Upland hunting for pheasant, dove, and several species of quail draws hunters, primarily from Southern California and Arizona. Duck hunting near San Quintín was once popular, but now it’s viewed primarily as a brandt hunting area. The seasons are similar to those in the United States, starting in October and extending into February for some species. Most hunters head toward Mexicali, Ensenada, and San Quintín.
Guns and ammunition are highly regulated in Mexico. Getting caught with either without the proper paperwork will involve serious consequences, including jail time and fines. The fee for having the outfitter register your gun for the season is typically over US$350, so almost all outfitters rent guns for a daily fee. The quality of available guns varies, but make sure to inspect the barrel of any rental gun for kinks and obstructions. Also make a point to ask about the choke installed on the gun and if alternate chokes are available. A hunting license and game tags are also required.
Recent changes to the regulations require that any noncitizen hunter be accompanied by a licensed hunting guide while in the field. Most outfitters employ “bird boys” to act as blockers and retrieve the game. To bring your dog with you, make sure you have up-to-date vaccination records and a health certificate from your veterinarian, issued within 72 hours of your departure. Many outfitters discourage or prohibit dogs, since there are risks associated with snakes, cacti, and burrs. If you do decide to bring your dog, make sure to have a full-field first-aid kit.
Questions to ask your outfitter include:
- • What type of species are available in the region and during that part of the season?
- • Are dogs or bird boys used?
- • What is the type of terrain and what will the weather typically be like during that time of year?
- • What does the package include? Lodging, license, guide fee, gun rental, bird tags, bird cleaning, shells, meals, drinks, transportation?
- • What is a typical day like (e.g., start time, finish time)?
- • What type of guns are available, and how old are they?
- • If you are left-handed, it can’t hurt to ask if there are any left-handed or straight-stocked guns.
Keep in mind that there is no hunter safety course requirement to obtain a license in Mexico, so you may be paired with an inexperienced hunter. If you are uncomfortable with the situation, speak up and request to hunt with a private guide instead.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition