5A Early Archery Bull Elk: Hunt Overview
Updated: Jan 6
Arizona’s GMU 5A has a large variety of terrain from dark pine and Douglas fir forests, oak thickets, rolling junipers, and low prickly pear grasslands. Unit 5A is predominately Coconino National forest at its southern half. Much of the forested public land portion of the unit is a landscape of South to North trending canyons cut into the top on the Colorado plateau including the major drainages of East Clear Creek, Barbershop Canyon, and the unit boundary Leonard Canyon.
The 5A early archery elk hunt offers great opportunity for taking a representative bull with a high density elk population and moderate tag numbers. Many mature bulls in unit 5A average from 280-330" although bigger bulls are always a realistic possibility during any Arizona early archery elk hunt. With a high bull to cow ratio, there is no shortage of bulls to choose from. In fact, if often takes a strong will to weed through multiple average mature 6 points to turn up one of the better bulls 5a has to offer. Patience is key to select for older bulls during the two-week long season.
Like many Arizona elk units, 5A bulls are very responsive to calling. While calling in a higher-pressure unit like 5A it often requires a hunter to be very mobile. The nature of early archery hunts dictates that most successful hunters will need to be physically fit enough to hike 3-5 miles a day in terrain ranging from 4800-7800 feet in elevation. Additionally, the multitude of small ravines and gullies hide sheltered wallows that the bulls frequent during the mid day heat, making for perfect opportunities to sit and ambush.
One major positive for unit 5A are the draw odds. For 2019 residents can guaranteed draw with 9 bonus points. Non-residents take 11 bonus points to count on drawing a tag. However, since unit 5A is not considered a "trophy" unit, is low demand for high bonus point applicants, and has moderate tag numbers, any given year both residents and non-residents have a good chance to draw a tag. If you’re not holding out for an once-in-a-lifetime tag, why wait an additional 5-10 years to draw? Come hunt legendary AZ bulls with a stick and string potentially multiple times, in an easier-to-draw unit, while others sit at home accruing decades of bonus points with no guarantees.
Below are bulls taken by the CTK team from unit 5A with archery equipment. If you are interested in applying for early archery elk in unit 5A or have already drawn a tag and are looking to do a guided hunt contact us for more information.
Contributor: Daniel Drown