In recent months, this column has introduced you to a series of outfitters across the West who stand out from the pack for various reasons. The first of two outfitters in the spotlight this month is Steve Jones of Backcountry Hunts (1029 Haston Road, Carlsbad, NM 88220 Tel. 505-887-6178), who is remarkable not just for providing quality hunts but for fielding a huge variety of them each year. By my count, Backcountry Hunts offers 21 different schedules for big game animals, and I may have missed some. He outfits in New Mexico and Texas, as well as below the border in Mexico. The animals on his list include mule deer, two species of whitetail, mountain lions, bear, elk, antelope and 19 species of exotics. You can literally hunt year round with this outfitter. Obviously, with so many hunts on tap, it is impossible to do justice to all of them in a column of this sort. So, I will cover a few of his more interesting hunts.
Jones' main season, of course, is in the fall, and he kicks it off with antelope in August, ending it five months later with deer in December and January. One of his favorite hunts is a combination mule deer and antelope hunt with some interesting features. For example, you must hunt the mule deer with a muzzleloader, but you can use a rifle for the antelope. As a special service, Jones will furnish the muzzleloader if you don't own one. This is how it works. He will ship you one of the new in-line, scoped rifles 60 days before your hunt. This allows you to practice and become familiar with the rifle and the procedures for loading and cleaning. Jones only charges $50 for this service including ammunition and shipping - a real bargain. Another item of interest is that lodging is in a tepee, adding a bit of nostalgia to the hunt. I am told that tepees are quite comfortable and especially cool in the summer. Lest you think you would be roughing it, Jones provides metal cots and foam pads for sleeping. Many people consider this........(continued)