Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Arizona Elk Hunting Forecast

The AZ Elk and Antelope regulations are out.  This blog post is an attempt to give our two cents for the 2013 elk season.  At this point it is two early to judge moisture levels but it appears the snowfall might be slightly ahead of last year at this time. 
Our favorites for the AZ archery elk season are Unit 9, 10, 23 South, and 23 North.  Unit 1 was going to get the nod this year but with the tag increases it got dropped off the list.  At Colburn and Scott Outfitters we have had many great elk seasons in Arizona Unit 9 and 2012 was another fantastic year.  We had an awesome time with our clients enjoying God's country in Unit 9 and chased some great bulls.  We went three for three with a 354 and a 380 in Unit 9 and a lower 300's bull in Unit 10 with two days to go.  We made some new friends and shared the adventure of the hunt which will not be forgotten.  Being optimistic, we feel that 2013 is poised to be a great year with a a few key storms over the next several months.  The AZGFD kept the tag numbers in Unit 9 the same at 100 bull tags and no cow tags.  You can expect to be chasing 330-350 bulls almost everyday and catch an occasional glimpse of a 360+ type bull.  This year there will be a muzzleloader hunt after the archery hunt which ought to be really good.  We think the odds of harvesting a sold 350+ bull is very high on this hunt.  This muzzleloader hunt is definitely the best in the state especially with low tag numbers.  With the archery dates being the 13-26th and the muzzy dates starting the 27th we feel real confident that the antler breakage will not be a huge problem.  The muzzy hunt is definitely the premier tag in the state and we hope to be guiding on that hunt.

Unit 10 is always a great choice but adding 50 extra tags for the 2012 season and then keeping the bull tags the same at 200 for 2013 makes us cringe a little.  Yes the AZGFD did eliminate the cow tags which is great but we still feel 200 is 50 tags too many to have a truly enjoyable hunt.  Are there big giant bulls in Unit 10.....of course there is but we think the quality of hunt diminishes a bit with the 50 extra guys. The early rifle hunt has 75 tags which we feel is too many for a truly awesome hunting experience.  Will a few big bulls be harvested....of course but it may be more of a race than a hunt.

Next is Unit 23 South and North at 15 tags each.  As far as tag numbers for an enjoyable experience both get a thumbs up.  The success rate for harvest is usually about 40-45% on those hunts.  The quality of top end bulls is better in the South but the density is way more spread out and seems much lower when you are in the field compared to the North unit.  You can expect to chase 320-340 bulls in the North with an occasional 360 type bull.  In the South, you can expect to chase 300-330 bulls but may catch a glimpse of a 365 plus or two on the hunt.  Our clients have harvested some very large bulls in both the North and the South over the years.  The early rifle hunt in 23N is a lot of fun but the quality expectation needs to be in line.  Not many bulls over 350 get shot on this hunt.  In our opinion 350+ is a true trophy on this rifle hunt.  We would love to be guiding this early rifle hunt.  23 South does not have an early rifle  hunt.

For late elk hunts Unit 23 is our favorite late elk hunt.  Hunters can expect to be chasing bulls that are broke up a little and the size expectations are 300-330 bulls with an occasional bull that has all of its points and is over 340+.

Two things that we want you to take away from this, 1) The AZGFD despite some of our tone, does a fantastic job managing our wildlife in general.  Are there things as a guide or trophy hunter that we would like to see different of course but overall they do a pretty darn good job compared to alot of states.  2)  Our size expectations in our forecast are a generalization for most hunters.  We feel confident that the three guides at Colburn and Scott Outfitters will find and be on some of the finest trophies in each unit no matter where our clients draw.  We have a commitment to giving our clients a high quality hunt from start to finish for the whole 14 days.  We will not sub you out.  if you book with Colburn and Scott you will get one of the three of us.....period!

Make sure to watch our elk season last year that was featured on Cabelas Out West.  Click on the this link to watch or click on the videos on the right side of the screen.

As we write this the trucks are packed and the three of us (Darr, Janis and Jay) are headed to Mexico for our coues deer hunts.  We will be down there for about three weeks.  We are trying to catch the rut from start to finish.  If you have questions about different units or what to do with your points please send us an email or give us a call and when we return we will get right back to you.  The deadline is February 12th 2013 for the apps so we have plenty of time to discuss options and evaluate moisture patterns when we return.

Lets pray for some good snow and lots of moisture.  Lord willing if it all comes together there will be some big bulls to chase come September!

Jay Scott
Darr Colburn
Janis Putelis

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