For more than a decade, two hunter-harvested bucks have jointly held the title of world’s largest pronghorn. Last week, the Boone and Crockett Club (B&C) announced that a New Mexico buck taken in 2013 surpassed both contenders for the top spot. The new world record goes to a pronghorn that scored 96-4/8 with Boone and Crockett measurers, a full inch-and-a-half more than the two specimens—both from Arizona—previously tied for the title. That also makes it the widest margin between any of B&C’s 3,400 entries for trophy pronghorn.
It is no doubt a point of pride for Mike Gallo, the avid hunter who took the record pronghorn last year in Socorro County, but it is also a testament to the efforts of New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish (DGF), which kept the pronghorn population stable throughout its recent half-decade-long drought.
“A lot of our bigger bucks are taken out of Socorro County, it is one of the top areas in the nation for pronghorn hunting,” Steward Liley, big game manager for DGF, told OutdoorHub.
New Mexico has long been a popular spot for pronghorn hunters and holds the second-highest number of trophy entries with B&C, second to only Wyoming. However, keeping a species healthy in the face of drought can be a tall order.
“Overall we’ve been going through an extreme drought for the past five years or so, but this year we appear to be coming out of it and we are seeing better weather. The drought hit fawns hard over the past several years but adult survival remained high,” Liley said, adding that favorable weather conditions could mean more antelope in the future.
The end of drought in New Mexico would be welcome news to many, and not just hunters. Extreme conditions across the Southwest affect people across all walks of life, especially in California where the drought is heaviest. The latest benchmark of the ongoing drought in New Mexico is the death of “Yoda,” a 650-year-old Douglas fir in the El Malpais National Monument. Scientists are growing increasingly worried that drought could mean trouble for tree populations across the region.
Fortunately for one of New Mexico’s most popular hunting spots, Socorro County provides a sanctuary for wildlife.
“Socorro County was not affected by the drought as much as some other areas, and it continues to consistently produce trophy animals,” Liley said. “We’re definitely excited to see that record animals can be still be taken and that we’re able to produce trophy animals, it’s something that we’re happy to see.”
For conservationists, trophy and record harvests such as the one taken by Gallo are not only impressive in their own right, but representative of the the overall population as well.
“Records reflect success in big game conservation,” said Richard Hale, chairman of the Club’s Records of North American Big Game Committee, in a press release. “Remember, the pronghorn was once nearly lost, much like the bison, until sportsmen led an era of wildlife recovery. Now the species is flourishing. And the fact that such incredible specimens exist today says a lot about how far we have come, and how bright the future might be.”
Image courtesy Boone and Crockett Club