I arrived in Mérida on a Saturday afternoon, around 5:30 pm and Manolo picked me up at the airport. We then went to the Hyatt hotel (which was awesome), checked in, and went out for drinks and a bite to eat. We found a great little restaurant not far from the hotel where we had deer fillet and broiled tuna for an early dinner. The food was spectacular. They also served us some mineral water imported from Spain that was very good! I must say, Mérida is a very clean and secure city. There were even people (a lot of them) walking and taking horse buggy rides along the main boulevard at 1 am, LOTS of tourists from all over, too.
The next day we were off to Campeche at around 8 am; it is a 4 hr ride to camp, but very scenic and we passed some Mayan ruins and had an awesome breakfast along the way at a restaurant owned by a Lady from England, “Valerie”. I swear it was the best eggs and black beans breakfast I ever had! We passed 2 police checkpoints and one military checkpoint, they were all courteous and respectful, no hassles at all.
I arrived in Camp Sunday afternoon and the very first evening my guides put me on a roosted Ocellated Turkey, which I missed! The next morning I was put on another roosted bird and I did not load the shotgun right (I loaded the semi-auto in the dark before dawn) and when I reloaded the bird flew off! OK, at this point, they told me I was trying to get too close to the Ocellated turkeys. I later realized we were using 3″ duck magnum ammo and I could shoot further out with a full choke! Then I got my game on! Monday evening I took my first bird at 17 meters by a corn field! Then, Tuesday morning I took another roosted bird at about 30 meters, and on the evening hunt, another roosted bird at about 40 meters! Wednesday morning we got on another bird, but he flew off before I could get in position to shoot, but then during the morning I took my “monster” Brocket Deer! Thursday morning we almost got on a bird but the forest monkeys gave our position away and the bird bolted on us! Thursday evening I shot my biggest bird at about 50 meters! Friday morning I decided to rest and slept in, then took camp photos the rest of the afternoon. Then on Friday evening I got my last bird, on the roost, at about 10 meters! On Saturday afternoon I was back on my way to Mérida, spent the night at the Fiesta American hotel (again, awesome!) and flew back to Monterrey on Sunday afternoon. I then left the trophies with the taxidermist, spent the night in Monterrey and finally headed back home on Sunday afternoon.
The hunts are not very challenging physically, as long as you can walk up to 1/2 half a kilometer, at your own pace, you are golden. The forest is dense, but you can still walk through it fairly easily. The wakeup call is at 4 am in order to get in position by 5 am, then it is a waiting game for about 1/2 an hour until the bird “sings”, then it is a chess game and you and your guide have to move briskly and as quiet as possible through the forest to try to get in position for a shot, you have about 1/2 hr to do this because as soon as it is light the bird will come of the roost! If you miss your chance here, then it is a longer waiting game by the “Zapote” fruit trees during the morning, on the traditional Campeche blind, which is called a “Machan”, and consists of setting up a hammock about 2 meters high off the ground close to a Zapote. The advantage of this is that you are waiting for both a turkey and a deer to come and feed into the fruit!
You return to camp around 11 am, then have lunch around 1 pm, take a siesta in the shade on a hammock and get ready to go out at 4 pm again. The evening hunt is similar to the morning action, only this time you are running against the clock because if you don’t get in position for a shot by 7:30 pm, you will run out of light! Although, on the evening hunt you have the option of locating the bird and come back in the morning if you can’t get a good shot.
Manolo provides new, camo finish, Browning 12 Gauge shotguns with excellent ammo! He also has .260 and .222 rifles if you prefer, for deer. The vehicles are all 4×4, can accommodate up to 2 hunters easily and very reliable.
The guides know the area very well and are superb at putting you on birds! Practically on every outing I made, I had an opportunity to shoot a bird! I only saw my one deer, but when got him, I didn’t really focus on any more deer. Overall I had 100% opportunity and 100% success on Brocket Deer and, I guess we could say a 700% opportunity on Turkey and 500% success rate!? The only thing I believe they lacked was that they don’t speak English, but I can work with them on some basic English in the future.
The meals are modest, but taste very good. Main entrees were steaks, turkey breast and venison; typical side dishes were rice and shrimp, soups and black beans. I think we can upgrade in this regard and will make some recommendations to Manolo; like adding fresh green salads and such.
The area is teeming with wildlife! Manolo leases almost 50,000 acres of jungle/farmland for the hunts; I probably hunted, maybe, in a couple thousand! In addition to the Ocellated Turkey and the Brockett Deer, I also saw javelina, coati, spider monkeys, Iguanas, dozens of colored birds, hawks, even toucans!
The “genuine” jungle experience is really amazing! Although he will have a lodge built by 2013, he will maintain the jungle camp in order to offer hunter’s their choice of type of hunting, they can spend a couple of days in the camp and the rest in the lodge in more comfortable accommodations.
The heat wasn’t really that bad, I always took a shower in the afternoon to cool off and then again at night. The evenings were cool, and I even used a blanket one night! We had rain a couple of nights, but not so much that it was a problem. The rain even helped us be quieter walking in the forest. The bugs weren’t too bad either, I did not use my repellent until the 5th day I was there (after the rain), I didn’t need my bug head net at all, and I was only bit by a big ant the whole time I was there, nothing a little Benadryl couldn’t fix!
I do recommend on this hunt a face mask as a must and any camo that has grey, green tones and a bit of white, for example Mossy Oak “Tree stand” Camo would be perfect for this hunt.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience with good eating, good accommodations, great transport, great guides, excellent guns, hunting and excellent trophy quality.
The total results for the season were: 6 missed Brocket Deer, 6 harvested Brockett deer; 5 harvested pigs; 1 harvested coati; 5 missed Ocellated turkeys (2 of mine!?) and 17 harvested Ocellated Turkey (5 of mine!) with 8 being taken on the ground and 9 taken on the roost. Not bad at all.
Alberto Valdes Fisher, Global Sporting Safaris Agente
Note: Alberto’s Brocket Deer will Rank #6 in the World and his largest Ocellated Turkey will rank SCI #5.