During the two decades that I have hunted in Mexico, I have never seen so many changes occur as rapidly as in recent years. Many have been for the better. Mexican ranchers have learned that hunters will pay big money for a trophy mule deer and that has led to both positive and negative developments. On the positive side and the reason why hunting continues to improve, ranchers are now taking care of the deer - developing water and food sources, cracking down on poaching, discouraging the indiscriminate killing of bucks by ranch hands and closely monitoring the number and quality of deer being killed. On the negative side, prices for mule deer hunts are skyrocketing. Only a few years ago, $5,000 was considered on the high end for hunting some of the better ranches in Mexico; now those costs can exceed $12,000.
The side effects of all this money flowing into mule deer hunting are not all good by any means. One of the most unfortunate developments, in my view, is the impetus it has given to develop high-fence operations. Initially, the only enclosures you heard about in Mexico were for desert bighorns, but over the last two years I have heard reports of helicopter-capture programs for big bucks. I believe these programs will ultimately result in fewer big deer on the free range. Trust me when I say that the ranch hands know of many outstanding bucks, and I fear that those bucks will soon be targets for the capture programs.
One thing is for certain: These programs are not being........(continued)