Elk Hunting – Winter Elk Hunt in New Mexico

I had the opportunity to use one of the landowner tags that wasn’t taken for a muzzleloader hunt in New Mexico. This would mean I can use a muzzleloader, crossbow or compound/traditional bow. I only had the weekend to hunt but took advantage of the opportunity. I chose my TenPoint Crossbow for the hunt.

Mia Anstine, Prois

It snowed and snowed the night before my hunt. We woke up before light the first morning and headed to look for an elk. The tag was E/S (either sex), meaning I could take a legal bull or a cow. I chose on day one to look for a bull. Hank and I hiked through the snow in 27-degree temps all morning. The area we were hunting had NO fresh tracks. All the animals were hunkered down with the storm except a few random coyote tracks; ours were the only fresh in the snow. We returned to the truck and decided to saddle horses and ride another area.

With only two days to hunt, we decided we could cover a lot more ground on the horses and locate where the elk were hunkering down.

It was 28 degrees, and the wind blew through us. We bundled up and mounted our horses for the afternoon. After we crested the first hill, we saw two bulls bedded about 1000 yards away. I would need to get closer to get a shot with my TenPoint. We decided we would play the wind and circle around. Next thing we knew, we saw a spike run from the trees, and then a cow was standing directly in from of us. The wind circled and swirled. We knew the stalk would be tough, but we dismounted and slowly began to circle toward the bulls.

It seemed like forever as we hiked, sweating in the 28-degree weather and wind. We got closer and closer and then the wind changed direction. We must have been 200 yards from the bulls. We never saw them, but we could hear them slip through the brush. They winded us. We looked at each other, shrugged, and I sighed. We went ahead and eased our way up to where the bulls were. We peered over the edge of the hill. There they were, 250 yards away, a nice 6×6 and a small 4×4. They trotted across the field and eased their way to the other side. We sat and grinned as we watched. I “picked up” my fake rifle and pretended to shoot them as they “laughed” at me knowing I couldn’t reach them. Hank laughed as he always thinks I’m crazy!

We giggled and hiked our way back to the horses and rode toward the truck as the sun dropped somewhere behind the gray skies.

Day two brought us similar experiences. We spotted, we stalked, and toward the end of the day, as we rode across a field, I spotted what I thought were three cows in the trees less than 100 yards away.

Mia Anstine

I dismounted from Cowboy, aka “Mr. Man,” and snuck closer. Two elk were behind the oak brush, but one was upfront. I could see the whole body but not the head. I asked Hank “Can you see if it’s really a cow?” He looked and looked. I found my mark and waited for the word. He kept whispering to wait. We couldn’t get a clear view of the head. Then he said “NO.”

As Hank spoke, the elk stepped and turned. It heard him and jumped and ran. It was a spike. WHEW! Thank you again to my guide, Hank. A spike is not a legal antlered animal. It was extremely exciting, and I was thankful that I have learned to be patient and to listen. We had a lot of fun hiking and riding through the sagebrush and snow. The wind… You can have it! Haha! I can’t wait for my next adventure.

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Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast. 

Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.

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Mia Anstine
MAC Outdoors LLC
PO Box 31
Ignacio, CO 81137-0031

7 Replies to “Elk Hunting – Winter Elk Hunt in New Mexico”

  1. Great story. How do you like that TenPoint Crossbow? I have an Excalibur and love it. I haven’t been able to sound proof it as much as my compound, but it produces some very fast bolts.

  2. Good one Mia.thanks for the great guide.
    There will be another day, maybe not so cold.
    You never cease to amaze me.

  3. Hope you got warm after your chill. Thanks for the story, I always love to hear about close encounters.

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