EP 111: Epic Outdoors / New Mexico Game and Fish. This week on the Epic Outdoors podcast Jason Carter talks with Craig Sanchez of the New Mexico Game and Fish. There are many new opportunities available as well as a lot of significant changes to be aware of.  New Mexico is a great state for both Trophy potential and opportunity. Learn the what changes have been made and how to implement those changes into your own personal hunting strategies.

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

00:00:02:03 –> 00:00:05:17
So if you’ve ever hunted elk in New Mexico, you love hunting elk in New Mexico.

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There’s just so much opportunity with New Mexico.

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That mountain is brutal. It’s it’s steep.

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Anything to do with Western big games.

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00:00:18:06 –> 00:00:21:09
To the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour.

00:00:22:02 –> 00:01:22:24
Hey everybody. Jason Carter here with the Epic Outdoor Podcast coming at you from Southern Utah, Cedar City. Anyway, I got a special guest on with us today, New Mexico Game and Fish Guy by the name of Craig Sanchez. A lot of you know him or have visited with him over the years. He’s a an outdoors enthusiast. Hunter works for Game and Fish, been there for years and years and years. Dealt with Craig, you know, for, with a wide variety of subjects and he’s just super knowledgeable. He’s a hunter at heart and he also works for Game and Fish does a great job there. But before we get started, want to thank Under Armour for sponsoring this podcast and all that they do for us here at Epic Outdoors. There’s a lot going on there, A lot coming down the pipe this fall for Under Armour. So anyway, look for that. You can go on ua.com, order some gear. They’ve still got a lot of things there in stock. And so anyway, feel free to check it out. So, all right, here we go. Craig, you on?

00:01:23:20 –> 00:01:24:10
I’m here Jason,

00:01:25:15 –> 00:01:26:03
How you doing?

00:01:27:14 –> 00:01:29:08
I’m, I’m doing fantastic. How about you?

00:01:29:19 –> 00:01:38:15
I’m doing good. I know I caught you just at a moment’s notice. I’m that kind of guy I didn’t give you, I didn’t give you any time to think at all.

00:01:39:12 –> 00:01:42:15
No, I think it was about 20 minutes maybe. Pretty quick notice.

00:01:43:17 –> 00:01:57:28
Alright, well you’re a good friend, so we can call a favor in here and there, but you know, I’ve been teasing about having you on this podcast for quite some time, maybe even over a year. It just, just takes the right factors to align to get you on.

00:01:58:23 –> 00:02:08:04
Right. Well, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to be able to promote our state with you guys and to all the, the listeners out there. So we’re excited to, to be on your podcast. Awesome.

00:02:08:12 –> 00:02:24:15
Well thanks for taking the time. Before we get started, I guess just kind of tell us a little bit about your background, how you got involved in hunting, and then how did you end up with the game and fish department and the different roles that you’ve played within the department?

00:02:25:24 –> 00:03:30:12
Sure, we can do that. So I’ve lived in New Mexico for 46 years. That’s about as long as I’ve been alive. Born and raised in Central New Mexico. Grew up hunting a lot with, with my dad. We used to hunt quite a bit. Started off archery hunting at an early age. Had had a huge interest in, in the outdoors hunting, fishing, and that the interest led me to to college, which I wasn’t a fan of at the time, but I stuck it out. Got through college, ended up getting a internship in a co-op with the New Mexico Department of Game of Fish in 1995, which really opened the doors for me and just really validated what I wanted to do as a career, which was work for the New Mexico Department of Game of Fish. So after I finished college, got my application in, got hired on as a, as a conservation officer, and was stationed in Grants, New Mexico was my first assignment.

00:03:30:17 –> 00:04:08:01
And I stayed in the field for approximately 18 years, got all the way up to the sergeant’s position. And my current position with the agency is the Assistant Chief of education. So I’ve kind of moved roles slightly within the agency and I’ve, I’ve found it to be very beneficial to broaden my horizons to really understand the, the ins and outs to the agencies. But the, the passion and the driving force behind it all is, has always been hunting very passionate about the resource and the protection of it and, and the conservation of it. So in a nutshell, that’s, that’s kind of my story.

00:04:08:16 –> 00:04:49:25
Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s, you’ve, you’ve done a lot of different things. It’s probably pretty exciting being a conservation officer. I know when I, I was talking to you a little bit and a lot of it’s just when we’re covering the state of New Mexico, you’re a great resource and, and kind of keep me lined out, so to speak. But anyway, you know, when you were thinking about taking this chief of education job or, or whatever, I know you liked being out in the field and, and being a conservation officer and it puts you out there with the game and you were photographing and, and you cared about wildlife and you were just really into the, into it. How, how does that compared to being in the office? Sure.

00:04:50:11 –> 00:05:26:04
So, you know, the, the field work’s always, always the fun stuff. Where I’m at currently, I, I get a, a lot of validation and satisfaction because I recognize the importance of educating the future hunters of, of our state and, and of other states for that matter. And without those kids to follow in our footsteps, you know, conservation won’t have those hunters and fishermen to, to support it in the next 10 years or so. So it, it’s, it’s, I feel like I’m playing an important role in my current position that’s gonna help the longevity of, of hunting and fishing in New Mexico. Well,

00:05:26:11 –> 00:05:40:10
That’s awesome and, and we sure appreciate that. So just tell me, I just wanna, and this is a little bit off the cuff, but is there really that much poaching that goes on and how do you think it affects the quality within these units?

00:05:40:27 –> 00:06:12:27
So, you know, poaching is something that, that I think every state deals with our conservation officers. They give 110% always trying to, you know, find those guys or gals that are hurting the resource. And that’s the, the important piece is, is hurting the resource and trying to really go after those individuals that are doing that. And, you know, poaching can definitely affect not only the numbers of the animal, but even the number of hunting pigs that might be available in future years because of population numbers.

00:06:13:25 –> 00:06:36:21
Well, yeah. And especially some of those key deer units. I know that, you know, up there in that northern portion, there’s not a lot of tags in some of those anyway. And so I can imagine, you know, you find a few headless deer or whatever, if you have, and it seems like we have it here in Utah, you get a couple of bad eggs. Sometimes these guys aren’t taking one or two animals. Sometimes it’s 10 or 15 a year or Sure, sure. Just rampant, you know.

00:06:36:28 –> 00:07:01:19
Sure. And, and, and I gotta tell you, you know, some of our best enforcement are, are hunters that are out in the field, whether they’re scouting or hunting themselves. They see a lot of things that go on. And I really encourage people when they see something that’s related to poaching, you know, call their operation game thief hotlines and, and turn them in because without the good hunters out there sometimes it’s hard to make those big cases. Yeah,

00:07:02:00 –> 00:08:04:13
Yeah. Well it’s awesome. It’s, it’s always interesting to me just, you know, you don’t see it, I don’t, you just don’t see it when you’re out there very much. And so it’s just interesting, you know, and then some of the cases that you read about and whatnot, it’s just crazy. Some of the stuff that these guys are doing. And even nowadays, they’re, you know, I mean there’s laws out there saying you are gonna get your truck taken away 10 years worth of privileges and Sure. You know, x amount of states and, and whatnot. So anyway, it’s not, not no light, it’s not taken lightly anymore. So let’s see, as we get started here, talking about New Mexico, and I just love New Mexico and most people know that no point system. There’s a lot of wide variety of things to apply for. They take all three choices before they go to the next guy, mix and match weapons. It’s just, it’s just awesome for a lot of different reasons. But I want you to talk briefly about this past season 2018 and the drought we all went through and, and then the outlook for 2019. Sure,

00:08:04:23 –> 00:09:27:11
Sure. So, you know, let me preface it by saying that you’re, you’re absolutely right about our state and being able to draw a tag, there’s no points, you know, you have a chance every single year. And, and that’s what makes us special to me. It, there’s an opportunity there. There’s always a chance with regards to drought. Yeah, we were in a severe drought last year, you know, I don’t know that we got much of any snow in a lot of our mountains last winter at all, which was kind of a historic event, not normal for sure. This year. On the other hand, you know, we’ve been getting significant snowstorms and I, I can tell you that last year’s drought definitely impacted antler growth. It’s, it was noticeable across the state. Sure there’s always a big bull or big buck that’s, that’s gonna be get killed somewhere. But overall, the growth of those antlers was just down significantly. So we’re really excited for 2018 ’cause we have been getting moisture across the state, even the desert country to the high elevations. So we’re really looking forward to what, what the antler growth’s gonna be this year. And, and also for our, our fa survival because, you know, fa survival’s critical when you don’t have moisture sometimes you don’t get the fonts that you need. So, so yeah, we’re real excited. It’s gonna be a good year this year.

00:09:27:23 –> 00:10:33:20
Well, and that’s the way I feel too about this entire west southwest region. It’s just, it’s exactly what you’re talking about. Arizona went through it. They’ve had some population reductions they feel like for, for antelope and different things. And so we’ve, we just took it on the chin last year. And the good thing is, I’m super excited about the moisture we’ve all received. It’s especially the timely, I mean, it could turn off dry and, and we’re, we’re talking January 31st here, so Right, right. It’s still early. I mean, here we are excited, but you gotta be excited about something. But, but having said that, you know, I, I keep going back to the fact that a lot of these deer that were four and a half or five and a half years old, that would’ve been in good moisture years. Just, you know, just hitting that 1 95 plus 1 95, 200 inch type mark would’ve been killed had there been good moisture. Maybe there, let’s say they hit upper seventies or low eighties and guys passed him or whatever, weren’t, weren’t extremely excited about him. And now they’ve got another year on ’em. You know, not only do we have a wet year, but they’re two years older, so to speak, you know what I mean?

00:10:34:05 –> 00:10:35:05
Absolutely, absolutely.

00:10:35:14 –> 00:11:51:21
And so I expect good things, you know, especially with elk and, and whatnot. So I, I really like New Mexico. I want to go back to, to the fact that you can apply for three choices within all species, and they look at all three before they go to the next guy. I like New Mexico. I, it’s one of those states that do weird things. I I can experiment a little bit. I don’t feel like I’m losing 10 years worth of points or 15 or 20 or five or whatever. I can, I can go regular. It’s not the end of the world if we draw and we eat a tag next year’s a new year, and we’re all on the same playing field every single year. I love that about New Mexico. The other thing I really like about New Mexico is we talk about some of the better units and, and we’re supposed to, as a publication, talking to serious hunters, serious western big game hunters. Having said that, and like you and I have talked at length, I mean, there’s some giant bulls and good bucks and, and whatnot, antelope that prop up out of weird obscure units, whether it be, you know, 23, 37, anything, some governor bulls have been taken outta 36 or 37 or whatever. Right. You know what I mean? And not just the best units 16 D 16 A, whatever. Right.

00:11:51:21 –> 00:12:31:01
What, what the nice thing about our state is you could find a big mature animal in the weirdest place that you’d never expect. And, and that’s what makes our state really intriguing. And yes, we do have the Gila, we’ve got all the, the consistent big quality animal producers, and then every now and then you hear of some freak animal getting killed in a unit that’s not known for that. And, and just knowing that that potential exists in, in our state being so big is there’s, there’s so much country out there and, and you know, the unknowns about big mature animal living somewhere in some hide hole his whole life is, is pretty intriguing.

00:12:31:19 –> 00:13:00:24
Yeah. You know, here in Utah it seems like some of our best animals are named and watched by the teams of guides and hunters and whatnot. And there’s obvious best units and it’s just with New Mexico, I don’t know if it’s your, you know, limited population base of people or just big spread out country or it’s just the, the cover a lot of your, you know, country has thick cover and, and kind of some w what you’d call I guess term wild, crazy places. Not necessarily wielded us, but just

00:13:01:01 –> 00:13:02:11
Some re some remote country.

00:13:02:11 –> 00:13:09:29
Yeah. Some remote country, you know, that there’s just, man, they’re three 80 bulls exist in a lot of your units.

00:13:11:17 –> 00:13:34:11
Oh, for sure. Without a doubt. And, and it’s just, you know, like I said, every year there’s something that comes out of a place that you just never expect it to come out of and Yeah. And that, that just is exciting for, for hunters in general because you might have a, a unit that may not be the he a or the top end known unit and you might find something special there, you just never know.

00:13:34:23 –> 00:14:20:18
I want talk about a little bit about the overall management and strategy and some of the methodology behind what you guys do. As, as a lot of guys know they’re listening to the podcast, you guys do, you know, for rifle and muzz or do a lot of five day seasons and Correct. They’re not necessarily some of these hunts you like to flirt with the rutt and make ’em, you know, something exciting for somebody to really think they, you know, they hit the gold, hit the gold mine with, but, but overall you guys are, you know, hunting him with a limited timeframe in a less than perfect season date. Sure. You know, with the high caliber, you know, rifles and muzzle orders and that kind of allows for some escapement and allows maybe issue more tags and still maintain quality. Tell me a little bit about

00:14:22:09 –> 00:15:21:10
That. Sure. So, you know, our archery hunts are, you know, if, if a guy wants to hunt during the bugling season, most of those archery hunts will, will put you right where you wanna be. Our biologists determine, you know, what season dates they wanna hunt and, and when they’re making those decisions, they’re looking at herd composition, they’re looking at, you know, do we wanna harvest all the mature bulls that, or do we wanna leave some to breed? All those objectives are considered when they’re making those decisions. So I’m a bugling guy. I love being in the woods when the elk are bugling archery’s very appealing. Or some of those earlier rifle or muzzle or season, sometimes we get elk that’ll bugle all through the month of October. Just just depends. It’s, it’s really interesting how weather patterns can really dictate how those elk act. And, and I’ll, I’ll be honest with you, I’ve heard elk bugling in November in New Mexico, which is not the norm, but I’ve, I’ve heard it numerous times.

00:15:21:20 –> 00:15:41:12
Oh yeah, a hundred percent. Tell me, you know, what’s your theory, usually a lot of guys like to hunt or apply for that first muzzle or season, then they’ve got the middle muzzle and then some units have that November muzzle, you know, what’s your opinion on some of those and, and the quality? Sure. You know, the quality of the season date.

00:15:41:21 –> 00:16:27:08
So when you look at those earlier muzzle loader hunts, you’re, you’re kind of typically hitting the tail end of the rutt. And again, it’s, it’s interesting if we had moisture in the summer or if the temperatures change, it kind of dictates that rutting activity. But then there’s the guys that are, are really successful hunting some of those later November hunts when the bulls have ed up again and broken away from the cows and are just kind of hunkered down in the south slope of a, of a mountain because they’re wore out from the rutt. So, you know, it’s kind of what I, best advice I give people is, you know, what’s your hunt strategy? Do you like to, you know, hear an elk bugle or do you like to glass and, and spot a bachelor group of bulls beded up on the side of a hill? You know, there’s, there’s a lot of different preferences that need to be considered.

00:16:27:20 –> 00:17:04:26
Yeah. What do you think about the archery? I personally really liked that first archery September 1st, the 14th. I killed a bull, the 360 7 class bull back in, in a few years ago, let’s see, in unit 23. And man, he was just bugling like crazy. He was with the cows. It was an awesome hunt. And, and I like it. But generally, guys, and, and of course the general consensus is, is that September 20, the 15th to the 24th is your, is your best rutt archery hunt. But man, I found that first, the first to the 14th to be a great season. But I just kind of get your take on it.

00:17:05:00 –> 00:17:45:24
Yeah. So, so I can, I can totally concur that, you know, that early season it, it’s interesting what I’ve seen based on my experience is that, you know, the, the weather pattern actually affects those elk sometimes. I’ve had elk screaming their heads off September 1st and then the following year I didn’t hear a bugle in the same unit until, you know, the 15th or 16th of September. It, it’s just, i I don’t have the clear and concise answer to that question, but I can tell you the one thing that I have noticed is it seems like if we get a lot of monsoon moisture, those elk typically will start bugling sooner, at least, at least in New Mexico.

00:17:46:03 –> 00:18:08:10
Yeah, you bet. Well, well that’s awesome. Tell me a little bit about, I guess we’ll go back a little bit to the tag allocation, the regular draw resident versus non-resident guide draw, which is available to residents and non-residents within the guide draw, though, you know, it does seem like it’s primarily made up of non-resident applicants, but go over that with me real quick.

00:18:08:15 –> 00:18:48:22
Sure, sure. So legislative statute mandates that 84% of of all the tags per hunt code will go to residents. 10% of the total tags for hunt code are reserved for hunters that book with an outfitter and getting the, what they call the outfitter pool. And then 6% is reserved for those non-residents that apply on their own like a do it yourself type deal without a, without an outfitter. So that’s kind of how our license allocation is structured. So there’s, there’s opportunity for ev everybody in those three classes.

00:18:49:18 –> 00:19:11:17
Okay. And so when you and I were talking earlier, you know, and we were going through some of these tags, some of these units, especially like antelope a, you know, a few of the elk and deer, there’s very low tag numbers and Sure, sure. And so we talked about the allocation and how you would know when there’s a guide draw tag and when there’s a, you know, a non-resident tag. Can you go over that real quick with

00:19:11:17 –> 00:20:21:10
Me? Sure. Yeah, sure. So hopefully the easiest way to explain how that works is, is our system’s gonna look at the total number of tags and you multiply that time to 84%, it’s gonna give you a number. Okay. So that’s gonna be the, the first reserve tags go to residence. So 84% go to residence. Now in New Mexico we round up past 0.5. So if what’s left, and, and I’ll use the example of if you divided four and say there’s four tags for a hunt code. Okay. If you divided four by 84%, you know that’s gonna, that’s gonna yield one tag for a non-resident because there’s gonna be enough percentage, and again, they’re looking at the total of 16%. ’cause 80 four’s gotta go to the residents right now. So what that’s gonna yield initially is one tag for the outfitter pool. Yeah. It’s gonna take up to 10 tags to be able to yield one tag out of the outfitter pool and one tag for the do it yourself person for non-residents.

00:20:21:17 –> 00:21:10:00
Right. So there’s gonna be a guide draw and a non-resident could, could I call it a guide draw, outfitter draw? Sure, sure. And so there’s gonna be a tag in there. If there was four, there would not be one in the regular non-resident because you, we didn’t meet 0.5, it’s less than 0.5 you round down. And so if a non-resident wanted to have a chance at drawing at something with four tags, you know, let’s say four, then he would need to apply in the guide draw and he would be competing against the other non-residents within the guide draw, obviously. Correct. As well as the residents. The resident could draw that too. Correct. And so anyway, with three or less, there’s gonna be no, no, no way a non-resident could draw that tag. That’s correct. And so four or more we’re in the game, you know, 10 we’re, we’re in the game with the unguided pool.

00:21:11:04 –> 00:21:11:11

00:21:11:18 –> 00:21:21:08
Okay. Awesome. And then so tell me, we, we just jumped right into elk and, and I freaking love the elk in New Mexico, so it’s, I feel everybody

00:21:21:08 –> 00:21:26:02
Loves the elk in New Mexico. If you’ve ever hunted elk in New Mexico, you love hunting elk in New Mexico.

00:21:26:07 –> 00:22:01:16
That’s right. You never want to quit. And that’s the one thing, I guess we just jumped into it and I’ve got so many things to talk about, but we jumped right into it. I feel like I just want to just give it, I might as well just crush elk in New Mexico for a minute. I feel like, like Utah, I look at it as a once in a lifetime type opportunity to draw one of these special tags here in Utah. I draw it, I ended up eating my tag passed a three 80 bull. I was using it as that opportunity to kill a 400, you know, but Utah was known for that back in the mid two thousands. And and I knew it, I knew I was gonna eat my tag and I did, and I, and I spent 30 days doing, doing it. It, it’s pretty rough.

00:22:01:23 –> 00:22:43:22
So anyway, but having said that, that’s what’s so cool. Arizona tough to draw. You could draw like one or 27 with 15 or 16 points archery. Right. Those special early rifles and early muzzles are, are a lot longer than that unless you get real lucky. And so that’s so cool about New Mexico, we can go hunt giant bulls, bulls we’re hunting in Arizona or Utah or Nevada or Wyoming or whatever in New Mexico on a regular basis. And if we don’t get drawn, you could buy a landowner tag. They make unit wide tags as well as ranch only tags. And so there’s just so much opportunity with New Mexico and, and especially for guys that wanna hunt trophy bulls.

00:22:43:24 –> 00:23:40:16
Yeah. There, there really, there really is. We’ve got, you know, we’ve got options in New Mexico and you and you mentioned that if you don’t draw in the public draw and you really wanna hunt, there’s, there’s landowner tags available that these landowners and what they are is they’re actually authorizations to, to buy the license. They’re not actual tags, but they authorize that person to purchase a license. You mentioned the, the unit wide versus ranch only option on those tags. Yeah. And a quick explanation on that is if a landowner signs up his property, he chooses to be unit wide or ranch only. And what that means is if you buy a private land authorization that’s unit wide, you can hunt anywhere in that unit that’s open to hunting. So an example would be all the national forest b LM state land and any other ranches that are signed up as unit wide.

00:23:41:03 –> 00:24:17:01
Now the thee that is the ranch only tag, the ranch only tag is, is limited and specific to that landowner’s deeded property. And that’s the only place that’s valid. So typically you’ll see landowners that have, you know, elk on ’em, lots of elk on them. You’ll typically see them go ranch only if they’re, if they’re big enough, you know, if they’re a smaller place they may not because the out come and go, but those guys will typically be ranch only because they, they don’t wanna allow any other hunters on and, and have more of a quality experience for their hunters on their property.

00:24:17:11 –> 00:24:25:02
Right, right. Tell me a little bit about like the core within without and those flexible season dates on some of these. Yeah,

00:24:25:03 –> 00:25:50:20
So let’s talk about that. So we, we went through a lot of rule changes this year and on elk we, we’ve changed the terminology a little bit. We’re no longer calling it core. And, and I’ll just kind of explain what we’re doing with that. We’re, we’re actually calling it a, a primary management zone, a secondary management zone and special manage management zone. Okay. So the primary management zone are basically areas within the state where elk management will be focused and licenses are limited in number. So there’s some management goals as far as numbers of elk in the primary zones. And the secondary zones are, you know, there are other areas within the state that are not in the primary or special management zone and there’s no specific elk management goals set for, for those units. So the, the licenses are gonna be available as unlimited to landowners within those secondary management zones. So, you know, that’s kind of taken the core and, and converted it into a primary secondary zone. And then we’ve got a special management zone, which is basically a zone that doesn’t fall into either of the, of the others. Okay. And those are all, and just to be clear on the secondary management zone and the special management zone, all those licenses that would be issued would be specifically for the deeded land, not for public land.

00:25:50:24 –> 00:25:56:25
Right. And then they give them flexible season dates. Correct. Meaning what roughly

00:25:58:24 –> 00:26:22:05
They can negotiate if, you know, if they’re, if they’re in that secondary zone, they can, you know, petition the department for some tags and the department will do a quick assessment of what they’ve got ownership and, and you know, if they, if they wanna hunt rifle tags, you know, that’s, that’s an option to negotiate or, or the number of tags, you know, they can, they can hunt pretty much as much as they want.

00:26:22:22 –> 00:26:59:14
Yeah. It’s kind of crazy. I know guys that have killed bulls this last week, you know, I mean, you know, here in January on some tags like this, you know, and so there’s a lot of opportunity. I know your state’s working with landowners, I’ve, in the past, and I don’t know if you can speak to this or, or not, but there’s been, you know, where landowners maybe do habitat work and they, and they’re working with the department and the department will give them a, you know, special landowner tags that allow for, you know, a season variation for mul deer, for example, up in the good zone, good, good areas, you know, good, good areas meaning trophy, you know, and things that I’d be interested in. Sure. And so, sure,

00:26:59:21 –> 00:27:38:18
The department definitely encourages landowners to do habitat improvements. And there are some special management properties that are doing just that. And if they sign up with the department, specifically a special management properties, and one of their main goals on their properties is to manage for deer or for elk, and they’re doing the habitat work. They’re, they’re planting, you know, the right foods for these animals. They’re, they’re creating waters, they’re removing cattle. They’re, they’re doing a lot of things that are really benefiting not only the elk and deer, but other wildlife. So the, the department does definitely engage in those special management properties.

00:27:39:03 –> 00:27:57:25
That’s awesome. One thing I heard you say is we talked about in the secondary and special that there were unlimited tags for some of these landowners or all the landowners within those secondary areas. Tell me a little bit about that. That’s, that’s an interesting concept. Some landowners are, don’t like elk and they might want to get rid of ’em all. So

00:27:57:25 –> 00:28:27:12
Most of these areas that, that fall into these secondary management zones and whatnot, they’re, they’re fringe areas that are not primarily in the elk, you know, I’ll just use the word core habitat areas. Sure. They’re, they’re kind of maybe in a place where all of a sudden elk are showing up and they’re, you know, department’s not managing for elk in those areas. The therefore, you know, the unlimited the yeah. Option. So that’s kind of where those secondary properties will, will pop up.

00:28:27:24 –> 00:28:49:13
Okay. All right. We did talk about a lot of changes this year. You just mentioned it briefly, and I kind of want to go into that a little bit. You guys have a four year cycle, correct. And we’re, I don’t know how to term what terminology to use, but basically, basically it just feels like you flesh everything out. You, it’s a time for change, it’s a time for some major renovation if you needed it.

00:28:49:26 –> 00:29:17:04
It’s a time for evaluation that’s given our biologists time to, you know, they’ll have four years worth of, of data harvest data survey data and, you know, if there was changes in habitat there, there’s things that can change in those four years and, and all that stuff is reviewed. And, and based on a lot of those factors, recommendations are made to the game commission for, for changes that they would like to see be made based on a lot of those criteria.

00:29:18:08 –> 00:29:21:05
Well, there was a lot of change this year, I gotta tell you. There was

00:29:21:05 –> 00:29:22:14
A lot of, there was a lot. There

00:29:22:14 –> 00:30:12:05
Was like, you told me you’re, you’re gonna earn your money this year. And, and, and I can vouch for that, so I wanna just talk about it a little bit. We do have a, and from a non-resident perspective, residents pretty much know their, their own state. But from a non-resident perspective, you have had to, you know, pay that $65 hunting license fee when you apply. But you could always opt to get a refund if you weren’t drawn. Sure, sure. You know, if I wasn’t gonna come hunt small game and other, you know, participate in other hunting activities within your state. Sure. Now it is made where it’s non-refundable, so it’s a $65 non-refundable, which maybe, maybe even was okayed or, or whatever ratified, you know, years ago but just now became, you know, put in, put in place. But tell me a little bit about that and then any other changes that

00:30:12:05 –> 00:30:43:08
You think is significant. You know, New Mexico was, was kind of out of the norm compared to other states with regards to that game hunting license fee. Our fee’s relatively low compared to a lot of the other states. That’s true for that license. And you know, you know, I think in the big picture we wanted to kind of be consistent with other states as far as you know, that fee for that game hunting license. And again, it’s, you know, like I said, compared to Arizona. What’s Arizona? 160 ish.

00:30:43:08 –> 00:30:45:10
Yeah. It’s up to that’s hundred 60. Yeah.

00:30:45:27 –> 00:30:53:10
They get my money every year and Nevada gets mine. I haven’t set foot in either of those states to hunt, but, but they get it.

00:30:53:17 –> 00:30:57:12
But you’re, yeah. You’re, you’re contributing to the, to the budget for the department.

00:30:57:20 –> 00:31:14:26
I’m con I’m contributing to conservation is how I look at it. Yeah. So, so we felt that, you know, it, it would, you know, we’d just like to get in line with the other states and we still, we still like to, you know, hang our hat that we are one of the lower states for that fee compared to some of the others. So.

00:31:15:02 –> 00:31:52:11
Yep. And I will, and I will vouch for that. Very, very inexpensive. Having said that, you’re not, you know, you some of these other states, you kind of makes you feel a little bit better ’cause you’re buying points. But having said that, man, those points have held a lot of people hostage. It’s become one of those things where there are 15 and 20 year plans, 10 to 15, 20 year plans where New Mexico’s not that way. I truly do. I I really enjoy, I I really enjoy how different all the states are. Having said that, it is nice there’s no point system in New Mexico and for 65 bucks you’ll, you’ll have, you’ll have my money forever, so.

00:31:52:18 –> 00:32:35:06
Sure, sure. Well, and you know, I go back to, and I apply in, in many other western states as well, have been for a lot of years and have never drawn a tag. And I look at New Mexico and I know not only residents, but non-residents that hunt here regularly because, you know, if a lot of times they’ll draw a tag or if they don’t draw, there’s other options. You know, we’ve got some over the counter, you know, Barbies, sheep tags, we’ve got, you know, the private land tags for elk. So there’s always, there’s always a way in our state if you really wanna hunt. So Yeah. I I feel like we’ve got a, a special thing here for those that, that truly wanna go hunting New Mexico often.

00:32:35:21 –> 00:32:52:26
Yeah. A hundred. Yep. I agree a hundred percent. Tell me, let’s, let’s dive into a few things here. There was, you know, there was a lot of change in the antelope, the EAG option. I mean, there’s a lot of places we could go with this at the moment, but tell me a little bit about this eag, you know, this new aged eag. Sure.

00:32:52:28 –> 00:34:08:18
So the, the, how it’s gonna work, when you apply for your hunt, you’re gonna have an option to get a carcass, a paper carcass tag or use the EAG option. And the EAG option, how that’s gonna work is you’ll have to download the tagging app and basically you’re gonna have to have your hunting license with you, which corresponds to your, your TTAG number. Okay. When you make your kill, the requirement is that you get on your app and you basically file your harvest report you killed, it’s gonna generate a, a carcass tag number tied to your customer ID number and the date and time of kill. And the requirement is that you ride in, in some sort of permanent ink. I recommend just a fine point sharpie to have in your backpack and you can use, we recommend like duct tape or, or even flagging that you can ride on. Okay. Basically you’re gonna write that information on, on your flagging or your, your, your tape or whatever you use to attach to that carcass on. And it’s that simple. If you don’t have service at that time, that app will still record it and it’ll, it’ll keep pinging until it gets serviced. When it gets serviced, then it sends the information to our agency.

00:34:08:25 –> 00:34:10:18
Okay. So, okay. So,

00:34:10:18 –> 00:34:21:27
So it’s another option and, and the paper carcass tag is, is still an option. You can, you can request that at the time of application to actually get one in the mail. Okay. In old

00:34:21:27 –> 00:34:32:02
School you can still do it old school. Yeah. And so if I’m glassing off the top of a cliff and my phone falls out and I don’t notice it, I’ve got a problem. I’m hunting without a tag,

00:34:33:04 –> 00:34:36:23
You’re gonna have a problem. Yeah. So make sure you secure your phone.

00:34:37:03 –> 00:34:38:13
Okay. And that needs to be charged.

00:34:38:29 –> 00:34:39:27
That might help. Yeah.

00:34:41:13 –> 00:34:43:02
All right. Well, a lot of guys, and

00:34:43:02 –> 00:34:45:13
I don’t, I don’t know anybody that goes out to the field with a dead phone.

00:34:45:20 –> 00:35:19:28
No, they don’t anymore. They’d be a little concerned about that. They, they don’t anymore. They even have little batteries and all kinds of things. You know, their phone scope, you got a video, everything you see or it didn’t happen. Right. So, exactly. Anyway, tell us, tell us, so let’s dive into this, these antelope, there’s some major changes for antelope, which I’ve, I’m kind of, I’m kind of glad to see it. You know, before, you know, we haven’t as rifle hunters, you know, guys drawn in the regular draw were assigned ranches weren’t el actually eligible to hunt pri the public land, with the exception of the youth and mobility impaired and the archers. Right. So the rifles weren’t able, you know, it kind of,

00:35:20:13 –> 00:35:22:12
I don’t know, they were limited to that ranch. Yeah.

00:35:22:12 –> 00:35:37:18
And it was stockpiled some good bucks on the public and, and whatnot. But anyway, now it’s kind of, it’s more traditional, with the exception of a few changes with the private land authorizations, just like similar to your secondary, you know, elk hunts. And so tell us a little bit about that.

00:35:37:18 –> 00:36:32:05
Right, right. Sure. So, so that was a huge change for us. Pronghorn. We, we used to have what’s called the A plus system, which landowners would sign up for properties and we would issue antelope private land authorizations to them in addition to public draw tags where we would assign hunters to these branches that were signed up. So all that changed and went away. Basically what’s happened is we’ve created more hunt codes within the gmu, the game management units. So like Jason said, a hunter could draw a tag for say, unit, I’ll just use unit 17 as an example. Sure. And that person can hunt that entire unit, any, any public land, US forest service, b l m state land, and any private with written permission. Yeah. So for the public hunter, he’s got more latitude to go look different places within the unit. Yeah. So that, that’s a bonus.

00:36:33:19 –> 00:37:24:11
Now, the, the other side of that is the landowners will have the opportunity to allow hunters on their property with written permission through a private land over the counter tag. So the landowner’s gonna control how many pronghorn hunters he allows on his property through written permission. He’s not gonna be selling the authorizations, but he’s most likely gonna be, you know, offering the written permission for whatever he wants. It’s, it’s up to them. Sure. Yep. So, so there’s, you know, you know, I can see that there, there, there could be some value, you know, to both sides there on the change. You know, the public hunter’s gonna be able to, to go to, to more different places and, you know, the landowner’s still gonna be able to hunt pronghorn on his property. So

00:37:24:28 –> 00:38:14:26
Yeah. It’s gonna be, it’s gonna be interesting. ’cause what you’ve got is you’ve got some landowners that could be, you know, leased by an outfitter. Let’s say, let’s say it’s a 10,000 acre piece, and he’s Sure. And an outfitter has leased it, which is totally legal and heat and the outfitter would, and the landowner, you know, would, may dictate how many hunters they’ll run through the ranch. Sure. With the neighbor being able to have a tag for, or be able to issue, you know, permission slips to however many people he wants and tags will be issued. And so you’ve got some landowners that may manage for quality. You’ve got some landowners that may hate, antelope want to kill ’em all. Sure. So it’ll just be an interesting, it’s an interesting dynamic and, and it’ll just be interesting to see how all this shakes out. I don’t, I don’t know that it’ll, that there’s landowners that wanna kill ’em all, but Sure. But

00:38:14:26 –> 00:39:20:11
Having, oh, well it’s, it’s definitely a change. You know, what, what I’ve seen, you know, over the years is a lot, and I can’t speak for everybody, but a lot of our landowners in New Mexico recognize the value of wildlife on their property. Yeah. You know, they provide a lot for the wildlife through to water developments and providing habitat and feed, and they’ve also benefited through hunting. Sure. So I, I think, you know, from what I’ve seen in my travels is that the majority of our landowners, you know, I don’t see them going out and killing every prong horn on their ranch because No, you know, they’re, that’s a, that’s a resource not only for them, but you know, for the public. And it is, and, and again, you know, it’s new. We’ll see what happens, you know, and, you know, luckily we’re able to evaluate things after each season and you know, you know, obviously if there’s something that’s not going the way the department feels, it needs to, you know, there’s changes that can be made to address that. Yeah. But, but we’re, we’re excited for the change just to see, you know, what kind of opportunities that we can provide, you know?

00:39:20:19 –> 00:39:21:23
Yeah, you bet. For

00:39:21:23 –> 00:39:23:02
Our, for our customers.

00:39:23:14 –> 00:39:32:01
Well, and for the record, I want to, you know, I just wanna state that I, I’m an advocate of, of landowner. I’m gonna call ’em landowner tags, whether it’s a voucher, whatever it is, you

00:39:32:01 –> 00:39:33:04
Can call ’em whatever you want, Casey,

00:39:33:04 –> 00:40:13:05
Let’s just call it a, a landowner tag, but it makes it easy. But anyway, I’m for transferable landowner tags where landowners can, can sell ’em money from, from the, from the public can come in and, and help offset the cost of, of deprecating animals and, and help the landowner feel like that is a resource. It’s valuable. It’s something that provides income as well as his cattle or whatever else, you know, he does on his ranch. And so those transferable landowner tags have been, are, are a great asset to landowners as well as hunters. It provides more opportunity for, you know, for guys like me and, and other guys that are looking to hunt your state.

00:40:14:01 –> 00:40:14:23
Sure, sure.

00:40:15:05 –> 00:40:54:15
So anyway, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’ll be interesting to see a lot of these antelope units were broken up, whereas before they were, they were clusters of units that were clustered together where we could apply for a cluster and there was more tags now that they’re broken up within specific units in large part, sometimes they’re coupled now, but, but there’s just less tags, you know, per hunt code. So there’s more hunt codes to apply for. It breaks everything up. It’ll just be interesting. There’s gonna be a new set of drawing odds. There’s gonna be, you know, trophy quality’s gonna be different, everything. So it’s just quite a huge change within the antelope there in New Mexico.

00:40:55:07 –> 00:41:12:08
Sure It is. And you know, and until we start getting some hard data, you know, it’s hard to answer to some of those questions. Where’s, where’s the best trophy area, you know, where’s the best opportunistic area, you know, we may see some changes in what we’ve historically known until we actually get some data under our belts, you know?

00:41:12:13 –> 00:41:26:02
Yeah. It’s awesome. Now let’s jump into to deer a little bit. You know, I’ve, I’ve hunted mule deer multiple times in your state, and of course, as you know, I’ve ate some tags and that’s part of hunting in New Mexico, you know,

00:41:26:02 –> 00:41:27:24
That’s part of hunting anywhere.

00:41:28:20 –> 00:41:34:06
I think you even had a tag, you mentioned once there this last year in this drought year and still saw some good bucks.

00:41:34:26 –> 00:41:36:16
Yep. Still saw a couple of good ones.

00:41:36:20 –> 00:42:14:00
Yeah. So anyway, but overall, there’s been some, some changes, especially in regards to youth, the dates, the season changes there for the rifle. Like the two Bs kind of exciting, you know, basically at the end of November, right at the end of November to December 1st, there’s gonna be Right. A youth hunt. And they, and one thing about your state, and I gotta tell you, I kind of hate it, but they give these kids awesome dates, awesome dates and, and you know, whereas I kinda like, I like to see ’em have opportunity, but not right. During the prime rud or, or the prime dates. But anyway, sure, sure. That’s just the

00:42:14:00 –> 00:43:03:13
Difference that I can Sure. You know, and I, and I I I, I get that your concern on that, so our youth hunts, and, and let me just lay a little foundation for this. You know, we’re, we’re kind of big on youth hunts, you know, because I, and I, I know you’re probably tired of hearing me say this, but I go back to the future of, of conservation and, and yeah. Licensed buyers. And there, there’s some real scary data out there right now that shows that in about 10 years, and this isn’t just New Mexico, it’s nationwide. Yeah. We’re gonna have a huge loss of licensed buyers, which are hunters. And we’re trying to find ways to keep our youth engaged in hunting. And there’s so many competitive activities out there right now. And you’ve got four kids, Jason, I got four kids. I mean, we live this daily.

00:43:05:19 –> 00:44:37:20
We, we just need to get to keep the kids engaged. And, and so anyway, I just wanted to preface it with that. On these youth hunts, what we did was we consolidated all the youth hunt dates across the state. You know, prior to this year we had some youth hunts that were three weekends long, some that were four days long, and they were different timeframes and different places around the state. And we wanted to consolidate all those dates into one block of time. Yeah. And yes, that Thanksgiving weekend timeframe into December 1st, the farther north you go in New Mexico, you’re, you’re kind of getting to, to pre rut time the farther south you go, not so much. So in an effort to consolidate those dates, it kind of just, you know, how that’s how it played out. And, and they are, they’re great opportunities to take your kid out, take a new kid hunting, you know, where they could actually see some animals and, and actually get hooked on hunting. So yeah, they’re great opportunities for both residents and non-residents. And, you know, I’ve had numerous calls over the years where guys from out of state, you know, they’re driving their kid all the way to New Mexico for a two day hunt residents, you know, they’ll, they’ll drive across the state or they’ll hunt in their backyard, you know, whatever, you know, they’re capable of doing. And, and they are, they’re good hunts, they’re good opportunities. And I encourage everybody, both residents and non-residents to really look at those if they’ve got any kids under

00:44:37:26 –> 00:45:33:08
18. And I agree a hundred percent. And as you know, I had my oldest kid and it was, man, he was nine years old now he’s 18, if you can believe it. And, and anyway, we hunted out your back door. It wasn’t necessarily your back door and don’t even Yeah, I remember that. Never even been to your house. But, but anyway, basically the unit in your back. And it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy, but he killed his first four point and he was nine years old, you know, but he had hunter ed, and that’s what I love about New Mexico. You can start these kids early as long as they’ve got hunter ed and Right. And then another awesome hunt that we’ve really enjoyed was the, was the two B archery hunt. January 1st, the 15th. My second oldest just really got into archery hunting. He wanted to kill a deer. And you know, as you can imagine it, it’s hard to kill a mule deer with a bow as an adult, let alone a kid. You know, it’s tough.

00:45:33:11 –> 00:45:33:19

00:45:33:27 –> 00:45:58:05
It’s tough. And so anyway, I was looking at that. I was, I was crunching the numbers for, for Epic Outdoors Magazine that we’re doing. And just noticing that the 40, 45, 48, 40 4% kill rates, harvest rates for youth on that, on that hunt. I can’t even imagine, I don’t think there’s another youth hunt archery wise that could even compare. We’re talking Dang near 50 50 of kids. Yeah. That’s

00:45:58:05 –> 00:46:00:01
Killing, that’s an amazing harvest rate.

00:46:00:12 –> 00:46:40:01
It’s amazing. It’s amazing. And so we went down there and he happened to draw last year, and it was, if you remember, super, super dry. I mean, it was warm and dry. He, he killed his first buck with a bow, multiple opportunities. We saw a big deer. We saw a deer over 200 inches. And he, and, and his arrow, he got a shot off and it was great until it hit a little branch, he didn’t see, and you know, we were left with fletching and a busted arrow, but, and it didn’t, it didn’t hit the deer at all. But anyway, just, it was just awesome. I mean, and he was luck, one of the lucky 50%, so to speak, you know, 48% or whatever. Sure,

00:46:40:01 –> 00:46:40:12
Sure, sure.

00:46:41:03 –> 00:46:55:28
And, and, and that’s his, you know, only archery kill to date, you know, win again this year. All of a sudden he decided he was a trophy hunter and passed up deer. Passed up deer, like with a bow. And as a kid, you know, 16 years old and Well,

00:46:56:05 –> 00:47:05:23
You know, you know what the problem is, don’t you? So when you raise your kids in a house full of big mule deer Yeah. When they see these smaller bucks on the hoof

00:47:05:28 –> 00:47:06:23
Oh, I know. They’re

00:47:06:23 –> 00:47:07:22
Not in, they’re not interested.

00:47:08:05 –> 00:47:09:01
I know, I know. And

00:47:09:04 –> 00:47:14:08
I can, I, I’ve experienced that first time with my kids and I didn’t quite understand why they went shoot the deer.

00:47:14:18 –> 00:47:22:12
Yeah. Well, they’ve been with their dad, you know, you took the, didn’t you take the picture of that giant deer on the last cover of the proclamation, the regulations?

00:47:23:07 –> 00:47:23:19
I did.

00:47:23:29 –> 00:47:33:23
And that’s a stud buck. It’s just an awesome buck. And it wasn’t, if I remember right. And I, I know you wouldn’t tell, tell me the unit and I wouldn’t even ask you necessarily, but it wasn’t one of the best units in the state.

00:47:34:15 –> 00:47:59:03
No, it was, it was, it wasn’t, it wasn’t known as one of the best units and Yeah. And you know, that buck was, it was just dumb luck. I bumped into that buck. He was, it was kind of pre rut time. And he was, he was just moving. Yeah. He was just moving. And I just happened to catch him. Right. And I happened to catch a catch, a right shot of him and such a ended up on the cover. It’s a beautiful buck, beautiful picture.

00:47:59:03 –> 00:48:20:11
Such, such a great, such a great buck. Couple of the things I’m excited about New Mexico and Mule Dirt, New Mexico isn’t known as maybe the best mul to your state. We, we all know that, but sure. You do have the Hickory Reservation, which is well known, and then you’ve got the units that surround it. Sure. And, and that county does really well. The two B two C, the five B five A seven.

00:48:20:17 –> 00:48:29:12
Absolutely. Re Rio, anything around Rio or Reba County, I mean, I’m pretty certain that Rio Reba County’s got the most b and c entries of any county.

00:48:29:26 –> 00:48:31:06
Isn’t that crazy? Yeah.

00:48:31:07 –> 00:48:47:26
It’s, it’s crazy. And so that whole north, north central northwest portion of New Mexico around Rio Reba County, it’s just a, a giant buck area. And we may not have the numbers, but every now and then they, they kill some slammer bucks out of there.

00:48:48:06 –> 00:49:12:08
Couple of the exciting parts you guys added a muzzle or hunt an archery hunt in five B. And I know, you know, in the, in the past I’ve written, you know, in the publication that the rifle hunt, that’s the only hunt within this unit, yada, yada, yada. But anyway, now, now we’ve got an early season option. Obviously not very many tags, we’re talking 10 in each of those seasons total. But it’ll be interesting. There’s probably a good, good deer in there.

00:49:12:27 –> 00:49:24:21
You know, anytime there’s a new hunt in a new area, there’s just no cow if it’s gonna be a great hunt or a bad hunt. And just the allure to go try it is always, always circling in my mind.

00:49:25:08 –> 00:49:38:14
You bet. Tell me a little bit about the White Sands is offering elk and deer for the first time. It’s a little exciting for us, but geez, there’s no tags, but, you know, per se. But anyway. Right. Tell us a little bit about how that came about. How, how

00:49:39:01 –> 00:51:00:20
So, so it’s interesting. We historically, we used to hunt quite a few deer on white sand missile range due to population declines on, were scaled way back and almost non-existent for the last several years. You know, they’re starting to get a, a few elk that are kind of in and out of the missile range that they felt that maybe we need to throw a few tags in there to to, to some hunters provide some opportunities since they’re starting to be a few elk that are kind of back and forth from the missile range into other areas. And, and the same for deer. You know, the, the dates for that deer hunt are, are really amazing. They’re in January. Yeah. So that should be full rutt in that part of the state. And it’s a rifle hunt. So the lucky hunters who get to hunt that, you know, they, they may have a really good experience and they could find a special buck on there. You know, when, when a place hasn’t been hunted for so long, you just never know what’s gonna turn up, even though it’s more of a, a desert unit. You know, the, I can tell you there was a, a buck that got roadkill down by Las Cruces, which is way south, not known for big deer. And boy, I can tell you that I would’ve loved to have hung that one on my wall. He was a, a really nice deer. Oh yeah. I don’t know what he scored, but he, he would’ve get your attention for sure.

00:51:00:27 –> 00:51:15:13
Seems like I, I saw a picture of him and, and it just, just, my initial impression was 200 or 2 0 5 or something like that. Sure. You know, and, and I’ve always thought about hunting, like out of that crazy country out in Hobbes and 33 and all that crazy stuff. I mean the,

00:51:15:13 –> 00:51:16:08
The sand. Yeah.

00:51:16:08 –> 00:51:17:23
Who knows what’s out there, you know,

00:51:18:03 –> 00:51:26:24
They, they kill big deer in the sand. That’s a good area. Yeah. It seems like every year they, they kill one or two really, really big bucks outta that country.

00:51:27:05 –> 00:52:03:00
Yeah. All right. Well, lots of opportunities there, you know, especially for the youth. There’s a lot of different, you know, hunt codes you guys have cos there too. I’ve, we talk about it in Epic outdoors with don’t want to keep you here forever. So we won’t dive in that too heavy. But there was some change there too. But anyway, we do talk, it, talk about it in our, in our publication. So let’s move on a little bit. Tell tell me about the sheep. How do you feel like your sheep are doing overall? I know, sure. You know, we had those bunch of, those desert units added, you know, a few years ago and whatnot. So just give us an overall feel on that.

00:52:03:02 –> 00:53:26:24
So our sheep are continuing to really do well. We just added a new herd. We did a transplant off of the White Sands missile range herd off the San Andreas mountains there, over to the Sacramento Mountains. So we’ve established a desert population there, which was really exciting. Yeah. Our, our sheep are doing well numbers wise. We’ve got more sheep probably than we’ve ever had, you know, and since, since they were being documented. And I can tell you that every year we are consistently producing record book rams, both Desert and Rockies. And, and it’s, it’s exciting to see that because, you know, it’s a place, if a guy draws a tag where he knows he has a chance at a legitimate record book Ram. And it’s just exciting and, you know, they’re doing great. We’ve got numerous different desert sheep hunts, you know, and, and all those populations were all created through transplants over the years. So our, our biologists have done an excellent job really with our sheep. And we’ve expanded, you know, we’ve got the white missile range hunt, we’ve got the frog crystal ball hunt. We’ve got the Laron Hunt, the Kao Hunt, you know, those are all deserts. We got the Pel and Seal Hunt. We got the hatchet. Yeah. The Hatchet, you know, is always one of our big, big trophy producing areas and

00:53:27:07 –> 00:53:29:07
Produced a giant, A giant this last year.

00:53:29:21 –> 00:54:35:17
Yeah. I think it was like 180 5 ish. Yeah, it sure did. Yeah. Just, just big. So yeah, we’ve gotten on our rocky, you know, we’ve got our Alpine High Elridge elevation, Rocky populations up on Wheeler and, and, and the Pecos, which are, you know, doing well. And our Rio Grande Gorge herd is, is doing really well. In fact, we’ve added some, some u tags this year to help control that population because they’re, they are doing so well. Yeah. There’s always concerns about them getting, you know, outside of the, the management area where they might Yeah. Cross paths with domestic sheep and of course that leads to Yeah. Potential to disease and whatnot. So they’re killing some slammer rams in the Gorge Wheeler Peak, still producing and, and you know, the Pecos was, you know, kind of for a while, not the, the best place to go. ’cause Wheeler Peak was kind of the king of the mountain and Sure. Shooting in nine or in 2017. Was that two, two seasons back? Yeah. They killed a 1 97 Ram out of the Pecos. So yeah,

00:54:35:17 –> 00:54:38:14
They did an absolute monster.

00:54:39:08 –> 00:54:46:24
Our sheep are doing great and that’s the one thing that I’m waiting for a tag and it may or may never happen, but I’m putting in

00:54:47:18 –> 00:55:20:15
Yeah, me too. And even though you do gotta front the tag fees and they’re a little steep for non-residents, but, you know, we apply as well. The one thing that’s kind of exciting, we talk about it in the publication a little bit, there’s gonna be 25 total tags for 2019 for deserts. And you and I talked about this earlier in the podcast, the 84 6%, 10% split that actually gives, with one tag extra, it actually gives an extra non-resident tag, and it gives also an extra guide draw tag the way that splits out. And so anyway, kind of exciting, just one tag increase.

00:55:20:15 –> 00:55:28:16
It’s any, anytime you can increase tags for, for sheep, it’s, it’s, you know, you’re doing something right. And it’s, it’s exciting to see that. For sure.

00:55:28:23 –> 00:55:43:11
It is. And so, anyway, great opportunities there. We break that down as well. Talk about the sizes and different things. But you know what I found on these sheep sizes, a lot of, a lot of, it’s hard to, to know how to judge sheep. You and I have talked about this mean, so it’s, it’s,

00:55:43:19 –> 00:55:45:17
It’s tough. It’s tough. There’s so many factors.

00:55:46:01 –> 00:56:04:20
Yeah. Bases and length. And, and, and how do you judge ’em when you don’t get to put your hands on very many of them. And then the people that draw ’em, are they gonna hold out? Are they looking for the biggest, they just want to Right. Shoot a nice ram. And so what’s on paper, I mean, isn’t necessarily indicative of what’s still alive or what’s truly out

00:56:04:20 –> 00:56:24:13
There. That’s exactly right. Because you’ve got, you know, hunters come in many forms. There’s, there’s hunters that just wanna kill a ram. They just, there’s a ram I, I want him, and they shoot him. And then you’ve got hunters that are picky and they’re looking for the best animal in the mountain. So you’re right, the, the numbers don’t always show a accurate representation of, of the potential of the unit.

00:56:24:17 –> 00:56:33:20
That’s right. Tell me a little bit about the orx hunting there in the White Sands. There’s a few little changes, you know, so and so Go ahead.

00:56:34:08 –> 00:57:16:01
Yeah. So we’ve increased orx licenses on, on the missile range. And, and I just gotta tell you, if you’ve never hunted an orx in New Mexico, you need to put that on your bucket list. That is some, it’s, it’s, it’s not a super challenging physically hard hunt. It’s a lot like hunting pronghorn, however, just chasing and hunting those majestic desert dwellers is, is so much fun. And then when you get one down, they make beautiful mounts and the meat is exceptional. So I, I mean, they’re, they’re one of my favorite critters to hunt. Just, you know, the tags are, are the issue, but if you haven’t done it, you need to definitely put that on your bucket list. Well,

00:57:16:01 –> 00:57:32:13
It’s awesome. Yeah. And my dad went and drew a tag and killed one one year and, and it was awesome. But I, I was a little kid, so I can’t even remember what it tastes like, but I, every time I think about it, I think, well, the French like horse meat and they look kinda like horses. So, I don’t know, maybe it’s something like that. Oh,

00:57:32:14 –> 00:57:38:14
Well, I, I’ll just put this out there. It’s probably the best eating wild game you can have outta New Mexico.

00:57:38:24 –> 00:57:39:16
Oh, that’s awesome.

00:57:40:05 –> 00:57:49:04
Yeah. And, and you know, that’s, it’s kind of interesting. So there’s a process that white fans Missile Range has, and, and for the record, they, they charge you 150 for the orx. Yep.

00:57:50:02 –> 00:58:32:23
When you get there, you gotta go to an orientation before the hunt starts. And, and if you’ve never been there, it’s a little intimidating. ’cause you got, you know, 60, 80 people stacked up there and, and you feel like, well, there’s not gonna be enough room for everybody to hunt and not run over each other. Yeah. And once they turn the hunters loose to go hunt. You know, some people race out of there, like they’re on the, on the Indy 500 and others kind of lay back and wait. Yeah. And it, it’s just amazing how people just di dissipate into that missile range. It’s so big that they just disappear and then you start your hunt and it’s, it’s, it’s a quality experience. It really is. It’s not what you think it is when you first get there. So

00:58:32:29 –> 00:58:43:03
Tell me a little bit about Red Canyon versus small. A couple little, you know Sure. They broke ’em out a little bit and so it appears new even though, you know, it may not be on

00:58:43:03 –> 00:59:32:20
Red. Sure. So, so small missile range, a red Canyon were put back in ’cause they were trying to get some more hunt codes that corresponded with the missile range dates. ’cause the military’s missions take priority over, over the hunts out there. Right. And Red Canyon had been hunted within the Rhodes Canyon hunt zone. So if a guy hunted roads the last four years, they could hunt Red Canyon. It was within the hunt zone in this, you know, small missile range. I don’t believe that was incorporated into any of the other established hunt zones. However, I, I think they’ve been hunting it on population reduction tags when needed. Okay. So they’re not like places that haven’t been hunted in five, four, or five years,

00:59:32:25 –> 00:59:35:19
So. Right, right. Just broke out with their own hunt code. Yes.

00:59:35:19 –> 00:59:48:25
But with that being said, the orx population is really healthy right now. There’s a, there’s plenty of animals to, to go around you, you can’t draw a bad hunt on the missile range. Yeah. It’s, it’s that simple.

00:59:49:07 –> 00:59:52:08
Is there one better than another? I get that question all the time. Yeah.

00:59:52:08 –> 00:59:53:25
There, there’s really not. Okay. You

00:59:53:25 –> 00:59:54:11
Know, that’s what I

00:59:54:11 –> 01:00:28:11
Think. You get a tag on any of those missile range hunts, you’re gonna, you’re gonna see some animals and you still gotta hunt from, you know, they’ve gotten a little weary over the years that back 15 years ago you could drive right up to ’em and they’re standing there, but now they like to keep their distance, you know, from from they’ll see your vehicle and they’ll get about 800 yards and just kind of hang up there. Yeah. And then you gotta, you gotta put your hunting skills to Yeah. To work to, to get in, to get your shot. But, but that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing. You know, we, we like to hunt. Yeah. Not to drive up to ’em and load ’em up in the truck.

01:00:28:17 –> 01:00:45:06
Yeah, that’s right. So speaking of hunting skills, tell me about the Ibex a little bit. They’re, I know the archery shows virtually 0% kill and, and is tougher and tough. And I’ve talked to guys that have done it, but sure. It can be just an awesome hunt, especially for the rifle hunters, but just tell me a little bit about it.

01:00:45:13 –> 01:01:36:08
Sure. So, so the, the Persian ibex, it’s the bizarre subspecies, the Ibex. That is, if, if a guy or gal’s got an opportunity to draw that tag, that will be one of their most memorable hunting experiences ever. And, and I’ve done it. I used to bow hunt those things in college. And then I’ve drawn back in the day we had a qualifier hunt where you can hunt ’em with the rifle. And long story short, that mountain is brutal. It’s, it’s steep. It’s straight up and down. Yeah. It’s not huge, but it’s steep and it’s straight up and down. And those goats like to live on the face of the cliff. And when I say the face of the cliff, I mean the face of the cliff. Yeah. I’ll tell you a quick story. A friend of mine had drawn that tag and he went down there and he was hunting and I told him, you’ve gotta look on the face of the cliff.

01:01:36:21 –> 01:02:25:10
And he called me, he says, I can’t find these goats. And I asked him, well, where are you looking? And he’s like, well, I’m glassing below the cliff. Above the cliff. He said, look on the face of the cliff. And I had him on the phone and he literally said, holy cow, there they are. Wow. They’re just an amazing animal. You can’t, you can’t even comprehend the agility of those goats on those cliffs until you see ’em in person. And just being out there and chasing ’em is, is quite the experience. If you get one, it’s a bonus. And yeah, archery’s tough because of the, you know, the habitat they live in and those goats got good eyes and they’re hard to get close to. But there’s a few guys that get it done with their bows and they put in the work and the effort and they’ve, they’ve killed some nice goats with the bow boy here in recent years.

01:02:25:19 –> 01:02:39:19
Yeah, you’re not a kidding. All right, so real quick, it feels like these barbery sheep man, they’re just nomadic and everywhere and, and and whatnot. But just gimme a quick, what’s your opinion on Sure. How they’re

01:02:39:19 –> 01:03:35:17
Doing? Our barbies are, they’re fun to hunt. Our our populations are doing really well, particularly in southeast New Mexico. We’ve created some new hunt structures this year that are gonna hopefully provide more opportunity for hunters and kind of spread out the hunters a little more. So they’re not all watered down there At the same time, there’s actually a a, an October hunt that, that I suspicion is gonna be a really good hunt because typically those sheep are running that time of year. Okay. And you know, there, there could be a big old ram that’s been hanging out in a, in a dark hole and comes out to, to go do his business. And you know, they’ve, they’ve been killing great rams over the years in New Mexico. And it, it’s a great, it’s a great hunt. It’s fun. Those sheep are cool as heck looking. They got those long shafts and big old horns on ’em and lots of opportunity for Barbies.

01:03:35:24 –> 01:03:37:21
You even have some unlimited over the counter.

01:03:38:12 –> 01:04:00:05
We do. We’ve got some over the counter kind of fringe areas and there’s several guys that actually kill sheep on those tags regularly. You know, you’re gonna have to put a little more work in, a little more scouting to really find them. ’cause there’s not as many numbers wise, but definitely folks are killing sheep on those year round unlimited hunt areas.

01:04:00:16 –> 01:04:21:00
Yeah. Well, Craig, tell me a little bit about, you’ve got a lot of different reservations throughout the state of New Mexico. Tell me a little bit about, I know you work closely with a lot of them and, and everybody gets along well and they, they offer a lot of hunting opportunities for, for hunters as well, you know, within the reservation itself. Sure,

01:04:21:10 –> 01:05:42:16
Absolutely. So all the, the Indian reservations are sovereign nations. So they, they regulate their own hunting and wildlife laws or state laws don’t apply. So theoretically a, a resident of New Mexico can buy a license to hunt on one of the reservations in our state and, you know, kill an additional animal because it’s a different jurisdiction. Sure. With that being said, I’ll just name off a few that come to mind that, that provide hunting opportunities. Of course, the Ria, Northern New Mexico is known for their big deer and they’ve got a lot of hunts to offer for elk and different things. And then you’ve got Mescalero Apaches down in the southeast part of the state. You know, they’re kind of known for their, their good elk hunting down there. And they’ve got some other stuff that they offer. You’ve got Navajo Nation, which spans I think New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. That’s huge. It’s a big, big reservation. They’ve, they’ve, they offer different hunts on them for big game and turkeys. And then you’ve got Akima Pueblo, which, you know, they’re known for their, their big elk. They offer hunts on Akima, Laguna Pueblo to name a few. There’s Zuni, there’s, there’s a lot in our state there. So there’s, there’s, there’s a lot of other opportunities in addition to the state hunts in our state.

01:05:43:05 –> 01:06:40:23
It’s crazy the, the opportunities that are in New Mexico. And that’s the one thing I think New Mexico gets overlooked a bit. And that’s one thing I wanted why I wanted to have you on here. I’ve hunted your state as much as, or more than most states, but New Mexico is just awesome and, and you can hunt for, you know, and apply for all the different species. You’re not necessarily, there feels like there’s unlimited amount of combination. Some guys will ask me, you know, where should I apply for elk? And I’m like, well that doesn’t narrow it down because there are hundreds of options. And, and a couple of things that, you know, we didn’t really dive into. ’cause I gave elk, we jumped right into elk ’cause I’m so excited about ’em. But is all the new early seasons, there’s some new early seasons. 16 B 20 ones. Yep. You know, 18, I mean, there’s a lot of new changes for this year now. There’s not a lot of tags and so I don’t know how exciting it really should be, but it does spread out thes. It’s

01:06:40:25 –> 01:06:55:10
Exciting. Exciting. It’s exciting. Yeah. For me, because as an elk hunter, for me, anything closer to that rutt, whether it’s muzzle loader or rifle or archery Yeah. Is exciting because for me, hunting elk when they’re bugling is, is hard to beat.

01:06:55:12 –> 01:07:37:00
Yeah. It’s unbelievable. And so I’m expecting this year with change, change always creates a few giants. It just does. Sure. And, and with the change this year on top of the moisture, it just, I I just can’t wait for 2019. I can’t wait for you guys to pull my name outta the hat for four different species. I’m gonna, I’m gonna be there. You’re gonna have GPSs on my truck. I, I already know it and, and following me around, but hey, I’ll take it because your state’s so fun to hunt. I do want to talk about some of these, we call ’em conservation tags here in Utah and we sell some tags with the state. You guys do a little bit of that very little, but you do have a banquet coming up February 16th. Sure. Yeah. I want,

01:07:37:02 –> 01:07:37:11
I wanna

01:07:37:11 –> 01:07:38:25
Give you the, the floor on it. Yeah.

01:07:39:11 –> 01:08:44:08
On, on February 16th coming up pretty quick. We, we have what we call a governor’s auction banquet. Not to be confused with our, our, our enhancement governor tags that get sold at the National conventions of Army F and Mul Deer Foundation or, or Wild Sheep. These tags, they’re, what makes ’em special is you get an extra five days either on the front end or the back end of the hunt. So, you know, we’ve, we’ve got, you know, everything, we got one Ibex tag, we got Orx a barberry, we got a, a pronghorn tag. And, and how it works is like on the pronghorn, if you, if you buy that tag at our auction, you have to validate it for a, a open pronghorn unit with a concurrent hunt code that’s in our rules and information booklet. But you get five days extra on the front end of the back end. So it kind of makes it special. You could be the first one out there or if, if the ruts not quite going on a, on a species, say for deer, an example, you might wanna go the extra five days on the back end. Yeah,

01:08:44:14 –> 01:08:44:23

01:08:44:25 –> 01:09:22:04
To get a little, little farther in. But we’ve got a unit two mule deer tag. We’ve got a unit four or five mill deer tag. We’ve got some elk tags. One for the Vidal, we’ve got one for unit 34 36. And this is always a popular one, one for unit 16 H through E, your choice whatever code you wanna pick, we’ve got a co whitetail also. So Orx, those are, those are good opportunities. We’ve got an orx iix, geez. And you know that IIX tag, that’s a, that’s a coveted tag right there because the only other place you’re gonna go hunting in free range or iix is in probably Turkey. Yeah.

01:09:22:14 –> 01:09:26:00
Yeah. Yep. So February 16th, you know

01:09:26:11 –> 01:09:45:12
Yeah. You can get, you can get, if anybody’s interested in coming, they can get their tickets. Go to our Facebook page. There’s some links there to follow, to, to get tickets bought. Okay. Or, or have somebody bid for you that’s there if you’re interested. It’s, it’s usually a pretty good deal. And if you’re lucky enough to get one of those tags, those hunts are pretty good. Really?

01:09:45:21 –> 01:10:29:00
Yeah, they sure are so and not too bad priced. I mean everything’s expensive nowadays, but we’re not talking, you know, 50 plus grand or anything. It’s, you know. Right. Correct. You know, landowner tag prices for some states. So anyway, will I sure appreciate you. I wanna remind everybody the application deadline is March 20th. Our February issue of Epic Outdoors covers New Mexico as well as the Montana alert and alerting everybody that it’s coming due as well as the Nevada Guide Draw Oregon, Utah. So very involved. Craig, I think we talked about your state. It took about 35, 38 pages to talk about it. And with all those changes we did earn our money on that one,

01:10:29:08 –> 01:10:44:05
So. Sure. And I’d also like to put out to your listeners that if anybody has any questions about anything, you know, our staff are more than happy to visit with anybody that calls us. We’ve got hotline number, you could call us directly and all those numbers are on our website. You can find them there and

01:10:44:20 –> 01:11:59:18
You bet. Yeah, you bet. I’ll just throw it out there. Try 8 8 8 2 4 8 6 8 6 6 or www dot wildlife state dot nm us. Anyway, everybody should be playing in New Mexico. We’re excited. Of course you are too. Craig. Can’t thank you enough. I know, you know, you and I go way back. Just, you know, you, you were obviously a friend with a, you know, Marvin James who since passed away and, and was super good guy. But man, you’re, you’re, you’re out there in the field. You just, like you said on the podcast, you’re, you’re applying in in Arizona and Nevada and Utah and Colorado and some of these different states. And so that’s what I appreciate about you is not only your working in the state, you’re, you’re within the Department of Game and Fish there in New Mexico and doing good things, but you’re also a hunter. And, and sometimes that’s what it takes to have proper game management is people within the department that actually hunt that are out there and they see it with their own eyes. They’re not just doing computer modeling and and whatnot that you guys see it, you, you’re listening to hunters. You know what’s going on. You’ve got boots on the ground, you’re out there, you care about the wildlife, you’re hunting them yourselves. And so anyway, I as a hunter and a sportsman. Sure. Appreciate that. So,

01:11:59:27 –> 01:12:09:14
Yeah, and it was a pleasure being on with you guys, Jason, and I appreciate you guys promoting our state. You know, again, we feel like it’s a great place and to come visit or hunt.

01:12:09:18 –> 01:12:12:06
Okay. Sounds good. Appreciate it. All right. You bet. Talk to you later.