Ibex on the mountain through our spotting scope.
I just returned from what I have determined to be the toughest archery hunt on the planet! After many attempts, I finally drew an archery tag for free ranging Persian Ibex in New Mexico. Typically they are hunted in places like Mongolia and Pakistan, but after six breeding pairs were transplanted in the 1930's, there is a significant herd now ranging in the rugged Florida Mountains in New Mexico near the Mexico border.
The success rate for bow hunters on these animals is only 3% to 4%, depending on the year so I knew I had my work cut out for me. I trained very hard for this hunt by doing tons of cardio and climbing work as well as developing my long range shooting. One hundred yard bow shots are very common on these animals. To hunt these animals effectively meant getting above them each morning, so we would leave the vehicles and climb two hours in the dark by headlamp. Much of the climbing was on all fours due to the steepness of the terrain.
After several close calls, I finally got a great opportunity at a large billy Ibex at just under 80 yards, but an unseen cactus branch saved his life and temporarily ruined mine! At that moment, I totally questioned the sanity of what I was doing.. When it was all over, I had survived seven of the most brutal hunting days in my lifetime and came up empty handed. I have total respect for these animals and in spite of my lack of success, would have to rank it among my most memorable hunting experiences!
A blown opportunity!