Bucket List Hunt: Carmen Mountain Whitetail

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Back in 1940, a different type of deer was observed in the Sierra Del Carmen Mountains of Mexico. While nearly identical in color and features to the common whitetail, this animal was considerably smaller in stature, and even a bit smaller than the Coues deer, which inhabits similar mountainous habitat.

Scientists studied the animal and identified it as the “Carmen Mountain Whitetail.”

A mature Carmen buck weighs 100 pounds and stands about 30 inches high. Antlers are typically baskets, with beams that curve inward. An 8-point buck that scores 80 to 100 inches is a good one.

Eighty years ago, the only known habitat of the Carmen whitetail in the U.S. was the Chisos Mountains of Southwest Texas. The tiny deer has expanded its territory 100 miles to the north and west, and can now be found in several mountain ranges in Far West Texas, including the Chianti Mountains where I hunted last December.

Cool country. The peaks and canyons of these mountains are remnants of volcanic eruptions in the Trans Pecos millions of years ago. Indian caves and lookouts hidden throughout the Chinatis are evidence that humans have inhabited this land for thousands of years.

TX carmen camp

My friend Steve Jones’ camp here in the high desert sits at 5,000 feet. It’s off the grid and rustic, just the way I like it. You eat like a king, and there’s even a shower.

The more we hunted and the more I adjusted my eye to this country, the preferred habitat of this whitetail became clearer. The deer tend to hang out at 4,000-6,000 feet, near stands of scrub oak and free-standing water when available. We look for them feeding on grassy hillsides at first and last light. They are not only small, but elusive.

On the fourth and last day of my hunt, I got one. Long story short, I had to take a long shot, and after a long and nervous tracking job, we found him. You’ll see this unique hunt on a new episode of BIG DEER TV later this fall. Cameraman Matt Young did a superb job filming this, with some spectacular drone shots of this vast and rugged country. One of my favorite shows ever.

This is a cool hunt, one you might do once in your life. If you get the hankering check out Backcountry Hunts. Steve Jones is a great guy and good at what he does, with more than 3 decades of guiding hunters in Far West Texas and throughout the Southwest. In addition to Carmen deer, he has opportunities for elk, mule deer and free-ranging Aoudad sheep.

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