Each year Melissa heads to Colorado for the first hunt of her fall season where she targets early season mule deer still in the velvet as well as pronghorns. Both hunts are challenging archery spot and stalk hunts and this year she was able to pull off an early season double, filling both of those tags. Following her successes in Colorado, Melissa says she headed to New Mexico to hunt elk. New Mexico is a highly coveted state for hunting big, trophy elk and Melissa says she has been applying for tags in New Mexico for years. This year she drew a tag to hunt in unit 16-A, a unit that is known for being one of the top trophy units in all of New Mexico. This particular hunt was also a spot and stalk hunt and a very tough one at that. Elk hunting on it's own is challenging in the best circumstances, however, high heat and very little rainfall this year complicated hunting. These are the kind of conditions, she says, that delay the onset of the rut and make hunting much more difficult. Melissa says while they did hear some bugling from bulls, the bulk of that activity came at night and would cut off again before first shooting light. It doesn't matter if you are hunting one of the best units in the country, hunting can still be very difficult and success is not a guarantee. Because of the challenging conditions, Melissa says they had to adapt and find new ways to target the largely nocturnal bulls. In doing so, they realized that if they could find a water source that no other hunters were aware of that would be the ticket for them. Hunting on public land, they ran into a lot of different people, she says, and the difficult part of this strategy is finding a water source that the other hunters aren't already using. After locating a secluded watering hole, Melissa says she built her own blind with natural elements and then set up cameras. Because it was a 14-day hunt, she says she felt fairly confident that this spot would produce at some point for her. In the meantime, they hunted the mornings hard and put a lot of miles in searching for bulls. When she was finally presented with a 30 yard shot at a fantastic 6x6 bull, Melissa says she was really excited to connect knowing how hard she worked for this one.
Listen in as Melissa highlights her early season mule deer, antelope and elk hunting successes this week on The Revolution. She'll also talk about the importance of your offseason efforts on your hunting successes and the benefits and/or pitfalls to hunting at different times of the season.