Days are getting longer, and warmer. My onions are about 5 inches tall, and March is the month I plant tomato seeds. For us hunter gatherers, it is the time to prepare for both, so get the seeds planted and the applications in!
Big Game Draws - It is an interesting observation that as hunter numbers decline, application numbers for most draw and raffle tags have increased for most of the hunts that I track.
New Mexico applications are due March 17th. New Mexico requires a $65.00 license for starters. The good and the bad---on the good side, New Mexico has excellent hunts, a great variety of species, and good management. In addition to two species of deer, two species of bighorns, elk, and antelope; the offer Oryx, Ibex, and Barbary sheep. The story goes that way back when, New Mexico had rules forbidding any animals that were not indigenous to New Mexico could not be wild in New Mexico. Where there is a will, there is a way! There was a governor who penned up a variety of species. When a baby hit the ground, it was a native New Mexican! Not all of these were successful. I remember Siberian Ibex in the Rio Grande gorge and some others that went away. But, the Gemsbok, Persian Ibex, and Auodad are plentiful, and applying for them is just like applying for any other species. And without a point system, everybody has a chance. On the bad side---Seasons are short, tags are expensive, and an applicant must submit the entire cost upfront. But the worst part is that New Mexico severely limits nonresident tags. You can draw, but your rabbit’s foot better be working.
Deer—Can’t tell you much about the little Coues deer, but New Mexico has good Mule deer. The best units are up around the Jicarilla Reservation. The Jicarilla manage well. I heard that one said: “Just control the poachers and the predators” That county puts about as many mule deer in the record books as any other.
Elk----Rifle and muzzleloader seasons are mostly 5 days. We did hunt in unit 16 and 5 days are plenty, unless--- you just cannot get the 380-inch bull we spotted to cooperate.
Pronghorn---Trophy quality is good, and in many units, there is ample BLM land.
Bighorns—New Mexico has managed to bring Desert bighorns from endangered to some of the best hunting anywhere, Boone and Crocket record book animals are common. Years ago, here is Washington, we had a cougar problem at the feeding station. Washington quit feeding the bighorns. New Mexico had a problem with cougar predation. They killed the cougars. The result is that their bighorns are doing well. Most tags are filled in a 100% success rate. You can apply for either or both species, if the nearly $3200.00 upfront cost does not bother you. Don’t worry too much about that cost. Odds being what odds are; you will get it back.
Oryx---These hunts are just fun, easy, short hunts on the White Sands missile range. Mostly 3-day deals. If you must have a 40 incher, you will probably go home empty, but somewhere in the mid 30-inch range is a doable goal. At $1623.00, it is a lot cheaper than going to Africa, and you get the meat.
Ibex--- For a time, the longest Persian Ibex horn did not come from the Mid-East. It came from New Mexico. The Florida (pronounced “floreeeda”) Mountains has many Ibex. The range is not that big and there is a road all the way around the mountains. Ibex can be spotted from the road in some places. If you see them, they have already seen you. Gravity has no force on them. Level or vertical does not matter. They go up, down or across at the same ease and speed. The rams do not taste good. They do not smell good. They just look good to the nannies (or on your wall). Application is $1623.00 for either an archery, muzzleloader, or a rifle tag. There are archery hunters running around there with 100–125-yard pins on their sights. They kill very few. I did see one Ibex with an arrow hanging loosely from its shoulder. I guess the arrow ran out of gas at that range. Rifle hunters do well, although the size is not what it used to be. I think 40 inches would be a good one. Muzzle loaders hunt after the rifle season. Any well dressed New Mexican muzzle loader hunter has an Ultimate muzzle loader with a zillion power scope. You need all the range you can get.
Barbary sheep---I have tried that twice, and failed both times, so it is probably best to get advice elsewhere. Maybe I should hire a guide, or pay a trespass fee, but maybe not. At $373.00, this is more affordable than other exotics in New Mexico. The McGregor range has my eye as it has better success and is harder to draw. That is a two-day hunt on an army base. My other choice might be 29/30 where I went before and did not find Auodad until the last day. I quit looking for sheep and looked for water instead. That worked better. North Dakota lottery applications are due March 24th
My only interest here is the Bighorn application. They charge $100.00. They don’t tell you when or where. If you draw, they will let you know. Montana applications for deer and elk are due April 1st ----- More next update