Big Bulls In Hell's Gate


Published: February - 2005

Arizona resident and Hunting Report subscriber Gerald Gold tells us he has discovered a jewel of a place in his home state for trophy elk - namely, the Hell's Gate Wilderness in Unit 23. Gold has hunted here two years now, and while weather conditions worked against him each time, he says the place is chock full of big bulls. In fact, he says a bull that grossed 410 was killed here recently. And he has seen numerous other Boone & Crocket-quality bulls in the area. The place lies in central Arizona near the town of Young, just off the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

Gold says several factors make Hell's Gate an elk paradise. First, the wilderness is accessible only by foot or horseback, and it is a vast area with many deep canyons, very rocky ground and steep cliffs. It is quite rugged and physically demanding country. The elk take refuge in the canyons and require a determined effort to pursue. It's also tough to pack out a trophy out of this area. Another factor is the low number of permits issued for this unit. Where other well-known units may issue upwards of 300 tags, perhaps a third as many are awarded for Hell's Gate. Now, you might think that makes for impossible drawing odds, but Gold says not many hunters typically apply here. So, the odds of drawing have been approximately 12 to 14 percent, which is much better than a lot of the other units hunters traditionally focus on.

To hunt Unit 23 successfully, Gold says you must rely on someone who knows the area well and has the equipment necessary to hunt it effectively. He has hunted with and recommends guide Kevin Clark of KC On Haigler Guide Service. Gold says Clark lives in the unit and has bulls come down right behind his house. Clark freelances for the Forest Service here, working on various forestry projects, so he is in the field all year and knows all of the Forest Service staff. They constantly feed him information on game movements and conditions.........(continued)

 
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