Desert Mule Deer
10 Years In Sonora
Growing up in Arizona, I have always had a love for hunting desert mule deer. Around ten years ago, I started hunting the Sonora desert in Old Mexico and over the next few years, I had the opportunity to hunt with various outfitters. However, it wasn’t until around 2002, that my hunting partners and I were finally fortunate enough to come across Thomas Baker. Since that time our group has not only had 100% success, but one of us has always brought home a 200-inch plus buck! In fact, last season was our biggest success with two bucks breaking the magical 200-inch mark!
I feel very fortunate to be apart of this past year’s hunt as it almost didn’t happen for me. You see, last September I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and our annual hunt was already scheduled for only four weeks after my surgery. I called Thomas and told him the situation and he suggested that we come in early December. Not knowing the outcome of the surgery and how long I would be laid up, I jumped at the change and found myself in Hermosillo on December 1st, 2006.
During that particular time of year there is no rut activity taking place, so choosing the right ranch to hunt is imperative. Thomas told me that he heavy rains had developed extremely thick undergrowth and even the cholla patches were overgrown. However, he had a plan to hunt a great area and as we headed to the ranch in the pre-dawn hours, Thomas described the place we were going to hunt as having a large waterhole at the end of an immense brush-filled arroyo. After arriving, we positioned ourselves on a high ridge that let us glass the whole area and when the sun came up, I was truly impressed with this layout. There was only one drawback, this place was thick. Fortunately, as usual, Thomas was prepared. He had positioned three other guides on various high forms adjacent to the arroyo. Throughout that morning we spotted numerous bucks, including a pair of 190 class, 30-inch wide, four points. At lunch we all got together and decided we had good coverage and resumed our positions for the afternoon. Not long after, Thomas put his spotting scope on the thickest spot of the arroyo and said that he thought he had picked up some movement. He started through that scope for what seemed like an hour before simply saying, “I got him.”
Thomas said that the buck had just stood up and moved a few feet to get out of the sun before laying back down. We sat for an hour but the buck never showed himself. Convinced that he was a shooter, Thomas had me and his head guide, Alejandro, get into position across the arroyo. From the ridge it was about 275 yards to where we had last seen the buck.
The afternoon drug on and after three hours, we all began to question if the buck would show himself. That’s when I heard what you go to Mexico to hear, “MUY GRANDE!” In almost no time at all, the buck had worked his way out of the brush and started feeding. A quick range check at 312 yards, had me primed and ready for the shot. Seconds later, I fired and the buck jumped and ran back into the brush.
We waited thirty minutes before heading into the grass-choked mequite thicket but it didn’t take long to find the buck laid out in a clearing no bigger than a pickup bed. We could see he had some extras from the ridge we were on but when we rolled him out of the brush we got real excited! There was no ground shrinkage here as we counted a total of 19 measurable points. Upon our return to the states, he was officially scored at 219 7/8!
Although I was ecstatic, on the way home, the reality of my medical situation negated my excitement as I was to check in for surgery in two days. Fortunately, as it turned out, my surgery was a complete success and by Christmas I was told that I was “cancer free.” Although somewhat sore and coming off three weeks of little activity, my original hunt date was rapidly approaching and I could not resist….so back to Hermosillo I went.
This time I was with my two regular companions, Matt McNeil and Rod Rummell. I was grateful that I made the trip as I was able to harvest my widest buck to date – a true 34-inch wide five by four that scored just shy of 190 inches. Matt also took a slammer buck that, as a four by five, gross scored 207 and netted 198 B&C inches. The third hunter in our group also filled his tag with a nice heavy three by four!
As I stated earlier, since we started hunting with Thomas Baker we have had at least one 200-inch buck each year. Over the past four years, between 17 bucks, we have an average of 189 inches to boot! It just doesn’t get any better and once again thanks to Thomas and all of his staff for providing many years of great hunting!
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