NM Elk Hunt: On the Hunt for Trophy Elk in New Mexico
During a recent NM elk hunt, Hunter Harrigan tried to outdo his previous hunts. “Although we had several opportunities to take nice bulls, we were holding out for the trophy of a lifetime. The good news is, we will be at it again next year.”
“There is nothing like being in close proximity to rutting bulls,” reminisces the avid hunter. “There isn’t much we’ve found that will invigorate your soul like an elk bugle.” For those of you who have not had the experience, here is a quick study. A bugle sound is made exclusively by the bulls. Male elk use the bugle sound toward other bulls as well as cows.
Listen for the Elk Bugles
When ruminant animals go into breeding or mating season, it is known as the rut or rutting period. In this case, the male elk start throwing their weight around. They sharpen their antlers on trees or shrubs, they roll in the mud or dirt, and they generally empower themselves. With somewhat of a swank, these huge domineering animals can be found herding estrus females together. Some of the smaller and younger bulls play satellite roles in this roundup. And, yes, the mightier fight each other for the prize cows.
Several vocalizations can be distinguished. One is a cohesion call used by both sexes to find each other. Alarm squeals may be heard as young bulls are chased away by the herd bull. These younger elk may also spar and squeak. Other sounds include the consummation yelping or grunting. But the power of the elk bugle seems to fill the nearby cosmos.
Phases of the Rut
There are six phases to the rut: pre-rut, first reading phase, first rest phase, second breeding phase, second rest phase, and third breeding phase. In mid-August, begin listening for these noises during the pre-rut phase when the elk lay down their territory. The first breeding phase is usually in September. While making himself comfortable in his herd, the main bull bugles to the estrus cows. Then out of sheer exhaustion caused by little food and the need to defend his territory, the herd bull rests. Satellite bulls tried to join the herd.
In three or four weeks, younger cows come into estrus and the second breeding phase begins. The exhausted herd bull often allows the satellite bulls to get more involved. Their high testosterone levels prompt greater levels of bugling. This continues till about the middle of October as the herd bull loses strength. The third breeding phase follows. Stay tuned for the next NM elk hunt.
Request more information the NM elk hunt and hunting ranches in New Mexico. Contact Dave Harrigan or Hunter Harrigan at Harrigan Land Company at (800) 524-1818. Specializing in large ranch and recreational properties in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah.