Continuing subscribers will remember that New Mexico Fish and Game, starting in 2002, created a variety of hunting opportunities to slash the population of antelope on and off the White Sands Missile Range. That year, a whopping 1,890 hunters were given three different kinds of permits to hunt this species - namely, permits for trophy hunts on the White Sands Missile Range itself; depredation hunts escorted by game and fish personnel on private property damaged by the animals; and year-round oryx population reduction hunts that allowed hunters to hunt anywhere off federal lands.
This year, according to Pat Mathis of the Game and Fish office in Las Cruces, depredation hunts are almost non-existent. That cuts at least 500 hunt opportunities out of the program. It leaves only trophy hunts on the missile range and year-round population reduction hunts aimed at off-range oryx. In all, 910 permits will be awarded to hunt the missile range and another 480 will be given out for population reduction hunts. Success rates on the latter hunts have plunged, by the way, according to Mathis, but not on the former which continue to run at nearly 100 percent.
An important change this year will allow hunters on the White Sands Missile Range to hunt with a guide. But don't get too excited about that, as guides will not be allowed to scout ahead of time on the missile range. According to Mathis, hiring a guide here is a waste of money. He says you are just as likely to take an oryx by asking the Fish and Game officer on site to tell you where he's seen antelope.
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