina  coyote

             Scouting - A high country javelina                                      And one of many coyotes we saw

Not only that, we saw a variety of wildlife; elk, deer, coyotes, javelina and even a bear! After a scouting trip like that, it’s easy to see why we had such high hopes for the upcoming hunt -- not yet aware that the elk are highly migratory in and out of this particular unit.

 six point bull elk velvet  scampering black bear

    Mature six point bull elk in the velvet                      Snapped a quick pic of the scampering bear

Eventually the hunt came to a close. While we did have a great time together in the wild outdoors, we decided that elk unit 7W will not be a future choice for us. Of the nine different groups of hunters we chitchatted with during the hunt, only one of those hunters actually saw an elk which just so happened to be a 4x3 raghorn that he satisfyingly shot. Many of those same hunters were locals and it was quite interesting to hear them say that this particular unit is known to be a tough hunt during the late season. They reiterated that some years the elk are virtually non-existent, but given the right weather conditions elk get pushed into the area and hunters do harvest elk.

 Kendrick Peak Arizona  glassing for elk

  Ascending...Kendrick Peak obscured by snow ridge above                  Lots of glassing turned up zilch

So whether or not our experience was the norm, we’ll never know. I’m just hoping that we draw another tag in the near future and anxious to see where our next adventure takes us!