Deer Forecast-West

If you've got a limited-entry permit (the best ticket for a trophy muley in New Mexico), head out to Unit 2B east of Farmington and Units 51 and 52 west of Taos for the top racks. If you're looking for quality bucks through an over-the-counter tag, check out Unit 34 near Alamogorda and Unit 36 near Ruidoso, in south-central Utah. Both places have good buck-to-doe ratios and 20 to 30 percent success rates. While neighboring Arizona produces the majority of the Coues whitetails in the Southwest, last year the limited-entry hunts in Unit 27 in the Peloncillo Mountains and Unit 17 west of Socorro posted hunter-success rates of 41 and 35 percent respectively, with some fine bucks taken. Mule deer populations have declined over most of the state due to a lack of forage, drought and poor fawning seasons. The southeastern region, where deer herds remain stable, is an exception. In 1999, 18,000 deer were taken, up from the previous year. The outlook for 2001 is for a similarly sized harvest.