"Standard" (S) VS. "Quality" (Q) Hunts/Units?
Can those of you with experience in New Mexico advise how much real world difference there actually is in regards to the quality & quantity of mule deer and public access areas within the units which have been designated Standard (S) vs. Quality (Q)? I'm just wondering just how accurate these designations can actually be?
P.S. - Big thank you to Eastman's for this forum and your great publications.
I think it has more to do with how many tags are issued. I haven't found a "quality" deer hunt in NM on public land. If they issue too many tags, its a quality unit. If they issue WAY too many tags, that's standard (see unit 30 for an example).
The way I interpret "Standard" is supposed to mean you have a better opportunity to harvest a deer. This means any legal buck so that would be a forked antlered buck or bigger (2x2, 3x3, small 4x4 etc.) . "Quality" is meant the unit is managed for quality bucks so your chances of killing a mature buck (4x4) are supposed to be higher. Also, quality hunts are usually supposed to be set right around the rut (especially the January bow hunts). As for accuracy, that depends. I do have to agree with DN and say a lot of units have too many tags. But most units are mostly hunted by road hunters. However, there are some quality bucks in standard units. Like any other hunt, you have to be patient, have your standards and be willing to put some miles between you the roads. Sadly, sometimes there's a lot of roads. But mostly every body knows the only quality unit in the state is ... (I'll let you read a little more about it before I give it away )
DN & bern, sounds like you both feel that as a general rule, NM issues too many tags? I can certainly see where that would impact the herd negatively, but doesn't that also mean the odds of drawing are greater?
My two biggest fears are 1) crowds and 2) absence of deer.
Re: Crowds - I'm not used to hunting public land - I would definitely want to try to find remote areas because I don't like the idea of running into other hunters.
I'm sure it varies a lot by area, but as a general rule, how far off the road does the average hunter hike?
Re: Deer Population - I'd be okay with low quantity, high quality...in fact, I'd prefer it over high quantity, low quality ("quality" in my mind would be 160+)...but I'd hate to pack miles and miles into an area where there isn't a deer within miles. I'd like to think that if I could get remote, I could find some deer, but if there aren't any deer to find, that is another story.
It is one thing to study maps searching for remote areas, but it is another thing if there aren’t ANY deer in those areas (been shot out, died off, migrated elsewhere, etc).
I have only archery deer hunted public land in NM. In those hunts, I found that 1 to 1.5 miles off the road was enough to leave competition behind. The more roadless the better, some of the best places are areas that burned the prior year where the roads are still closed - good forage and the lazy guys don't get too far past the locked gate. I can't speak to rifle season.
The rest of your questions I'd say it really depends on the unit. It seems like the better elk units in the state, the elk are out competing the deer and its harder to deer hunt or find deer, definitely my experience in the 16's, 36 and 34. Doesn't mean you can't have a great deer hunt in those units, just that you will most likely be tripping over elk to do it.
On the issue of too many tags, I think New Mexico is overall doing an excellent job managing their elk herds, the deer they could do a better job. The best regarded hunts in the state you aren't even hunting NM deer, but deer that get pushed out of CO.
I do love bow hunting deer in January though, so I'll probably keep trying different units till I find something that I think is worth burning a week of vacation and $1000 in gas and hotels for, went ultra primo this year and didn't draw a deer tag.
Last edited by Doe Nob; 11-13-2012 at 10:44 AM.
A 160+ buck is definitely what I would consider a good buck in New Mexico. DN is right, most of the larger bucks are migrants from CO or are residents on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. Some units definitely are sleeper units. But I will agree the more roadless, the better. I also agree about New Mexico managing the elk herds very well. I worked with the state elk biologist for my master's degree and he's done a great job. New Mexico hired a new state deer biologist earlier this year but I have yet to hear of any of the management plans.