This past January I went down to Sonora, Mexico for a desert mule deer hunt and came back with a respectable buck and some observations that may interest subscribers eyeing a hunt in that part of the world. First, this is still the place to go for an outstanding desert mule deer, as witness the buck taken in Sonora last year that grossed over 220 B & C points. Several others were taken that stretched the tape to over 38 inches. That's the bright side of Sonoran mule deer hunting. The dark side is a low hunter success rate and an average trophy size that has dropped considerably in recent years. Mind you, the evidence I have for this is anecdotal, because no government agency or landowners' association is producing reliable figures on Mexican mule deer hunting. Hard evidence or no, my recent experience in the Hermosillo airport was very sobering. I was there something like five hours on my way back from my hunt. During that time, I talked with several hunters and watched others checking in at the airline counters. In all, I probably saw or talked with over 30 hunters, who collectively had fewer than a half-dozen racks between them. Even if a few of those hunters left racks with their outfitters, that's a very low success rate. As regards trophy quality, I estimated the average width of the racks I saw to be 25 to 26 inches.
My concerns about Sonoran mule deer hunting were confirmed by what I heard at the recent Safari Club International Convention in Reno. Quite a few of the hunters I talked to did not kill a buck. I heard about one camp where five hunters only took two bucks, the largest of which measured 25 inches. To be fair, most of the people I talked to were trophy hunters who went to Sonora to take one of those exceptional trophies the state is famous for. Nonetheless, I think many people are booking Sonora hunts nowadays with unrealistic expectations. Part of the problem is the way the outfitters are marketing their hunts. Several I spoke........(continued)