New Mexico Hunting AdventuresNew Mexico
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First and foremost I want to state that the actual guides working for the outfitter were great. My guide was very friendly and he worked very hard. Each of the other guides that I met in camp were also great people and each worked hard. As a paying customer that paid $5800 for this trip I really had high hopes of at least drawing my bow back on an animal. After talking to the outfitter Vince Vigil I felt that my chances were good to at least see elk a for a few of the days while on this hunt. Vince actually told me on the phone that shot opportunity is usually around 100%. Ok I knew that was BS but I did feel the shot opportunity would be maybe at least 75%. Well my shot opportunity was actuall 0%. Never had a chance to even draw my bow back. Now, I am a guide myself and I understand that not all hunts are going to be kill hunts. I get that. I am fine with that. But I would like to at least come close to a chance to draw back my bow. During my 5 day hunt I did not see a single elk for the first three days. On the fourth day we actually finally had an elk responding to a call but he never came in. Then we thought we had another elk answering but we knew a fellow guide was just over the ridge answering our call. Once we realized that we began talking amongst ourselves. As we turned to walk back down the mountain we spotted a small bull elk that spotted us about the same time. We only saw him for one second and he broke and ran. While sitting momentarily on a watering hole that same evening a bull elk finally appeared about 65 yards away. He was not near the watering hole. He came down the mountain and then out into the pasture that we were in but turned to go in the opposite direction. I only saw him for maybe 5 seconds before he turned and ran back into the forest up the mountain. The wind was blowing in his direction and he obviously winded us. About 250 yards in the opposite direction a couple of cow elk came out of the forest into the pasture. I did see a small bull that came out with them. They broke and ran when they heard the elk mentioned above run while breaking limbs. These elk were more skittish than I have ever seen. On my 5th day we did not see any elk. So, to break it down I saw elk one day on this trip. The elk were not bugling well during this trip. We did have what I thought might turn into an opportunity when we actually had an elk answer us and appeared to be coming to us. Sounded like he was less than 75 yards away but we never saw him and he quit answering the calls. Here's my biggest concern with this outfitter: First he seemed to attempt to make me out to be a liar in front of other guides and hunters. I came into the kitchen for dinner. One of the hunters asked if I had seen anything. I believe this was the third day. I told that hunter that I have not seen an animal since I started the hunt. The outfitter, Vince Vigil then turns to me and says,"Thats funny, your guide said that yall saw a few cow elk and a small bull". He said this with quite the attitude. I immediately turned and let him and everyone know that the guide dropped me off at a watering hole and left to scout. The guide came back and told me he had seen some elk. I was not with the guide when he saw these elk. I did not appreciate the attitude of Vince trying to make a customer look like a liar. Everyone that knows me knows that I do not sugar coat anything and am up front and hardcore honest. Then then next thing that annoyed me was another comment by the outfitter: I was placed on a watering hole that did not have a single elk track in it. There had been quite a bit of rain during the week before. Just about everywhere we hiked during the hunt there was water. Water was built up in the bottoms, creeks were running with water coming off the mountains, water everywhere. So while in the kitchen during lunch with other guides and hunters and the outfitter, I mentioned that it would seem the elk are not focusing on watering holes because there is water everywhere. The outfitter immediately turns to me and says "If you believe that then you are crazy, elk don't drink from these creeks and standing water in wallowing holes". I then stated that if thats the case then fine but common sense suggests to me that an elk may not go out of his way to go to a watering hole if there is water everywhere. I'm sure there were watering holes that were hit while we were there. In fact we hunted on a couple that had good sign. But I was wondering if it was wise to sit on a watering hole with no sign and water everywhere. To sum it all up the outfitter just seemed to be constantly on the defense and likes to try to make his paying customer look like idiots if they say anything about not seeing elk or any thoughts that he did not agree with. In my opinion that is not the way to run a business. The fact is I was told there would be a 100% shot opportunity. I never had a chance to draw my bow and only saw elk on one day out of the entire trip. I feel that the outfitter has the 'ol car salesmen attitude. I knew this going in but I thought this might actually be a pretty good trip with a chance to see elk. This hunt was on public land in New Mexico. I felt that I could have just as easily walked through the forest each day and not seen anything instead of paying $5800 to someone to walk through the forest with me. Once again please note that I feel the GUIDES at this outfit were hardworking very friendly great guys. The outfitter is the one that some have the issue with. And I can tell you it was not just me. I was told while I was there that many have heard it before about the outfitter. And people I have nothing to gain or lose by writing this. I swear to you I am being up front and honest. If another outfitter were to run this camp with the same guides then I would certainly recommend this outfit. Also, I never heard from the outfitter during the last couple of days there. And thats fine. But I know when I am guiding I absolutely feel horrible if the trip was not what I feel it should have been - although this has rarely ever happened with my guide service. But if it does I make sure to talk to my clients about the trip. I have even offered those clients to come back maybe a slight discount. No I absolutely do not expect this outfitter to do this. But I am just letting you know that this is how I run my business. By the way my guide service is bowfishing and alligator huhting. I'm not going to put my name and website here because that is not what this message is about. So beware if you go to New Mexico Hunting Adventures. Expect the outfitter to have an attitude.But expect the guides to be awesome because they truly were.
Was the outfitter notified of problems? - NO
To respond to this briefly, Gene is one of the only hunters I have had come into our camp and start off by being negative about even being there. When I first walked up to meet and shake this gentlemen's hand, he started off by saying, he is never lucky and he probably would be the one who didn't kill anything. When one starts off the hunt with a negative attitude it usually continues though out. As a outfitter in the business for nearly 20 years, when a hunter comes into camp being positive and actually looking forward to a hunt they paid thousands for it makes a huge difference. Good things usually happen for that guy! Out of the 10 hunters in camp that week, Gene was the only one not to have a opportunity at a elk. Unfortunately, things didn't work out for him. I can easily try to help people if I actually know how they feel about the hunt directly. He didn't see me for a couple days because I was guiding in the unit next door and we stayed on the other side of the unit for a couple of nights. Gene had plenty of opportunity to bring any concerns about the hunt he had to my attention because I was in camp a day and a half before he left. I am not sure why he didn't take advantage of speaking to me then. Gene wasn't a bad guy, just didn't have the luck on his side but is wasn't because lack of effort. It also makes it hard on the guide when the hunter tries to guide the guide or has negative comments about almost every decision we are trying to make. Mostly, this is where he may of misunderstood my personality. I have my guides back and when we are putting together a plan for our hunters, it is so that they are successful not so we are wasting there time or ours. When the responses from him were negative or being a sarcastic, it becomes hard to deal with after a while. I know he is a guide for different animals but we know the area and the elk tendencies. That's why guys hire us, because we have the expertise. I will agree with one thing he said and that's we have awesome hard working guides. In my experience in any work environment, the employees follow the example of the person leading them. They see me working hard and caring about our clients experience, so that gets instilled and do the same. We have a awesome team all the way around!!
Lots of rain prior to the hunt. Felt that watering holes would not be a major benefit where I was hunting at although some did see elk at watering holes.