This time of year I often devote my column to the season results of major outfitters. The two I want to tell you about this month operate in New Mexico, which continues to be a solid choice for sportsmen interested in harvesting trophy-size Rocky Mountain elk and antelope. The first outfitter is Mick Chapel, owner of New Mexico Professional Big Game Hunting, Inc. We've covered Chapel's operation several times over the last few years because of his consistent track record for harvesting trophy animals. The 1998 season was no exception. Overall, Chapel was pleased with this year's outcome. He was also enthusiastic about the number of large unharvested bucks and bulls seen this year. With any luck, these trophies will still be around this coming season. The 1998 season started impressively with a total of 15 antelope hunters taking 15 bucks. Incredibly, six of those bucks qualified for the B & C book. The largest officially scored 86 7/8 and pulled the tape to 18 4/8 inches on both horns. Five of the 15 bucks exceeded the 17-inch mark in length!
Chapel offers two antelope hunt packages. His trophy hunt costs $3,000 on a l x l basis, and his non-trophy hunt goes for $1,750. The trophy antelope hunts are two-day hunts on private properties that have been carefully managed to produce trophy bucks. This year's results indicate that his trophy management strategies are working. His other hunts are conducted on ranches with good populations of bucks, but not necessarily of trophy size. Still, many of these bucks will rival what you will find on a typical Wyoming or Montana hunt.
Turning to elk, all of Chapel's elk hunts take place in the famous Gila units where the elk populations continue doing well due to mild winters, controlled hunt permits and limited predation. Taking bowhunters first, Chapel says 29 of his 61 bowhunters connected this past season. The largest tagged bull grossed an impressive 377 P & Y, and 10 other bulls scored over 330 P & Y. Two more bulls said to be in the 380 to 400-class........(continued)