This hunting trip had been in the planning stages for nearly nine years. I had always wanted to try a DIY mountain terrain, backpack hunt, but life seemed to keep getting into the way. My hunting group always seemed interested in doing this as well, but life just kept getting in our way. Until this year, I decided my life chances were slipping away. My knees were getting older and next year keeps coming way too quick these days.
So I put it out to my group that I was applying for a New Mexico mule deer hunt and gave them instructions on how to attach their application to mine. April rolled around and lo and behold I drew out my first time to apply. The first problem arose at the same time, as no one else from my group had applied and my wife said emphatically that I was not traipsing through the mountains alone. Luckily, my brother-in-law volunteered to babysit me, so the trip was still on. My hunt was from October 31 through November 4, first rifle season Unit 30 New Mexico. I planned on driving down on October 29 and use that day and the next to get used to the elevation and look around.
I didnít have any knowledge of the area and being that I lived 7.5 hours away, Google Earth was my main scouting tool, I did get a little advice from some internet forums. I bought the OnxMaps Hunt map for New Mexico, a wise choice and very helpful. The problem I found was that I couldnít get a true idea of the roads in the area so when I got to the general area I had planned to hunt, my 2 wheel drive truck just wasnít going to get me to the spots I had marked in Goggle Earth. Plan B was to find roads I could drive and pick a spot to hunt.
It was midafternoon on the drive into the Lincoln National Forest in Unit 30 when we chose our camp spot, pitched our tents and gathered wood and rocks for our campfire ring. The spot I chose was one of the only smooth, level spots around, so it was not a hard decision. After settling into camp, we ate a light supper and prepared for some scouting the next day.
Nice level camp spot
Throughout the night we had a steady drizzle and light rain, so I was not optimistic about getting out and scouting around. About 7 am, the rain let up and the radar looked like we might have a good window to get up and over the mountain ridge we were camped under and get a look at the drainage we planned to hunt. My BIL and I load up the packs with water, summer sausage, crackers and spotting scopes and look at the 30 degree incline in front of us and begin the climb. After about 4 stops, we crest out on the ridge and marvel at the view.
First view of the drainage we were to hunt
We moved out to end of the ridge on the east side of the drainage and settled in to glass the pinon and cedar trees on the opposite slope. Honestly, my main goal was first to see if my knees could get up and over the mountain and just see a deer. Thankfully I was successful on both accounts and saw a doe with two yearling fawns in the drainage. We moved later in the afternoon to glass the drainage to the east of us and make it back to camp before it gets to dark. All in all, a great day and I am ready for my season to begin on Halloween day.