The Pro-Membership has now been in full swing for almost two years. Because of the relationships with our outfitters, we have some trips that we giveaway in our program every year. One such trip is an elk hunt with Hunt Hard Outfitters. I’ve had the pleasure of filming the last two winners and both hunts were full of excitement, but required a lot of physical endurance.
Jeff Lester is the owner of Hunt Hard Outfitters and surrounds himself with a great group of guides, resulting in a very high success rate. During each one of the hunts, we were able to see multiple bulls and shop around for the best one on the mountain. For those of you who have hunted the beautiful landscapes in New Mexico, you’ll know that the terrain is one of a kind. You are not only surrounded by thick pines, but also red rock cliffs and low flat lands.
Unfortunately for us on this hunt, the elk weren’t hanging out in the low country, so to hunt where the elk were required quite the hike each morning. It didn’t take long to warm up in the cold, early October mornings because right out of the gate, we had about eight hundred feet of elevation to climb. Once on top, we were able to glass for miles in almost all directions.
It didn’t take long to spot our first group of elk and as the day went on, we were able to see and judge multiple bulls. It’s not uncommon in that unit to go days without even seeing a cow, so we were excited to have already passed on a couple of smaller bulls. Hiking up and down that steep face every day was very physically demanding and I was glad that our winner, Jimmy Ferguson, was in great shape and able to handle it. We were both exhausted by the time we got back to camp each night, but our spirits were quickly lifted by the amazing food that Jeff’s brother, Alan, prepared each night. We enjoyed everything from a taco bar to chicken fried steak and even though we were burning a ton of calories each day, I know I probably gained some weight.
After covering everything there was to see in our first area, we made the decision to journey out even further to try and find a group with hopefully some mature bulls. We pushed out about four miles further, before we took a break to glass. I was able to spot a group of elk in the flats about three miles away from our position. It was still early morning and the light wasn’t the best, but I was pretty sure that there was a really big 5X5 in the group. I quickly pointed the herd out to our guide, Nelson, and we decided that we needed to get going and try and get closer to get a better look. After a couple of miles and another steep climb, we were finally in position to better glass that group.
We glassed them for about three hours and all we could turn up was a 5X5 that wouldn’t break the three-hundred mark. Disappointed, we decided to keep climbing the mountain we were on to see if there were any bulls possibly in the wallows on top. We covered another five miles or so, but we weren’t able to see anything worth harvesting. It was getting late and we had a long walk back to the truck, so we set off.
On our way back to camp, we quickly noticed that the same group of elk that we had been glassing earlier were exactly where we had left them and were only three hundred yards from our position. Nelson got Jimmy set up just in case that big five point decided to show up. We were watching a group of four young rag horns chase some cows when out of the brush walked the 5X5 that I had seen before. He could have easily been somewhere in the 340’s and we knew we had to try and take him. We were able to get on him, now we just needed him to stop.
Unfortunately for us, when he decided to stop, he was quartering away with some brush covering his body and Jimmy didn’t want to risk wounding him or not being able to recover him. Our wind also decided to switch on us, which caused the whole group to quickly bail out of the area. Defeated, we again started our long hike back towards the truck. As we were about to start our last climb, we noticed that there was a bull and a couple of cows right out in the open just a couple of hundred yards away. The bull met our qualifications and Jimmy decided to put the hammer down. He was able to make a perfect shot and the bull didn’t even go twenty yards. We were ecstatic that we were able to find another shooter bull and when we went to recover him, we found out that he even had a nice set of devil tines, making him really unique.
Overall, we had a great hunt with some truly amazing people. Another great adventure for a lucky winner in our Pro-Membership Sweepstakes. If you are looking for an elk hunt that will test your physical limits, but also give you a great opportunity at harvesting a trophy, then be sure to check out Jeff Lester and Hunt Hard Outfitters. Visit them on the web at www.hunthard.com or give them a call at (980) 245-2668.