We offer many hunts that each require their own level of commitment and preparedness. Choosing a hunt that fits will help improve your odds of success and ensure that you enjoy your time with us.
Choosing the right hunt:
In my opinion one of the biggest factors to consider and commit to is physical. This is very rough country with relatively high elevations compared to sea level. It is rocky, dry and it is big. If you are not physically prepared to walk for miles daily over this terrain it will not be fun for you. There are times when the game is more easily accessible than others, but since this is hunting it is not something that we should plan on.
The better shape you are in the better the hunt can be and ultimately, the more fun it will be. This is all fair chase wildlife hunting, these animals live here. They are comfortable in and able to cover any portion of this terrain with ease. If our goal is to pursue them we must be able to follow them wherever they chose to go.
Another important thing to consider is your level of experience as a hunter. It is tempting to "go big or go home”, but hunting is a lifelong endeavor that requires time in the field. Your hunting experience is usually made up of many different types of hunting in many different places. Take advantage of any opportunity you have to get out and hunt or even just spend time in the woods. It will pay off in the long run.
In our experience, the hunter who has put in the time over the years building up to that bucket list hunt for a New Mexico Bull Elk is the hunter who is most successful. There are many factors and variables in the field. Until you have personally faced and have overcome these challenges they can make or break that big moment when it is go time. These challenges range from gear selection, weapon choice and proficiency with that weapon to physical stamina, woods savvy and getting to know the game that you are pursuing. That is not to say that the first time hunter can’t be successful, but I am a numbers guy so lets tip them in our favor.
Much of being successful on your hunt is eliminating variables. Some cannot be eliminated, but lessening the numbers will give us a better opportunity for success.
When you are ready to challenge the West in pursuit of game contact us and we can help guide you towards the hunt that will offer the best opportunity for success!
Booking your hunt:
Once you have made a decision about the big game adventure that you are interested in, give us a call !
Hunting dates are not published due to many factors, available tags and seasons. We book our hunts based on available season dates (these are set by the state) as well as moon phase. We have seen a strong correlation between success and not hunting near the full moon. We will do our best to pick dates that will offer the best opportunity for success. There are limited opportunities for combination hunts during the year and we will be happy to talk with you about these if you are interested. Once we have decided on species and dates for the hunt we will send you hunt contracts. Please fill these out and return along with a 50% non-refundable deposit for the hunt. Personal check is accepted as payment for the deposit. We will hold the hunt for 10 days from the time of booking. If we do not receive contracts and deposit within that time frame the hunt will again be available to other hunters. In the rare case of actual emergency, we will do our best to find another hunter to fill your spot. Dependent on time frame this may not be available. We will do our best to get you out on a similar hunt when the time is right.
Once we receive contracts and deposit, the hunt is yours. We are all set, lets stay in touch. We encourage any questions that you may have during the course of the year. E-mail tends to be the best for communication due to varying cell phone coverage here. If you need to contact us by phone, please try the land line morning and night or mobile during the day.
Preparing for your hunt:
Our hunts generally book up many months, if not years in advance. One benefit of this is that you will know that your hunt is a ways off and it will give you time to prepare. First off, get your weapon of choice in your hands and start using it! Regardless of whether you are buying a new weapon, borrowing or already own it, use it! Get to the range weekly if you can. Do some research about different rounds, There are endless theories, sales pitches and factual reviews of this information. Please put in your time and find a combination that works for you. This is a huge factor in the hunt that you can learn to master with sufficient time. Practice at different distances, from 50 yds to 400 yds to see what your bullet does. There are many ballistics apps available that will provide you with more than enough information about your particular rifle / ammunition combination. These apps are great starting points but test them in real life.
Try jogging / walking briskly for 500-600 yds and then shoulder your gun and see how long it takes you to get steady and make a good shot. Carry your gun and a day pack with all the gear you intend to take with you. Wear the boots that you will hunt in. Shoot the gun that you intend to shoot during your hunt. Make sure that your sling is comfortable and that you can access, load and fire your rifle on a moments notice. Enjoy it! its all part of your western adventure. Try variations of shooting sticks and be familiar with their operation. All of these recommendations are intended to take the guess work out of the moment when it really is “go time”. Practicing these scenarios will help you to be more prepared in the field. We do not take shots at running animals or rush shots that we are not ready for but practicing this will help to be ready for real life hunting.
Please make time to visit www.nmdgf.com and follow prompts to get a customer id number. You will need to create an account with a password and username. Make note of these, we will need them. Any hunter over the age of 18 will not need to show a hunter education card.
The Hunt: Now that you have booked your hunt and are gathering your gear, I can tell you what has worked in our experience.
Gear list: We recommend bringing the following items:
For myself I would prefer to hunt without a gun than without my binoculars. This is big country and everything is far away. Get the best optics that you can beg borrow or steal, both for binoculars as well as the scope on your gun. I carry a pair of 8.5x42 Swarovski EL binoculars ( the difference in magnification between an 8.5x and a 10x is minimal but the light gathering ability of the lower power is in my opinion, of more benefit. I also carry a Swarovski hd spotting scope with 65 mm objective lens. This piece of equipment has changed and helped the way we hunt here considerably. Like I said, everything is far away. To have opportunity to really look at an animal before spending hours stalking it maximizes efficiency for the relatively short amount of time that we have to hunt.
Find footwear that is comfortable, it should be broken in well before your hunt. Don’t buy boots on your way here! I prefer a full leather upper boot with ankle support. There is plenty of cactus, yucca and other pokey plants as well as loose rocky ground. Some synthetic uppers can allow cactus to find its way into your foot. I do not wear insulated boots other than on the coldest of days. (possibly on a december hunt)
Camouflage is as varied as you can imagine these days. For a fall pattern, mossy oak brush and cabelas western both hide very well. I am a big fan of the KUIU products more for their function than pattern but it works well here. Dressing in layers is always a good approach in the west. Weather can change quickly and can vary from freezing temps to 90 deg. Having multiple layers and a pack to keep them in will ensure that you are not sweating with a heavy coat when you only need a t-shirt and vice versa. Scent control is always an issue, don’t bring clothes that you have worn around a campfire or cooked bacon in, spilled gas on etc. I always use no scent sprays and keep camo aired out but when it comes down to it if you are on the wrong side of the wind you are busted, but this is just another chance to improve our odds. Since we are hunting private property we are not required to wear hunter orange, please leave it home. We will be the only hunters on the ranch.
Please bring plenty of ammunition and plan on taking most of it home with you. 3 boxes of ammo should be more than enough, which is exactly what we want. If for some reason we have sight-in issues with your rifle we need to have ammo in hand to get things back in order. It starts getting pretty tense when you have 6 shots left and are still not on paper. Don’t plan on being able to run over and re-stock locally. There is very little available.
Find a day pack that can carry water, a few snacks, a flashlight, a knife and has room for shedding layers. We will not need game retrieval equipment and overnight camping gear. Keep it light. When we have need for additional gear to recover an animal, we will provide it.
Gps is not necessary but can be interesting for tracking mileage and elevation covered over the week.
While at the bunkhouse everything that a hotel room would provide will be there. Bring your personal items such as toiletries and a pair of house shoes so that we can keep muddy boots outside.
More preparation: What to expect
We ask all of our clients to arrive after 3pm the day preceding your hunt. We have a 150 mile round trip to gather groceries and supplies, this allows us to do that and still be here and ready when you arrive. We will at times have the ability to make other arrangements, please inquire if you would like to add a couple non-hunting days to your hunt for an additional charge.
Once you arrive we will have opportunity to make introductions, show you to the bunkhouse, grab some refreshments, sign waivers, settle up on hunt payments and get licenses. We are able to get licenses on-line and print them right at the ranch. This is when we will need your username and password info. Please have a credit card available for your license purchase. This cost is included in the total cost of the hunt and will be deducted from your final bill.
Now that the business end is taken care of we like to grab the guns and head to the range, don’t worry its right at the ranch you won’t have to get back in and drive far. We like to have everyone shoot just to be sure nothing has gotten jostled during travel and also to get an idea of everyones marksmanship abilities. A couple shots is generally adequate. This is also a good time to catch any last minute weaponry issues. Hopefully there are none.
We will head back to the bunkhouse, you can get settled in while we get the dinner feast rolling. You will eat well during your stay, leaving the ranch a few pounds lighter than you arrived may be tricky. We generally eat at the main house, just relax and enjoy a new mexico sunset. We will come get you when its ready.
For early breakfast there is continental style available in the bunkhouse. We like to be ready to depart in the morning 30-60 minutes before daylight depending on that mornings destination. We are already on the hunting property so there is not a lot of travel time necessary. There may be times when we saw something the day before that will affect our approach but this is a general rule. We plan on being out for a few hours in the A.M. and then head back to the house for a big late breakfast and some rest. The game tends to be pretty stationary mid day. Once they are in their bedding areas we leave them alone. Our game plan is always to catch them coming from or heading to these bedding areas. If you jump them out of these areas mid day they can run for miles and we may have nothing left to hunt. For hunters that feel a little antsy about sitting around mid day, we can recommend some field trips or excursions to fill that mid day time. In the afternoon we will have a light, late lunch and head out 2-3 hours before sun down. Hopefully we have something interesting to stalk from the mornings hunt. This is not always the case so we may be heading for high country and glassing. This is a spot and stalk hunt. It may not be the way you have hunted other places but this is the most effective way to hunt here.
Myself and our guides have years of successful hunts on this property, please trust that we are your best opportunity for success. If you are by nature a “do it yourself ” hunter, you should strongly consider doing it yourself. Luckily heading to the high country typically entails a safari type ride in a comfortable side by side atv or 4x4 pickup. We rarely head out on foot just to cover ground and spot. Be prepared to glass for hours at a time. This is not a waste of time. Get comfortable and enjoy the beauty, you might see the monster you’ve been looking for. Once we have spotted something worth pursuing we will formulate the best plan for moving in. At this point it is often on foot. Be ready, follow directly behind your guide and follow his instructions. Again your guide is your best opportunity for your own success. Not every stalk ends in an animal being harvested. There are many variables. We have to all be patient, optimistic and willing to keep trying. This is hunting not killing. If you are not interested in hunting there are many “high fence” operations that will cater to the killer more than the hunter. While we do our best to take advantage of the 100+ miles of roads that we have on the ranch there will be walking involved. Plan on walking 4-7 miles a day, this may not always be the case but again if you’re prepared for it, those 2 mile days are cake. Enjoy it! this is part of your western adventure.
On the stalk that does result in a harvest, generally you have followed your guide closely and followed his instructions. Picked out an animal that is a “shooter” both for you as well as your guide. We have management practices as well as point minimums that we follow. Just because you’ve seen it does not mean that it is a “shooter”. For immature animals this is just a time to grab the camera... or not and enjoy the experience. If you are situated, steady, have the go ahead from your guide he will give you a yardage range and any specific instructions. Ie. “watch out for the smaller bull on the left” or “just keep the crosshairs on him and wait for a broadside shot” whatever it is please listen carefully, you are very close to harvesting a trophy don’t rush it now. Your guide is your best opportunity for success. Your best defense against bull fever is to breathe. Listen closely, on your guides command... now squeeze. Bang! wait your not done yet. Load another round immediately and find the animal in your scope again. Keep it on him and wait for instructions on whether to shoot again or not. Please be ready. There is nothing worse than an early celebration that results in an animal getting up and getting away. If the shot is confirmed and the animal is down you can relax... but not too much stay on the ready keep the gun pointed in that direction, listen to your guide and give it a little time.
Once your guide says ready, safety your gun but don’t unload it. Keep it pointed safely and approach the animal with the muzzle pointed at the ground and towards the animal. Your guide will let you know if another shot is necessary. If your guide says its done, unload your gun and...... wait for it. Now celebrate! you did it! Congratulations you are part of an exclusive club of successful western big game hunters. It is no easy feat and you should be very proud. Now we take pictures, lots of them. Most friends that you tell your story to will not be in your front room to see the trophy or eat the steaks but you will have pictures. We take our time on this, scroll through the photo gallery and you will see pictures that look like the animal is still alive. No blood, no tongues hanging out. Enjoy it! this is part of your western adventure.
Your guide will field dress the animal and radio for backup if necessary for retrieval. Once we have the trophy back at the ranch we will hang, skin, cape and scull cap. We have a local taxidermist that we work with if you would like to have your trophy mounted locally. This works well as you can pick it up the following year when you return for your next adventure! We have a walk in cooler where the meat will hang until the last morning or evening before departure. Many states have policy that does not allow for bone material to enter the state, don’t worry we’ve got you covered. We will de-bone all meat and help you load it into coolers. If you are short on cooler space we will have new coolers available for purchase. Our walk in will cool to about 37 deg. You will need dry ice for the ride home. We can help you get everything loaded and on your way. Success! Its all over but the story telling. We have merchandise for sale, cups, coolers, button-up and t-shirts, stickers and books about the ranch and the hunt operations as well as original signed film photographs of the west, many of them taken here on the ranch and surrounding areas. These are all great keepsakes to take home and prompt that question that you really want to hear. “ Where did you get that” great question, ill tell you all about it.
Enjoy it! thats the best part of your western adventure.