hunting · New Mexico · Travel

Adventures in Oryx Scouting

Happy June! I hope you’re having a delightful start to this, the finest month of the year.

Okay, my birthday’s this month, so I’m a little biased.

My June’s going fine, but I’m even happier to report that my May ended on a good, adventurous note – the best way to end any month, no?

Robin Hood had a scouting trip planned last weekend in advance of his oryx hunt this month. A buddy was going to accompany him, but the buddy canceled, and Robin Hood asked if I wanted to go. I know an opportunity to get out of town on a three-day weekend when I see one; plus, I generally enjoy hanging out with my husband, so I accepted the invitation.

Now some of you savvy hunters may have quizzical expressions on your faces, thinking “Oryx hunting in June?” And others of you may be thinking “What’s an oryx?”

To summarize: an oryx (a.k.a. gemsbuck) is a critter native to Africa, introduced to southern New Mexico in the late 1960s. Here’s a picture (credit: gardenandsoul.com):

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Most New Mexico oryx hunts occur on the White Sands Missile Range (no, there’s no danger of getting hit by missiles) and are very restricted. “Off-the-range” hunts – what Robin Hood is doing – are less restricted, but still pretty cool to get.

“Cool” is of course up for debate, because we’re talking southern New Mexico in June. Riiiiight.

Anyway, I had never gone on an oryx scouting ride-along, and it had been ages since I’d visited that part of the state, so I climbed into the truck early Sunday morning with eager anticipation.

We motored down to the hunting area without incident, munching breakfast burritos and taking in the scenery. Once we arrived, it was time to get serious and pay attention. For all you non-hunters, scouting entails:

  1. looking for the animal you’re going to hunt (but NOT shooting it – that’s for the actual hunt) and/or
  2. looking for signs that the animal frequents that area, e.g. tracks, poop, word of mouth from locals, etc.

As we searched, Robin Hood gave me the low-down on oryx and their habits. I learned that oryx don’t jump over fences. Instead, they go under them. And these are not small animals! Here’s a burrowed-under fence, with some oryx tracks leading up to it:

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I can’t help but feel a kinship with oryx, given my own wariness of fence-jumping (I’m a high face-plant risk. I’ve accepted this).

We kept searching and saw plenty of sign, but no actual oryx. What we did see were lots of jackrabbits, a desert owl, at least one hawk, and what Robin Hood declared the biggest pronghorn antelope he’d ever seen. I wish I had a photo of the pronghorn, but the distance + camera phone = didn’t happen.

Between the scouting, the scenery, and the conversation, time passed quickly. When we returned home that night, I realized that I’d spent more time in a car than I ever had in a 24-hour period. But you know what? It didn’t really feel that way.

Whatever your plans are for this weekend, I hope you find a little time for an adventure with good company. You won’t regret it 🙂

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