With Carmen Mountain whitetail deer recently added to the roster of subspecies recognized by Safari Club International, more hunters are becoming interested in pursuing this elusive desert dweller before the record books fill up. Here’s where you can find them, along with a look at the future of the subspecies:
The Carmen Mountain whitetail is named, not surprisingly, for the Sierra del Carmen range, which crosses the U.S.–Mexico border. The Carmen Mountains are located mainly in Texas; the highest point is Sue Peaks, in Brewster County, Texas, at over 5,800 feet above sea level.
The deer can be found on both sides of the Rio Grande, in Coahuila and Texas’ Big Bend National Park.
Carmen deer are normally only found in certain mountain ranges, including the Burros (Coahuila, Mexico), Carmen (Texas and Coahuila), and Chisos, Chinati, Rosillos, Christmas, Del Norte, Vieja, or Dead Horse mountains (Brewster and Presidio Counties, Texas). They are rarely found below heights of 4,500 feet and tend to avoid flat ground.
The Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park are home to the largest, most stable population of Carmen whitetails in the U.S. The high altitudes provide a perfect environment: the highest peak in these mountains, Emory Peak, stands taller than 7,800 feet above sea level. The temperatures here rarely reach extremes, sometimes climbing into the 80s during the summer and rarely falling below 20 degrees Fahrenheit at the coldest point in the year.
At the moment, it’s unclear if the mountain ranges in Texas, other than the Chisos, will be able to support these deer in the long run. Their need for free-standing water and dense vegetation at high altitudes leaves them with a very limited habitat, and predation, hunting, and competition with livestock could destroy these populations. Between the limited opportunities and the conservation issues, these mountains are less highly recommended than other destinations.
Predation is a serious issue for Carmen whitetails—mountain lion attacks are the leading cause of death for them. Coyotes and bobcats are also known to prey on them.
GSS represents excellent outfitters operating in Coahuila, in locations where the populations are larger and more stable than most U.S. locations. However, the effect of human interaction on the Carmen Mountain whitetail deer population is unclear. Their elevated habitat and small size may help limit local hunting pressure, and while competition with livestock can sometimes be problematic, ranches that introduce new water sources at high altitudes can be beneficial. As always, hunt within the mindset that hunting is applied conservation. For additional information on hunting this whitetail deer sub-species, please contact Rick Kennerknecht at Global Sporting Safaris at 888-850-4868, Extension 702.