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New Mexico Statewide Mule Deer Tag

By Sean Crosby

While enjoying a family vacation on Lake Powell, a call came into my cell phone. To be honest, I actually wasn’t around when the phone rang, but my wife kindly took the call for me. When I returned, she relayed some funny story about a guy calling to tell me that I had drawn some mule deer tag. She finished by saying, “So, um honey…since when do you get a call when you draw a tag?” At the time, I was 100% certain that she, or some of my good buddies, were messing with me, so I checked the caller ID and promptly returned the call. Barry Hale with the New Mexico Fish & Game picked up the phone, and as soon as I heard his voice, I instantly remembered the raffle tickets that I had bought through the Mule Deer Foundation. Sure enough, my ticket was drawn for New Mexico’s statewide mule deer tag…holy smokes!

I had hunted unit 2b in New Mexico just three years prior on a late rifle tag which I had drawn. On that hunt, we saw loads of deer and a few decent bucks, however, in the end I came home with an un-notched tag. I have always somewhat regretted not pulling the trigger on that hunt, and now here I was, with a tag in my pocket that was good from September 2009 through the end of January 2010…talk about an opportunity at redemption!

The second I got back home, I stopped into the MuleyCrazy office and shared the news with Ryan and David. They were as excited as I was and as the stories and photos of New Mexico bucks started coming out, I became even more pumped. By the time I left the office, we all agreed that the rut would be the time to focus on.

A few days later, Ryan made some phone calls to guys he knew, letting them know that I had the tag and asking them to keep an eye out for a shooter buck. Dave Montoya of Drop Tine Outfitters, just happened to be one of those individuals that Ryan had called. A few months later, Dave emailed us three photos he had taken of a big buck. The pictures were a bit fuzzy and left us with questions but Ryan pulled them up anyways and began trying to put some measurements on him. Now, Ray Charles could see that the buck had impressive mass, but after some figuring, Ryan came up with a conservative score of 205 B&C inches. This buck definitely needed a closer look and while we were hoping for better photos, little did we know that we wouldn’t get them until after the buck was down and my tag was on him!

By the time November rolled around, I was getting nervous; here I was with a statewide deer tag and I had put all my eggs into the “waiting for the rut basket”…but I wasn’t getting any real news from anybody. Itching to get hunting, or at the very least get looking, I finally just grabbed a buddy and we drove to New Mexico for a four-day hunt! On that trip, we saw quite a few mature bucks, and one deep-forked 4x4 that had a 4-inch extra out one side. We figured him to be around 190 inches and I’ll tell you, he was pretty tempting. However, pass him I did…a decision that I was later very happy with!

December eventually came and although Dave still hadn’t seen the buck that he had sent pictures of, he was sure we could turn him up. So, a trip was planned. December 12th dawned cold, with grey skies, and 12 inches of snow…it was perfect! On this particular trip, I brought along my lucky charm, my wife. As we bounced down the snow-packed road, headed out for a day of hunting, the temperature gauge on the truck read -18! Needless to day, the deer in the area were just starting to move around by 10 a.m. This made for a full day of glassing over a bunch of deer…but Dave’s buck was nowhere to be found. Eventually the day began dwindling away. In the waning minutes of the evening, as we were making our way down the road, my lucky charm suddenly hollered, “Back up!” It took Dave exactly one second to see the buck and say, “Sean, it’s him!” We all bailed out and got a good look at the buck as he cleared a ridgetop. In a flash, we busted around to head him off when suddenly the lucky charm spotted him again. He had fish-hooked back and was above us on a small knoll. His fate was that he just couldn’t leave his doe and as she took off through the thick trees, he was hot on her tail. I waited until the buck entered a small opening, at which time I took one quick shot. Moments later, we were on a fresh blood trail…unfortunately, he had bedded down and we accidentally bumped him up. With darkness setting in, the plan was made to let him alone until morning. The next morning we picked up where we left off and found him within 20 minutes. He is my biggest buck to date and even scored in a little better than we had originally figured!

Thank you to Dave Montoya for finding this buck, and for his excellent knowledge of the area. My thanks also to MuleyCrazy for the contacts and the information that helped make my success in this hunt. And a very big “thank you” to the New Mexico Fish & Game and the Mule Deer Foundation for making this tag possible. You can bet that I will be buying more raffle tags in the future! This raffle tag program is a great way to raise the much-needed funds that New Mexico’s mule deer really need. A few dollars here and there add up quick and all of the habitat improvements that come from these dollars benefit ALL mule deer enthusiasts. So, as stated above, you can bet that I will continue buying raffle tickets…after all, it only takes one ticket to win and you never know when lightning is going to strike twice!

Sean Crosby, New Mexico Statewide Deer Tag
Sean Crosby was the lucky winner of the 2009 New Mexico statewide deer tag.
The buck was 31" wide with a gross score of 211 7/8".

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