Arizona Elk Rut Review…

Arizona Archery Elk Rut Activity Synopsis:

1999-I was in Unit 7 with my dad. The bulls were sounding off by Labor Day & we encountered several good bulls. My dad ended up arrowing a 315 type bull during the middle of the first week.

2000-I had a Unit 7 tag (second choice). We hadn’t heard an elk bugle until opening morning. We heard maybe 15 bugles the entire hunt & I came home with my tag. I should have glassed more…that is an understatement.

2001-I was in Unit 9 with my brother-in-law (first time he applied for elk). Again, the bulls were talking by Labor Day & we encountered several good bulls. My brother-in-law shot a 320 type bull during the first week of the hunt.  Bulls in Unit 9 were rockin the entire hunt, according to my other camp.

2002-I was in Unit 7W with a good friend of the family. We heard more bugles than I did in 2000 but we didn’t hear much more…He had tag soup!

2003-I was in Unit 8 with my cousin. I will be honest, I only scouted three days for this hunt & we got lucky. We called in a 370 class bull the second day & encountered several bulls over 350, including one bull called GODZILLA. My cousin came home with his tag but learned several HARD painful lessons.

2004-I was back in Unit 8 with my dad. I scouted at least 20 FULL days & the rut seemed to be hit or miss. We didn’t find Godzilla but we found a few good bulls. My dad ate his tag, after rolling off of a 370 bull the first weekend.

2005-I was with my wife on a limited opp. hunt & I hunted in Unit 9 with my sister for a few days. The rut was rockin’ the week leading up to the hunt & then slowed down the first few days. The rut then kicked into high gear in the days to follow. Note: I saw a bull rubbed & bugling by August 1st.

2006-I had the same tag as my wife did the year before. We had seen some decent bulls before the season but nothing huge (I attribute it to a super dry winter & spring). The bulls were rutting two weeks before the season & a few had busted tines prior to the first day of the hunt. I held out to the bitter end hoping for a monster but we couldn’t find a great bull.  I put in at least 30 FULL days of hard ground pounding scouting.

2007-I was back up in Unit 7W with my dad. It was almost identical to 2006, in that the rut was going but we couldn’t find any great bulls. My dad shot a small 6×6 on the last day & we didn’t see a bull over 360.

2008-I was up in Unit 10 with a father & son combo (Also spent a few days in Unit 8) The bulls were rutting good the week before the season.  Opening weekend they were getting it on in the morning but we didn’t see much happening in the afternoon. We saw a few GREAT bulls but we ran out of time just as the bulls hit HIGH gear.

2009-I didn’t get out but I was out before the season & I have heard many stories.  This year sounds alot like my hunt in 2000.  That year we had decent winter & spring moisture but we had a terrible Monsoon.

Now I looked over the 2003 monitor I saw my theory waver a little but I just did not believe those maps were telling the whole picture. If I had to pick the best RUT years in the units I have hunted 2003 would be at or near the top, along with 1997, 2005, 2001 & 2008. So, I went searching & I found this text data. The long term drought affects from 2002 had the 2003 short term maps & models drastically suppressed.

National Drought Summary — February 18, 2003
The Rockies and Far West

The moisture also pushed eastward into the Desert Southwest bringing heavy rains to Arizona and extreme southern Nevada. Areas around Phoenix, Flagstaff and Las Vegas reported over 2 inches of rain. Even though long-term deficits were relieved somewhat, one storm won’t be nearly enough to erase the drought or bring soil moisture, stream flow and reservoir levels all the way back to normal. Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border is still at its lowest level in 30 years. In addition, most of the precipitation this week was in the form of rain, which did little to help out the snowpack situation in the upper elevations.

National Drought Summary — March 04, 2003
The Rockies and Far West

Heavy precipitation fell on the Southwest and, to a lesser extent, parts of the central Rockies for the second time in three weeks. At least an inch of precipitation fell on central and east-central Arizona, across southwestern Utah and adjacent locales, and in southwestern Colorado and adjacent areas. Amounts of 3 to locally over 6 inches were reported in some of the higher elevations of central Arizona.

National Drought Summary — July 29, 2003
The West

Although the monsoonal rains increased in coverage and intensity, they have been rather disappointing so far this season. Light to moderate rains (>0.5 inches) fell on most of Arizona, the eastern Sierra Nevada’s, southeastern Oregon, central Nevada, southern Idaho, southwestern Montana, western Wyoming, central Colorado, and northern New Mexico, maintaining drought conditions. In southeastern Arizona, 1.5 to 3.5 inches of rain brought some relief, but unfortunately also produced flash flooding. Temperatures, however, still averaged well above normal for the 4th consecutive week, with weekly departures reaching +5 to +9F in the Intermountain West and north-central Rockies, and highs frequenting the 90’s and 100’s. For example, Boise, ID, which never had more than 15 triple-digit highs in a YEAR (1990), has already had 12 days at or above 100F this July, including 9 days in-a-row (July 15-23). Not surprisingly, 47 large wild fires were active as of July 29, with a large majority located in the northern Rockies, according to the NIFC.

National Drought Summary — August 05, 2003
The West

Monsoon rains and lower temperatures brought scattered relief across the West, especially in Arizona. Amounts of 0.5 to 1.0 inch, with locally higher totals, caused some retreat of D2 and D3 drought in southern and eastern Arizona, but totals were generally not enough to significantly change the drought situation elsewhere. Lack of rain even caused some eastward expansion of D3 in northwestern Colorado and expansion of D0/D1/D2 in eastern Montana. Extreme drought persisted over much of the interior West. Preliminary data indicate the Southwest region experienced both the hottest and driest July in 109 years of record-keeping.

National Drought Summary — September 16, 2003
The Rockies and Far West

Abundant to record-setting rainfall (2 to 5 inches) was reported in much of southwestern Colorado and at a few sites in southeastern Utah, north-central New Mexico, and central through east-central Arizona. Drought conditions in most of these areas improved from D3AH to D2H, with improvement from D4AH to D3AH observed in part of southeastern most Utah. It should be noted that monsoonal precipitation since early July has varied markedly with location, particularly across Arizona and adjacent locales, and the resultant small-scale variations in drought intensity cannot be accurately depicted on the broad-scaled Drought Monitor map.

More to come…

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Craig Steele

About Craig Steele

Craig Steele is the founder and publisher at Craig is an obsessed hunter and professional hunting guide. He owns and operates Predator Exclusives. Craig also guides for Exclusive Pursuit Outfitters. Besides hunting and guiding, he operates CS Creativity, which is his marketing and graphic design business.

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