In this episode Jason Carter and Adam Bronson of Epic Outdoors talk with New Mexico Outfitter GT Nunn and discuss hunting in New Mexico. GT is one of the premier outfitters in the state and is one of the most experienced as well. He was one of the first to guide in many of the new Bighorn Sheep units and has many world class animals to his credit. Topics covered in this podcast range from application strategies to best units for each species. From Bighorn Sheep to Coues Deer it’s covered. Our hosts talk about the history and changes of hunting in New Mexico and new opportunities that have come in recent years. Learn how to maximize your odds in the draw applying with an outfitter and which units are performing well. Youth and Mobility Impaired Hunts, Exotic Species hunts, and unit by unit breakdowns. This is a very informative and in-depth podcast that will help each hunter to ultimately be more successful Hunting New Mexico.
Disclaimer: this podcast has been transcribed from the original audio and likely contains errors. This transcription does not reflect the views and opinions of Epic Outdoors LLC. Please consult the original audio with any concerns.
00:53:02:13 –> 00:53:04:22
We de definitely did see a change in drawing odds.
00:53:05:05 –> 00:53:09:02
6% of the tags go to non-residents who apply without an outfitter.
00:53:09:12 –> 00:53:12:17
You’re dealing with units that are 11, 12,000 feet.
00:53:13:09 –> 00:53:14:17
Anything to do with Western Big Game.
00:53:17:27 –> 00:53:21:14
Welcome to the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour.
00:53:22:24 –> 00:53:39:10
Hey everybody, it’s Jason Carter and Adam Bronson here with the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour. We appreciate them and their support of Epic Outdoors, the podcast and different projects we’ve done with them today. We’ve got a special guest, the line, we’ve got GT Nunn of Frontier Outfitters. How are you gt?
00:53:39:24 –> 00:53:40:23
Doing good. You guys
00:53:41:06 –> 00:54:17:25
We’re doing good. Yeah. So anyway, we’ve known GT for years and years. He’s one of the Premier Outfitters in New Mexico, guided all kinds of different species and just really happy to have him on the line, give us a little insight into New Mexico, his guide business, a little bit of his history and, and all kinds of different things that he’s into. So anyway, as we get started, maybe gt could you give us a little of your background, you know, how you came to, you know, start working in the hunting industry and being raised in, in hunting and, and just the different things that has brought you to this point in life.
00:54:18:09 –> 00:54:43:03
Sure. Well, I, I started in the outfitting industry at a pretty young age. I was around it growing up, got into high school and, you know, had a set of wheels. Lucky enough. So I, I had an outfitter that hired me to pick up hunters at the airport on a Friday afternoon and drive them to camp and spend the weekend hunting with them, hopefully get snowed in. So I wouldn’t make it back to school on Monday, but not always.
00:54:43:16 –> 00:54:43:25
00:54:44:01 –> 00:55:25:03
But that was my start, you know, went to college for a couple years and, and out of college started guiding full time. So got into that, worked for several of the older outfitters in the Gila. Learned a ton from them and as they started to retire and get outta the business, I, I just kind of made the choice to go into business with myself as opposed to, you know, look for someone else to work for. And it’s been great, probably going on about 15 years now. And, you know, thanks to guys like, like Adam and Jason, they, they helped me get a start and have been with me since the beginning, so it’s been a good run.
00:55:25:24 –> 00:55:42:21
You bet. And so, seems like, you know, years ago I met you in the field, but you know, it seems like, you know, you’re doing elk, you hunt’s heavy in 17 and all that different stuff, and then now you’ve branched out to be the number one guy in sheep and just doing a lot of different things.
00:55:43:17 –> 00:56:56:24
Yeah. You know, sheep hunting was always a dream of mine and, and I got the opportunity about 12 years ago to go with my first one and then just dedicated myself to, to getting the hunters and, you know, it, it built and built and built and we, we’ve got to hunt all these great units. We were the first ones in a lot of these new desert sheep units here in New Mexico when they first opened. And it’s just been great opportunities. We’ve killed great rams, met a ton of great hunters and had a lot of fun doing it. The, you know, the elk and the deer is, is where we started and we still love doing it. It’s still the bulk of our clients that we take or are in elk hunting. So, you know, 17 great unit, you know, I started in the Gila and the 16 units and we still hunt ’em from time to time when we’re lucky enough to have a client draw a tag. But it, it seems that these primitive weapons units such as 17 and 13 provide, you know, better draws more opportunity for landowner tags and, and just, just as good a quality of bulls. So that’s probably where we spend more of our time than anywhere these days
00:56:57:25 –> 00:57:11:16
Besides 13 and 17. Tell us, I guess, where you think your wheelhouse for elk is. Any others? I know you guide some in 15 as well, that’s nearby your place there in 13, those three probably as many as any right now.
00:57:13:13 –> 00:57:40:03
Yeah, definitely where we spend the bulk of our time and, and like I said, I, I do have several hunters that’ll and you know, are still rifle hunters and, and still want to hunt the hela. So we, we draw ’em in 16 A and 16 D and, and of course the wilderness and 16 B, we still get a few guys every year and they’re still great units and we’re always excited when we get a tag drawn there to get to go hunt there. So,
00:57:40:27 –> 00:58:13:14
And it seems like, you know, I remember back when they started those November muzzle hunts, 13, 17, 15, you guys were really excited about those. I know, you know, of course they’re short hunts in New Mexico, but you know, those bulls will kind of, you know, group up bachelor up together and when you see one, you see five or 10 of ’em. And, and at times, especially for you locals that shed hunted a lot, I know you guys were excited and feeling like that that was definitely gonna, you know, gonna kill some big bulls on those hunts. Has that been the case or what are you finding on those, you know, different seasons?
00:58:14:10 –> 00:59:20:03
Yeah, it, it’s still one of my favorite hunts, those late hunts for multiple reasons. You know, the, the bulls are in winter feeding patterns typically by then they’re, they’re feeding on south slopes and bedding just over the edge in the north. And you can typically, if you find a bull, have several days to get an opportunity for a shot. Whereas when you’re hunting those, those earlier rutt hunts, they’re getting bumped around a lot more or they’re, they’re in that transition. I’ve always said the toughest week of the year to hunt elk is the week after the rutt when those mature bulls quit the cows. And a lot of times our, our early muzz or hunts fall right upon that. So these later hunts, you know, the bulls have, like I say, they’ve gotten their winter feeding pattern and you know, a a lot of glassing takes place, which we’re, we love to do. And you know, once a guy finds a bull, he is gonna have, you know, some time to, to work his strategy and get in there and, and hopefully get a shot at him. So they’ve produced some of our better elk through the years and you know, we look forward to ’em every year. So,
00:59:20:24 –> 00:59:43:15
You know, new Mexico’s, you know, very good I guess at avoiding the peak of the rutt with the firearms muzz loader and rifle hunts. And that’s why they can offer so many different opportunity hunts for those in October and November. But the archery hunts do center throughout the rut in September. I’d imagine that’s where you get to have a lot of your fun as well with guys that are willing to hunt with the bow in September.
00:59:45:01 –> 01:00:26:28
Yeah, definitely. It’s, it’s the most exciting elk hunt we do. ’cause it does, you’re, you are gonna see some rutting activity if you’re there in September. The bulls are actively rutting cows and, and that’s our opportunity to, you know, get after ’em. It’s for archery hunter. I think it’s, it’s definitely the place to be, you know, New Mexico doesn’t, doesn’t allow the firearms guys in there and, and then in these primitive weapon units, so they’re, they’re never are hunted with a, with a rifle. So it’s, you know, it’s just a great opportunity to get in there and interact with them and, and hunt bugle and bulls, which is, you know, every elk hunter’s passion. Of course.
01:00:27:10 –> 01:00:56:03
What do you find gt like those early hunts, early archery versus the second archery? Like are you finding that, you know, you’re killing as good a bulls first as second or, I know I hunted like 23 early. The early archery killed a great bull. It was totally felt like it was mid rutt, it was about September 7th, but anyway, it was a great hunt. Ended up killing him. He was 360 7. But it just felt like, you know, that sometimes you people overlook those that first hunt. And I’m just kind of wondering your opinion on that.
01:00:57:12 –> 01:01:32:07
I would agree totally. I think that’s a very undersubscribed hunt because you know, with weather, weather patterns these days, nobody can dictate the rut. Whether it’s for elk or, or white-tailed deer for that matter. It, it’s gonna vary from week to week annually. And we, we’ve had amazing hunts on that early hunt. You hit a, you know, it is hot, you’re gonna have some dead time in the middle of the day, but a guy just goes in there knowing that. And you know, we kill just as many good bulls on that early hunt as we do the later hunts every year.
01:01:32:19 –> 01:02:33:20
That’s great. And tell, tell us a little bit about, you know, it feels like New Mexico’s one of those, you know, like Arizona, everybody’s got it really nailed down. These are the bulls that are left over, these are the bulls that we’re looking for, these are the units that are consistent producers. But man, we found, you know, as Adam and I have done a lot of research and talking to guys like you that are some of the best in the industry. I mean, we’re finding, you know, odd units, 37, 18, 38, you know, 23, 21 a just odd, odd units that will have that chance at producing, you know, I hate to say it, but three 80 plus type bulls and you know, maybe just give us, I know you’ve got a lot of experience in those, you might not want to guide them, like to guide ’em or something, but it just seems like there’s tons of opportunities, tons of potential for, you know, bulls that haven’t been seen yet, bulls that aren’t being followed, you know, with the low, you know, populations of people down there. It just doesn’t, it just feels like there’s a lot of opportunity that that’s, that’s awaiting, you know, anybody that’s willing to go out and work hard.
01:02:34:17 –> 01:03:17:01
Sure. I I think you hit it on the head. I mean, a lot of the units you named could produce a three 80 plus bull at any time, as we’ve seen in these outskirts areas. 18, you know, it’s archery only and it’s, it’s produced some, actually they’ve had a couple of bulls over 400 killed there, you know, a low desert unit, low density of elk and, and just not a lot of pressure on it. So any of those units like that or, or 23 or 21, there’s, there’s opportunity that, you know, I think with good draws that a guy can go out there and put in the time and, and find a great bull to hunt probably year after year
01:03:18:10 –> 01:03:37:08
From a precipitation moisture standpoint. How, what’s your outlook in terms of what’s your pattern been like in the last few months to the winter and, and as we start into spring right now, how optimistic are you in terms of forging feed and, and I guess that translate to antler growth this year?
01:03:38:20 –> 01:04:33:02
Well, I guess I’d say so far so good. We had a really good January and a good February march has dried out a bit, but I, you know, I operate a working cattle ranch there and we were digging up a water line just the other day and the ground moisture’s tremendous. And here we are second week of March and the green grass is coming really good up on the mountains. So I think we’re gonna be in good shape with the ground moisture that we have to start producing this early, you know, early good green grass to get a good spring on antler growth. Of course that’s gonna give us some good front ends and if it’ll maintain through the, through the spring, we can grow some good bulls. You know, we’ve, we’ve seen these years vary in what I think 30 inches amp goes sometimes going from a good year to a tough year. So it’s, it’s really important that we get the moisture here.
01:04:34:00 –> 01:05:32:07
Yeah, that’s, that kind of echoes what our weather pattern’s been in southern Utah. Most of Arizona as well, which we sometimes, not always, but share a lot of that same weather pattern. And New Mexico is one of those states that is somewhat drought sensitive because it is not a, I mean, you do have some higher elevation mountainous suns in different parts of the state where, you know, you get 10,000 foot plus where elk can get decent feed in about any year. But it is for the most part a high desert state and seems like apply full tilt this year and try to get a tag. New Mexico obviously has a unique guide draw and unguided draw. And maybe you could just talk about that a little bit, maybe benefits of that, if people know they’re gonna go with a guide, you know, when they draw, what’s the pros to applying with somebody like yourself and the guide draw for all species, you know, to begin with?
01:05:33:09 –> 01:06:55:20
Sure. Well, you know, with, with the elk and deer antelope, everything, I guess for that matter, it all boils down to 6% of the tags go to non-residents who apply without an outfitter, 10% non-residents that apply with an outfitter. And the, the remaining 84% go to the resident hunters. So if a guy’s gonna use a guide or an outfitter in the beginning, I think they definitely increased their odds sometime as, as much as 50% to apply with an outfitter. It puts you into that separate pool. You have to simply sign an agreement with the outfitter and you go into that guided pool and just improves your draws. You know, new Mexico’s a lottery draw state and there is no bonus bonus or preference points and I think, so everybody’s got a fair shake at it. So I think it’s definitely a must apply for state for guys with that strategy because, you know, unless you’ve got guaranteed tags coming from somewhere else, your your odds are pretty good here. I think, you know, if a guy strategizes his application, good, I think you can get as good as 20 to 40% draws in some of these good units. Yeah. You know, so it’s, it’s pretty good and it’s definitely a state people should not overlook.
01:06:56:04 –> 01:07:26:12
Yeah, we’ve definitely seen that with a change in tag allocations. You know, it went from, you know, you could, I don’t know, just we de definitely did see a change in drawing ons, guys that are going unguided or in the self-guided pool that are non-residents. I mean, it’s, it’s tough. There is no question about it. It is really tough. But in that guide pool, I know non-residents and residents can, you know, can apply for and get those tags, but it’s still by far the best odds we’ve seen, you know, for a non-resident obtaining a tag.
01:07:27:14 –> 01:07:28:04
01:07:28:24 –> 01:08:13:02
So, and if guys are gonna go guide it anyway, I know, you know, they might as well be applying with guys like you, I know like, you know, like Nevada does the rifle deer only in only rifle seasons, but in New Mexico, you know, it’s, it’s all seasons pertain to it and it’s just the same as if you’re, you know, applying for any ire, hunt unguided. So anyway, just to really appreciate your, your insight to that. So anyway, and it, and like you said, it does work for sheep, sheep and, and all the different species. Maybe elaborate a little bit on that. I know the odds for sheep are tough no matter what, but I mean, we’ve seen, I mean it’s incredible the difference even though they’re tough in the, in the guided pool, it’s just, it’s astronomical the difference.
01:08:14:03 –> 01:08:27:22
Yeah. As, as we talked earlier, I think it actually doubles your draws on the sheet tags. They’re, they’re still astronomical, but like, like I’ve always said, somebody’s gotta draw the tags, so you gotta have your name in the hat.
01:08:28:25 –> 01:09:24:00
Speaking of Sheep gt, tell me a little bit about, or tell us a little bit about, you know, from a rocky standpoint and then a desert standpoint. The units being that non-residents, you know, have been allocated essentially one tag in the unguided and up to two tags in the guide draw for each. It really doesn’t, there’s not real strategy the way I see it and trying to play a better odds strategy. Literally, if you’re a non-resident unguided guy, they’re the first guy outta the hat gets, gets his tag that he picks and that’s it. So you might as well stick, in my opinion, to the, the better units and producing the biggest ram. That’s my total philosophy when it comes to Rockies and deserts down there right now. So why don’t you go over your sheep units from a, from a rocky and desert standpoint where you think right now is producing the best rams, you know, you get three choices, so maybe the the best ones, three or four, whatever in your opinion.
01:09:25:18 –> 01:09:42:19
Yeah, I, I would agree totally. I’d, I’d pick the best units and in my opinion for Rocky’s, the best unit right now would probably be the, the Rio Grande Gorge. There were six Rams taken outta that unit last year and they all made Boone and Crockett, so I don’t know that,
01:09:43:03 –> 01:09:44:07
That’s pretty dang good.
01:09:44:28 –> 01:11:00:06
You can’t really compare that anywhere in the us. Yeah, so great, great unit, good accessibility, lots of sheep and lots of, lots of rams. It’s a really good quality hunt. After that I would, you know, I look at some of these outer units like the dry Cimarron or the San Francisco River got some great age class of, of Rams in there, a little tougher hunting. So they’ve got longer season, but, but good age classes and good quality rams, either one of which a guy could kill a Boone and Crockett Ram in, they’re both desert more deserty type units. They’re not Alpine. You get into the alpine herds, you look at Wheeler Peak or the Laier or the Pacos, any one of those units could produce a boon and Crockett Ram any given day. My favorite right now would probably be the Laier. Right? It’s a great unit, it’s fairly compact, it’s not very spread out and good rams, good age class, good quality, just a good hunt. That’s a hunt somebody could do with an outfitter or, or on their own for that matter. It’s, you know, you could backpack in there fairly easy as opposed to Wheeler or the Pecos.
01:11:01:11 –> 01:11:52:12
You know, you mentioned something that’s pretty important because I know I’ve spent some time in the Pecos out hunting and just know from talking to you and other people that hunt wheeler and laier, you’re dealing with units that are 11, 12,000 feet, which is a big, a big issue for a lot of people, you know, to consider in applying. If you come from, you know, let’s face it, the bulk of the United States comes from within 500 or a thousand feet of sea level. And those can present some challenges for people I’m sure you’ve experienced with, with some of your hunters. So those other three you mentioned, dry Cimarron, San Francisco River and Rio Grande Gorge or more lower Elevation Canyon Gorge hunts. So definitely something for people to consider if you’re don’t get around as well or, you know, altitude bothers you. I’d imagine you got choices in either, either direction it sounds like.
01:11:53:18 –> 01:12:55:27
Yes, desert sheep, you know, I’m, I’m in the, my number one unit is, is the LA drone. It’s my backyard. I’ve grown up hunting here. We’ve killed numerous great rams there, very low density of sheep spread over a huge amount of area. So it’s, it, it can present itself to be a tough hunt, but it’s a, it’s a great hunt in that matter. We’ve been hunting it now for several years and have had great success there. The Palam Seal is an old traditional unit. Great. You know, there again great sheep. The hatchets has, has great numbers. Those are probably my top picks for the desert sheep, you know, the White Sands missile range in San Andreas mountains there. They, they have been producing some great sheep. However it does, you know, there’s some scheduling conflicts there with getting on the range and having certain dates that you can or cannot hunt. However, you know, I think a great opportunity to kill a sure enough, a awesome ram.
01:12:56:11 –> 01:13:31:13
What I think’s crazy is as much as time as you guys spend in all that country, especially the drones in your backyard, you know, and I’ve heard you talk about it before, but some of these rams just show up and everybody’s kind of wondering where they come from, maybe haven’t been named so to speak, and, and, and there’s a giant ram looking at, and you guys are, you know, of course you’re in on some of the different auction hunts and, and governor tag type, you know, harvest and whatnot. And so anyway, is that just that these, these rans are just, like you said, spread out and low densities and, and they’re just slipping through or they’re in a refuge or how’s that working?
01:13:32:05 –> 01:14:13:16
Yeah, it’s, that’s one of the most exciting things about the LA drone is you never know what you’re gonna find there. You know, there’s probably, I would say a third of the unit that’s not huntable and it is refuge or there’s actually a piece of the mountain that’s owned, owned by a local college here that doesn’t allow hunting. So, and, and they’re ver these rams that we’ve found to be very nomadic here. We’ve seen Rams on one end of the unit and then found them 60 miles south a week later during the rutt. They travel, they walk a lot. So it’s always exciting to go glass there and just, you know, like I say, you never know what you’re gonna find. You look up on the hill and see a m you’ve never seen there after you’ve been glassing for 20 days.
01:14:14:05 –> 01:14:29:01
Yeah. Tell us a little bit about the history of some of these, the sheep where, you know, back in the day, you know, how many, how many tags they offer, and then when they come up with all these new units and whatnot, how that changed everything and, and the excitement that was behind that.
01:14:30:27 –> 01:15:26:19
Well, that, that the unit of the Pal Seals was the only desert sheep unit we had and they offered one tag for, oh man, a, a long time, 10 plus years anyway. And then three years ago they, they had got the numbers up high enough that they delisted the desert sheep in New Mexico to hunt all these other units. I believe there’s six of ’em now. And they all offer between one and, and actually like in the hatchets up to six tags, you know, so these, some of these sheep herds have been built up to in excess of 200. And so there was a ton of excitement. We all knew they were opening and were very excited and like I say, as soon as they, you know, said they were opening ’em, we were boots on the ground and scouting and there’s not many places in the world we that you can go hunt, you know, 180 inch plus desert sheep.
01:15:26:19 –> 01:16:19:29
And we were fortunate enough to, to actually kill several rams that were in ex, you know, above one 90. So it’s, it’s just been awesome. You know, there hasn’t been 190 inch ram killed in the US in 30 plus years. So now we’ve, we’ve had two successful hunts of rams that size. And it’s, you, you go, like I say, going into any one of these units could produce something of that caliber and it’s, it’s fun and it, you kind of think, well, is it gonna come to an end? But it, it doesn’t seem to, every year there’s great rams killed in a new unit, you know, this year the Covas produced a 180 plus ram, which is, you know, they’ve killed about seven rams there prior to that. So all of a sudden a, you know, a 180 shows up, it’s, it’s exciting every year.
01:16:21:10 –> 01:17:19:26
Well it’s, as somebody else likes, likes sheep and, and does a little guiding for sheep myself, I, I know I looked, looked upon what you guys are pulling out every year with a little bit of envy. We don’t quite have that kind of rams in Utah, still have a lot of great, great hunting, but you guys have some giants and so you’re obviously you are outfitting business. I, I guess got on board and got established and then, you know, just kind of the perfect storm lined up with when a lot of these new sheep opportunities for desert at least opened up. And you know, now I think there’s 20 ish, 20 ish roughly permits for each species each year. So a lot of opportunity, a lot to be a commanded. I know Jason and I have known Eric Romer and other folks within New Mexico game and Fish for years in the sheep program and know a lot of work goes in like every state into managing their sheep herds. They’re just that kind of animal. But a lot of success stories in New Mexico with their sheep for sure.
01:17:20:26 –> 01:17:35:09
Yeah, for sure. And and they’re continually putting effort forward. I know they just did a big transplant and are looking at opening new areas in the future. So, you know, there, I guess there’s no end to the opportunity inside.
01:17:36:21 –> 01:17:55:12
Let’s, let’s maybe shift gears a little bit to, to deer and talk with us a little bit about where you and or some of your guides or others that you partner up with look for in terms of either, I guess first mule deer and then you do have co deer in in New Mexico as well.
01:17:56:11 –> 01:19:09:22
Sure. So overall general rule thumb of New Mexico is, is deer densities are low. However, I think there’s any one of these western units in particular on the western half of the state could produce a great buck at any time. So starting in the northwest, it’s, these are the most popular units. There are units two B, two C, two A for that matter. They’re, they’re traditionally always producing, you know, more big deer than anywhere else and, and quite a bit of opportunity. The two B hunts have a tendency to be weather dependent. They get a lot of migration in from Colorado. It’s a well-known fact. So hot dry years, the hunting can be a lot tougher than on years when we get early cold and snow up north. So, but a but a great unit, a unit that a guy could hunt 180 plus inch deer in any given year, get into two C, probably the toughest draws in the state. A lot more resident deer, but, but I would arguably the best genetics we have to produce, you know, 180 or 200 inch plus kind of deer.
01:19:10:06 –> 01:19:33:29
Yeah, I know I spent a little time with your partner, least the guy that you do a lot of business with Dave, and, and we spent a little time and you know, of course killed that governor buck there, you know, last winter. And anyway, I mean that’s proof, that’s that that’s, you know, 280 inch deer coming out of that desert country’s pretty phenomenal. It’s unbelievable that, that they have deer like that.
01:19:35:17 –> 01:20:23:02
Absolutely. And, and we, you know, I would say the best opportunity there comes with the archery hunt. You know, a guy can get in that January archery hunt and get into some rutting activity there. You’re not awaiting the migration. It’s there and done with, so you’re gonna see lots of deer, you’re gonna have lots of opportunity. It’s a good hunt. It can pose it’s, you know, tribulations with weather and you know, snow and mud, but the opportunity’s gonna be there to see and hunt good deer. So that’s a really good archery deer opportunity at a time of year when, when a lot of guys are looking for something to do anyway, get into January and holidays are over and a lot of guys have got cabin fever and looking for somewhere to go. That’s a great hunt.
01:20:24:26 –> 01:20:45:19
What about outside of that Northwest New Mexico units, you know, five and two, what opportunities do you offer hunters that are maybe don’t quite have at least as high of expectations size-wise, you know, what other units do you have them consider looking at down more in your, in your neck of the woods?
01:20:46:27 –> 01:21:20:19
So we do, we do do deer hunting down here in 13 and 16. And they’re, they’re good deer hunts. They’re, again, populations are, are low, but we still have the opportunity to hunt 170, 180 inch deer. Most of our deer hunts down here are horseback ’cause we’re hunting in some of these, you know, back country roadless areas. But a good traditional mule deer hunt, you know, a guy can hunt a mature buck that’s in that, you know, 22 to 25 inch range and, and have a good time doing it for sure.
01:21:21:20 –> 01:21:33:01
Have you spent, I know you spent a lot of time in 17, I’ve had a few guys ask me about it a little bit. I’ve traditionally tried not to get guys too excited about it, but have you seen a, a shift there? I mean you’ve seen a little better deer there.
01:21:34:09 –> 01:21:58:22
I have, you know, over the course of the last few years, I feel like our deer numbers have actually improved a little bit here in the southwest. We seem to see more deer through their, through our hunts. So I think it’s on, on a increase a bit. And 17 is one of those units, you know, they’re again low populations but can produce some, some pretty nice deer if a guy will put the time in to find them.
01:21:59:22 –> 01:22:24:23
How about, you know, like can you, can you tell us a little more about two A? It’s one of those people, it’s in the right quadrant. It’s right there. It’s, it’s, I know it’s somewhat conservatively managed, hear very little about it and I don’t know if you can give us a little insight. Feels like there should be a giant in there and we’re always looking for that for ourselves. But anyway, I didn’t know if maybe you’ve spent any time in there.
01:22:25:24 –> 01:22:59:08
You know, I’ve spent very little time in a, but I do feel like it’s one of those units that it, it undoubtedly has the same genetics as B or C and could produce a giant deer at any time. I think it just, you know, just doesn’t get the, the height that two B or two C gets. So I think there’s good deer killed there every year you get into a little more residential area, so you gotta be a little careful how you’re accessed and where things are at. But definitely a, a unit not to be overlooked.
01:22:59:26 –> 01:23:19:19
I know we’ve, Adam and I have looked at places like seven and some of those real low density desert areas, which are kind of, you know, we’re a fan of those just ’cause usually you have very, very few tags and it’s kind of you against the deer, but, but I know that’s checkerboarded with Navajo, you know, the reservation here and there. So anyway. Any insight on some of that country?
01:23:21:01 –> 01:23:38:19
Well, I think you, you covered it, those are all units that could produce giant deer at any time. They just require a lot of scouting and for the guy that likes to get out there and and find something and hunt it, they’re, they’re ideal for that. ’cause any one of ’em could produce a great deer at any time.
01:23:38:29 –> 01:24:32:11
Yeah. Just to kind of give a little wrap up on, on deer, just I guess just, you know, I know over the years, just like you were talking about like, you know, we mentioned 12 and 13 and some of that country, I, I mean I’ve heard just crazy stories over the years of giants and some of that country, but it’s flat and thick and a lot of those deer seem to die of old age and New Mexico. I know, I know New Mexico’s not known as one of the top three or four deer states in the west and, and it’s tough, tough, but, but because of the terrain and, and different things, you know, it does have that potential for giants. We’re always thinking about it. Adam and I are always looking for the next place that might produce a 200 inch deer. And, and we do think about New Mexico, it’s just not easy. You don’t have, you know, rifle rutt hunts like Colorado or, or you know, a lot of it isn’t, isn’t glassful, it’s just flat and densely dense, you know, terrain. So anyway, any, any more thoughts on some of that?
01:24:33:07 –> 01:25:22:25
Well, what, you know, exactly what you said, it’s, it’s tough. But with that being said, it’s a place that a guy can actually, in some of these lower density units, the tags are not that hard to draw for non-resident. And you can more than likely draw them multiple years in, in row. And if that’s a guy’s strategy who loves to hunt deer such as myself, it’s one of my favorite species to hunt. You, you can go into an area and learn it and hunt it multiple times where in other states you may draw one of these tags one time in your life and not have that opportunity. And I think every time you hunt a unit, it increases your odds of being successful. So I, you know, for a, for a deer hunter or a guy that wants to put some time in and, you know, make multiple trips to a unit, I think you could really be successful doing it that way.
01:25:24:01 –> 01:25:57:02
Yeah. And one deer that, that, you know, Jason and I, and I’m sure a lot of other people remember that you helped, helped a hunter take, was, was a giant buck for, for the geese John Gey. And that was in a not a unit that you or I or anybody would probably tell people to apply for. I believe you found it either sheep scouting or sheep hunting one year. Why don’t you tell us about that deer and how big it was and all that? ’cause it was one of those legends really that kind of can just happen on a unit like what we’re talking about
01:25:58:09 –> 01:27:13:26
Real, it really was, yeah, it was a buck that we scouted in, in the Wheeler peak unit. We were scouting for sheep and found this giant deer and you know, through the network of friends, we, we found that John had a tag that year that he could hunt it and, and we actually hunted the buck that year and weren’t successful harvesting him. So John made a big effort to get a tag again the next year and we set out to, to get that buck and we were successful getting him, we killed him on the 7th of September. He was in velvet, he ss c I measured 270 inches, you know, with a 30 plus inch main beam on his right. So just a, a tremendous buck and a unit that I’ve hunted for 10 plus years for sheep and I, I’ve never seen prior or since a buck even close to that caliber. So, you know, a a diamond in the rough per se. And we were lucky enough to be there for it. And it, it’s a good memory because it took a lot of days and, and a lot of effort to get him. He was living at a, you know, about 11,000 feet there every year and, and just a, a great buck, very me memorable buck that I’ll never forget getting to hunt.
01:27:14:06 –> 01:27:24:03
Wasn’t he just living like where, you know, along a trail where, you know, you get a lot of hikers and maybe naturalists walking by and just kind of, kind of a total different situation, wasn’t it?
01:27:25:04 –> 01:28:20:27
Yeah, it really was. He was living off probably one of the, well it is the most traveled hiking trail in New Mexico. It’s the trail that leads to it’s crazy Williams Lake and Wheeler Peak, however, in, in watching the buck and learning him, he, he was out early in the morning in some big rock slide shoots and, and it seems like when the hiking activity got high and the people, he would just slip into a little thicket and bed down for the day and of course afternoon and evening would come and the traffic would slow down and he’d come out and feed again. He was living there with a couple other bucks and had his little routine. Seemed like he avoided the bulk of the traffic. And I think very few people even ever looked up on the hill and seen he was there, but pretty interesting little routine he had to avoid all the traffic there.
01:28:22:10 –> 01:28:58:08
Yeah, that’s pretty, pretty awesome one of those that, that just just happens sometimes right place, right time and connections like you said. So maybe just real briefly, since I did mention earlier you do have COOs Deer in New Mexico, maybe highlight two or three units that you feel probably give the guy a best chance. I know we’re not talking about, you know, Arizona when it comes to deer numbers and, and you know, the wide, you know, number of units throughout Arizona that have COOs deer. But tell us maybe about your best units, in your opinion to consider hunting COOs deer in New Mexico.
01:28:59:14 –> 01:29:45:20
Sure. So I think the most popular units are of course 27. It’s right in the boot hill and borders, Mexico and the South and Arizona on the west. It’s probably got the best quality and density of deer and, and definitely the most popular. Another unit I’m a big fan of is 23 along the San Francisco River. Good numbers of COOs, deer and some good quality. And I think probably one of the more overlooked units for COOs deer would be 21 a. It runs on the east side of the black range, big high country, very rugged, but has traditionally produced some really good coo deer, another one of those units that if a guy wants to work hard and get in there and and make a big effort, could probably produce a great buck.
01:29:46:11 –> 01:30:29:16
It’s kind of crazy thinking about New Mexico, I know talking to a lot of different people, including yourself and, and friends of yours as well and people you’re connected with. But you know, guys are seeing these giants in weird places while they’re elk hunting, whether it be in the sixteens or who knows where, you know, and it’s just, it’s just interesting, you know, again, as with what we were talking with elk is you don’t know where they’re gonna show up. You don’t know where a giant’s gonna be and there’s, there’s deer that aren’t named. It feels like this day and age here in Utah, especially, you know, Utah, places in Nevada, the Arizona Strip, I mean, and a lot of the elk units in Arizona, we, I mean there’s named bulls. They, they’ve got a bounty on their heads and, and they’ve been in the crosshairs for a couple of years.
01:30:29:18 –> 01:31:01:06
And that’s the one thing I just love about New Mexico is, is who knows, you know, it could, there could be a giant anywhere and somebody pulls out a giant and you just think, man, where’s that deer been living? And, and that really, nobody knows any history behind ’em. It’s truly a deer that hasn’t been watched and hasn’t been, you know, seen by numerous people numerous times and photographed. Let’s see, any other, before we move on, any other insights to coss, maybe the different seasons that they offer and you know, is there anything there anything else there that people might need to know about?
01:31:02:03 –> 01:31:30:25
Well, I think one of the greatest opportunities New Mexico provides for the co deer and a lot of these units, they do have a, a hunt in December that’s actually nine days long. And anybody who’s hunted COOs deer or deer in general for that matter knows that that extra four days can pay dividends as far as being able to, you know, find a good buck and then actually get in position to get a shot because just ’cause you see ’em with, especially with c deer, doesn’t mean you’re gonna get a shot at him.
01:31:31:03 –> 01:31:32:27
Yeah, that’s exactly right. Very,
01:31:32:28 –> 01:32:06:09
Very good point on that. ’cause you know, you know, not just something to point out since there’s no point system in New Mexico and, and and, and the very northwest units for mule deer have such tough odds, I think COOs deer get overlooked a lot just simply because, you know, everybody thinks of two B, two C, five B, some of these units up there for mul deer. So I know you’ve done ’em from time to time, been successful hunting them yourself and definitely I think it overlooked a little bit for New Mexico on or or the coo deer.
01:32:07:07 –> 01:32:07:16
01:32:07:19 –> 01:32:13:15
Yeah, and you can, you can apply for mule deer one first, second choice coo deer third or you know, mix it up a little bit.
01:32:14:08 –> 01:32:41:01
Yeah, I think that’s something a lot of people miss on their applications in New Mexico in general is the fact that they actually go through all three of your hunt choices prior to moving on to the next applicant. So, you know, a lot of guys put their first choice and that’s it. Well you, you’re missing a big opportunity there that you could apply for maybe two tough rifle hunts and then put in a, a lesser hunt for your third choice and know that you’re gonna get to go deer hunt.
01:32:42:29 –> 01:33:19:28
One thing that’s absolutely true. One thing GT New Mexico, unlike about any other state, has some unique opportunities for some exotic species. The Ibex on the Floreta Mountains, the Orx on White Sands. Maybe talk about those two opportunities briefly. I know the drawing odds aren’t tremendous, they’re not great, but I know you guide both of those. Talk with us a little bit about the Ibex and Orx hunts and maybe specifically when it comes to the orx, what, which zones within White Sands you prefer think are the better ones right now?
01:33:20:17 –> 01:34:23:08
So starting with the Orx I there, it’s a great hunt. It’s a hunt anybody can do. They’re, they’re a fun animal to hunt, like hunt antelope on steroids, I would say beautiful trophy, good to eat and a tough draws there again. But, you know, somebody’s got a draw and these are hunts that can take place in January, February, March when there’s not a lot of other things going on. I I, right now my favorite would actually probably be the stallion range and that’s kind of changed, but it’s producing some really good rics right now. Next to it would be Rhodes Canyon and these are high success hunts. So, you know, if a guy draws one of these hunts, he’s got good odds of taking a nice trophy home and then onto, onto the I vs. You know, it takes place in the three to mountains, tough draw odds, but, and, and a really tough mountain to hunt, but a extremely fun mountain hunt that a guy can do.
01:34:23:23 –> 01:35:03:17
I’d say arguably one of the best opportunities in the United States to do a hunt like this rugged mountain with just an amazing trophy, good quality. And I think that there again, something a lot of people overlook is the opportunity to apply for their second choice with a muzzle loader. New Mexico doesn’t have any restrictions on their muzzle loaders, so you can use a scope muzzle loader sed bullets and, and with today’s technology, you know, no different than the way we’re hunting now. You know, a guy’s actually got a, a efficient firearm in his hands where he can shoot something at two to 300 plus yards.
01:35:04:16 –> 01:35:43:25
Yeah, absolutely. I I know we highly recommend near any firearm hunter apply for rifle first, muzzle loader. Second, the archery hunts I know are a completely different ball game, kind of a numbers game. What I mean by that, and gt you can probably elaborate on this, is you just gotta have a lot of stalks under your belt and in some cases shoot longer distances maybe than traditionally you’d be totally comfortable with. Just simply because of the terrain, the steepness, the number of animals. Sometimes in some of these groups, those kill rates are less than 10% on the archery for a reason. So apply for those only if you really know what you’re getting into. Wouldn’t you say?
01:35:45:08 –> 01:35:45:16
01:35:45:27 –> 01:36:30:11
You know, that kinda leads us into some of the other opportunities in New Mexico. They’re, they’re very good at giving opportunities to youth, to mobility impaired hunters for different species. Not for every unit in every, every part of the state or for all species in every part of the state. But they’ve got, you know, youth hunts for, you know, deer, elk, antelope, sheep and mobility impaired hunts for, you know, some of the better elk and antelope areas in the state. Maybe briefly talk about, you know, areas that you, and, and I might add that they normally start their, particularly regard to antelope and elk, their seasons are prior to any of the other firearm hunts, so they actually can be pretty strong. Rutt hunts a lot of years, can’t they for the elk?
01:36:31:16 –> 01:37:17:19
They are. And and year after year proved to be one of our better hunts that we do. We’ve got a lot of clients that like to take their kids hunting and we support it as much as we can. I mean, without kids hunting, we all know there’s no future in it. So it’s a good chance to get your kids out on, on our, you know, possibly one of the better hunts they’ll ever go on. Draws are better than they are on the general adult hunts and it does get to start a week prior. So we do catch a lot of the bulls still in, in real active rutt and you know, getting your kids out there and getting ’em an elk is great, but getting ’em out there and letting them actually experience the rutt, we all know when you’ve heard a bull bugle, it’s something you never forget and you want to hear more and more.
01:37:17:25 –> 01:37:55:07
So I think that’s a good chance to get the kids out there. And and same with the deer. They actually have those hunts later in the year. I know down here in the southern units where we hunt, it does start getting into some rutting activity and the deer are more active. So you know, they’re gonna get to see, you know, my belief when you take a kid hunting, they, you want ’em to see game and you want ’em to get opportunities or they’re gonna get bored with it. So I think New Mexico’s done a good job of putting those seasons where it, where it plays in the favor of the, of the hunter, you know, the kids hunting.
01:37:55:17 –> 01:38:48:07
I’d sure have to agree with you. You know, I know Adam and I have taken our kids down there. We’ve hunted deer, I’ve hunted, you know, Colton, my oldest kid killed his first deer in Mexico. Thankfully that was a state that allows ’em to hunt as soon as they have hunter ed. And it was just super opportunity hunted unit 10. And, and I know like we’ve talked about, they give these kids just premium season dates, you know, rutt hunts if you’re willing to do it short, but you know, short clips and just you come in and then take a break, come in and take a break within that season. And, and I know we’ve sure been appreciative. Even my second oldest killed in elk on the Youth Hunt muzz loader unit 15 and just, you know, his, his first big game animals. So super appreciative in New Mexico. And I’m sure you’ve, I know you’ve been a part of that, you’ve even, you know, guided some of these youth hunts and whatnot and you’ve seen that firsthand.
01:38:49:20 –> 01:39:00:08
Absolutely. Yeah, no, no doubt that we, we guide ’em every year and actually I have kids of my own that hunt ’em every year, so it’s fun to get out with them and, and have those good opportunities
01:39:00:29 –> 01:39:36:22
As, as we kind of wrap it up here. Gt I mean maybe do you have any insight to your personal application strategy or favorite hunting memory or any of these, you know, I know you’ve guided some amazing tags. I don’t know anybody that’s taken more, you know, high dollar auction tags. You’ve taken, you know, a lot of our clients over the years and Adam and I have been super appreci appreciative. You’ve represented the industry extremely well, you’ve represented us well and, and of course we’re super proud to be associated with you. But, you know, any, any insight to, to your application strategy or, or something really cool a memory that one of your favorites?
01:39:37:28 –> 01:40:21:06
You know, I, I’d have to say those two questions kind of go hand in hand for me. My application strategy has always been, you know, read the input that you guys are putting out and apply. I apply in most of the Western states and i, I actually apply for Hunts. I don’t go just the points only system. Most of the time I figure if I’m lucky enough to draw one, I’m gonna make time to go do it. And, and even with my busy schedule, I’ve tried my best to do that. And in saying that, I was lucky enough a few years ago to draw early muzzle loader tag in Arizona in unit 27 and had one of the, the finest hunts I’ve ever had. Personally I killed a tremendous bull was four 14
01:40:21:22 –> 01:40:23:25
Days my dream on the
01:40:23:25 –> 01:40:48:26
Sixth day of a seven day hunt. And, and I had a great time. So I, I remember when I drew the tag, I called Jason and he said, well that was probably worse odds than drawing a sheep tag, but you got the only tag that went in the random draw. So yeah, you know, I i I made the best of it and I, it’s a hunt that’ll always stick out in my mind as, as a really great opportunity.
01:40:49:19 –> 01:40:57:21
I I was hoping you’d bring that up ’cause that that was the bull that I was, I was thinking of is, if I remember right, sat triple brow times doesn’t it, on both sides,
01:40:58:10 –> 01:40:59:20
Correct? Yes. Yeah.
01:40:59:22 –> 01:41:36:18
Very unique bull. Just a giant. So yeah, I know that, you know, your time’s probably coming on a sheep tag or something else seems like, ’cause I do know you apply for a lot of, a lot of western states as we, you know, bounce ideas off each other from time to time. So really appreciate your time today gt and maybe just let people know how they’d get ahold of you if they’re interested. They, the deadline is March 22nd this year, you know, if you’re not gonna apply in the guide draw initially, but you do end up drawing a tag and decide you want some help with somebody like gt. How, how does somebody, how do they get ahold of you?
01:41:37:19 –> 01:42:07:03
Best, best way to get ahold of me is a cell phone number. It’s (505) 350-9775. You can see us on Facebook at Frontier outfitting. You know, just, just call, get ahold of us, we’ll help you through the application if Epic does your application. We’ve worked closely with them and have good strategies in place for, you know, trying to maximize everybody’s opportunity to get in a good tag.
01:42:07:12 –> 01:42:45:19
That’s awesome. Gt sure appreciate you man. Just, you know, new Mexico’s one of our favorite states. It’s one of those things Adam and I spend way too much time probably analyzing it because you got, you know, two to three seasons with every species and, and tons of units to choose from and lots of good quality animals to be had and multiple, multiple units and, and so, you know, it’s, it’s just one of our favorites to apply for of course tons and tons of species and opportunities and anyway, just appreciate you and all you’ve done for us and our members here at Epic and taking some time with us today.
01:42:46:08 –> 01:42:55:06
Great, well thank you guys for having me and nine days away from the deadline so everybody get, get on your phone or your computer and get applied.
01:42:55:28 –> 01:43:48:10
Okay. As we close here, I just wanna tell everybody we do here at Epic Outdoors publish a monthly magazine December through June bimonthly from then through the rest of the year for the first six months of the year we break down all the states Western big game drawing ons, kill percentages, best units as well as offer personalized application strategy service. And we also help guys find outfitters for different hunts you’re looking for. So anyway, look us up. It’s epic outdoors.com number’s 4 3 5 2 6 3 0 7 7 7. Adam and I are here, we’re willing to help. And anyway, thanks to GT and good people like him, we get to enjoy hunting the west and and of course he’s an awesome outfitter and been at it for years and years and sure appreciate his assistance today. Thanks gt. Thanks a lot buddy. Thank you guys. Have a good day. Alright, you too.