New hunting lodge to open with 2008 Hunting Season
A & M Adventures is located in the Northeast corner of New Mexico and is owned and operated by Monte Adams. Now nine years in the outfitting business, they offer many different types of hunts. Since the main purpose of our hunt with A & M Adventures was elk, this information will focus on that species.
Bull elk hunting with the rifle begins October 1st with three different weeks of hunting offered throughout the month. All elk hunts are five days in length with one on one guide service. A & M Adventures leases approximately 125,000 acres of land from adjoining ranches which allows them to properly manage all the game on their properties. Using high quality standards for managing their elk population, A & M adventures limits the number of bull elk hunts between 13 and 17 per year, with typically 4 to 5 hunters per week in camp.
Your opportunity for success on this bull elk hunt is high. On any given year, A & M Adventures typically has 90% success on bulls in the 300 B&C class range. As a testament to that fact, the week we hunted the average score across 5 hunters was 330 B&C! On a hunt of this caliber, it’s not a question of whether you’ll see elk during your hunt, but a matter of how discriminating you are with the size of the bull you wish to take. Monte indicated that on a typical year, he usually has about one hunter who does not harvest a bull, and it’s usually a hunter who’s looking for that super class of bull. Additionally, Monte has about 80% of his first two weeks of elk hunters rebook for the following year.
Wayne's 350 lb Black Bear
If a hunter is successful filling their elk tag, the meat is taken to a local processor where the hunter can arrange for packaging and shipping. If the hunter wishes to have their trophy mounted, A & M Adventures will arrange to have the cape and antlers picked up by a local reputable taxidermist. The taxidermist is experienced in handling mounts for out of state hunters. The taxidermist will arrange for shipping once the mount is complete.
As an option, A & M Adventures offers black bear hunts in conjunction with an elk hunt. The region of New Mexico where A & M Adventures operates has several different color phases of black bears, from blond, to brown to black. During the week we hunted, two other hunters opted to hunt bear. One hunter took a beautiful brown phase black bear that weighed at least 350 pounds. The second hunter had a shot opportunity a blond/brown phase bear but missed. With bear numbers high in the area, your chances are good that you’ll have an opportunity to see a bear during the five day hunt.
The hunting lodge is centrally located between Colorado Springs, CO. and Albuquerque, NM. It’s about a three hour drive from either airport. The lodge we stayed at during our hunt had all modern amenities. With three meals a day, you’ll never go hungry. For the 2008 season, Monte plans to move into a new lodge currently under construction. Monte gave us a complete tour of the new lodge. With 7 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, the new lodge will accommodate up to 14 people. The central part of the lodge will have cathedral ceilings and ample place for hunters to relax. Don’t miss your opportunity to be one of the first hunters to stay in the new lodge. Give Monte a call and book a high quality hunt you’ll never forget!
Shawn's Trophy Bull, score 346 B & C
When you book a hunt, there are typically several factors that helped you make the decision to hunt with a particular outfitter. Whether its the conversations you had with the outfitter regarding his services, the positive feedback you received from references who hunted with the outfitter in the past, the pictures of trophy animals on the outfitters website or perhaps a friend who referred you to the outfitter, once you book the hunt, you begin to anticipate what your hunt will be like. I had high expectations going into my elk hunt with A&M Adventures and as hunting trips go, things couldn’t have gone better.
The first day at the ranch was spent meeting the other hunters and sighting in our rifles. We had five hunters for the first week of the season. In addition to Denny and myself, we were joined by Mark from Tennessee, John from Florida and Wayne from Kansas. I had been on one unsuccessful elk hunt prior to this hunt, so I had high hopes that I could put my tag on nice New Mexico bull.
The first day of my hunt I saw several bull elk, but no opportunities for a shot. During the morning, I saw a nice 5x5 and a young 4x4. On the evening hunt, we located a 300 class 6x6, but due to the steep terrain and wind direction, we could not move closer for a shot. We decided to back out of the area and return in the morning.
The next morning found us high above where we left the bull from the previous evening. In the darkness of the morning, I heard bulls bugling all over the valley floor. There were at least 6 bulls bugling within hearing distance. One of the bugling bulls was located just a few hundred yards below us on the side of the canyon. Although the terrain appears very open at first, its amazing how much cover the jack pines provide the elk. We moved into position overlooking a large draw that we thought the elk would travel through on the way to their bedding area. Although we sat there for several hours, the big bull never showed himself.
On our way back to the ranch for lunch, we got word that Wayne had shot a big bear and they needed help getting it to the truck. Wayne’s bear was a real trophy. It was a beautiful brown phase black bear. Weighing in around 350 lbs, the four of us could barely load the bear onto a 4-wheeler to get it back to the truck.
Going into Tuesday evening, no one had pulled the trigger yet on an elk. Although we were all seeing elk, either the conditions weren’t right or the size just didn’t suit. Fortunately, things were going to change.
Mark's 6 X 6 Elk
On Tuesday evening, we tried to setup on a large bull that was feeding under the rim of a canyon wall. Again, conditions just weren’t right with the wind, and we ended up running out of daylight. The good news was that both Mark and Wayne had shot an elk. Mark took a nice 6x6 scoring close to 300 B&C while Wayne had shot a large 7x7 that easily went over 350 B&C.
On the morning of the third day, we decided to start back where we left the bull from the previous evening. Glassing from a high point about a mile away, we spotted cows feeding in the area where the bull had been. Assuming the bull was still with the cows, we decided to move in closer to see if the bull was in the area.
We made our way over to the canyon and positioned ourselves so we were above the rim looking down on the elk. As we peered over the canyon edge, the first bull we saw was a respectable 5x5, but not a shooter. A few seconds later, we located a second bull off to the left. Sure enough, this looked to be a herd bull with a 6x6 frame and good mass. It only took me a few seconds to decide this was a shooter bull.
We ranged the bull at just over 200 yards. Using a large rock to steady my rifle, I positioned myself for a shot. As soon as the bull was slightly quartering away, I took the shot. Although the shot felt good, I wasn’t certain how hard the bull was hit. He ran a few steps behind some brush, but I could still see him. As I chambered another round, I saw the bull stumble. Although I now felt confident the first shot was solid, I took a second shot for insurance. After the shot, the bull went down.
It took almost a half day to pack my elk out. After we scored it, I couldn’t believe it was a 345 class B&C elk. Once back at the ranch, we found out that John had also harvested a nice 6x6 bull that same morning.
By the fourth morning of our five day hunt, four of five hunters had harvested their elk. Of course, that last hunter was Denny. But as they say, we saved the best for last. You’ll have to read Denny’s story to learn how his hunt turned out.
Many things about Monte’s operation made me look forward to my hunt with A& M Adventures. I knew I would be hunting with a quality outfitter who really takes pride in the type of elk hunt that he provides. I have been on several elk hunts but this was the first time I would be with an outfitter that focuses on giving every hunter a shooting opportunity at a trophy 300 class bull.
Wayne's 7 X 7 trophy bull
My hunting guide was Monte’s son Matt Adams. As we headed out the first morning Matt told me we would be hunting an area that was very remote. We were heading to this area because Matt had spotted a large 6 X 6 elk during preseason scouting. As we approached the canyon rim with day light breaking, we saw an elk feeding on the valley floor. After a few minutes the approaching daylight allowed us to see the elk was a young 5 X 5 bull. We watched him graze and walk up the canyon rim within 100 yards of us. Had this been the big 6 X 6 elk that Matt had seen earlier, my hunt would most likely have been over within the first 30 minutes. I joked with Matt, not to make the hunt too easy. We spent the rest of the morning and that evening glassing the canyon rim from various vantage points looking for other elk.
As we headed out on Day 2, Matt thought our best approach was to spend another day trying to find the elk he had seen while scouting. Within the first 30 minutes Matt spotted the trophy bull feeding on the other side of the canyon. We watched the bull as he slowly made his way alone to the valley floor. We knew an elk of this class would not stay in the open for long so we needed to plan an intersection point that would give us a clean shot. After a short drive we scurried down the rim of the canyon and got into position on a rock ledge overlooking a small pond. In this area of New Mexico with warm afternoon temperatures, drinking water for elk is a big factor in their movement. We figured as the elk made his way across the valley floor there would be a good chance he would stop for a drink before he bedded down for the day.
The next 30 minutes was quite an exciting time. Our vantage point was 250 yards from the pond. We could see the bull 1200 to 1500 yards away working his way toward us. The conditions were perfect, it was still early morning and the wind was in our favor. My heart was racing as I watched him through the binoculars. A true trophy bull with long main beams, heavy antler mass, long symmetrical points with a B&C score that would easily approach 350. As the bull closed the final distance he began to head toward a shady area on the other side of the canyon. As luck would have it the bull never left the shady area to approach the pond and continued to walk parallel to us. My range finder had the distance at 398 yards. Due to 20 – 30 mph cross wind and the distance I was not confident with making a good shot. The last thing I wanted to do was wound a trophy class animal. Matt and I watched in disbelief as the big bull walked away. We spent the rest of the day trying to locate the bull but to no avail. Even though I didn’t get to fire a shot, I felt very lucky to have had the opportunity to watch that trophy bull elk in his natural environment for such an extended period of time.
Since I had 5 day hunt we decided to give that bull one more try. The trophy elk never had any idea we were there but patterning a trophy bull elk in that rugged terrain is difficult. We spent the first few hours of the morning glassing as many vantage points of the canyon as possible but to no avail. By 10am we had learned that Shawn killed a nice 6 X 6 elk so we went to assist in packing out the elk. That evening we tried a new area. We spotted a small bull along with a few cows but nothing that would warrant a stalk.
It was now Day 4 of the hunt and everyone had taken their elk except me. We were heading to a new area. I was especially anxious because the early morning was dead calm, not even the slightest breath of wind. For the first time all week we would be able to hear well from very far distances. It didn’t take long for the action to start. Positioned at the top of a canyon rim we could see a very long distance in each direction. Off in the distance we could hear a very faint bugle. Matt was able to spot the bull elk with his binoculars. Luckily the bull stayed in open country long enough to allow Matt to position the spotting scope and determine that he was definitely a shooter bull. The only bad news was the elk was at least a mile and a half away.
We went back to the truck and drove closer on top of the canyon rim. After a 10 to 15 minute walk we new we had significantly closed the distance on the bull. We made our way to a huge rock just below the canyon rim. We left things quiet down for a few moments and then Matt called using a cow call. Instantly the bull screamed. He was still on the other side if a ridge approximately 1200 – 1500 yards away. Every few minutes Matt would call, instantly the bull would answer with a loud bugle. We could tell he was getting closer, starting to make his way over the ridge. After another 15 minutes of calling, finally the majestic bull appeared over the ridge. We watched him through the binoculars as he looked for the cow in the small grassy meadow below us.
What followed was without question the most exciting 20 minutes I have ever experienced in the wild. At this point the bull was still over 1000 yards away but because of our vantage point he was clearly visible. Matt whispered that he was going work his way to the base of the canyon set up and call the bull in. Although relatively young in age, Matt is a very experienced elk guide. Within a few minutes Matt was positioned perfectly below me in a cluster of thick brush and jack pines. As soon as he made the first cow call the bull instantly screamed back with a bugle and began to come closer. Matt worked the animal perfectly. The bull would close 50 – 75 yards then cautiously pause to look for the cow elk. He would then wait for a few minutes for another cow call. As soon as Matt responded the elk would bugle and continue to close the distance.
What made this experience so special was that I could hear Matt call and watch every step the elk made and how he reacted. I was perfectly set up as the big bull approached. The grassy meadow below me was 224 yards away. I had a perfect rest on the large rock. All I had to do was try and stay calm and make a good shot. As the bull closed the final 400 yards he slipped into thick jack pines. I knew the next time I saw him would be the moment of truth. Even though I could not see him, every time Matt called the elk would immediately answer with a loud bugle. The bugle was getting louder and louder, it seemed like the bull was within a few yards as my heart raced. Finally the bull stepped out cautiously scanning the small meadow for the cow. My cross hairs were steady but the bull was directly facing me. A final call and the bull quartered slightly toward me and walked toward Matt. I took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger. The bull collapsed instantly to the ground. Even though the bull was on the ground my knees still shook as I stood up. Unless you have ever experienced a trophy bull elk screaming every few minutes while he approaches, then being lucky enough to make a clean shot and harvest the animal, it is hard to understand the emotion I was feeling. Routine words like exciting or special just don’t seem to do justice. Matt approached the elk and let me know it was a perfectly symmetrical 7 by 7. As you can see by the photo it truly was a magnificent elk.
Denny's trophy7 X 7 bull elk, score 358 B & C
A few weeks after my return, I called Monte to inquire about how the remaining two weeks of elk hunting concluded. Four hunters were in camp the second week (October 8th through the 12th). By noon on the second day of the hunt, all 4 hunters had taken bull elk. The largest bull scoring in the 340’s the others scoring between 320 and 330. The third week (October 15th through October 19th), 3 of 4 hunters ended up taking an elk. The hunter who did not take an elk has successfully hunted with Monte other years and was looking for a bull in the 340 – 350 class. He passed on several bulls in the 310 – 320 class.
The 2007 hunting season ended up being one of Monte’s best years ever for elk scoring average. Thirteen elk hunters took twelve bulls that collectively averaged a score in the mid 320’s. To me though, pure kill ratios and scoring statistics are not the only way to measure the value of a hunt and the hunting experience. I feel two equally important questions need to be asked:
Did the outfitter provide the hunting experience that he advertised?
Do I feel the value of the hunting experience was worth the money I paid?
For Shawn and I the answers to both of these questions are YES. We were fortunate to take two trophy class elk. The operation that Monte runs truly does give a hunter an excellent chance at 300 class trophy bull elk. Monte is without question an outfitter that Shawn and I would highly recommend.