EP 83: Hunting the Jicarilla Apache Nation with Kyle Tator. In this episode we talk to Kyle Tator the Wildlife Biologist of the world renowned Jicarilla Apache Nation. Kyle goes through the great hunt options that are available on the reservation. There are still great tags available for 2018. The Jicarilla offers some of the best hunting you could ever imagine for trophy elk and mule deer with unbelievable success rates.

Disclaimer: this text was produced through an automated transcription service and likely contains errors. Please listen to the original audio for exact content.

00:00:01:18 –> 00:00:07:14
If I’m not mistaken, you’ve got some elk tags still available for this year. So guys that don’t have, you know, a hunt lined up,

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I don’t know many other places that can boast a 85% success rate on an archery

00:00:12:09 –> 00:00:14:13
Hunt. Anything to do with Western Big Games.

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To the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour.

00:00:21:29 –> 00:01:10:04
Hey everybody. Jason Carter here with the Epic Outdoors Podcast coming at you from Cedar City, Utah. Got a real good guest on with us here today. It’ll be Kyle from Hickory Game and Fish. So Hickory Indian Reservation there in northern New Mexico. Got some incredible animals, deer, elk, turkeys, bear, mountain lion about everything. So good guys down there. They manage their country, really know what they’re doing with a 21st century type data. And, and they’re managing for quality, which of course, here at Epic Outdoors, that’s what we’re about. We like trophy animals and, and quality. And as well as, you know, we do talk about some average stuff as well. ’cause guys just like to get out there, but everybody likes to put their hands on big animals. And so anyway, that’s what the Hickory is all about. This is sponsored by Under Armour. We appreciate them.

00:01:10:04 –> 00:02:39:03
They’ve got a lot of great gear coming out with some cool stuff here in 2018. It’ll be out here shortly. Just appreciate them and their support with Epic Outdoors Podcast Magazine and other things as well. So, anyway, also, we are working with Hillberg tents. Everybody knows them. They’re incredible. They’re known for quality. Some of the best tents that have ever been made in history and good friends of ours. We’ve dealt with them for probably 15 plus years. Know ’em personally, break bread with them at times. A lot of options they’ve got, they’re known for thir three and four season type tents. That’s kind of, you know, what I always knew ’em as. But they’ve also got some summer tents as well. So there’s a lot of options there. Tons of options actually for backcountry backpacking as well as, you know, larger tents that provide opportunities for families to sleep together in a tent. So anyway, you can order a free ca catalog [email protected], H i l l e b e r g.com, or call toll free (866) 848-8368. They’re also on Facebook. Let’s talk about outdoor edge knives. We’ve partnered with Outdoor Edge, they’ve got some incredible knives coming out. We’ve all, we all like the razor knives. What a great product. And so anyway, you can check out the different knives they [email protected]. Let’s get old Kyle on with us. So Kyle, you on there with me?

00:02:39:13 –> 00:02:41:02
Yes, sir. Thanks for having me.

00:02:41:08 –> 00:02:46:01
Hey, you betcha. Tell me, what’s your exact title there with the Hickory? Okay,

00:02:47:05 –> 00:03:41:14
So I am the wildlife biologist for the Hickory Apache Nation. So all wildlife conservation and management programs, whether it’s non-game to game species, I’ve got a great team that gathers information. So with that information, we, we implement a variety of management and conservation programs Okay. To best manage for abundant, balanced and healthy populations and resilient habitats. So that includes anything from setting harvest policies, season dates, license quotas, things like that. Making sure that populations are, are set up to thrive, meet the standards of the program that, that have been in place for 30 plus years. And if, if anyone needs to know anything about Hickory, it’s, we try to implement quality across the board.

00:03:41:29 –> 00:04:20:13
Yeah, well I’d say that’s definitely what the hickory is known for, especially big mul deer. Of course, I’m a mule deer freak. And so we, you know, we follow what you guys are killing on the hick every single year and we’re seeing pitchers and, and all of those things. I know you guys auction a tag or two and then also you have a draw system, you know, for deer as well as elk and different species. Let’s, let’s talk a little bit about that. And I think, if I’m not mistaken, you’ve got some elk tags still available for this year. So guys that don’t have, you know, a hunt lined up, you’ve got o opportunities for guys to go ahead and just buy something, not even go through the draw process on that.

00:04:21:12 –> 00:04:31:03
No, absolutely. If you’re, if you’re anything like me, most Western draws are complete. And if you have anything close to my luck, your tagless, so

00:04:31:12 –> 00:04:36:15
You mean, you mean they don’t just, you know, write you out a tag whenever you want it be in the wildlife?

00:04:36:24 –> 00:04:41:17
No, sir. No sir. No, I, you know it straight and narrow here for sure. Good.

00:04:42:20 –> 00:05:25:29
But, but anyway, we, we do, we have some really top-notch opportunities remaining this year. All of those are involving bull elk, so Okay. For those who are like me and don’t have a tag in their pocket, don’t have something lined up for this fall. Absolutely. We have some late season bulls, November rifle bulls, and then the late season is the end of the year into the first week of January. Really it’s a hickory is, is sort of a non-traditional and often overlooked venue for or hunting opportunity, but really top-notch, high quality experience. That’s the standard. That’s something that we manage for every year.

00:05:27:09 –> 00:05:40:09
Okay. And so are you managing, you know, for a, an age class, are you, I mean, are you pulling teeth and dealing with all that? Or is it more just size-wise or just a kind of a gut instinct is what everybody’s saying? How, how are you managing? Sure,

00:05:40:28 –> 00:06:20:00
Sure. So it, it’s as intensive as it gets. So I, I have an awesome job I get to, to monitor wildlife. I get to monitor elk and deer. So we fly annual surveys. My job is to make sure that, you know, population age and sex ratios are in check. We pull teeth on everything that gets harvested here. So the harvested age class, you know, we’re, we’re targeting mature and beyond mature bull elk, you know, that’s sort of the, the standard as conservative as we can be on, on elk and deer. So yeah, we, we run the whole gamut as far as as, as what we do as far as management program.

00:06:20:10 –> 00:06:44:01
Oh, that’s awesome. And so yeah, let’s just talk about maybe some of the different species. Gimme kind of a rundown of the draw process as we go along. Okay. And you know, how guys can go about, you know, hunting on the aria and, and how they would do that. Obviously I know you’ve got a webpage and I’ve been on that a bit, but maybe we can just kind of visit about that.

00:06:45:06 –> 00:07:57:16
Okay, so let me start with elk ’cause that’s, you know, that’s where we, we need, we need some folks to come and start harvesting some bulls for us. So I think it’s important that to maybe tell the story of, of where we get most of our current elk hunters, most of our current elk hunters are traditional public land hunters over the counter unit. You know, they hunt small ranches, things like that throughout the west, you know, different states, it doesn’t really matter. But somehow they find us, whether it’s, you know, the internet or the shows we go to, things like that. Yeah. So these folks are, you know, the story is we didn’t see an elk. We’ve been hunting there for 10 years, you know, so on and so forth. So we are the opposite of that. You know, we want you to pass 20 bulls before you end up taking one home. We want you to have an experience of a lifetime. You know, that’s, that’s what our objective is. So one of the things that we’ve changed in the last year or two is for elk hunters. We are actually selling pretty much all of our rifle bull and archery bull and muzzle loader bull tags over the counter beginning February 1st of the year.

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So that opportunity exists early in the season. You know, you can, you can a book a hunt as early as February 1st for that coming fall, which I think makes us a little unique, you know, when compared to other, other places. Yeah. But the start, the foundation of hunting the hickory is going to hickory hunt.com. Okay. That is, that is our website that has our hunting proclamation. We typically release an annual pro proclamation the last week of January. Yeah. So people need to download that document. They need to read through and see the different opportunities, whether it’s a failure freezer, cowel hunt, or a, you know, a, a late season bull or an archery bull. You know, we have a variety of really top-notch experiences and opportunities.

00:08:46:26 –> 00:08:56:12
Okay. And so is it a, is it a drop prior to February 1st and then the remaining tags go on sale first come first serve basis on February 1st? Or how does that exactly work?

00:08:57:14 –> 00:09:02:24
No, sir, everything bull wise is for sale February 1st.

00:09:02:24 –> 00:09:04:08
First. Okay. First come first sale. There’s no

00:09:04:08 –> 00:09:19:02
Drawing for, for, for the bull first. Come first, sir. It is over the counter. We call it over the counter with caps, you know, so we have a, a license quota on it. Basically, we just wanna streamline the process and make it as easy as possible for someone to, to come and hunt here. So,

00:09:21:05 –> 00:09:49:15
Well that’s, that’s pretty awesome. First come, first serve, you know, it allows guys to be able to hunt year after year, kind of get a, develop a relationship with an outfitter, you know, on the hickory or, or several outfitters or whatever, and then know they can kind of come back. I’ve got a lot of clients that we talked to here at Epic and they wanna, you know, they just kind of get started. You get your feet wet the first year and you never draw that tag again or, or, or it’s hard to obtain those landowner tags again. So this is kind of an interesting opportunity.

00:09:50:20 –> 00:10:15:03
It is. And and that’s, you know, the folks that had those experiences where, you know, they were in beautiful country but didn’t see an elk, you know, those guys are back here every year, you know, with their, they’re repeat customers, they tell their friends, you know, that word of mouth thing is extremely powerful and yeah. But, you know, having said that, we still have some opportunities remaining and really excited about what this year brings and what the future’s bringing.

00:10:15:11 –> 00:10:46:22
That’s awesome. And so do, tell me about your elk populations, you know, early in the year versus late in the year. Are you having migration, you know, from Colorado or surrounding areas, or do you feel like, and I, and I’ve been on Hickory a little bit, I know you’ve got, you know, plenty of oak brush and a little bit of that mid to upper range country as well as, you know, getting down into that cedar and opinion juniper country. But do you have what you figure is, is a good solid resident herd? Or, or does it get better? Yeah. Is it late as a, as the season wears on?

00:10:47:18 –> 00:11:44:06
Yeah, so we, we have a little bit of both. We, we just concluded a, a collaring study a couple years ago, and what that turned out was it was about 50 50 migratory versus resident. And in my opinion, our resident population is where the quality is coming from. Yeah. These are the animals that we have the most management control over. You know, they’re all in our jurisdiction. They don’t have to cross four different jurisdictions to come to winter range. Yeah. So, yeah, we have a very strong resident component, you know, bulls in north central New Mexico. The, the top end bull here is a 3 20, 3 30 type bull. So what we manage for is, is maturity. You know, we want to see past prime old warrior type bulls come in from our hunters, whether they’re tribal or non-tribal. That’s, that’s the objective. It’s not uncommon to see a 10 to 12 year old bull come in here.

00:11:44:13 –> 00:11:56:07
Wow. That is crazy. Tell me, tell me about the quality a little bit. Like what are you seeing, what are you seeing on maybe something, I don’t know, when you’re doing your aerial surveys, if it’s post hunt or, or whatnot, but what do you see in quality wise?

00:11:57:16 –> 00:12:59:22
Sure. So again, really, really old, really mature, the average over the last, you know, 30 years has been in the, the low three hundreds. And, and like I said, that’s, that’s sort of what Mother Nature’s given us in North central New Mexico. Yep. But when we see, when we’re flying in the, and doing aerial classification surveys, we are seeing abundant, you know, big old mature bulls in the 3 20, 3 33 40 range. You know, this year we didn’t get a ton of snow, so I was surveying a whole bunch of what I would consider more resident segments of the population. And, you know, the quality’s here, the quality’s always been here. It’s, it’s, it’s sort of an unknown on, in the elk world, you know, as far as top-notch experiences and, you know, I know there’s places that bigger bulls, but it’d be hard pressed to have an experience, you know, for the true elk hunter where, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re in the middle of them, you know, middle of the day Yeah. Every day. So, wow. It’s, it’s unique.

00:13:00:02 –> 00:13:11:09
Let’s talk about the different seasons. And so you’ve got archery, muzzle, rifle, and, and some of those are sold out and some are still available, but give, give kind of break those seasons down for me a little bit.

00:13:12:11 –> 00:14:23:19
Okay. So in the, in archery, the hunt start September, last week of September for the reservation wide archery. Again, those are all over the counter. You can buy that February 1st. We are sold out of those right now. Okay. We have a south archery unit that is basically the southern half begins September 1st and runs through the 25th. You get to roll your own seven days on that hunt. So someone who wants to schedule, you know, you know, around a vacation or, or you know, the, the moon patterns, whatever, whatever they want. We’re flexible on those hunt dates, but you are restricted to the southern half, which, which honestly is, is top-notch stuff. Anyway, there’s really good bulls on that southern half too. So I, I believe we have two or three tags remaining on those this year. Okay. And then the same rules apply for the muzzle loader hunt, which is a south unit muzzle loader hunt. So again, you can, you can buy that license right now and hunt the south unit, roll your own days, you know, hunt bulls this September, so.

00:14:23:26 –> 00:14:27:13
Wow. So what’s the muzzles? That’s the archery, yeah. Okay. That’s the archery. Okay.

00:14:28:11 –> 00:14:30:10
Well, archery and muzzle I should say. Sorry.

00:14:30:16 –> 00:14:33:20
So you do have an early rutt or muzzle order hunt?

00:14:35:04 –> 00:14:35:21
I do, yeah.

00:14:36:13 –> 00:14:40:27
What are the, is that the same kind of thing, a September 1st to the 25th or you put ’em in?

00:14:42:02 –> 00:14:49:12
Yes, sir. It’s the same, same rules as the south archery. So you would, you would, someone who bought that tag could choose their own days.

00:14:50:01 –> 00:14:55:29
Okay. Yep. So you do have some archery hunters with muzzled or hunters hunt hunting? We

00:14:55:29 –> 00:15:28:20
Do, but when I say it’s as conservative as it gets, it is truly as conservative as it gets. So, okay. You know, for the south unit, which is roughly half a million acres, you know, we have five total tags in that unit. Wow. And they’re, they’re spread across different, different dates. You know, the standard is, we, we definitely want to make sure that the experience is as top notch as as it gets. So you’re not gonna see another hunter unless you want to, you know, maybe at dinner, you know, that, that type of thing.

00:15:28:22 –> 00:15:43:17
So, so five tags on the muzzle on the south. Yeah. Okay. And so that seems, that seems pretty awesome that south half. Is it, I mean, are you finding bulls, you know, as good or better on the north versus south, or maybe better,

00:15:43:21 –> 00:16:10:13
You know, traditionally the, yeah, the, the traditionally, the southern half has produced some of the better bulls. You know, one of the, the all time bulls killed in the, oh, I think it was the early two thousands, was the three 70 bull that no one knew about on that south end. So. Wow. You know, I think the opportunity is there and, and it’s definitely big bull country, you know. Wow. It’s a little more aired and lots of water, lots of feed, you know. Yeah.

00:16:11:02 –> 00:16:15:02
Go ahead. Yeah, go ahead with that tag quota on the archery, if you got it. Okay.

00:16:15:08 –> 00:16:38:20
So the, the muzzle loader south unit has five, I believe those are, there’s three left this year. And then the south archery has 10 available, or, or 10. The quota is 10, and as of today we have five remaining. Okay. So, like I said, there’s still some opportunity on that south end for sure. Sort of the, the peak of the run type

00:16:38:21 –> 00:16:38:27

00:16:39:05 –> 00:16:39:14

00:16:39:21 –> 00:16:44:08
Activity. That’s crazy. And so what do you, what do you guys charge for a non-tribal member on that?

00:16:45:19 –> 00:16:48:20
So the, the licenses for the archery is 6,000 bucks.

00:16:49:02 –> 00:16:49:11

00:16:49:28 –> 00:16:51:26
The muzzle loader is 7,000.

00:16:52:02 –> 00:16:52:11

00:16:52:11 –> 00:17:10:24
So really, you know, compared to the market for North central New Mexico, we’re priced, you know, right. Where they need to be. And, and for a top notch, high success hunt, I don’t know many other places that can boast a 85% success rate on an archery hunt.

00:17:12:01 –> 00:17:14:18
Is that really what you guys are killing? That’s unbelievable.

00:17:15:20 –> 00:17:18:05
Yeah, no, it, it’s, it’s legit for sure.

00:17:18:23 –> 00:17:48:07
Wow, that’s awesome. That’s crazy. I mean, a lot of these hunts, you know, in these different states, even in New Mexico, might not even have a 85% participation rate. You have a certain amount of hunters that just don’t show up or a death in the family or whatever, get sick or a conflicting dates and, and so to say you actually have an 85% harvest rate is just un unheard of. I actually don’t know of a, another archery hunt that I can think of off the top of my head that’s a higher percent harvest than that.

00:17:48:25 –> 00:18:11:06
Yeah. It, and, and most of the folks who, who don’t go home with a bull are, are, you know, they either wounded or, you know, you know, there was opportunity. So that’s something that, that we pride ourselves on, is we, like I said, we really truly believe that if someone comes here, we want them to tell everybody and they want leave here with a smile on their face, you know, kind of Wow. Kind of deal.

00:18:11:15 –> 00:18:27:00
Holy cow. And so, kind of gimme a rundown of this. You know, a guy comes in, do you guys, do you guys lodge ’em, do they buy their own lodging there in the middle of the reservation? And, and like you said, they hunters might see each other at dinner. What does that mean? Mm. How, how do you do that?

00:18:27:15 –> 00:19:47:13
Okay. Yeah. So we’re, we’re simply the wildlife department. We’re the, we’re the agency that issues licenses and obviously we all wear different hats. Right now I’m doing a little bit of marketing promotion, but I’m a, I’m the biologist, so Sure. But, but what we do is we issue the license for that fee and then a tribal member guide is required. Okay. So that’s a third party contractor. We’re not an outfitter. We’re not, you know, we don’t, we don’t set that up. Obviously it is in our interest that whoever comes here has a hunt of a lifetime. So, you know, we, we, we do our best to make sure that is achieved. Yeah. So, on the guide side of things, we provide a list on our website of, of tribal member guides who have been doing this a while. You know, they’ll work, they’re, they’re gonna work their their butt off to make sure that you get a bowl, a cow, a lion, a bear, a trophy buck, whatever it is, you know? Yeah. That, that’s their job. That’s what they’re getting paid to do. So some of the best hunters I know are, are Hickory Apache guides, hands down. So, so that’s the way that works is you buy the license from us, you have to hire a guide. And then the lodging, there’s only one hotel in town and that’s the WildHorse Casino and hotel in, in Dulce.

00:19:47:23 –> 00:19:55:28
Oh, okay. You bet. And g nice place to say and, and fairly reasonable. Yeah. Good. Yeah, fairly

00:19:55:28 –> 00:20:03:29
Reasonable. And you know, it has a casino if you are into that sort of thing. It has restaurant and a bar and, you know, so it’s a nice place. Yeah.

00:20:03:29 –> 00:20:06:16
You could win your money back. You could win your six or seven grand back.

00:20:06:25 –> 00:20:08:08
Sure. If you’re lucky. Yeah.

00:20:09:13 –> 00:20:12:01
Alright. Have you ever won, you ever won any money down there?

00:20:12:23 –> 00:20:15:28
I’m not, I’m not one that partakes, that’s for sure. Okay.

00:20:15:29 –> 00:20:28:11
Alright. Well, well that’s awesome. And so what do, like, what, do you know what an average guide price is? Is it something four or five grand or what do you, what are they charging? Do you know? You know,

00:20:28:24 –> 00:20:45:28
There’s a lot of, because it is third party, we don’t, you know, we don’t get too involved in that, but I can tell you what the fair market rate for a guide in this part of the world is, is two 50 to 300 a day. Okay. You know, that’s, that’s fair. Okay. And the number of days that you’re, you’re hunting here, so,

00:20:46:00 –> 00:20:53:18
Okay, so a couple grand and your a couple grand, and then your tag fee and you’ve got your seven day hunt. Yeah. That’s kind of what it feels like. Yeah. Okay.

00:20:54:11 –> 00:21:06:02
Yeah. So that’s, that’s reasonable. That’s fair. Obviously all of this is negotiable because we’re not involved in those, the guide negotiations. So it’s between the, the licensed hunter and the tribal member guide.

00:21:06:19 –> 00:21:28:07
Yeah. But for less than 10 grand, a guy can go and have 85% chance at killing a bull with a bow or, or something awesome with a muzzle or have an incredible experience, you’re gonna see plenty of elk. I mean, to me in this day and age, like there’s not a, it just feels like there’s not a better value. It just feels like it’s a great value just from a Sure.

00:21:28:12 –> 00:22:21:18
A great value. Yeah. To me. Yeah. For me it’s an easy sell and you know, it’s something that I agree, it’s an incredible value, it’s an incredible experience. You know, you’re in a very unique landscape, very di diverse landscape. You’re, you’re hunting with some folks that have a very proud hunting heritage. And just the hickory itself is just a beautiful chunk of land. You know, it’s, it’s big game. Heaven. We’ve, we’ve earned the, the reputation over the last, you know, 50 years as a sportsman’s paradise. You know, we’ve had many articles in many magazines, many hunting shows, et cetera, et cetera. Obviously the, the big ticket and everyone wants to talk about mule deer, but you know, we have some really awesome elk hunting, you know, small game, you name it, you know. Yeah. It, it truly is a, a, an awesome place.

00:22:22:05 –> 00:22:32:17
Tell me a little bit about these later seasons. So we’ve covered kind of the archery and muzzle and got a feel for that. What do, what, how do these late season hunts work? You know, maybe so

00:22:32:17 –> 00:23:28:15
Sure. So we started a November, early November hunt a couple years ago with the objective of, of targeting some of these transitional bulls, you know, when they pull off cows and they’re back on feed in, in early November, late October. So the, the hunt dates are November 1st through fifth. That’s a little bit early for, for the migration hunt, but it, it’s right on spot on for a post rut hunt. Okay. So we’ve started that a couple years ago. We do have tags remaining this year. We have six tags remaining this year for that hunt. In my opinion. That’s a, a really topnotch if, you know, you’re not gonna hear any bugles stuff like that, but a really good hunt for, for, for a big mature bull. You know, that’s, that’s what we’re after. Yeah. And then the late season hunt, so December 27th through January 5th, that is the migration hunt.

00:23:28:15 –> 00:24:19:24
You know, we get a lot of, of animals that, that will move in from the Southern San Juans of Colorado and, you know, down onto the reservation, we, we are winter range for, for basically the whole region. So we get a, an influx of elk, you know, like I said earlier, I think that the, the quality is, is in our resident population. So those residents don’t leave, but you also have a whole bunch of other bulls that are moving in as well. So, yeah, you know, top-notch hunt, you’re gonna see a ton of bulls. The, the, the name of the game on that hunt is, you know, spot in stock. You’re gonna see big bachelor groups of, of, of bulls in some pretty awesome rugged country. The, the challenge is finding them for one and for two, finding one that maybe doesn’t have a broken tie or something along those lines, you know?

00:24:19:28 –> 00:24:26:28
Right. Yeah. You’re gonna have broken bulls. Any, any state, any, any of these late hunts. You have some broken bulls.

00:24:27:10 –> 00:24:27:17

00:24:28:03 –> 00:24:42:05
Yep. Well that’s pretty, that’s awesome. Now, as far as your tag allocation, do you happen to know how many tags you guys are given that November 1st versus December 27th? Obviously you got an influx coming in there at the end of December.

00:24:43:06 –> 00:25:04:09
Yeah, so we have 10 licenses in November, first through fifth. We have six available right now for sale. Okay. And then the, the late season, the January or late December or early January hunt 20 license author have been authorized. 11 available right now.

00:25:04:09 –> 00:25:05:27
Available. Okay. First come first

00:25:05:27 –> 00:25:07:12
Serve plenty of opportunity. Yeah,

00:25:07:18 –> 00:25:36:03
Man, that’s incredible. Unbelievable that, you know, and, and I think your dear are, are hurting your tax sales for elk because everybody just assumes, you know, Hickory is the, you know, the mild deer mecca of the world and, and tough to even tough to even draw one of those tags and, and somewhat expensive and, and rightfully so. And so anyway, that’s what everybody’s concentrating on, but you’ve obviously got other species and sounds like just incredible opportunities.

00:25:37:17 –> 00:25:53:05
Sure, yeah. Topnotch stuff. You know, we, we really try to capitalize on what, what we have here. We, we take great pride in, in making sure that, like I said, when, when folks come here, we try to take care of them and we want them to go home and tell their friends.

00:25:53:16 –> 00:26:10:15
Okay. Tell me about, when you’re saying seeing tons of bulls, what is it, if you, if you had one of these tags for December 27th yourself and, and I mean, what are you gonna see? Are you gonna see, you know, a couple bulls a day or five or 10 bulls a day? Or what do, what do you expect to see?

00:26:11:23 –> 00:27:05:00
Yeah, so, you know, a lot of that has to do with weather and you know, where you’re hunting. Hunting style stuff, north versus south, you know, things like that. Which that hunt is res wide, December 27th through January 5th. So, okay. You know, the southern half is, is some big mesa big country, you know, lots of glassing. It to me, I think a good day you should be seeing, you know, close to a hundred elk, you know, cows included. But really you should be seeing in the neighborhood to 10 to 20 mature bulls a day. Geez. That’s not, you know, that, you know, give or take, you know, depending on, on all these other conditions that we don’t, you know, necessarily. But hypothetically that, that is the standard. You should be seeing several bulls if you’re doing it right. You know, using your glass, you know, hunting the right areas, things like that.

00:27:05:09 –> 00:27:13:10
Wow. Right on. Is there anything else that, that I haven’t covered that’s of interest? What you got going on as far as elk?

00:27:14:17 –> 00:28:28:14
Sure. There’s two other hunts that are high demand but easily attained. I’ll tell you that. So we have two other hunts in October, the October 1st through fifth and October 6th through 10th. Okay. Those are currently sold out. But if you wanted to hunt bulls during the rutt, what they rifle, that is your hunt. Wow. A lot of folks, you know, I get stories, I don’t get to go out there and obviously be in the truck with these folks, but when they come back in, you know, they tell the story and I get to score their bull and you know, it’s fun. But these guys are saying that, you know, bugles all day, they’ve, you know, passed several bulls before they decided to take the one they had. A lot of folks are just leaving the rifle in the truck the first two days ’cause they just wanna film bulls, you know, that’s, wow. That’s the standard, that’s the expectation. So yeah, like I said, it, you know, I feel like a broken record, but it truly is a unique place. It Yeah, yeah. We’re known from yield deer, but of equal, of equal quality as far as the hunt experience is concerned. Yeah. We’ve got some top-notch bull elk. That’s,

00:28:28:28 –> 00:28:55:05
That’s great. And so what a, tell me about, I know New Mexico, like Unit 12 has an October 1st rifle opener and it’s an incredible hunt, Rutt hunt and whatnot. So even though these are in October, I know, I know for a fact. I mean that’s, that’s heavy rutt action still. Most people think September and Oh yeah. Whatnot, but that’s, oh yeah. That’s incredible. So yeah. And you’re same kind of thing, very limited tags during those seasons? Yeah,

00:28:55:05 –> 00:29:05:18
Those are, there’s only 15 authorizations per hunt. So there’s 30 total in that October season. Okay. Which is not a whole lot of licenses for 850,000 acres.

00:29:05:22 –> 00:29:26:15
And that’s res wide then. So red that’s wide Yep. Res wide on all those. Okay. Right on. What do you and what, is there a price difference on these high demand? I mean, I know New Mexico game and fish as far as, you know, not, not on the reservation obviously has a designated price and it’s a structure based on demand. But how, how does yours work?

00:29:27:21 –> 00:29:32:17
No, we, we try to keep it as simple and fair as possible. It’s a, it’s a $7,000 license.

00:29:33:04 –> 00:29:41:13
Okay. Okay. And then, and first come, first serve, meaning they, they probably, they probably fill up February 1st. I mean, is there,

00:29:41:27 –> 00:30:04:19
They, so this year we put ’em on a draw next year we are, we’re committed to putting that on a over the counter first come first serve. Mainly because we, we held back on those tags to do a draw and we ended up hitting it right on the head. We had 30 applicants for 30 tags. So that tells me, let’s put it on the over the counter and see what happens first come, first serve.

00:30:04:28 –> 00:30:32:06
Wow, that’s awesome. Well, good deal. And so, and you’re obviously hunting resident bulls and so you probably end up seeing some of the, you know, a few of those good bulls being taken that season, so. Sure. Yeah. Right on. Yes sir. Well, good deal. And then, so let’s talk about, let’s talk about some of these giant oatmeal deer. Have you been able to, how do they work for the tribal members? I mean, are have you been able to take a 200 inch steer yourself on some of this country that you’re managing?

00:30:33:09 –> 00:30:40:22
Well, I’m not a tribal member, so I get to just manage and, and, and admire them. That’s, that’s my role.

00:30:40:25 –> 00:30:44:04
Okay. I didn’t know good deal. Well, not so, not so good.

00:30:44:11 –> 00:31:52:01
But no, I, you know, I, I feel very blessed and very lucky to be able to, to do this. I’m a mule deer nut myself. This is truly the, in my opinion, the mecca for, for mul deer in the west. You know, we’ve been doing this for 30 plus years managing for mul deer. You know, there’s a, there’s a proud history, there’s a long history of mul deer management here. Yeah. You know, the good, bad and the ugly. But the last 30 plus years have been just, just phenomenal. The way it works for non-members is it’s extremely limited opportunity. So you gotta keep in mind that mulder are extremely valuable and to the hickory Apache people, you know, it’s a species that they, they admire and they revere to the highest regard. So we’re asking this mul deer population to do many different things. And it can be challenging, you know, whether it’s a, you know, the October tribal member hunt, whether it’s a meat harvest or a trophy hunt or a general tag, you know, that sort of thing.

00:31:52:09 –> 00:33:09:22
Yeah. We have several archery opportunities for tribal members, et cetera, et cetera. So there’s, there’s a lot of demand on this population as far as hunting is concerned, but everyone wants quality. That’s what makes Hickory a unique across the board, I think, versus other tribes or, you know, maybe not at other tribes, but it’s a big chunk of land that, that pretty much everybody, when I say everybody, the social and political side of things, they are committed to quality hunting versus quantity. Yeah. You know, like I said earlier, very proud hunting heritage here on the reservation. The hickory Apache people are hunters. You know, probably most importantly is there’s been strong public support from tribal members for, you know, for decades. That’s extremely important. Yeah. And then along with that consistent support from the leadership, so tribal council, the executive branches of the tribe. So without that, none of this works. But anyway, not to, not to get off topic, but that’s the foundation of, of mul deer. You know, if you have so much demand on a population, eventually you’re gonna have to have a limited entry system.

00:33:10:26 –> 00:33:13:10
Yeah. It’s no quote. You gotta limit, you gotta limit the take somehow

00:33:14:21 –> 00:33:55:24
You have to. So we do a draw for tribal members. We do, you know, we have a, what we call a hard luck for tribal members so that, you know, we’re trying to balance the opportunities and when, when, when we do that, we also have, you know, tags set aside a very limited number of tags set aside for non-members. Those hunts are typically smack dab in the middle of the rutt. So, you know, mid-November through December type hunts and top notch, you know, the, the standard is, you know, to, to come here and, and shoot a 200 inch or better buck. And we’ve been doing that for a long time.

00:33:56:09 –> 00:34:04:27
Wow. That is crazy. And so you’re on a draw in October, and then what did you mention, you mentioned something about the hard luck. What, what’s that? For the tribal members? Yeah.

00:34:04:27 –> 00:34:26:02
So that’s a, that’s for tribal members if, because we have so much demand for our, our general tags and we have to limit take, we, we came up with a system years ago that it’s basically if they don’t draw and they’ve consist consistently applied that they would be guaranteed a tag after six years. So

00:34:26:02 –> 00:34:27:03
Oh, okay. You know, that,

00:34:27:16 –> 00:34:54:21
That seems to balance things, you know, we don’t do anything like that for non-members or anything like that. It’s truly just as random as it gets on the draw. Yeah. We only offer seven licenses on the draw for, for clients, you know, and obviously we have a ton of, of interest and, and applicants. So I would argue that the draw odds are still better than most Western draws. Yeah. For what you’re getting. Yeah.

00:34:54:27 –> 00:35:04:23
And so when your, your application, your application deadline for, for that obviously, and you’re allocating ’em differently than Elk, but when, when would guys apply for that?

00:35:05:20 –> 00:35:26:03
Sure. So June 1st has consistently been our application deadline for, for most of our draw hunts, including mule deer. So, okay. You know, we have some other spring bear hunts and things like that, but the deadline’s a little different, but you just need to check the proclamation for those dates. But in general, mule deer June 1st, that’s, that’s

00:35:26:05 –> 00:35:45:14
The day. Okay. And yeah, I noticed you, you guys published on social media, which is kind of cool. I haven’t seen, you know, there’s nothing else I’ve seen published for big game draw results or anything, anything like that. But you published on social media, the guys, the names of the guys that drew and kind of how you did it with that ball system and you know, basically it’s random

00:35:45:29 –> 00:36:11:11
For transparency sakes. Absolutely. And, and I’m new to social media, that’s for sure, but I see the value of it. Yeah. You know, a lot of folks have questions about the draw and how, how we do it, you know, and, and so on and so forth. So yeah, a little bit of sharing that behind the scenes stuff on, on how we do it and try to make it as fair as possible and, and maintain the integrity of the department, you know? Yeah. That’s, that’s an important thing.

00:36:11:25 –> 00:36:20:04
And so guys get to hunt the middle of the rut, it feels like at least, you know, rutting bucks and hunting for some of these giants. Yes,

00:36:20:04 –> 00:36:51:05
Sir. So December 1st through 10th are the draw tags and, you know, those are top-notch. You know, everyone that it, it’s a highly sought after license. So the guys that come here, they, it’s, it’s fairly rare for them to hunt past five days just because they see so many deer a day and they end up seeing one that they can’t live without. So, you know, that’s, that’s the name of the game. It’s, it’s, it’s not uncommon to see 60 plus bucks a day on your, your December tag.

00:36:51:20 –> 00:37:05:10
Geez. And, and I know they’re not cheap. Do, and, you know, throw it out there, I guess, and how to apply like as far as there’s a minimal upfront fee and then you, and then you charge it if they draw.

00:37:06:18 –> 00:37:19:19
Sure. So the way it works for the meal deer draw is a $50 non-refundable fee, which is pretty nominal if you draw the remaining balance for the license is $17,500 this

00:37:19:19 –> 00:37:20:07
Year. Yeah.

00:37:21:22 –> 00:37:26:23
So yeah, supply demand, you know, it, it is a topnotch on

00:37:27:01 –> 00:37:49:22
Oh yeah, I heard some coughing out there. I know guys that are listening are probably choking a little bit. But having said that, where else can you, you, you can, you know, basically book a hunt or draw a hunt where you’re hunting 200 inch deer and, and you guys are averaging, depending on the year, it feels like, you know, a hundred ninety five, a hundred ninety seven or 200 of all seven of these tests. Yeah.

00:37:49:22 –> 00:38:14:02
Except to last year it’s been 200 or better for, for at least a decade. You know, last year we had a 1 95 average, something like that. Or, or two years ago, I should say last year was 2 0 4. Keep in mind too that, you know, Rio Reba County, New Mexico is the number one location in the world for a boing Crockett mul there. Guess what’s centered in Rio Reba County New Mexico? It, it is degree Apache reservation.

00:38:14:08 –> 00:38:26:00
Yeah. That’s pretty incredible. Are you, is there any of these when you’re doing these aerial surveys? I mean, you’ve gotta be just seeing a few of these just ginormous, you know, 220 inch plus bucks.

00:38:27:06 –> 00:38:57:01
Yeah. So that’s the beauty of my job is post hunt surveys, you’re still seeing a handful. When I say a handful, it’s not uncommon to say, oh, 12 to 15 bucks in the 200 or better caliber after the hunt. A whole bunch of, you know, honestly a 180 type buck is, is, is very, very common here. But yeah. You know, 2, 2 20 or better. Yeah. That, that does happen. Absolutely.

00:38:57:06 –> 00:39:12:16
Yeah. And then, so you’re getting kind of a huge influx, you know, I know from migration and whatnot you’ll get some of these deer coming outta Colorado and and whatnot, but you also have resident, you know, great resident as well.

00:39:14:00 –> 00:40:01:06
Yeah, so I, again, I, I would say that our quality component to our mule deer population is resident, again, for the same reasons as Elk. ’cause we are able to control the management on, on resident populations versus non-resident populations that, you know, face a variety of challenges as they migrate from the high country down to, to aria. So we do have, we do have a huge component that is migratory. I would say, you know, we, we probably double population size in by January, you know, typically we start seeing deer moving mid-October. But yeah, the quality is here, you know, I don’t, from my perspective, I think the quality is homegrown for sure.

00:40:01:09 –> 00:41:05:06
Yeah. And even the New Mexico side, you know, the regular state of New Mexico side, the units two B, two C, fives, fours, all this country, you know, that’s where not only, I mean Rio Reba, but it’s just all of the, the best bucks in the state are truly centered around you guys, you guys, and then everything, all the borders, you see it in our magazine. We cover the best units in the Epic Outdoors magazine and you can see, you know, all the quality that’s in there. I know they’ve got that late archery hunt. I hunted it last year with my son on unit two B, of course New Mexico side right up, you know, of course borders you guys. And the, the number of deer is unbelievable and, and the quality. And we even were on a, you know, a buck with cheaters out both sides and it was probably one of your deer. I don’t know. You know, too bad you can’t keep ’em in, keep ’em in house there, but, you know, anyway, just, just some amazing quality and, and it’s something to talk about it, it’s not a thing to see it for yourself. It, it’s, it’s truly is amazing. No,

00:41:05:20 –> 00:41:24:00
No doubt. You know, like I said, 850,000 acres is a big chunk of land. We’re able to, to manage things, you know, correctly and, and, you know, are committed to, to quality that truly influences the region because of how large, you know, in the natural movements of a free ranging population. No doubt. Yeah, no

00:41:24:00 –> 00:41:32:06
Doubt. And so what about, I saw a little sign, I think like you guys don’t allow shed hunting from non-tribal members or anything like that. Right,

00:41:33:12 –> 00:41:37:29
Right. Yeah. No, no. Shed hunting. It’s all tribal member only it’s exclusive to tribal members.

00:41:38:06 –> 00:41:48:25
Yeah. You’ve gotta have some of those guys. I mean I’ve, we’ve got a lot of shed hunters that listen to these podcasts, but there’s gotta be some just amazing deer sheds that are found year to year to year.

00:41:49:17 –> 00:42:29:20
Yeah, no doubt. And you know, springtime here is another, another way that I measure, you know, what kind of year is coming as far as hunting season’s concerned is, yeah, we fly surveys and stuff like that, but it’s always fun to see what people are bringing in and yeah. Some, some just top notch sheds, you know. Yeah. Gagger sheds and that’s, it’s, I hate to say it, but it’s, it’s, it’s sort of normal, you know, and you take things for granted when, when, when you see things like that every day, which, you know, I, I certainly don’t, but you could. Yeah. You could, you know, a 90 inch typical shed is, you know, is not uncommon.

00:42:30:00 –> 00:42:51:26
Geez. That’s crazy. Tell me a, any change you’re seeing in the, in the future as far as the way you’re managing from different surveys you’ve been doing and, and what your objectives are. Do you see any change on how you’re gonna do things or anything new or you feel like you guys have kind of got it nailed down and, and you’re just gonna continue forward with, with how you’re managing and, and issuing tags?

00:42:53:18 –> 00:43:44:27
Yeah, you know, I have a saying that I feel like I’m riding a horse that my predecessors broke, you know, so huge credit to the leadership in the past. You know, my predecessors, staff members, people like that. Game wardens you, you know, across the board for putting all these pieces in play. You know, it’s 35 plus years of, of proven management. You know, obviously there’s gonna be tweaks here and there. Yeah. There’s a lot of things that we do on the ground to promote population dynamics, production and survival of fawns and calves and you know, you name it. So if it ain’t broke, you know, I don’t think, you know, no, no major changes. Foresee, you know, I think a lot of the stuff that I’m focusing on now management wise, more related to habitat than, than populations.

00:43:44:28 –> 00:43:58:16
Yeah. Are you guys doing chainings or burns or any of that thing? Or do you It it seemed a lot of that country seemed kind of open to me. I don’t know. It felt good. The vegetation seemed really good to me. But anything like that that you guys are working on?

00:43:59:28 –> 00:44:40:28
Yeah, we’ve got some things planned in the future. You know, a little bit of Dixie harrow, some, some sagebrush, you know, working with some of the forestry folks here to, to come up with some prescriptions for masticating, you know, six stanza juniper, you know, basically setting back that vegetation to, to setting back succession. You know, that’s, that’s what favors me older. That’s something that, that we want to do on a landscape scale. We’ve been doing it for 30 plus years, we’ll continue to do it. Sure. These days with as dry as things have been, you know, we’re focusing on putting down wildlife, waters, guzzlers, solar wells, things like that. So yeah. You know, there’s plenty of work to be done and we’re busy.

00:44:41:12 –> 00:44:51:17
What about turkeys? I know there’s a lot of Turkey fanatics out there, or lions and bears. We, you know, I know, you know, got some of that opportunity. Tell me just briefly discuss those real quick.

00:44:52:20 –> 00:45:23:12
Sure. If you’re a merriam’s Turkey nut, this is your place. And I’m not kidding ’cause I’m a merriam’s Turkey nut, you know, some of just phenomenal, you’re gonna see many, many birds, you know, gorgeous country. It’s an awesome time to be in the woods. Merriam’s Turkey off off the chart’s. Good. Wow. That one, check out our proclamation when it comes out in January for the details. ’cause that can fluctuate from year to year as far as winter severity, things like that. You know, top-notch hunt

00:45:23:23 –> 00:45:26:11
O over the counter, like they can just buy tags. Yeah,

00:45:26:11 –> 00:45:28:28
Yeah. They’re all over the counter. First come, first serve. Yep.

00:45:29:04 –> 00:45:31:04
Is there a cap? Is there a cap on them?

00:45:32:05 –> 00:45:33:12
We do cap ’em, yes sir.

00:45:33:18 –> 00:45:33:26

00:45:34:07 –> 00:45:58:00
Typically, like I said, from year to year that can fluctuate depending on how bad winter was. You know, our, our priority is to, to meet the tribal member need first and then whatever else is available, we’ll allocate to non-members. And like I said, top-notch, we don’t, we don’t overdo anything here. We’re as conservative as it gets, as far as maintaining quality. And, and

00:45:58:17 –> 00:46:02:10
Do they, do they have to hire a guide on the Turkey? Is that just for the big game?

00:46:04:04 –> 00:46:08:26
No, the Turkey is, is allowed to be unguided as it is, as it stands today.

00:46:09:04 –> 00:46:13:15
Okay. Okay. Great. And then, and then you’ve got lion and bear.

00:46:14:21 –> 00:47:10:09
Sure. We have limited tags available for both spring bear and Fall bear. Oh, I believe it was three years ago. One of the guides here locally killed the state record. New Mexico State Record Bear. Geez. Just a, a monster of a, of a bear. So we have some pretty awesome opportunities along those lines as well. And lions, you know, lions hound pursuit lions, so it’s sort of dictated by how much snow we’re getting and you know, that type of thing. But all of that information, all of that stuff begins when we release the, the annual proclamation. So it’s really important if, if someone has an interest in that to, to visit us, you know, late January for the upcoming season. Our season begins April 1st and ends March 31st of every year. So, you know, that’s, that’s how we do things and in order to secure one of those opportunities, you need to be informed early

00:47:11:04 –> 00:47:18:21
Thir on those like Turkey tags and things like that. Do they go on sale February 1st as well? Same kind of allocation system.

00:47:19:02 –> 00:47:22:05
So the Turkey tanks this year, let me look at the pro.

00:47:25:10 –> 00:47:37:00
Yeah, I just know there’s a lot I’ve traveled state to state. I’ve killed birds in New Mexico. I know there’s incredible amounts of birds depending on the unit you go to. And so I know there’s gonna be a lot of interest in in that kind of thing.

00:47:37:00 –> 00:47:41:14
Oh yeah. So yeah, this year we issued 30 tags first come first or beginning February 1st.

00:47:41:24 –> 00:47:53:22
Okay. February 1st. Okay. Anything else you wanna talk about? Is there any local legends of freaking giant bucks that are making it that, that can’t be killed and they’re absolute ginormous or anything crazy?

00:47:55:25 –> 00:47:57:17
If I did, I have to, I would’ve to kill you.

00:47:57:22 –> 00:47:58:22
I know, I know.

00:48:00:05 –> 00:48:20:24
No, you know, there’s, that’s what makes Hick is so unique ’cause it’s, it’s a big chunk of land, you know, there’s always a local engine man and you know, there, there’s a lot of place for a deer to grow up here and get old and you know, show himself in the middle of the rutt type thing. So that’s what makes it exciting and, and a really fun place to, to be.

00:48:21:05 –> 00:48:47:22
Okay, right on. Well I sure appreciate you Kyle. Tell me, just to kind of wrap up, we’ve got elk tags that are available right now with seasons this year. They’ve got some incredible opportunities. 85% kill on archery kind of says it all for me. And that’s even without migration from weather, that’s, that’s on local animals. And so anyway, there’s, there’s availability. Course guys could call you I guess just call game and fish and visit with you a little bit.

00:48:49:04 –> 00:49:23:19
Sure, yeah, we’ve got a staff here. I’m, I’m more than happy. That’s, that’s one of my favorite parts of my job is talking with potential hunters and you know, answering any questions they may have. But yeah, to wrap it up, we have many opportunities remaining this year. So for those folks who did not draw, looking for something a little bit different, a little bit unique, but still topnotch high success, you know, definitely give us a call or visit our website hickory hunt.com and, and we will go from there. We’ll we will see what we can do and, and look forward to talking with some folks.

00:49:24:13 –> 00:50:29:13
Okay, sounds good. There you go. It’s hickory hunt.com so j i c a R i l L A hunt.com if I spelled it right. Well I sure appreciate you. We’ll have you on again, maybe we’ll dive into a few more specifics and, and there might be a couple animals in specific we talk about, I mean I know of course I’m into meal deer and some of these big bulls too, but you know, there’s been, you know, 2 40, 2 50 type bucks and some crazy stuff killed over the years and just proves that you guys have the genetics and just like you said about some of those elk, you know, Colorado doesn’t manage ’em but you guys do and, and, and so you’re getting some smaller bulls come in, but at the same time you guys have got some big bulls there as well and, and very reasonably priced and so anyway, and it is just really cool to visit with you guys. It’s, you know, I mean you’re similar to a state game and fish department. You guys are mana, you guys are managing a lot of country and, and all the game animals within and set the rules and it’s just nice to visit with the guys that are informed and, and do the surveys and make the decisions and so we sure appreciate you.

00:50:31:02 –> 00:50:33:26
No, thank you for the opportunity Jason, appreciate

00:50:33:26 –> 00:50:42:18
It. Okay, sounds good Kyle, maybe I’ll see you down there. We’ll we’ll be back down there hunting, hunting the New Mexico side and maybe I’ll stop in and visit with you. Yeah,

00:50:42:29 –> 00:50:44:03
Stop by. Appreciate it.

00:50:44:08 –> 00:51:19:24
Okay, thanks bud. So we do have a 2018 Epic Outdoors cover contest where we give away Vortex vinyls, the 15 by 56 chibas. We do wanna thank Vortex for their sponsorship here at Epic Outdoors. They do have great optics at a great price point. Raise my kids on Vortex. And so anyway, we do appreciate them. They have lifetime warranties, so a lot of great different models there at Vortex. So to view the different products they have or find a dealer you can go to vortex optics.com. So anyway, they’ve got their catalog shows and events as well as you can call ’em at 1-800-426-ZERO 0 4 8.