Sacramento Mountains Elk Hunting


The Hunting Area

The Sacramento Mountains are located in south-central New Mexico and comprise the one of the southernmost ranges of the Rocky Mountains. The Sacramentos rise sharply out of the surrounding high desert creating a unique geographic setting. The elk-inhabited terrain ranges from the desert floor at 5,000 feet to timberline at over 11,000 feet.

Juniper and pinon pine dominate the lower elevations. Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and Gambel oak are situated in the mid elevations and eventually give way to aspens and spruce at the highest elevations.

The Sacramento Mountains are characterized by deep canyons that have been cut through time. Many of the canyon depths are measured, not in hundreds of feet, but in thousands of feet. The combination of steepness and thickness of vegetation is what makes this country so tough.

SceneryElite hunts Game-Management Units 34, 36 and 37 within the Sacramento Mountains. These units straddle the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation. Unit 34 is located south of the reservation and Unit 36 borders it to the north. Unit 37 lies on the northern boundary of Unit 36.

The New Mexico Game and Fish does an excellent job of managing the numbers of elk in these units regardless of the proximity to the reservation. But, the wildcard is the reservation elk. There is a continuous interchange between “our” elk and “their” elk at all times. But on the whole, the great numbers of elk on the reservation continuously bleed-over into our units. Think of it as natural recharge.

Units 34 and 36 have much higher concentrations of elk than does Unit 37 and offer the best chances of success on 300 to 350-class bulls. While Unit 37 does not have high densities of elk, it offers the best chance at getting 360+ bulls. There are tradeoffs to be made.


Guiding Options

Several different guiding options are available for you to choose. The first option is 1 on 1. What that means is there is one hunter with one guide. It is offered for archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts. It provides hunters the best opportunity to harvest a good bull, period. It is, by far, the most popular option with hunters and guides alike.

The second option is 2 on 1. What that means is there is two hunters with one guide. This option is offered only on muzzleloader and rifle hunts.  It is not an option for archery hunts. All archery hunts are guided 1 on 1 exclusively. Even on the gun hunts, it is not the best option if both hunters are wanting to kill good bulls. It essentially leaves each hunter only a couple of days each on a 5-day hunt. Being selective gets taken out of the equation too often, especially if the weather turns foul. Also, all hunters wishing to hunt 2 on 1 need to find their own 2 on 1 hunting partner.

Expectations for the Hunt

Every hunter arrives with high expectations for a hunt, as they should. But, there are many factors that affect the outcome of a hunt.  The first and foremost factor, outside of weather, that will dictate the “success” of a hunt is physical conditioning. Hunting elk for 5+ days is a grind. Most hunters are so worn down after a couple of days, that they can’t even get into the hunting areas, much less hunt effectively. If this scenario is the case, expecting to kill a good bull will be simply a matter of luck rather than skill.


We make no secrets regarding the physical difficulty of this hunt. Get in the best shape you can possibly be in and you will not only have the endurance to keep hunting, but you will enjoy your experience much more. If you are in shape, you’ll love this hunt, if you’re not, just pray for a first-day shot.

With all that said, what are reasonable expectations? Determining actual shot-opportunity percentages is difficult due to the extreme range of hunting abilities, conditioning, expectations, and hunters not sticking with their minimums (i.e. sliding scales). If you are in good shape, will hold steadfast on your minimum, and will stick with the hunt for the duration, the following shot-opportunity percentages are what any of our guides feel they can produce for a 1 on 1 hunter, any given week, archery, muzzleloader or rifle:

Minimum Size Class Chances at a Shot Opportunity Comments
260+ 98% If you can hike and shoot, this one’s almost a certainty.
280+ 90% Big 5-points and medium 6-points. Hard to pass for some.
300+ 80% Good trophy minimum. Good 5 & 6 points with high success.
320+ 60% Getting harder, but good minimum for in-shape hunters.
340+ 30% Entering the uppermost class of bulls. Asking a lot.
360+ 10% Too high of a minimum. These bulls just seem to happen.
380+ 2% A gift from the gods.



The majority of the Sacramento Mountains guided elk hunts will be conducted out of modern lodging.

Each evening, our expert cooks will serve a wonderful home-cooked meal. Multiple breakfast and lunch options are provided so each hunter can tailor it to their liking.

Airport Information

Air service is available by flying into either Albuquerque, NM or El Paso, TX. Our hunting area is located centrally between the two airports. You will need to rent a vehicle and drive to the lodging location. The drive time is approximately 2 1/2 hours

Choosing a Weapon-Specific Hunt

There are three types of weapon-specific hunts to choose from in the Sacramento Mountains. Archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts are available in this area.

In addition, there is a super hunt available for youths in the Sacramentos. Youths under 18 years old are eligible to apply for tags through the Draw System for a rifle hunt smack-dab in the middle of the rut. The hunt takes place between the last archery hunt and the muzzleloader hunt, when no other elk season is even open! It’s a wonderful opportunity.


Archery Hunting

The Sacramento Mountains archery hunts are conducted in September. The hunt dates coincide with the rut.

The Sacramento Mountains archery hunt may very well be the most intense archery elk hunt you could possibly find.  The sheer number of elk in this area combined with the timing of the rut makes the archery season the ultimate time to be in the woods. If you will come prepared, you will literally be into bulls everyday. I repeat, everyday. It doesn’t get any better.


2015 Sacramento Archery Hunt Prices

6-Day Guided Sacramento Archery Elk Hunt

$5,500 (1 on 1) If successful in the Draw
$9,500 (1 on 1) If combined with a landowner permit  for a guaranteed license

2015 Sacramento Archery Seasons

Sep 9-14, 2015
Sep 20-24, 2015

2015 Sacramento Archery License & Tag Fees

Draw License – $60
Tag – $557 (Unit 37) or $782 (Units 34 & 36)



Larry Day ElkMuzzleloader Hunting

Muzzleloader hunts in the Sacramentos take place during early to mid October. The hunts coincide with the end of the rut.

Bugling is still common and a combination of calling and spot-and-stalk hunting is utilized. The increased capabilities of the muzzleloader over archery makes this hunt attractive to many hunters. The hunts enjoy high success rates.

2015 Sacramento Muzzleloader Hunt Prices

6-Day Guided Sacramento Muzzleloader Elk Hunt

$4,500 (2 on 1) If successful in the draw
$5,500 (1 on 1) If successful in the Draw
$9,500 (1 on 1) If combined with a landowner permit for a guaranteed license

2015 Sacramento Muzzleloader Season

Oct 10-14, 2015 (Units 36 & 37)
Oct 17-21 (Unit 34)
2015 Sacramento Muzzleloader License & Tag Fees

Draw License – $60
Tag – $557 (Unit 37) or $782 (Units 34 & 36)



Jeff Poosch ElkRifle Hunting

The rifle season in the Sacramento Mountains comes with the turning of the aspen leaves in mid to late October. The bugles are winding down and the post-rut period is beginning. Bigger bulls are often sliding off cow herds by now leaving lesser bulls with the ladies. The good bulls are getting tougher to find by rifle season, but they are still there. The best part is you are now hunting with rifles and the increased range they provide.  We will have look harder for the good bulls than you would have in archery season.  But when we find a good bull, it’s easier to seal the deal.

2015 Sacramento Rifle Hunt Prices

5-Day Guided Sacramento Rifle Elk Hunt

$4,500 (2 on 1)  If successful in the Draw
$5,500 (1 on 1)  If successful in the Draw
$9,500 (1 on 1)  If combined with a landowner permit for a guaranteed license

2015 Sacramento Rifle Seasons

5-Day Sacramento Rifle Elk Hunts

Oct 17-21, 2015 (Units 36 & 37)
Oct 24-28, 2015 (Unit 34)
Oct 31 – Nov 4, 2015 (Units 36 & 37)

2011 Sacramento Rifle License Fees

Draw License – $60
Tag – $557 (Unit 34 & 37) or $782 (Unit 36)


Nick Hopwood ElkYouth Rifle Hunt

Special hunts and seasons have been set aside in New Mexico for youth-only rifle elk hunting. To be eligible to apply for a youth-only license, each applicant must be younger than 18 years on the beginning date of the hunt. The licenses are available through the New Mexico Draw System.

The youth hunt takes place in Unit 34, immediately south of the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation. The terrain is mountainous with elevations ranging from 7,000 feet to over 9,000 feet. Road access is good and the hunt will not be too strenuous or arduous. The slopes are relatively easy compared to Unit 36.

The hunt takes place prior to the muzzleloader hunt in Unit 34. The chance to hunt with rifles prior to any gun season is what makes the hunt special.

A non-hunting parent is welcome to accompany the youth hunter at no extra charge.

2015 Youth-Hunt Prices

$5500 (fully-guided 1 on 1)

2015 Youth-Hunt Season

October 10-14, 2015

2015 Youth-Hunt License Fees

Draw License – $60
Tag – $782


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