Last month correspondent Gary Kramer provided us a much-needed overview of the major desert mule deer outfitters in Sonora, Mexico (see pages 9-11). This month I will add a few additional observations based on my personal experience spanning six hunts and more than a decade of watching hunting develop in this part of the world. You will remember that Kramer reported each of the major outfitters took several great bucks. Obviously, there are still some outstanding bucks left in Sonora, but you need to manage your expectations to avoid disappointment. It's my guess that only one or two hunters out of 10 take bucks over 30 inches. Another point is that it is not uncommon to kill one of these monster bucks only to find that it is a 3 x 3 or 3 x 4. The truth is that the fast action produced by tracking doesn't give you time for close evaluation. This causes hunters each year to experience the true meaning of "ground shrinkage."
Last season, I spent over a dozen hours on three different days in the Hermosillo Airport. I paid particular attention to the number of mule deer racks brought in from the field. You can pack a big Coues deer rack in a duffel, but you can't hide a good mule deer rack. So, I'm sure that I saw a representative sample of the bucks. Looking back at my notes, I guessed that 60 percent of the racks had spreads around 25 inches wide, and 30 percent around 28 inches wide, with several racks over 30 inches. So, you should carefully consider your odds of success or your need for a 4 x 4 or better rack with a 30-inch spread against the $6,000 or more you will have to shell out. Several returning hunters I talked with (but not the guys with the big racks) were quite mad. While two of them hadn't even seen a buck, a few others were disappointed with the size of their racks. All this is to say, Sonora still offers big desert mule deer but maybe not as many as in years........(continued)