The Sonaran desert of Northern Mexico, home to huge saguaro cactus, but this desert is also notorious for giant mule deer bucks. It’s been on my bucket list since I was a kid and when my longtime friend Kevin Pritchett from Kings Camo, invited me along for his annual hunting trip. I didn’t hesitate.
(Kevin Pritchett, Owns Kings Camo) We left a lot of big ones to grow a little bigger, shot a 205 last year. Seen three or four that were that big or bigger.>
Hugo Mendez with Sonoran Desert Expeditions is our outfitter. Hugo is from Mexico and drove up to Tucson to drive us across the border and back to his ranch, seven hours away.
(Mike Pritchett, Spanish Fork) We are the Griswolds. True fashion Griswolds family vacation. (laugh)
As we approached the border, I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous. We’ve all heard of violence happening with the drug cartels in Mexico lately. My wife was extremely nervous about me going. Hugo however, made us feel very safe.
(Hugo Mendez, Sonora Desert Expeditions) that’s one of the first questions that every hunter that calls me is about the safety down here.
(Hugo) I know that in some other states in my country of Mexico the safety is not so good, but here in Sonora we are a quiet state.
(Hugo) As you saw on the way in there is a bunch of check points. Nobody bother you anymore.
(Mike Pritchett) two hours of dirt road, four check points, but we are here. (kevin) ten shells, a bucket of KFC chicken and we are here.
(adam) Two hours of sleep and you’re ready to go? What are your expectations this morning? (kevin) well you might go all day and not see any or you might see twenty bucks, and four or five might scare you to death.
(Chad Brown, Elk Ridge) I can’t wait to get out there and see what is here.
(Jed Nelson, General Manager; Kings Camo) We are going to get into high racks, never done that before, the sun is not coming up fast enough.
We split up, and head off in different directions, all of us have big bucks on the brain.
(Adam) Well the first morning of our Sonoran Mexico mule deer hunt. Pretty interesting, never been in a high rack on top of a truck, but I can see the need for it. It’s so thick here, if you didn’t have it, I don’t know how you’d see some some of this, all the cactus and all the brush. It’s beautiful country.>
This elevated perch offers a better look into the dense desert of tangled cactus and mesquite trees. You’re lucky to see one hundred yards. My guide is Marcos Gonzales, and helping us out is Jon Baker.
Jon is a booking agent from Alaska, he’ll also be my interpreter for the week.
(Jon Baker, Wasilla, Alaska) You see more big deer down here. Like hunting back home in Utah, unless you are in a draw unit. You’ll see small, younger bucks, but we are seeing. The bucks that I’ve taken the last four years have been five, six, seven years old.>
Hugo’s ranch and the adjoining properties are just over one hundred thousand acres. This is free range country. No high fences here.
We didn’t see a deer that morning, in part Jon says, because we’re dealing with low deer densities, but the rut is starting to kick in, and my mind, if we can find the does, we’ll find a buck.
(Jon) Yeah he’s heavy, he’s got eye guards.>
Finally, we jump some deer.
(jon) I think I’d hold off. (adam) you would? (jon) yeah he’s good, he’s tall, he’s a Friday buck. (adam) are you sure? (jon) yeah, (jon) yeah, he’s good.>
(Adam) I hope we don’t regret that, he could have been, could have got him, that’s for sure. But you can’t kill a 200 inch deer if you shoot 180’s.>
(Adam) did I make a mistake not shooting that one buck? (Hugo Mendez, Sonora Desert Expeditions) no sir, that was a really nice buck, probably that would score close to 190, but what I was seeing, he had long forked horns and heavy, dark horns, there is going to be another opportunity to see a bigger buck than that.
Boy, one thing about this desert. It surprises me how thick it is and how quiet it is. You don’t hear any jets, traffic, nothing, it’s just eerily quiet, but beautiful at the same time.