I ran the gauntlet at the Cancun airport, a madhouse in early March, tourists gone wild. But apart from getting whacked by what appeared to be a wedding gown carried by an excitable bride-to-be behind me in the passport control line, I didn’t feel at risk in the least.
Family and friends had expressed much concerned for my safety in the days leading up to my departure for a quail hunt in the Mexican state of Yucatan, and naturally security was on my mind. Like most Americans, I’ve heard the stream of alarming news coming from south of the border—narco-terrorism, murder, kidnapping, near anarchy in some places. Why would anyone risk that to go hunting?
In my case, it’s because I’ve enjoyed several exceptional hunts in Mexico, times when the game was plentiful, trophy quality super and the pursuit exciting. In fact it was more than that. I felt a kinship with Mexicans working at the hunting camps, as well as other locals I met along the way. They sure seem earnest and good-natured, just like folks you meet hunting anywhere. And the weather is always pretty nice when it’s full-on winter back home, not to mention appealing scenery and food that’s among my favorite. And it’s the same sentiment from practically every other hunter I know who has actually been there. I resolved to tackle the risk head-on before surrendering the freedom to live my life the way I choose.
So here I was, joining a party of six other Americans, including NRA Outdoors honcho Greg Ray. As an NRA affiliate partner, Greg specializes in arranging hunting, fishing and shooting trips for NRA members. These can range from deer and duck hunts close to home to a popular long-range shooting school to international adventures. An experienced and successful pro, Greg knows how to pinpoint the very best opportunities from also-rans and too-good-to-be-trues.
And what an adventure it was! First and foremost because we hit the jackpot on birds. In the cattle country of Yucatan’s northern coastal plain, habitat conditions are ideal for the native black-throated bobwhite quail. We jumped anywhere from six to 15 coveys during each of our six three-hour jaunts. The bobs were as wild and fast as I’ve seen anywhere, so it was as sporting as it gets. We had to walk far through surprisingly difficult terrain. In some respects it was a tough hunt, but that only made it more rewarding, as you can see in the accompanying photo gallery.
What wasn’t tough were the lodging, the fresh seafood and friendliness we enjoyed in a nearby fishing village that managed to be both laidback and lively, and where no one treated us like tourists.
So the answer to the security question is … this time it definitely was safe to hunt in Mexico. For different perspectives, come back next week for the third and final installment in this series.