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November 2021
Story by Bob Rimsza
State: New Mexico
Species: Elk - Rocky Mtn

I had recently retired, so having extra time, I purchased a landowner elk tag in unit 10 in New Mexico. I made multiple trips to the unit, set up trail cameras, and covered a large amount of area. I had not seen any elk or much sign. I was already thinking that I had made a mistake in purchasing the tag in this unit.

I called some hunters from the list I received from Huntin’ Fool who had the tag before. None of them were successful, and only a few elk were seen on their hunts. The success rate from New Mexico Game and Fish was low with about 10% success on any elk. I told myself I only needed one.

Finally, I had one elk on my trail camera at a waterhole. It was a long trip to the tank. I put up a tree seat and sat all day. No elk, no deer, no activity. Still thinking it only takes one, I knew sitting on water was going to give me my best chance because it had been a very dry year. I chose to sit the next day and was in the seat before daylight.

At about 10 a.m., the lone bull walked into the tank, turned broadside, and I made the shot. It didn’t even seem to know it was hit. Then, it bolted from the water at full speed. I waited two hours before tracking the bull, even though I thought it was a perfect shot. There was not much of a blood trail, but the elk was easy to track in the dry, dusty ground. I went about 200 yards, and the bull busted out of an oak thicket. I decided to wait another hour. I picked up the trail, which had more blood now. The elk had only gone another 50 yards and died.

Five days scouting, a few days hunting, and I only saw one elk. I was hunting by myself in a unit I had never been in before. I shot the only elk I had seen, a 6-point. I field dressed, caped, and packed the bull out on my own.
One hunter and one elk. Remember, it only takes one.