Growing up in New Mexico has given me wonderful opportunities to explore the outdoors.
As a ten year old boy, I was always intrigued about fishing and hunting. The state of New Mexico gave me the opportunity to fill my passion about the outdoors. The state offers many opportunities to youth for hunting and fishing. During my younger years, I took advantage of many youth opportunities to go hunting on some of the premier youth hunts in the state.
When I was ten years old I took a hunter safety program at the New Mexico Game and Fish office. In my hunter safety course I learned about the foundation of firearms safety, basic shooting skills, safety in the wilderness, ethics, understanding wildlife, hunting rules and regulation. Having experienced instructors gave me the tools I needed to learn the ethical and right ways to be a young hunter. One of my hunter-ed instructors was Steve, who was an experienced hunter and guide for many of the top outfitters in the state.
When I was ten years old I took a hunter safety program at the New Mexico Game and Fish office.
During my teen years I hunted all over the state. I was taking advantage of the many youth opportunities that the state offers. I was lucky enough to draw on range oryx youth rage, antelope tags, deer tags, elk hunts, and many other opportunities. By taking advantage of the youth tags and getting out in the field to learn how to hunt has lead me to be very successful as a hunter.
Years later, I started college at the University of New Mexico. I received an academic scholarship from the National Turkey Federation. This organization helped me pay for school. While I was reviving my award at the banquet I ran into Steve again. He remembered me when I was young boy taking his hunter-ed course seven years ago. After reconnecting with Steve we started to hunt together.
I knew that I needed Steve’s expertise to help me get an ibex.
That year I had an ibex muzzleloader tag in my pocket. At the banquet, I shared the news with Steve that I had a muzzleloader ibex tag. Steve shared some of his past experience with me and gave me some hints. I was up for the challenge to get an ibex. I spent over half the year preparing myself for the hunt. I would spend one day out of the week at the range shooting my muzzleloader. I was training myself by running ten miles a week to prepare for the incredible climbs that I was going to encounter on the ibex hunt. I was determined to get an ibex.
I hunted the first week and saw a lot of ibex. I ran into one problem how to get to them. I would see ibex at the top
of the mountain, but it would be a two hour hike to get to them at the top. The mountains where ibex live are some of the most rugged and severe mountains in the state. Every canyon is rugged with only rocks and little vegetation. There are many cliffs on the mountains with some being over two hundred feet vertical. Since I was hunting with a muzzleloader I needed to get them in range to make an ethical shot. Having hunted the first week with no luck I came back to town.
During the week I was back in town I called Steve to see if he was free for the next weekend to go ibex hunting with me. I knew that I needed Steve’s expertise to help me get an ibex. That weekend Steve and I hunted our hearts out. Steve’s eyes and glassing techniques paid off. It was the last evening of the hunt and Steve found a whole herd of ibex at the top of the mountain. Both Steve and I were in pretty good shape.
I pulled out my range finder and ranged them at two hundred yards. We only had a few minutes of shooting light remaining.
We had around two hours of shooting light left. Steve and I both had to make it to the top of the mountain to get in range of the ibex. It took Steve and I around an hour to make it to the top. Once we were at the top we could not locate the ibex; they had moved off from the spot we found them. I hunted the same area the weekend before and figured out where they liked to go. We both ran down this canyon to look off a hundred and fifty foot cliff. I looked up and we had ten nannies at ten yards in front of us. Steve located the whole heard across the canyon. We had a herd of over a hundred ibex in front of us. I pulled out my range finder and ranged them at two hundred yards. We only had a few minutes of shooting light remaining. Steve was picking a good billy for me to shoot out of the herd but the herd keep moving. Finally, I found a good ibex in the back of the herd by himself. I ranged him at two hundred and fifty yards. I had my work cut out but my preparation was going to pay off. I dialed up my scope on my Thompson Center muzzleloader and let one fly.
Steve shocks me and told me I missed, but I saw in the scope the ibex fall down. I knew I had a trophy ibex on the ground. Later, Steve and I figured out that he was watching another one and the clock was ticking so I had to make the call to shoot. Steve and I made our way over to the ibex it took us thirty minutes to cross the canyon and get to the ibex. I laid my hands on the horns and knew that I had just completed one of the most challenging hunts in the state. I could not thank Steve enough for teaching me when I was young how to hunt and for sharing this experience with me.
If it was not for the opportunities in the state when I was young I would have not developed into the ethical hunter I am today. I encourage many youth to take advantage of the state opportunities. They offer some incredible tags and places for youth to hunt. Steve and I still hunt together and we have taken many youth hunters out to share our knowledge and experience with others. Today many youth are not getting involved in outdoor activities; they would rather play video games. I believe that society needs to know where their heritage comes from and youth need to have good mentors to pass to the new generations that are coming up in today’s world.