The late season elk habitat within Arizona's Game Management Unit 8 is dominated by a complex system of steep canyons, plateaus, minor peaks, and the dramatic elevation change accompanying the Southwestern edge of the greater Colorado Plateau. Unit 8 is geographically bisected by this rocky and weathered feature. The northern and higher elevations of the unit are dense stands of primarily Ponderosa Pine rising to more than 9200 feet near the summit of Bill Williams mountain. The lower elevations include a transitional zone of mixed Pinon-Juniper and Manzanita descending towards a prickly pear and One-seed Juniper grassland along the Southwestern edge. The Eastern edge of the unit is the bottom of the red rock lined Sycamore Canyon which eventually winds it's way into the Verde River system.
As the days shorten and the bugles of the rut fade away the elk that congregate in the higher and timbered portions of the unit begin to move towards the secluded and topographically isolated areas near the edges of the plateau. Bulls drop into the pockets and basins where they are unlikely to encounter much human pressure and can recuperate from the previous months of extreme activity. At this time bulls will often congregate with one another. Groups of two to eight bulls in close proximity are not uncommon.
In our experience the unit 8 late hunt has been very consistent in providing ample opportunity to harvest mature bulls. Seeing 20-40 bulls over the course of a seven day hunt is not uncommon for the unit 8 late rifle hunt and the age class of bulls lends itself to seeing more 6x6 bulls than many other late elk hunts. For the unprepared, the unit can be a daunting task to hunt. Success on this hunt wont be had from the comfort of a vehicle cruising roads. Physical fitness, experience packing heavy loads, and preparedness for winter weather conditions will make this hunt a much more manageable process. The topography and tendency of bulls to live in rough places dictates that most elk killed will be at least a half mile from a road. The majority of the unit is within the South Kaibab National Forest and there is good access to many of the hunting areas.
Just as with other rifle hunts in Arizona shots may vary anywhere from 250 to 700 yards. Having a gun set up effectively to take shots within this range of distances is paramount to being successful. Some of our most favored rifle calibers to take medium and long rang shots on bull elk include the 7mm Mag, 7 STW, 300WM, 300RUM, and 338WM. Any cartridge choices capable of deadly accuracy and similar ballistics to these hard hitting rounds will work effectively.
Draw odds for the unit 8 late rifle hunt are intriguing. For a both residents and non-residents ~7 bonus points made your draw odds 100%. The unit 8 late season rifle elk hunt should definitely be a consideration for anyone looking to hunt bulls from 300-340". As with all of our hunt recommendations, if you would like more information or have drawn a tag and would like to get in touch with us contact Dillon Currie (623) 606-3364 or firstname.lastname@example.org also check out our Arizona elk hunting page.