Look here!!! Joe Democko with his Pending Archery New Mexico State Record 7X7 Bull taken out of the Gila National Forest in Catron Co. This bull grossed an awesome 420 with a net of 402 Pope & Young Points! How's that for public land hunting! Read more below on how the days hunt lead to this monster.

New Mexico’s Pending
Pope & Young
Monster Bull
Ricardo Valdez

The year of 2003 saw a lot of fires and drought conditions through out the southwest. Years like this result in poor antler growth and abnormal rutting conditions for New Mexico’s elk population. This combination of events had many of New Mexico’s lottery archery tag holders scratching their head wondering what conditions would be like for their archery hunts.

The same thoughts ran through Joe Democo’s mind when he got word that he had drawn a New Mexico elk tag. He would be hunting with Mick Chapel New Mexico Professional Big Game Hunting, INC. guide service. He had hunted with Mick before and was successful on prior hunts taking a couple of nice bulls. He new he had his work cut out for him because he had hunted the drought of 2000 and had a hard time locating elk under the dry conditions. He did manage to take a respectable 5x 6 on the third day of the hunt.

Joe’s hunt started out slow with hot conditions and minimal bugling activity, as is the case for most early September bow hunts. Joe’s guide would be Richie Hogan. Richie had been his guide on previous hunts and the pair worked well together. The first three days of the hunt were spent locating water sources and fresh sign. On the fourth day the pair finally heard the first bugle of the hunt. As they were walking down a deep canyon a bull bugle eighty yards below. The bull had a good bugle so the pair set up and started cow calling. The bull caught movement and busted the hunters as they set up. Joe never got a clear view of the bull.

The next morning( September 5th) the pair returned to the same area and sat in the truck waiting for legal shooting light. As dawn came to light Joe noticed movement a few yards from the vehicle. It was a herd of elk grazing towards the timber. Joe and Richie patiently waited for the elk to move into the trees. Once the elk got into the timber the pair exited the vehicle and proceeded to follow the herd. The bulls were bugling non-stop as Joe and Richie worked their way through the timber. Richie bugled and immediately got a response. Two satellite bulls came into Richie’s calling and momentarily had the pair pinned down. The Joe and Richie finally caught up to the bugling bulls about an hour later and finally got a chance to size them up. The bulls that were making all the noise turned out to be two 5x5 bulls. Richie thought that they could do better and told Joe to hold out for something bigger. The bulls stopped bugling at about 10:00 a.m. so Richie and Joe decided to head back to camp for lunch, and a much-needed nap.

The afternoon hunt started off with a light drizzle under overcast skies. The plan was to return to the area where all the morning action had taken place. They decided to come in from a different position in order to get the wind in their favor. As they walked up the canyon Richie let out a bugle and immediately got a response from a bull directly above them. Joe looked at his watch and told Richie that it was only 4:30. With a few hours of light left the pair decided to go after the bull. The canyon went straight up so the pair decided to sidetrack and try to get above the bull in order to get into position. Working their way up the slope the pair came across three cows grazing in a small opening. They were working their way up the canyon towards the bull that was now bugling on a regular basis. Another bull across the canyon started bugling a short time later. This bull had a weak sounding bugle. Richie explained to Joe that some times bigger bulls have a tendency to have a weaker sounding bugle due to their age. Richie worked this bull for about twenty minutes before they got a glimpse of him further down the canyon. They didn’t get a good look at his rack but felt confident that he was a good bull. Richie then called in a small group of cows. The herd made their way up the canyon leaving the bull down below. Richie told Joe that they needed to follow the cows in order to get between the bull and his herd. Joe being accustomed to hunting the low lands of Iowa mustered up all his strength in order to keep up with Richie. Working their way up toward the cows they spotted a small 5x5 in a small opening. The bull came within forty-five yards of the pair but never saw or winded them.

Joe and Richie finally worked their way above the cows and got a clear view of them as the fed up the edge of the ridge. A small calf separated form the herd and came running up to Richie’s cow calls. The calf came within fifteen yards but never spooked. The calf final caught up with the herd and calmed down. Joe and Richie moved further up the ridge and spotted a nice 320 class 6x6 directly behind the small herd of cows. As the bull stood twenty yards away Richie motioned to Joe to get ready for the shot. Richie could ‘not understand why Joe did not draw his bow and take the shot at the bull that was now standing perfectly broad side. Joe motioned to Richie and pointed to another bull further down the hill and to the right. From Joe’s position he could see the other bulls rack behind a tree. Joe ranged the tree that the bull was behind at forty-seven yards. As Joe set up for the shot the bull came into a small opening as Richie cow called and stopped him at fifty yards. Joe at full draw now touched off his release and watched as his arrow flew towards the bull. At the shot the bull crashed down the side of the canyon as the whole herd retreated to the safety of the timber. Satellite bulls as well cows were running in every direction, and then all was quiet. Joe was a bit uneasy and thought that he might of gut shot the bull. Ritchie confirmed that he saw blood directly behind his shoulder as he crashed down the mountain.

Working down to where they had last seen the bull Richie found blood a few yards from the tree that the bull was standing behind. Richie got a good look as he crashed down the mountain and felt that the bull was well over 380. The pair decided to leave him over night and get back on his blood trail first thing in the morning. Richie told Joe that he felt he had made a good shot and assured him that they would find the bull the next day. Joe went back to camp that night and re-visualized the shot in his head over and over again. He felt that the shot was good, but the thought of loosing such a magnificent animal kept him up for most of the night.

The next morning Joe and Richie were back on the blood trail at 7:15 AM. Joe found his arrow that was covered with dry blood from the broad head to the fletching. Small drops of blood slowly materialized the further they tracked the bull. They reached the bottom of the canyon and walked twenty yards up hill before Richie whispered to Joe, “there he is”. Walking up to the bull Joe and Richie were speechless as they approached the bull. As they got closer they could see the huge rack sticking above the ferns and vegetation. Upon closer inspection Joe had hit the bull on his left side between the third to the last rib. The arrow had passed through and exited right behind the front right shoulder. For the first time in his life Richie could not visually score this bull. After putting a tape measure on him Richie unofficial score him out in the field at 420 P&Y points. What a monster. Joe and Richie field dressed and caped the bull and were down the mountain by 1:00 PM that afternoon.

What a great bull. This is by far the biggest animal Joe has ever killed. If he enters it into the record books and has it panel scored the bull should beat out the typical New Mexico state record by 1/8 of an inch and beat out the non- typical state record by 4 inches. This was truly a hunt of a lifetime.

This bull is featured on New Mexico’s Big Game Fiesta Volume I along with 13 exiting Public Land hunts for Antelope, Mule Deer, and Elk.

To order a copy of New Mexico’s Big Game Fiesta Volume I please call Ricardo Valdez (Owner) at (505) 751-0491, or send check or money order for $11.95 plus $5.50 for Shipping and Handling to:

Sierra Vista Outdoor Productions
P.O. Box 1444 Ranchos de Taos
New Mexico 87557
E-mail address: svv@sierravistavideos.com

For more information about hunting with New Mexico’s Professional Big Game Hunting, Inc. Please call (505) 773-4599 or right to:

Mick Chapel
P.O. Box 291
Quemado N.M. 87829

Sierra Vista Outdoor Productions, Inc.
Produced by Sierra Vista Outdoor Productions, Inc.
PO Box 1444 - Ranchos de Taos, NM 87557 - 1-505-751-0491
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