The Mexican State of Coahuila is not well-known among deer hunters, who tend to think of Sonora first when considering a Mexican big game hunt. But make no mistake. Coahuila is a sleeper deer hunting destination, offering free-range hunting on private land for three different species of deer: Texas whitetails, desert mule deer and Carmen Mountain whitetails. Of the properties that offer hunting, most have one, perhaps two of these species within their boundaries. But there is only one ranch in the unique position of offering all three species for what they are calling a “three-deer” slam.
The place is called Chupadero Ranch. It came to The Hunting Report’s attention thanks to an enthusiastic Hunt Report filed by subscriber Scott Chapman. Chapman was at Chupadero this past December hunting Texas whitetails and raved about his experience. He said the place is a good ranch to take at least two deer species and a javelina on the same trip. He reports seeing more than 20 deer a day that would score from 120 to 170 and says he took a 12-point buck with a six-inch droptine that scored 150 SCI. He plans to return.
Chupadero Ranch is located in northern Coahuila, about 96 kilometers (60 miles) from Del Rio, Texas. The property encompasses over 70,000 acres and is about 32 kilometers long by eight kilometers wide (20 x 5 miles). Its configuration causes the ranch to overlap the habitats preferred by the different deer species of Northern Coahuila. On the far eastern end of Chupadero, the country is mostly flat and open, giving way to big rolling hills. This is desert mule deer country. Towards the center, Chupadero Ranch features the smaller hill country preferred by Texas whitetails. On the western end of the property lie the tall Sierra del Burro Mountains, where the Carmen Mountain whitetails are found. Based from the main ranch house, hunters at Chupadero Ranch are able to hunt all three deer during one trip to Coahuila. The farthest drive from the house is only about 1½ hours.
Alberto Valdes Fisher is the outfitter and owner of Chupadero Ranch. He says the idea of a three-deer slam came to him when some of his clients asked about combining hunts for more than one species of deer. He only offers a handful of these hunts, three to six, depending on how many hunts he books for single species. In some cases, he can complete the slam on surrounding properties that he leases. Fisher has access to a total of 300,000 acres, with exclusive access to 200,000.
Fisher says he takes game management very seriously and is careful about the number of deer he takes on his property. There are no game fences, so all deer roam freely. Chapman reports seeing a well system that kept watering tanks full year-round throughout the ranch, for the benefit of both game and non-game species. As Chupadero Ranch has been in Fisher’s family for four generations, he says he considers the ranch a family legacy and treats it that way. “We have a deep love and respect for this land,” says Fisher. “I grew up here, learning how wildlife flourishes in the desert and developing an instinct and love for hunting. That family legacy has made us hold onto this property through thick and thin.”
Hunting on Chupadero Ranch involves using a combination of techniques, including safari-style high-rack trucks, spotting-and-stalking, and ground and elevated blinds. Fisher says he has good populations of Texas whitetails, with hunters typically seeing about a dozen bucks a day. Trophy bucks are 10- to 12-point deer with 17- to 23-inch spreads. He says chances for a 140-class buck are good and that bucks into the 160s are possible. On some of the properties he hunts, he says 170-class deer are present.
The desert mule deer on Chupadero Ranch are basically West Texas mule deer that live in the flat badlands and arid rolling hills of northern Coahuila. Densities are not high in this kind of habitat, and hunting them requires being able to cover a lot of ground. Fisher hunts these deer safari-style, using a high-rack vehicle to spot the game. He drives and/or hikes to a vantage point that allows hunters to glass several square miles. Fisher says they spend a lot of time on spotting scopes and binoculars mounted on tripods while seeking these deer, and he only conducts a stalk after spotting a good buck.
As for the third species of the deer slam, Carmen Mountain whitetails are one of the lesser-known deer varieties of North America. While many hunters may have taken a Coues deer, they are likely not to have a Carmen Mountain whitetail. These deer are endemic to Northern Coahuila and occur primarily in the Sierra del Carmen and Sierra del Burro ranges. Their range extends into portions of South Texas, specifically the Big Bend region. A cousin of the Coues deer, it’s found mostly at elevations of 6,000 to 7,000 feet. Also called Del Carmen whitetails, they are smaller than Coues deer in body and have moderately open antlers with short tines. They are classified as Mexican whitetail by SCI. Fisher says a biologist is currently conducting studies on the Carmen Mountain whitetails to determine if they are a separate subspecies of whitetail deer.
Fisher says these deer are quite challenging because they are so small and have an amazing ability to blend in with their surroundings and hide in small cover. “If you blink,” he says, “a buck will simply disappear before your eyes.” The canyons where he hunts these deer are also quite brushy, making this hunt all the more challenging and satisfying when you connect. Fisher says a buck scoring 100 inches is a really good one.
Hunters on the three-deer slam are housed on the ranch. The lodging at Chupadero Ranch is not fancy, according to Fisher, but very accommodating in a quaint, “old-style” ranch house. Three bedrooms sleep up to eight hunters at a time. The two bathrooms are equipped with flushing toilets and hot and cold running water. Meals are American- and Mexican-style fare, and Fisher proudly says, “Nobody goes hungry on our watch.” There is also satellite television. Reaching the ranch requires a two-hour road trip with 45 kilometers (28 miles) on good paved roads and another 51 (32 miles) on what he admits is a very rough dirt road. The upside, he says, is that the scenery is picturesque and the road goes through some historical sites. One is the San Miguel hacienda and the other is a ghost town, both of which have interesting histories that Fisher shares with his clients.
All of Fisher’s deer hunting packages include trophy fees and permits/tags, lodging, meals and gun permits. “Just show up at the border, and we will take care of the rest,” he says. Fisher says he has the gun clearance procedures down to a hassle-free, six-minute experience. He says that a longstanding relationship with contacts in the army, customs and local authorities in Coahuila allow him to get all the necessary paperwork completed before his clients arrive. All that is necessary to complete the import of rifles is for an agent to verify the serial numbers and stamp and sign the documents.
The cost for a three-deer slam with Chupadero Ranch is $11,500 for a 12-day package. There are no additional sliding trophy fees. The three-deer package would save you $2,000 if you were to hunt each species separately. For just the Texas whitetail, Fisher charges $4,500, although he also offers a premium whitetail hunt on ranches with the highest trophy quality for $5,500. A Coahuila mule deer hunt is $5,500, and the Carmen Mountain whitetail by itself is $3,500. All individual deer hunts are for seven days. The season runs from November through January. Deer hunters can also take a hog, javelina, bobcat or coyote, if time permits, at no extra charge. Hunters with some downtime can enjoy sporting clays and catch-and-release fishing in stocked ponds.
Although Fisher is completely bilingual, he says his guides generally speak enough “hunting English” to work with clients. He boasts a 90 percent rate on shooting opportunities and says clients should be prepared to shoot out to 350 yards. Interested hunters can contact Fisher in the US at 830-469-4949 or in Mexico at 011-52-878-782-0565. Or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get additional information from his web site (www.ranchoelchupadero.com). Fisher was still completing the site at press time, but much of it is operational. Hunting Report subscribers who try out the three-deer slam, or a hunt for one of those Carmen Mountain whitetails, are asked to file a Hunt Report. Enjoy! – Barbara Crown.