View Full Version : NM GMU24 - First Western Mulie Hunt

dead river
06-11-2011, 01:51 PM
First of all...Thanks Eastman!! The help provided by the site and magazine for going through the western draw process has made it all a lot easier than it would be if I had to track all that down on my own...

I was certain i posted this basic same post the other day,but I am unable to find it... so here is a second try.

My wife and I got our third choice draw, however we are excited to get out there and begin to learn our way around western mule deer hunting. I have a lot of planning to do and need to get in the best of shape before I hit the hills. In a lot of ways, we will be the typcial eastern, first timers. Amy has made it clear that any decent 4X is on the ground, stating that she has only shot a few bucks since she started hunting and she is not going to get too picky (thus why i picked a Gila unit as third choice).

On the other hand, i will want to go after the best deer I can, for the unit. So, I will be trying to track down info for that unit I am assuming we will focus on the northen end of the unit, but I am open to suggestions if anyone has experience in the GMU.

There are a few logistics i need to work out and woudl appreciate some input on the following:

- base camp or spike camp? In this unit, which is likely to be my best advantage? I have quite a bit of backpacking experience, and several 7-10 day rocky mountain trips under my belt (though it has been years and I was younger, better shape). I am comfortable with back country trips, even in the cold, and have a little mountaineering under my belt also. I do need to research what the weather extremes can be for the unit in November because cold gear will get heavy for my wife, especially with hunting gear. It seems that the risk i run, by commiting to pack in and stay in the backcountry, is that I may be commited to a basin that does not have what I am looking for....on the other hand, i will get to more remote areas......the unit may not even have very remote areas. I am going to download the the GIS shapefiles from NMDGF today and start learning the terrain and access..

- If i fly to NM rather than drive what do i do about getting meat and a trophy home. This might seem like a stupid question, but I driven to all of my hunts to the praries for duck, pheasant and deer each year for the past 30 years. I may drive this one too but the wife does not have the time off i do so i will have to drive it on my own and let her fly. It is cheaper to fly these days and i travel so much for work i have flight and rental car benefits that make it pretty cheap...

Any input is helpful. I am going to post a question optics, after i have reviewed what has already been posted previously..

Thanks in advance and get out and enjoy your wester summer. NC is now hot (upper 90s) and humid, so I am in hibernation mode, planning my Nov. trip to NM, and Oct. trip to ND.:cool: dreaming of cool weather..


Umpqua Hunter
06-12-2011, 11:03 AM
Hi Bryan,

First of all I don't know a thing about Unit 24 so I can't help you there. But if it was me, as a member of Huntin Fool, I would contact them and let them know the unit I drew. They would then send me a list of member hunters who have actually hunted that unit in the past few years. Most hunters I call have been very helpful in sharing information. I would highly recommend becoming a member, it is some of the best money you spend on western hunting. You can Google their name and find out about their services.

I would also contact the game warden and wildlife biologist responsible for that unit. They are usually very helpful.

As far as your meat and trophy, if you are flying, here are a couple options:

1) Locate a meat processor ahead of time and discuss options. Many game processors are geared for fast turn around. I have had deer cut, wrapped and frozen in as little as 24 hours (if I brought it in in the morning). A processed and frozen deer becomes pretty manageable for putting in a couple ice chests and taking on as luggage. It will keep at least 24 hours frozen. Check the airline rates for doing this. If you pick the meat up well before your flight, buy some dry ice. Dry ice has huge freezing ability and will even freeze partially frozen meat. Some processors will also have the meat freighted, that is an option, but check the prices ahead of time, as I once got burned and spent $800 having an elk freighted when I did not get a specific price. I was told it would "not be too much" and it ended up being shipped in a refrigerated truck.

2) If you are not sold on taking the meat with you, some processors also have donation programs, where the meat is donated to needy families.

3) If you get a nice trophy you want mounted, you can leave it with a local taxidermist (do your homework ahead of time). Most taxidermists will mount and ship it too you. That way you don't have to deal with the cape and antlers, which are pretty bulky to take back on a flight.

4) If you just want to get the antlers home, you can split the skull and deer antlers becomes very compact and can be put in a large duffel with your gear. A taxidermist could then mount it on a plaque. Check ahead with your taxidermist on this.

5) I really love European mounts. If I was in your situation and wanted a European, I would leave it there with a taxidermist who would have the skull cleaned with dermistis beetles (meat eating beetles) and then have him ship it UPS to me. It will be pretty light and affordable that way.

Umpqua Hunter
06-12-2011, 11:09 AM
P.S. A few meat processors use vacuum sealed bags. This is awesome for taking meat back frozen. Also when I said the meat would keep 24 hours, I mean you will not have a problem with it thawing for at least 24 hours if it is frozen hard and packed well in an ice chest.

dead river
06-12-2011, 09:11 PM
UH - Thanks for the reply. The info definitely helps a lot... I will look into dry ice and check at least two large coolers if I fly. One of the advantages, and there are few, or traveling as much as I do is that I get 4 free checked bags....and the same for for up to four the same for a traveler that accompanies me.

I ordered 150.00 worth of maps today. #$%##....that could have gone towards optics, packs, carbon fiber tripods....though i have GIS software capabilities, it was easier than tracknig down, and maybe having to pay fro a bunch of shapefiles. I will look into the huntinfool website this week too.
It is odd to think of calling and talking to gmf officials for info. That is not exactly in their job description in the east and I have never needed to do so when hunting the praries. I will call some folks this week and see what I can dig up. I am already considering driving it, as I have always done for the northern praries and canada, i have 4wd, my own truck and it cuts out some of the logistics. But we will see, the older i get, the more i would prefer to avoid all night driving trips.

Thanks again

Umpqua Hunter
06-13-2011, 01:04 AM
You betcha.

What a great situation you have with the number of bags you can check on. That will work awesome for you.

You mentioned a carbon fiber tripod, if you are in the market for one, a couple years ago I bought a Gitzo GT-0932 for a solo backpack sheep hunt in Wyoming (in my pic). It was recommended to me who certainly knows his gear. I have been very happy with mine. It's not carbon fiber, but rather a basalt fiber. I recall the cost was substantially lower than a good carbon fiber tripod and the weight was comparable.

Have a great hunt!


dead river
06-19-2011, 04:52 PM
The Gitzo Basalt legs were a good idea. You can't go wrong with Gitzo and less than 2#.....

I ordered one today at 249.00 which is substantially better than carbon fiber versions and I am not putting glass on it...

still hemming and hawing about the spotting scope but I have started to gather maps, and other info. I was in Houston on Friday having lunch with a friend/client and our NM hunt came up in conversation...her brother in law lives in Siver City on the edge of GMU 24 so I going to get his contact info and see if I can gain some local insight...small world sometimes.

Thanks for the heads up on the tripod. One more item checked off the list....

06-19-2011, 09:45 PM
check out CaptivateMoutdoors.com and talk to mike about a spotter or anything else you might need. Super great guy and loves to help out hunters with the gear they need.