I use Epic Outdoors to help me with the applications in several western states. Normally I apply for "points only" so I can build up points for future draws. New Mexico does not have points only for elk. Epic therefore applied for a very hard to draw tag in Unit 34. This is probably the hardest out of state tag to draw. This year however, I was drawn. Epic recommended Joseph Graham of Graham's Guide Services and told me to call that day, or Joseph would be booked up as he was the best guide for that unit. in their opinion.
I called Joseph and booked the hunt immediately, even though I had a trip to France booked a few days after the NM rifle season. I would only be able to hunt 4 days of the 5-day season.
The terrain was not all that difficult with pinion pine and some hills. The hunting included glassing and then spot and stalk. There are some local hunters in the area, but it was not all that bad or in any way crowded.
The lodging was in an old Girl Scout camp with decent cabins, full bathrooms, showers, etc. They even had limited satellite TV (it was was MLB baseball playoff and World Series Time). My personal guide was Kenny Espinosa who knew the area intimately.
New Mexico seems to make their seasons favor bow hunting as most of the bugling is over by the time the rifle season comes in. While I was there, it was somewhat warm, which does not always favor hunting at the elevations we were hunting (+/- 6500 ft.). We saw bulls every day for three days, but not what I was looking for. On the fourth morning, the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped about 6 degrees. Not much, but enough to put the bulls in motion, We walked up a small canyon at daybreak and had up to five bulls actually bugling and answering cow calls. I shot a heavy 5x5 as it was the last day I had to hunt. There was probably a larger bull up the hill a few hundred yards bugling hard, but I took the bull I saw (a bird in the hand, etc.).
The skinning and trophy care was excellent. Kenny was professional and hard-working in everything he did. We took the hide to a local taxidermist in town and the meat to a processor. I received the butchered meat in SC on November 28, packaged and frozen solid.
This is a simple, well-run hunt in elk country. There are certainly bigger bulls in the area, but given my time constraints and the fact that I had a hard time walking long distances due to a herniated disc, I was very happy with the bull I was able to harvest. I plan to go back in a year or two (after my upcoming back surgery) to look for a bigger bull. Tags are somewhat easier to draw under the outfitter's allotment, which is described on the NM web site. Joseph Graham is a down to earth gentleman who delivers exactly what he says he will, plus a good bit more.
I could not give him or Kenny any higher recommendations. This is western hunting at its best.