Many of you here have read stories of my family's past hunts for New Mexico oryx (known as gemsbok in their native range). If you haven't seen these posts, and want to catch up, here is a good place to start. I have also mentioned in the past how fortunate my kids are to draw for great hunting opportunities here in NM. This year was pretty lean for us in the draw overall, but my son Erik did pull another oryx tag. Like his first hunt in 2017, this would be for oryx outside their "home" range of the White Sands Missile Range. The hunt was for whole month of August, but the pressure was on to make the most of our time before school started on the 9th. And that we did. What follows is not the typically verbose hunt report, but a series of pictures taken as the hunt progressed, with minimal commentary. I hope you enjoy.

Given the relatively flat landscape and heavy brush in which these desert warriors reside, we spent a lot of time on a high perch glassing.



Despite the arid climate of our desert, we observed a variety of plants and wildlife. Here are a few.







And some not-so-wild life.



On our fourth day of hunting (the Saturday before school would start), we decided to check out some new country. It was a bust, so we headed back to where we had seen sign and made several unsuccessful stalks in days past. A not unexpected desert monsoon rainstorm tried to thwart our progress.



But despite a half dozen arroyos flowing running board deep, and near-axle deep mud in some places, we made it through the storm and through the last gate before our "normal" area. Erik forgot his waders...



The storm had cooled the desert from the mid-90s to a very pleasant 65 degrees as we idled slowly through the dunes, stopping frequently to glass the scrub and look for fresh tracks in the rain-washed desert sand. As we got close to the "no-go" zone, we spotted a lone oryx wandering through the dunes. We made a short walk to get on top of a dune that would give us a good view and got Erik set up on the shooting sticks. The oryx turned to our right, moving through the dunes at about 250 yards. As he cleared a large mesquite, and nearly presented a shot, he turned to walk straight away, frustrating the young hunter. But fortune held, and at about 275 yards, the oryx turned broadside and stopped in a small clearing. Erik made one great shot, and I watched the bull kick his hind legs, then walk slowly over three small dunes, but not the fourth.

We waited a few minutes for the adrenaline to subside. Meanwhile, I marked the dune where I had last seen the oryx, then went to the truck for our packs. When I returned, Erik was ready, so off we went. We easily found the bull's tracks in the wet sand, and soon found where he had stood at the shot. We followed closely and were rewarded with blood sign, and then, the oryx himself. Erik's shot was perfect, offering a quick, clean kill and bringing to bag some of New Mexico's finest protein.



Back in 2019, I had a bladesmith use the broken horn from Erik's oryx to craft a custom knife. Erik broke it in on this oryx.



With a bunch of grunting and sweating and heaving, we actually dragged the oryx to the road, and I returned for the truck, into which we loaded the whole animal! We made it home just about dark, which made for a nice cool skinning and butchering session.





I found immense satisfaction in helping this young hunter continue his journey to self-sufficiency. Each outing brings him closer to doing this on his own. Soon he will be away, and our times together will likely grow less frequent as he starts his own life. Meanwhile, I continue to live vicariously through these kids, and find solace in the fact that I am sharing with them the great outdoors, and imparting the knowledge necessary to share in nature's sustainable bounty.
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"A person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it." K as played by Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black