These infinite mountainous fields are home to some of the largest, huge-horned mule deer. Finding the big males with antlers topping 190 inches require more than camouflage dress, enthusiasm and luck. That's why most New Mexico ranches offering 5 day hunts have skilled guides to accompany and assist the hunters to ensure they find their coveted prey.
During season, most ranches accept only a limited number of hunters to make the experience exclusive and to offer them privacy and the free run of the ranch. Two hunters per guide is the general ratio, but one can also get your own private guide at an additional cost. Your changes of scoring that coveted trophy in this areas are a whopping 70% if you know what you are doing.
Five day hunts are the most popular and generally cost between $5,500 and &6,500. Meals, accommodation and other necessities such as landowner tags, state tax, guides, transport on the ranch and state licenses are included in the price. Other luxuries such as gratuities, game processing and taxidermy are charged separately.
The mule deer was named for its large donkey-like ears and is indigenous to the west side of North America. Apart from their bigger ears, they are generally also bigger in size than the ancient white-tailed deer from which they are believed to have evolved. Adult males can weigh anything from 92 kg - 210 kg, while the females can weigh from 43 kg to 90 kg. The mule deer also has a typical black-tipped tail that differentiates it from the white-tailed species.
After shedding its antlers around mid-February, it starts to regrow almost immediately. A typical characteristic of the mule deer is the way it moves with all four feet coming down together - called pronking. Adult males weigh on average around 92 kg but trophy specimen can push the scale up to 210 kg. Females are smaller and average between 43 to 90 kg. They are herd animals and especially the does travel in herds of around five.
Finding the truly big bucks - those with racks wider than 30 inches or that have more than 190 inches of antler - is not so easy. Several measures - including drawing for tags - have been put into place since the 1990's to prevent the species from becoming extinct due to over-hunting, predators and famine due to weather conditions.
The main natural enemies of these buck are the coyote, the gray wolf and the mountain lion. Smaller, opportunistic predators like bobcats, bears and wolverines generally only prey on young or vulnerable deer or carcasses. Humans remain one of their most dangerous enemies and therefore it is reassuring that the joint efforts of state departments and conservation groups have succeeded in restoring the population of these beautiful animals.
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