Anyone who has dreamed of chasing big bull elk out west has found themselves looking at New Mexico more than once. New Mexico is widely known for the Gila units, which can produce monster bulls. These units are the most sought after tags in all of New Mexico. These are rifle units, and while the kill rate is high, the draw odds are extremely low. We want to assure you that New Mexico has much more to offer.

As a New Mexico outfitter, we’ve had the opportunity to hunt some of the best units in the state. It’s a privilege to share the experience alongside our clients as they harvest once in a lifetime bulls on unforgettable journeys.

Primitive Weapon Elk Units

Fortunately for hunters who wish to hunt New Mexico’s monster bulls without the extremely low draw odds, we are proud to offer hunts in primitive weapon trophy units. These units offer archery and muzzleloader hunts, but no rifle seasons.

Hunting in units 13, 15 and 17, our clients have the opportunity to experience an upper age class of bulls that competes with the top units in New Mexico, Arizona and anywhere else in the west. But because these units are limited to bow and muzzleloader, the draw odds for guided hunters are very reasonable.

Bow Hunts for Elk

One of our most popular hunts in these primitive weapon units are the bow hunts for elk. Archery elk hunting is a special experience – especially when you’re in a premier elk hunting unit with trophy-class bulls. 

Our hunters can expect a combination of calling, spot-and-stalk, and hunting over water holes, depending on the weather, elk behavior and other conditions. Our guides scout these units year-round. This gives us the local intel required to provide a quality experience for our clients and high opportunity rates. 

Muzzleloader Hunts for Elk

While these units are limited to primitive weapons, New Mexico does not have highly restrictive muzzleloader regulations. In fact, our clients have the option to use our Best Of The West custom muzzleloaders. These muzzleloaders These muzzleloaders are capable of taking bull elk at impressive distances. Using our Best of the West muzzleloaders, our clients have had 100% success on shots ranging from 100 to 600 yards. We strongly believe these muzzleloaders give our clients the confidence and assurance they need to seize a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Click here to watch a video, explaining in more detail why we use Best of the West custom muzzleloaders. 

Elk Hunting a Primitive Weapon Unit in New Mexico

Don’t just take our word for it. Do the research on units 13, 15 and 17. These units are known for big bulls. We’ve had great success in these units, with multiple bulls exceeding the 340’’ mark.

Although these units neighbor each other, they are very different in terms of landscape and elk habitat. Here’s a quick overview of what hunters can expect in each of New Mexico’s primitive weapon units:

Unit 13

In unit 13, you can expect to be hunting at elevations from 5,000- 8,000 feet. This unit consists mainly of rolling hills with some moderately steep terrain, as well as expansive flats. At the higher elevations, there are ponderosa pine forests. But much of the landscape in unit 13 is made up of piñon and juniper woodlands and high desert sagebrush. Unit 13 is one of the most accessible trophy units in the state. That doesn’t mean the elk hunting is easy – hunters should still prepare to hike and work hard. But compared to the nasty terrain that elk often inhabit, this unit seems mild in comparison.

Unit 13 is home to some legendary elk hunting ranches. These private lands produce some truly big bulls, and many of these elk spill over into neighboring public ground. This gives our hunters in unit 13 the chance at discovering a true giant.

Unit 17

In unit 17, hunters can expect elevations ranging from 4,500-10,000 feet. This unit is more physically demanding than unit 13. The unit includes two rugged wilderness areas, large swaths of Cibola National Forest, and provides great wintering grounds for elk. Lodgepole, aspen and ponderosa forests dominate the higher elevations, while piñon/juniper, sagebrush and flat grasslands make up the lower elevations in this unit. 

Located just north of the Gila National Forest, this unit does share some elk with the Gila. However, it is the Cibola National Forest that has produced some of the best bulls in the state for nearly a decade now.

Unit 15

Unit 15 provides a combination of the terrain found in unit 13 and unit 17. This provides us with a variety of options for hunters. Unit 15 is home to some steep terrain and excellent elk country with low pressure. But it also allows us to hunt in more mild terrain, depending on the needs of individual hunters.

This unit is located in the Gila National Forest, and shares a border with some of the best elk units in Arizona. Like units 17 and 13, we encounter some big bull elk in unit 15 and it continues to be one of our favorite places to hunt.

Other New Mexico Units

While much of our archery and muzzleloader hunting is done in units 13, 15, and 17, New Mexico offers great early season hunts in units that aren’t entirely limited to the primitive weapons. Unit 36 and unit 10 offer archery hunts in September, a muzzleloader rut hunt in early October, followed by regular rifle seasons.

No matter what kind of elk hunting experience you’re looking for, from early September bow hunts, to hunting solitary bulls in October or November with a muzzleloader or a rifle, we can help you plan your dream elk hunt.

Plus, when you apply with an outfitter in New Mexico, your odds are drastically higher than when applying on your own. Don’t wait too long. Come experience New Mexico!

You can learn more by visiting our elk hunting page. For details or specific availability, please give us a call at 315-374-8209 or send us a message.

Hunting New Mexico's Primitive Weapon Elk Units