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Solstys

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About Solstys

  • Rank
    Newbie
  • Birthday 10/20/1989

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    Male
  1. Solstys

    What do you consider a big bull

    Couldn't agree more with rossislider
  2. Solstys

    13th day bull

    Story!!!
  3. Solstys

    Unit 1 success!

    Saw that bull on Bow and Seek! Good job!
  4. Solstys

    My Brothers 1st Archery Bull Elk Unit 27

    Sweet Pics! Congrats on the bull! Many more to come eh?!
  5. Solstys

    My NM Elk Hunt

    My 2013 Elk Hunt was awesome! I went ahead and included the full story I wrote, it might appear in Eastmans' next May! Sorry it's so long! Enjoy the pics! My passion for hunting elk in the Gila Wilderness of southwest New Mexico is probably borderline obsession. I spent 5 years away from my favorite mountains not being able to hunt them. There’s something about the mountains in mid September that just gets me going. So when I found out we would be moving back to New Mexico in the fall I immediately went and put in for my favorite elk tag. My wife is a saint for putting up with me talking about tanks, rubs, water sources, practicing my bugling and cow calls in the house and watching hunting videos. We just got married in March of 2013 so she will have a lot more elk seasons to go through with me. The “bug” for a lot of guys, including me, bites in early May when the draw results are posted on the New Mexico game and fish website. My wife was there when I found out I drew antelope, elk and deer archery tags. All quality hunts by definition. So she got to see me run around our little apartment in Salt Lake for about 20 minutes jumping up and down. From then on the mountains of the Gila Wilderness were never far from any thought I had all summer long. My antelope hunt began at the end of August followed by my elk hunt three weeks later. Saying I was excited was a huge understatement. I began shooting everyday for an hour or so. I wouldn’t move back in yardage until I had mastered the distance before it. After a few weeks I got to where I could shoot lethal groups at 60 yards with my Mathews Switchback. Man, I love that bow. Scouting was very limited as we spent the summer in Atlanta for work. I didn’t even set foot in my unit until mid August and that made me sick. My wife had never heard an elk bugle in person so I took her up the first week of September to a spot I had always hunted with my Dad. We had a little cookout and when it got about 6:15 we walked up the trail about half a mile and I let out a bugle. There was immediately an answer just around the hillside we were on. My wife, Roxy, thought it was pretty awesome as we messed with him for a couple minutes. I didn’t want to crank him up too much so we left him alone. My hunt began on the 19th and my Dad also had a tag. We got up to our camping spot at 7 PM on the 17th. The next two days were spent scouting for tracks, water and bugles. The bugles and tracks were scarce. It appeared that there was only one bull working in there and he wasn’t talking much. The monsoon season was good to us this past year and there was water everywhere, making it hard to pin down where they were watering. All the small creeks and canyons had water in them, which I am really happy about, but it had our elk scattered. Opening morning came and we hiked about a mile straight up it seemed like to get on top of the ridge to be able to run and bugle down each draw. The morning was cool and crisp. My legs were soaked from mid thigh down because of the tall grass that had grown over the summer. I didn’t mind one bit. I had killed a nice 330 bull down one of those draws a couple years before so we figured we would start there. To make a long, painful, and disappointing story short we did not see an elk or hear a single bugle all morning long. We probably walked around 4 miles or so. Nobody else was there and nobody had been there during the previous hunts. The elk were nowhere to be found. 3 rubs and a few tracks was all we could turn up, along with some poison oak. I was discouraged, and I was a lot more out of shape than my last elk hunt. We went back to camp that afternoon and decided to drive down the main road to another favorite camp spot to see if anyone was there. The camp sits at the head of a good trail that leads to a big park on top of the mountain with a big tank. We always had found elk there. It was just a little out of the way, but we were prepared to work for it. On the way down we were checked by a Game Warden that pointed out a place that no one hunted and that I had never thought to go to. The other camp was indeed full so we decided to give it a try. We drove down an old logging road that opened into a big grassy flat. It had a few small juniper and pinyon trees scattered on it, and I was soon very grateful for that game warden. I think about every 3rd tree on that place had been nearly destroyed by what appeared to be several bulls. There was a rutfest being held there nightly. It’s funny how fast your spirits can be lifted when you’re elk hunting. We got to the end of the old, severely muddy road and walked a ways down the canyon. We bugled and had a bull answer. We moved into position with my dad back calling and me sneaking up on the bull at the bottom of the canyon. It was good to be doing that again. The bull answered several times but never would commit to us and I was never able to see him. He got quiet and moved off. It was already dark so we climbed back up to the truck. Isn’t it crazy how much better your legs feel after getting on a bugling bull elk? We got up even earlier and made it back to that spot the next morning. We bugled and had two bulls light up a couple hundred yards from us on our left and right. The wind was better to go after the bull on the left so we set after him. It was about 6:30 by then. We called a couple more times and the bull quickly moved down the canyon and then shut up. The bull above us also quieted down. Nothing would answer us and we were back at square one. We spent all day down there. Sign was everywhere, trees were demolished and there were a couple of wallows, BUT NO ELK. Emotions fluctuate way too much sometimes in the elk woods. I was down again and kind of cranky. My Dad has always been the one to be pretty positive about things. He just knew we would find them. When we reached the top of the ridge that evening we heard bugles off in the distance down the country. There was 3 or 4 bulls cranking every 10 seconds for a good hour before we left. One of them had a deep growl that sounded like he had been a chain smoker his whole life. There were a couple of 7 foot trees that had been beaten in half in the area and I was pretty sure it was him. We knew where we would be in the morning. I had trouble sleeping that night. I could still hear elk bugling in my head. Morning couldn’t come fast enough. When we got to our spot the next day we were pleased to hear that our boys had not moved off during the night. They were going absolutely nuts! It wasthe best rutting and bugling I have heard in my elk hunting career. We started calling just before shootable light. Answers were coming from all directions so it was hard to decide which side to be on. My dad bugled and cow called and the bulls would get close but not close enough. “Mr. Growly” as we had named him the night before was just across the flat from us but we couldn’t see or get to him. One bull seemed more interested than the others so I headed in his direction. He couldn’t have been more than 150 yards away from the sounds of it. I walked and let out the hoochie mama cow call every now and then. Then the bull got quiet. Not again! Then I look to my right and I see him trot away. Probably only 30 yards away. The heard of elk moved from the grassy flat to the small canyons that ran down the west side of it. They were still bugling like crazy and we got another two bulls a little interested, one of them was Mr. Growly. We just couldn’t get them to come in and I didn’t want to push them out of the country. We decided to head back to town for lunch and to get gas. We got back at around 2 o’clock and then napped until about 3. We decided to go to the head of one of the draws we had been hearing the most bugles in and wait for them to fire up again in the evening. The plan was that maybe we would catch them heading back up to the flat and not even have to call one in. It’s interesting how plans can change… We were making our way to the spot, not noisily but not quietly when my Dad’s arm shoots up to stop me from walking anymore. “There’s an elk right there.” I looked up ahead and didn’t see anything. He said, “It’s a big bull, right THERE!” The bull was on the other side of a set of three or four trees right in front of us. Honestly, I didn’t size him up right then but I knew he was a definite shooter. He had his head down and was quickly feeding from left to right of us. I dropped to my knees and crawled a few steps forward. He continued to feed in the same direction. I saw only two possible shot windows. I knew he was close but I wanted to make sure so as he passed through the first small (and I mean SMALL) opening I ranged him at 25 yards. I knew that I had to act quickly as he was making his way very quickly to the shooting lane on my left. It was a hole about the size of a dinner plate in the branches of a juniper. I drew my bow and settled my 20 yard pin just under the top of the opening. When his shoulder passed through the opening I let the arrow fly and watched it zip through the hole and bury knock deep in the bull’s side. He whirled and trotted down the hill. I couldn’t believe what just happened. My dad said the shot looked a little back and low. We eased up to where he was standing when I shot. I looked up and saw the bull moving slowly about 70 yards away at the bottom of the draw the arrow was hanging almost all the way out of the entrance hole. He laid down, then got up and took about two steps and laid down again. I was afraid I had gut shot him. I didn’t let my eyes off of him through my binoculars for 30 minutes. It was then that I realized how massive of a bull he was. His main beams almost reached his butt and looked like two fallen tree stumps with how thick they were. He finally let out a groan, tried one more time to stand up but fell over one last time. We waited 15 more minutes and walked down to him, ready with an arrow knocked, just in case. Another arrow was not necessary and I was able to put my hands on this beautiful animal I took with my bow. I gave my Dad a huge hug and wouldn’t let go. He had been there the whole time climbing up and down those mountains with me, always optimistic. He said, “Remember how you felt yesterday at this time? Always remember that and how you feel now, things can change quickly out here.” As hunters the emotional ups and downs can feel as big as the Rocky Mountains we climb, it’s just very important to remember as we’re climbing out of the bottom that there IS a top, and with hard work we’ll get there. I am very grateful to have a father who has put forth the effort to spend time with me hunting and teaching me about the woods. I have learned countless of life’s lessons out in the woods that have been important to me in family, church, work and school. The time I have together with my Dad during the hunting seasons of each year is precious to me and always will be. I hope I am as good of a hunting partner to him as he is to me. The bull was rough scored at 365. We are pretty confident that this is “Mr. Growly” His smallest mass measurement was 8.5. His bases are 11 inches, coupled with his 52 inch main beams he really is a superb animal that I am extremely blessed to have harvested. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!
  6. Solstys

    NM Units 18, 36-38 Info

    Was yours an archery hunt as well?
  7. Solstys

    NM Units 18, 36-38 Info

    So I was lucky enough to draw the 18, 36-38 hunt this year with a bow. It's my first time chasing goats with my bow and I didn't realize that I will not be assigned to a ranch. All of the units have substantial amounts of private land in them. I was wondering if anyone has any tips or info, or knows of any rancher that I can contact to gain access. I'm not asking for secret spots or anything, I just need something to point me in the right direction. Thanks!
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