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#2992984 - 09/13/16 02:46 AM Another New Mexico Oryx
DesertRam Online
Moderator

Registered: 04/26/01
Posts: 8800
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
New Mexico is home to a healthy and relatively stable population of oryx (gemsbok), which can be hunted nearly year-round. Although most of the press goes to the aptly-named once-in-a-lifetime trophy hunts on the White Sands Missile Range, there are other opportunities to hunt them. Since I cashed in my once-in-a-lifetime chance back in 2000, I can no longer apply for trophy hunts "on range." So, I am relegated to applying for population reduction hunts and so-called "off range" hunts that must be conducted on accessible public or private land.

2013 was my second opportunity to hunt oryx, and I made it count by shooting a decent little bull on the fourth day of a month-long season. I reported on that hunt here.

Fast forward to April of this year, when I learned that I had once again been drawn for off range oryx. Now, these things get hunted at least 10 months of each year, with 78 tags available during each month-long season. They know what hunting pressure is. I drew a tag for September. Hoping to maximize my chances of success on these hard-hunted critters, I started hunting immediately on September 1, forsaking my annual dove pilgrimage to do so. I'm somewhat familiar with their habits, and knew of any area within an hour of my house where I (and others) had seen plenty of sign and even a few oryx in recent months. I headed there first, and was perched atop a large dune not longer after sunup looking for oryx. About an hour into the hunt and I spotted a good-sized bull on the move about 700-800 yards out. I plotted his course and tried to cut him off, but was unable to successfully close the distance in the sandy dunes. After a couple fleeting glimpses and a near shot opportunity, I lost track of him. By afternoon, monsoon storms had moved in, limiting access and further opportunities.




I made a few more hikes and glassed a lot, but saw no more animals that day. The next morning I was back atop the same dune looking for that bull again. I didn't see him, but I did see a couple coyotes out looking for breakfast. Click here to read about how they spent their last few minutes together. After that little bit of excitement, I cinched up the pack straps and started putting some dirt between me and the truck. Though I made a big loop that covered lots of country and revealed plenty of sign, I didn't see any oryx. Despite the desolate appearance of the desert, there is life everywhere.






After a long walk, lunch, and more time behind the Kahles binocular, I just had to exercise a new hand call I got from custom callmaker ultramag. Within five minutes I had a taker, which charged in hard and met a 53 grain Vmax at about 12 steps.



Prints in the drying soil told me I was in the right place though.


Alas, the day ended with no further sightings.

While driving in on the third day, I bumped into a fellow hunter. We chatted for a while, and after learning we were both alone with help a long way out, swapped phone numbers just in case. We parted and I went back into an area where I had seen a lot of good sign the night before. I covered it well with feet and glass, but saw nothing more than tracks. When lunch came, I sissied out and sat in the truck's AC to eat a sandwich and glass the desert expanse. It was only 93 degrees, but felt worse with the humidity that I'm not all that accustomed to. Just as I was putting my sandwich together, my new hunting buddy called and told me of three oryx he'd spotted in the distance. He told me where he was and invited me on a stalk. Scrap lunch, let's go! I hauled a$$ over to his location and set out following his tracks. I finally caught up to him and we eased on into the area where the oryx had been spotted. At 2.74 miles from the trucks, we finally admitted that they'd gotten the better of us and were no longer in the area. We spent about two hours there searching high and low, but to no avail. We did swap some good hunting stories as we trudged back to the trucks, starting a new hunting friendship. Hoping to cover more ground for the last hour or so of light, we split up. Neither of us saw anything. frown

Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, family duties and honey-dos kept me close to home for the remaining two days of the Labor Day weekend, then three days of work. But I had last Friday off, so I teamed up with a colleague and we headed into an area that I'm only barely familiar with. We figured we'd drive back into the far reaches of this area and get away from the busy roads so we could start glassing little pockets of cover. But as we rumbled along in the trusty Dodge, a lone oryx changed our plans. As we rounded a corner on a rough, rocky two-track, a flash of tail caught my eye. Assuming there were no horses out here, I started to get excited. We stopped and got out the glass, which confirmed my initial impression. Out amongst a group of yuccas was a single oryx, which though aware of the vehicle, seemed unusually unconcerned about it. We quietly exited the truck, me with rifle and sticks, and started easing towards the oryx and away from the trail. My buddy got a good look at the oryx and confirmed what my initial glance revealed - he had only one horn, and a broken one at that. I'm a pretty awful trophy hunter, so this made little impact on my decision to take the shot if offered. Once I was on foot, the oryx figured something was amiss and started to drift away. Fearing that I'd push him into a nearby low area and lose sight of him, I found a good vantage and got set up on my Trigger Sticks. I tracked him through the scope, waiting for a clear shot through the brush. He didn't give any indication of a desire to stop, so when he stepped clear of a large mesquite, I sent a 150 grain Barnes on the way, dropping him in his tracks. Better to be lucky than good, right? grin

Though not a trophy for the books, I was tickled to have had another successful oryx hunt, and grateful for the chance to stock up on some of the leanest, tastiest, free-range, sustainable meat available.




After pictures and field dressing, we loaded him up on my trusty game cart for a one-way trip out of the desert.




From there, it was off to the house where I got him strung up, skinned out, and quartered up on ice.


Thus ends my third, and hopefully not last, New Mexico oryx hunt.



Edited by reb8600 (09/15/16 02:47 PM)
_________________________
"A person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it." K as played by Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black

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#2993003 - 09/13/16 08:47 AM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
bryan h Offline
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 02/19/14
Posts: 2337
Loc: Central Ohio
Congratulations!

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#2993031 - 09/13/16 11:00 AM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
atd Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 1180
Loc: Miami Beach
Nice! Thanks for the wright up.


Edited by atd (09/13/16 01:20 PM)

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#2993033 - 09/13/16 11:18 AM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
Plant.One Offline
Die Hard Member with a vengeance

Registered: 02/12/15
Posts: 4228
Loc: Oakland County, MI
congratz!

did you get a chance to weigh him up? just curious how much meat you get out of something like that! smile
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#2993058 - 09/13/16 01:46 PM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: Plant.One]
DesertRam Online
Moderator

Registered: 04/26/01
Posts: 8800
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
Originally Posted By: Plant.One
congratz!

did you get a chance to weigh him up? just curious how much meat you get out of something like that! smile


No, I don't have a scale, and I suck at guessing weights. I will probably have a pretty good idea of yield as soon as I finish butchering though.
_________________________
"A person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it." K as played by Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black

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#2993078 - 09/13/16 02:59 PM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
Redfrog Offline
Chairman of the Board

Registered: 12/12/01
Posts: 17947
Loc: Palliser Triangle, Alberta
Nice work. thumbup I think you can ship Biltong across the border to Canada grin just sayin' smile
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#2993099 - 09/13/16 04:14 PM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
jcs271 Offline
Die Hard Member II

Registered: 11/27/05
Posts: 1419
Loc: Montana Territory
What a great adventure, thanks for posting it.

P.S. Like you, I would have taken him in a second. That broken horn just adds character!
_________________________
"saving helpless baby animals, one predator at a time."

"The problem with quoting info from the internet is that you can never be sure it is accurate" Abraham Lincoln


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#2993110 - 09/13/16 05:05 PM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
DAA Offline
PM senior

Registered: 04/23/01
Posts: 5241
Loc: Salt Lake City
That's a tasty looking beast!

- DAA

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#2993141 - 09/13/16 07:22 PM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
DesertRam Online
Moderator

Registered: 04/26/01
Posts: 8800
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
Biltong eh? I'll have to get a recipe. How's about you send me a sample of fat Alberta whitetail so I can get the hang of it, then I'll send some oryx? smile

Yep jcs, I don't get as hung up on horns as I used to, though I have a hankerin' for a real big muley. I've shot two other orxy here in NM, and a pretty large on in Namibia, so this hunt was more about time in the desert and meat in the freezer.

They are tasty DAA, so I'm mighty glad to put another one in cold storage for the winter.
_________________________
"A person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it." K as played by Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black

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#2993168 - 09/13/16 08:37 PM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
reddog964 Offline
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 04/06/08
Posts: 3904
Loc: In the sage brush behind you
Awesome write up and some dang fine hunting. he's pretty healthy looking to.
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Hang Em High and leave Um for the Birds...

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#2993237 - 09/14/16 12:55 AM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
Infidel 762 Offline
Moderator

Registered: 04/04/14
Posts: 6894
Loc: Okie
Aren't you just livin the dream! Those are free range? Look like exotics..

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#2993331 - 09/14/16 02:57 PM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: Infidel 762]
DesertRam Online
Moderator

Registered: 04/26/01
Posts: 8800
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
Originally Posted By: Infidel 762
Aren't you just livin the dream! Those are free range? Look like exotics..


They're both - free ranging exotics. NM has three species of introduced big game with huntable populations - Kalahari gemsbok, Persian ibex, and aoudad (Barbary sheep). I've heard rumors of Himalayan tahr also, but don't know anyone firsthand who has seen or shot one.

Here's a snippet from the more detailed hunt report I posted back in 2013:

Kalahari Gemsbok (Oryx gazella), commonly referred to as oryx, were released into New Mexico in the early 1970s to provide a big game hunting opportunity in an area of the state (the wide open Chihuahuan Desert) where big game was relatively scarce, primarily due to the lack of water and suitable habitat. Oryx, which were determined to be quite suitable for the region in studies conducted by the NM Game Commission, were originally introduced on the sprawling White Sands Missile Range (WSMR, a US Army base) in southern New Mexico. Game managers expected a huntable population by the year 2000. They seriously underestimated the reproductive capacity of these animals! With excellent habitat and virtually no predators aside from man, these animals thrive in their new environs. They adapted rapidly, and have expanded their range, much to the chagrin of some property owners and our now very xenophobic Department of Game and Fish. Populations have far exceeded the expectations of the original game managers in charge of their release, and now provide a unique hunt for over 1,000 people per year. New Mexico is likely the only place in the US where one can hunt truly free ranging oryx.
_________________________
"A person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it." K as played by Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black

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#2993333 - 09/14/16 02:59 PM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: Plant.One]
DesertRam Online
Moderator

Registered: 04/26/01
Posts: 8800
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
Originally Posted By: Plant.One
just curious how much meat you get out of something like that! smile


I ended up with nearly 140 pounds of lean boned out meat, split about equally between steaks/roasts and what I will grind into burger.
_________________________
"A person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it." K as played by Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black

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#2993445 - 09/15/16 01:43 AM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
Tim Neitzke Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 02/04/04
Posts: 15863
Loc: Michigan
CONGRATS !!!!

I'd love to shoot one of them, a very handsome animal.

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#2993537 - 09/15/16 02:48 PM Re: Another New Mexico Oryx [Re: DesertRam]
reb8600 Offline
Global Moderator

Registered: 10/13/04
Posts: 10938
Loc: Morgan, Utah
At the request of a member here, I am nominating this for the HOM.

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