Some 30 years ago, New Mexico agreed to allow African gemsbok (also called common oryx) to be released in the state. Desert animals by nature, with magnificent straight horns, they thrived in the dry climate of New Mexico, where they roam today on the vast 2.2 million-acre White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces. Hunts have been authorized for these animals for many years, but up until recently all hunt permits were issued by a very low percentage lottery draw. Specifically, last year 2,700 applicants tried to draw 365 trophy permits. That means the chance of being drawn was only 12.4 percent. Enter this state's new Oryx Depredation Hunt Program. Not technically a landowner permit program, its purpose is to help ranchers eliminate oryx that wander off the missile range and begin to tear down fences and/or compete with domestic animals. The effect of the program is the same as a landowner permit program, however, because it puts oryx permits into the hands of private landowners, who are then free to sell them or give them away to a third party.
With one of these landowner permits in hand, a hunter can buy a guaranteed oryx license at the regular price ($1,506 for non-residents) plus a $9 processing fee and go oryx hunting on private property. The program is so new that some ranchers are not selling their depredation permits, but simply giving them away. Others are charging only a nominal sum to individual hunters and outfitters. Obviously, this is an opportunity worth jumping on now before word of it spreads. Just be aware that the catch here is that you must be able to travel and hunt on short notice. Here's how the program works.
White Sands Missile Range is bordered by numerous private ranches which the oryx wander onto, thus competing with cattle for forage and damaging fences. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish issues these landowners a number of depredation permits each year and activates them when they confirm the antelope's presence. Kerry Mower, project leader for the Game and Fish Department, says the........(continued)