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New Mexico trifecta dream season

brownbear932008

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As many of you already know I truly hit the lottery in New Mexico this year. When I logged into the website in late April hoping to see green in at least one of the five species I applied for I counted three. After picking myself up off the floor at work with a feeling I've never really experienced in my life my wheels started to turn about how I may pull this off.

Upon further inspection I realized I'd drawn my 1st choice elk tag for an early muzzy hunt in a primo unit. My 1st choice rifle mulie tag in a unit that can produce great deer on occasion if your lucky and persistent. As well as my 2nd choice rifle antelope tag in a decent unit with good goats. I then noticed my elk and antelope tags overlapping dates. Not good but manageable. I decided that one day would be instore on the antelope with a little early scouting since I'm somewhat familiar with the elk unit. The elk is by far priority and I should easily find an antelope in one day with a day or two pre scouting. Can't be picky but not a huge deal if I don't fill that tag. But I do look forward to some antelope meat my freezer hasn't seen any in several years.

My next chore was to rip a scope off a muzzleloader and see if I could even hit anything without a scope. I hadn't shot an open sight rifle in a hunting situation in at least 30 or 35 years.
 
This year has had many challenges for me and the family and I'm definitely not in fighting shape like I wanted to be. A move, job change, three months away from home, a sick dog, and dealing with estate issues as well as many other things have gotten in the way of my rough plans that ran through my mind in April/May.
The hunt timing will be the first week of October I plan on loading up and leaving Virginia driving to New Mexico to chase antelope and elk. The first week of November I will be jumping a plane flying back to New Mexico for my deer hunt.
I've packed a muzzleloader in my trunk for ten weeks now while in training and hitting ranges numerous times when time allows battling aging eyes, iron sights and a gun that didn't want to shoot the 250 grain Barnes TMZs I'd set my mind on using. Had to switch bullets for elk because I felt my whitetail setup was much to light for elk. IMG_0096.jpeg
The fact that I've had to rip a scope of my encore and develop a new load was much tougher than I anticipated it being. After six trips to the range trying three types of bullets and about six types of sabots I finally found what it liked. The secret was cleaning the bore between each shot with the sabot it like the most. I found the Barnes TMZs and Hornady SST both in 250 grain bullets pretty much seem to perform the same as far as accuracy. I prefer the copper Barnes for elk.

Some of the first groups with Barnes and harvester sabots. There was probably two shots that totally missed the target at 50 yards.
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These were some T/C shockwave bullets a friend let me try out also in 250 grain.IMG_0100.jpeg

Finally this morning I found what the Barnes wanted and needed and felt satisfied at 50 yards.IMG_0123.jpeg

I have some Williams muzzleloader sights coming in this week that should improve my accuracy and range substantially. I will keep tinkering with this gun a little more once I'm finally home in a little over a week. I will keep you guys updated as things progress in this falls fun. I also drew a trophy whitetail hunt tag here in my home state that is only a one day hunt but has potential for big deer. So I look forward to that in mid November as well.
 

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Man. The only thing I hate more than dialing loads for a new Muzzleloader is cleaning a Muzzleloader. Blackhorn has changed the game as far as that goes, but these things can be so finicky it's not a process I really enjoy.

Glad you've found time to put the work in and look forward to seeing you reap the rewards.
 
Man. The only thing I hate more than dialing loads for a new Muzzleloader is cleaning a Muzzleloader. Blackhorn has changed the game as far as that goes, but these things can be so finicky it's not a process I really enjoy.

Glad you've found time to put the work in and look forward to seeing you reap the rewards.
No doubt man! I just can't stomach quite yet paying double the price for half the product to purchase Blackhorn yet. But with all the cleaning supplies I use it may equal out in the end.😂
Thanks it's been a real challenge some days. But the range time has been relaxing outside of the accuracy issues. Still fun to burn powder.
 
Good luck on the hunt(s)! I am reviving a muzzleloader (TC Omega) given to me by my father's friend. It hadn't been cleaned since he hung it up after his 6x6 10 years ago! You tips are helpful. I also picked up the Williams Precision sight for a NM December elk hunt. Looking forward to the report!
 
Well yesterday I returned home from my first trip to New Mexico for the fall. Did I mention I LOVE New Mexico and all she offers. Such an interesting landscape that varies so much from region to region. The people of New Mexico are fantastic and always so nice and welcoming. I sure enjoy my limited time there.
It was an eventful trip and many memories were made in a short 10 day round trip.
 
I left Western Virginia after working all day Wednesday the 4th. I figured since I was already an hour West why not leave work from there. That night I stopped over in Forest City, AR. for the night. Next morning up early and on the road to my antelope unit in hopes of an evening scouting trip.
I finally made it to the unit around 5pm and was looking at antelope shortly thereafter. I only glassed a handful of antelope before dark. Did see an interesting buck that had a huge body. His left side came up and just formed what appeared to be a 16" 2 X 4 without any hook ect. I saw a grand total of 4 antelope that evening and 3 deer. One was a decent mulie actually by my camp spot. Here is a photo of the weird non typical antelope. Not the best photo as he was running and I was moving a little trying to snap a quick photo. He was on private but nearby to a section of public land.

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That night I decide to just truck camp since I was so far into the unit and wanted to hit the same area at daylight the next morning and work my way South and then West into the unit checking other areas of interest while scouting. It was a really cool night out on the prairie considering how hot the weather had been. The entire 10 days ended up being in the mid 70s to low 80s. Not the best of hunting weather it seemed. That first night the moon and stars were amazing. Wish I were better at photography. My photos just didn't seem to catch it and do it justuce. The sunrise photo turned out pretty good. Of coarse my crappy phone isn't the best as well. I need to begin packing an actual camera again.
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Friday was a scouting day for antelope as I only had one day to get this buck on the ground before driving to my elk unit to begin hunting Sunday. Next year I will pay closer attention to overlapping hunt dates. (As if I'll ever draw multiple NM tags again in the same year😂😂.)

I was up at daylight and enjoyed a killer sunrise. Then off to run the roads and glass some antelope. I checked a couple of public sections off real quick and saw nothing. Then I decided to go back to the area I'd seen the non typical at the evening before in hopes of relocating him and his does. It didn't take long and I was looking him over in the same spot. This time antelope began to pop out everywhere around me. All on private but between two public sections. So there was some hope. One of the bucks I glassed was a real bruiser and had a herd of about 20 does. I probably counted close to 40 antelope scattered around this area.

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I scouted all day covering many miles and only turned up maybe a dozen more antelope in other sections. I spent a ton of time trying to work my way into a larger chunk of public but just couldn't seem to find the way in. I know it's an area people focus on in the unit. It's the largest public parcels available. I just wasn't hitting the right road I guess. One road showed crossing private on my Onx into the area and I suspected that is how people access this area. I just didn't want to trespass without having more information. So I decided to check other spots. I worked my way all across the unit Friday. A plan was set for opening day based on what I saw. I was going to focus first on a nice buck that had been hanging on a small state section. Then go to plan B and C. I wasn't being to picky because my freezer hasn't seen antelope meat for several years.
 
Saturday morning rolls around quickly it seems. Actually this whole year has been a blur with all the things around the house and personal life going on. I got to my first morning location around 6:45. The great thing about antelope hunting is you're able to roll out of bed a little later and be in no hurry really trying to beat folks to the top of the mountain. If someone takes your spot move to the next.

I arrived at my location with no vehicles within sight. First battle won. This antelope was hanging right off the state highway within a few hundred yards with his 30 or so does. Easy pickings! I arrived and the herd is nowhere in sight. HUM! I cut into the access road to ride into the section and once I hit the brush I see why. Three camps have moved within a few hundred yards of the herd overnight. Guys waking up climbing out of tents yada yada. I was a little down to say the least. But that's public land hunting and to be expected. I immediately turn around and drive back out to the state highway hoping the antelope traveled East to avoid the camps, hoping they didn't cross the road into another unit. I drive up the highway a mile or so and see nothing. At that point plan A wasn't looking good. I turn around and head back down the highway thinking about plan B. Pass the access road and bam there are antelope coming out of the bottom right under the camps.😂😂😂

These goats hadn't moved 100 yards and were just hiding in a small draw 300 yards from the highway. I just got lucky and saw them climbing out of the draw to head over the hill for the day. They were maybe 500 yards from the highway at this point. A quick plan was put in place to stalk into the juniper bushes and get within 200 yards. This country looked more like deer/elk habitat to me. Made for an easy stalk on goats. I pull up to my shooting position 204 yards. Easy peasy! The does already had me pinned and were snorting at me and the buck was moving back into his herd and getting nervous. The 7mm HT barked and the 120 grain Barnes TTSX did it's job. The buck folded at the crack of the rifle. It was 7:04. Quickest, earliest end to a hunt ever! Not a bad thing when you got a great elk tag in your pocket and you should be chasing elk at the time.

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The guys camps were right to the left of the bucks left eye in the trees in the last photo. A quick breakdown and the antelope was on ice. I'm driving South for several hours early to chase elk just as I'd hoped.
 
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Glad to hear the pronghorn hunt went well excited to hear about the elk hunt! I've been by that hill a time or two some amazing country on the Mesa. Headed for my deer hunt in a little over the week can't wait to hunt NM again. Goodluck out there and stay safe.
 
Glad to hear the pronghorn hunt went well excited to hear about the elk hunt! I've been by that hill a time or two some amazing country on the Mesa. Headed for my deer hunt in a little over the week can't wait to hunt NM again. Goodluck out there and stay safe.
good luck with the deer and thank you! I look forward to the deer tale.
 

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