REMOTE AND RUGGED.
Those two words best describe the Sierra Diablo Wildlife Management Area (WMA) that rests along the Hudspeth and Culberson County lines in the Trans Pecos region.
The remoteness can be summed in the WMA’s official online profile that notes, “The nearest comprehensive medical complex is El Paso, 150 miles from the Area.”
That’s a couple of eastern seaboard states away.
Rugged means it’s 11,624 acres are covered in rough hills and steep canyons with an average elevation of 6,200 feet that in some locations drops 1,000 feet to the desert floor.
“It’s a rough, beautiful piece of Texas,” said Sierra Diablo WMA Director Cody McEntire.
“It’s closed to the public, except for special draw hunts so few get to see it. But those who do always seem to comment on its rugged beauty.”
The property was acquired by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) in 1945 to serve as a sanctuary for the last remaining herd of desert bighorn sheep in Texas.
Today, sheep conservation is still at the heart of the property.
“We have a healthy sheep population here and along with Elephant Mountain WMA it serves as a sort of a sanctuary for the species in Texas. This WMA began for helping sheep and continues to be an important part of the sheep program,” McEntire said.
TPWD’s desert bighorn program has been a huge success with the population going from 40 in 1976 to around 1,500 in 2020.
The property also boats a healthy herd of desert mule deer.
“We’ve got a pretty good mule deer population and hunters take some nice bucks on the drawn hunts,” he said.
A bonus for those lucky enough to draw a hunt or the researchers from all around who use the grounds to study everything from snakes to sheep is elk sightings.
“There are quite a few free-ranging elk that come onto the property,” McEntire said.
Surrounding private properties manage for elk and overall numbers in the area seem to be on the rise.
All hunters must stay on premises during any hunt’s duration, primitive camp only and note that high road clearance 4X4 vehicles are recommended.
“Nothing here is easy,” McEntire said.
“But it’s an extremely beautiful place with some of Texas’ most unique game animals.”
Bighorns, mule deer and elk in Texas!
How cool is that?
—story by CHESTER MOORE
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