We truly enjoy hunting the Sonoran desert of Mexico. Butch has hunted there 7 times, and out of all the giant mule deer he has ever seen in over 45 years of chasing them, the three largest bucks he has ever seen have all been in Mexico. Considering the many months and years of hunting elsewhere, that is an amazing fact. The biggest, and the one he still dreams about, was about 40” or better, a perfect 4×4 that was way above 200”, but he was chasing does through the brush at 400 plus yards and it was not an ethical shot. Butch never saw him again, except in his dreams. It is these types of bucks that entice hunters to return to Mexico. HOWEVER, MEXICO DOES NOT HAVE A HUGE DEER POPULATION, SO DO NOT GO EXPECTING TO SEE GIANTS EVERYWHERE. More likely you see one or two – and sometimes just briefly at that! Be alert all the time so you do not miss your chance!
We also really enjoy the very different countryside and its desert environment. Much of the terrain is relatively flat or rolling, but there are also plenty of mountains and high domes to keep things interesting, especially if you are glassing from them down into the cactus flats. But normally you will be “High Racking”, meaning you will be in the back of the truck watching for deer. Deer numbers are very low in the desert; much of the terrain is flat and dense with cactus, and many miles must often be driven to find the “right” deer. Hunters sometimes get very frustrated with looking over the same country again and again, BUT those giants are there, and they can cover a lot of ground looking for does. A giant can appear at any time – it is critical to be ready and to shoot fast but accurately. Realize too that big bucks must be on their feet for you to see them. Lying down in the brush is where they spend most of their time. So be patient and understand how the game is done.
This particular operation is hunting approximately 130,000 acres, consisting of 5 ranches. The hunting area is surrounded by high mountains, which are great Desert sheep country and also offer many hiding places for slammer muleys and Coues. You can glass vast areas and will see far different scenery then you are used to seeing in mule deer country. Sitting on the front veranda, you will be impressed by the nearness of the mountains.
As we all know, a good outfitter with good ranches offers you the best chance to go home with a true trophy. But of course, success on big mulies is never a sure thing, particularly since most of us are turning down solid 170” to 180” deer, and some clients will not shoot anything less than a 190” deer. So success rates drop then, naturally. AND THIS IS NOT A HIGH DEER NUMBERS GAME – big desert bucks are hard to find. Still, we think the average success on premium ranches averages in the 50% to 80% range, depending on sizes wanted and hunters’ shooting abilities. Realize that since most clients are passing on 170” class bucks (which are very nice deer), these percentages are pretty amazing.
Now with all of that said, please realize up front that the Mexican culture is far different from ours. Your guides have likely never hunted with or fired a gun! They will seldom speak English. So when they see a deer and say shoot, they have no concept of what making that shot entails, and you must make your own judgment on shooting and on trophy quality. If it is in their binoculars, they seem to think that’s all it takes! (HINT: modern smartphones have a simple and easy translation app – simply find it, pick the language, then speak into it in either language, and the translation appears! Sit down with your guide beforehand!)
Lets look at what the outfitter implemented since 2016:
1. Acreage for farming was increased, as well as water and mineral sites at three different locations.
2. Added at least 20,000 acres more for hunting for at least the next 3 years.
3. Upgraded the hunt by adding one additional hunting day, so now it is 7 full days.
4. Taking fewer hunters at own ranch and to add lodging at a remote ranch.
5. Any hunter doing a 2-deer hunt (one trophy, one management) will have an 8-day hunt so he can be picky.
Regarding Coues deer, the price is $4,500. But we caution you that the jury is out on their Coues hunting. We saw a 120” mount, but our January 2016 hunters did not see any Coues, although they heard them walking. So the outfitter graciously allowed them to hunt mule deer at no extra cost, showing his class! For 2016 he added a new ranch that he believes has good Coues, and he has always been truthful with us. So at this point, the Coues hunting is an unknown and we are not enthused about it – yet. But it is available and can be combo’d, and we would try to set it up with some sort of a trophy fee to protect you if you want to try it. We would keep the initial investment down that way. Note: The same hunters went back in 2017 and took Coues!
Sport hunting in Mexico is still a long way from fully developed. There are shysters galore and cutting corners,f raud, doing illegal things and making grandiose promises are very common. Many hunters have been bitterly disappointed on multiple occasions! We here at BMOA do our level best to give you the straight skinny, but Mexico is basically a third world country out in the vast desert areas.
“I have booked Mexico hunts here for the past two years with Hunt-Nation and have had great success. The deer on the left had a gross score of 180+” and the one on the right scored 190+”. And I saw some monster bucks that would score even better. The ranch has a natural basin that collects and holds water during the wet season and stays moist during the dry season, including prime hunting time. This allows planting of foliage that attracts deer from a broader region compared to other ranches. The deer on the left was taken from this basin. This outfitter runs a top notch operation. The accommodations are comfortable and the freshly prepared meals are delicious. The guides know their business. I hope to go back soon.” – Ed C.
SAFETY:Over the last 4 years we have not felt there were any major safety issues to be terribly concerned about, provided you are flying into Hermosillo from the U.S. Our outfitter meets you on arrival, and you are under their care the whole time you are there. Most of your time is out hunting on private controlled ranches, so safety has not been an issue. Because it is a poor country, do be prudent about storage of money and valuables. Do not leave it where it can be walked off with. And avoid night time wandering around the cities, of course. Secure any cash in a locked gun case or something similar. Otherwise, we and our clients have never felt threatened or worried. We do, however, think that trying to drive yourself across the border is generally NOT safe, as most dangerous drug activity is in the border areas.
Here is the story of how we found this outfitter. Butch had worked with an outfitter out of Hermosillo for several years, taking the buck shown above, and our clients killed a number of 175” to 190” class bucks, but the outfitter basically fell off the wagon on us in January of 2014, engaging in illegal conduct which we want no part of. So he is gone! But at the airport Butch was introduced by a client to this outfitter. The hunter and his buddies had been using him for the prior 4 or 5 years, and they kept returning. And we liked the fact that he charged a flat rate, with a large trophy fee, meaning he has a substantial incentive to produce big bucks if he wanted to be fully paid! It was also interesting to note that while hunting was slow in January of 2014 due to excessive heat and a slow and late rut, his clients had gone 100% once again, including a desert bighorn. Butch spoke with about 5 of his clients and all were extremely happy with their past experiences, and all planned to return in 2015. Since then, some awesome bucks have been killed by our clients.
In January 2015, Butch did an inspection hunt on one of his ranches, along with 3 clients. For the first time, we had found an outfitter in Mexico who was prepared, who was thorough, who was honest, and who used a biologist to manage his deer herd and the carrying capacity, and to also manage the proper number of hunters. All paperwork was done early and promptly and correctly. No surprises, no nonsense. Incredible, in our minds. We also sent them one sheep hunter (they get one tag a year) and he killed a great ram in just two days. In the fall of 2015, another of our sheep hunters killed a great ram in just a few days.
He hunts his own ranch of 40,000 acres, plus 8 other properties now covering close to 200,000 acres. This outfitter has been in business for over 12 years and he was one of the first outfitters in Mexico to build and improve food plots and water sources on his ranches. He takes fairly small hunter numbers, and is basically using the formula of 1 deer taken per 5,000 acres, which is top notch. That leaves plenty of big deer as seed. To date, his best buck scored 216”. But that of course was exceptional! Moisture is the key in any year.
He has a good number of repeat clients and so booking early is very important. We noted that in 2014 with the hot weather and late rut, his clients all felt his food plots were a major factor in success. You can get in the high rack and work hard to find the giants, but knowing you have an ace in the hole (the green plots) to fall back on is awesome.
On Butch’s 2015 trip, we went 2 for 4. Our two unsuccessful clients were holding out for high 180” or better deer, and they turned down several deer in the 175” to 180+” class the first couple of days, and then it got very warm and the deer stopped moving until after dark. So they kept their trophy fees and re-booked for 2016. Below are pictures of the two deer client Ed C. and Butch took. Butch saw one very large buck he guessed at 32”, but had no shot. All clients saw shooter bucks and all 3 clients re-booked for 2016. Ed returned and killed a monster in December of 2016 on his second trip, meaning two great bucks in two years. Here is the photo of the first deer we took:
All of his hunts on a 1 x 1 guided basis. You stay in a comfortable three-bedroom hacienda, with shower. Not fancy but very adequate. No central heat. Electricity by generator, but spotless and good Mexican food. No charge for beer and liquor in moderation. They also keep a translator available by radio which helps. Here is a 2014 reference report:
“I recently returned from a hunt with this outfit for my fourth year in row — and have already booked for my fifth year. Again we spotted some very nice deer. The ranch is very comfortable, and the food is excellent, authentic Sonoran cuisine. All the staff is very friendly and want you to be happy with your stay. The guides are true hunters and work hard to get a good deer. Day five into the hunt was the day for me. With my guide, Bato, and driver, Wakin, we spotted three does with the spotting scope out about a mile. After several minutes of watching, a nice buck came over the hill behind the three does. We ended up getting within 30 yards of the group, were able to set up, and then waited for the buck to step out for a clear shot. A couple of seconds later there he was, and we got him! I never would have guessed we could have gotten that close without being busted but everything was perfect. The wind and sun were in our favor. Hunting hard paid off, we never gave up or got down. We have been able to see 200 inchers ever year, and I keep going back with hopes of it being my time to get one of them.” Andy T.
Management bucks CALL FOR DETAILS! These will be big breeder deer that will never be classic 4x4s. They want them out of the breeding pool. They will be everything up to a 4×3, but the guide must approve of the harvest before you shoot. We estimate these deer to be in the 150” to 168” range or so – very nice trophies that most hunters would love. Heck, many U.S. outfitters sell these as trophy deer hunts for $4,000 and up! This is a great way to introduce yourself, or your friend or family member, to the fun of a Mexico adventure. And do it quite reasonably. If you are unsure of whether you want to hunt trophy deer here, try the management hunt. No upgrades, though, so if you book management you cannot upgrade it to trophy. That is because they strictly limit the harvest. So if you see a giant while hunting management deer, you just get to take pictures – then book for next year! Or you can book a trophy deer, plus a management deer – A TWO DEER HUNT! We add one more day of hunting (8 full hunting days, so you can be very picky). You get to take two great bucks. NOTE: A wounded deer counts as a kill, unless outfitter believes the wound to be superficial.
2020/2021 PRICES (all prices subject to change without notice until deposit received)
Trophy Deer December 2020
Dec 9 to 17, 2020 (4 spots)
Dec 14 to 22, 2020 (3 spot)
December price: $2500 to book, $2500 arrival payment $2500 trophy fee.
January 11 to 19 (2 spots)
January 20 to 28 (2 spots)
Jan 28 to feb 4 (4 spots)
Price: $3500 to book, $2000 arrival payment, $3500 trophy fee.
Lots of incentive here for outfitter to get you your buck!
License and gun permit costs are included:
1. Mule Deer – 7-day hunt
2. Combo desert sheep, mule deer and Coues deer – (inquire)
3. Sheep/Coues combo in November/December – (inquire)
4. Sheep alone – $38,900 (inquired about availability)
5. Coues deer – Please discuss with us.
6. Management deer alone: CALL FOR DETAILS
MULE DEER: These are full 7-day hunts with 1×1 guiding, lodging, meals, hunting licenses, gun permits and pickup and return from Hermosillo airport. Only gratuities are extra and please be generous to these people, they need it.
HUNT-NATION WILL COLLECT ALL MONIES IN ADVANCE (add $40 for wiring fee), BUT WILL REFUND THE TROPHY FEE (minus the wiring fee) IF YOU DON’T KILL/WOUND.
Hunts run basically from mid-December to early February. Usually 2 to 4 hunters per week. He normally hunts his main ranch for the first 8 hunters (2 hunts of 4 each). Then he hunts the other ranches, trying to give each new group fresh ground to hunt – always trying to carefully limit harvest so stock remains at high levels. The rut starts in late December and usually provides good hunting all through January, but it can depend on the weather (in rainy years, the hunting is good in early January, and in other years late-January is better).
Price for winter of 2020 not yet established, but figure around $38,900. Dates are established on an on-call basis, but usually are December to February. Once a shooter sheep is located, you are notified. This allows for a flexible schedule. Dates can range from November 15 to February. We saw some good rams during our deer hunt. Please inquire for full details. Most of these are solid representative sheep, from the sheep we saw and the pictures we have seen. We think a 155” to 170” ram is the likely range. They scout until they find your sheep, then camp on him and call you to see how soon you can arrive.
Normally within 3 or 4 days you will take your ram. They have been 100% for a number of years and we have seen the many pictures on their ranch walls. Our 2015 sheep hunter scored in just 2 days – they knew where he was! That is the norm. Weather of course can drag things out though.
IMPORTANT ADVICE: CHECK EARLY ON YOUR PLANE CARRIER’S RULES FOR GUN TRANSPORT, AMMO TRANSPORT, AND TROPHY TRANSPORT.
A passenger who presents a firearm to be checked to an international destination must be in possession of all required import documentation for their international destination city and any international transit points. It is the responsibility of the passenger to acquire the required documentation from the applicable government entity prior to travel (usually a consulate or embassy). Firearms will not be accepted for transport if international import requirements have not been met. (NOTE: We will work with the outfitter to obtain your gun permits and hunting contracts. You must acquire your U.S. Customs Form 4457 yourself by bringing your firearm to their offices pre-departure! It is not difficult, just a pain).
TRAVEL WARNING IF FLYING AMERICAN AIRLINES—OR ANYONE ELSE LATELY!
NOTE: If you are traveling to Mexico on American Airlines (AA) flights operated by American Eagle, be aware that as of January 2017 you will be restricted to only one (1) checked bag unless you fly first class/business class. Apparently dozens of hunters flying to Sonora, Mexico, for a deer hunt have been ambushed with this restriction upon check-in. Some hunters managed to upgrade their flights on the spot to get the additional baggage allowance, while others had to re-schedule flights to do so. Some hunters have had to leave bags and gear behind.
According to the American Airlines website the company enforces seasonal limitations on checked baggage to some destinations. However, those restrictions are now year-round for American Eagle flights going to Mexico. The only exception currently is for first-class and business class tickets. No oversized or overweight bags either, no matter what class you fly. Also important to note is that you will not be able to travel with boxes, which is defined as “any container that isn’t normally used for transporting items for air travel; this includes plastic tubs, containers and coolers.”
Other airlines may have different rules; check with AeroMexico/Delta and United. There are others, too. We do not book flights, and keeping up with daily rule changes is beyond our capabilities, so just do your homework!
If you are scheduled to hunt in Mexico and are traveling on an American Eagle flight, contact your travel agent immediately. You may need to try to cancel and switch airlines, or upgrade your flight and perhaps be forced to change your travel dates. AVOID changing arrival cities because if your firearm permit says you must arrive in Hermosillo, then any arrival at a different Mexican city will subject you to possible arrest and weapons confiscation! ALSO, if you are traveling with a firearm, your outfitter must meet you to help handle the clearing of your firearm.
2/12/2019 UPDATE: Brian Stecklein in our Wyoming office just got back from this hunt (see his deer earlier in the writeup). He flew American Airlines from Denver to Phoenix, and American Eagle from Phoenix to Hermosillo and back and he didn’t encounter any of these problems, other than missing his connecting flight on the way home because he didn’t allow enough time between flights (see below). Do expect $150 fee to check antlers. His gun case was oversized, and he only paid $30 to check it each way. All this said, be sure you check with your airline to prevent surprises.
Be sure to allow at least 1.5 hours between flights in Phoenix when going in, and at least 3.5 hours between flights in Phoenix on your way home to allow for clearing customs, and Fish & Wildlife. You will have to collect all your baggage including your firearm and horns when you arrive in Phoenix, even if you are connecting with the same airline. Go through customs and F&W, then go to your connecting flight to check in, collect boarding pass, and re-check everything.