Welcome to the Land of Enchantment, a hunter’s paradise. From majestic elk and elusive mountain lions, New Mexico is teeming with wildlife. Here, you can explore diverse landscapes while embarking on an unforgettable hunting experience.
So grab your gear and join us as we uncover why this land has become so revered among hunters. In this detailed guide, we have covered everything you need to know about hunting in New Mexico. From ideal places to hunt animals to hunting seasons to license information, we have got it all covered.
What Can You Hunt in New Mexico?
Head out on the hunt and take advantage of all that New Mexico has to offer in terms of big game, small game, upland birds, and waterfowl. From mule deer to bighorn sheep and black bear to squirrels – there’s something for everyone.
You can also find Gambel’s quail and scaled quail if you’re looking for a challenge. Don’t miss out on your chance at making memories with your very own wild harvest; just make sure to stay up-to-date with the regulations regarding seasons, bag limits, quotas, etc., as these may vary from year to year or regionally.
New Mexico is an amazing place for deer hunters, no matter your experience level. With over 13 million acres of public land managed by the State’s Department of Game and Fish, there are endless opportunities to hunt mule deer, white-tailed deer, and elk.
If you’re looking for a more guided experience, numerous outfitters and ranches offer guided hunts that can increase your chances of success while also providing valuable insight into conservation efforts.
When it comes to gear: make sure you come prepared with clothing suited for any weather conditions and sturdy boots – as well as whichever weapon (rifle or bow) best suits your style.
The general season runs from September through December; however specific dates depend on species/location so be sure to check with the Department of Game & Fish before planning ahead.
Deer Season in New Mexico
|Unit 8||01 Sep – 24 Sep, 01 Jan – 15 Jan||Bowhunting|
|Unit 8 (Youth Only)||18 Nov – 26 Nov||Bowhunting|
|Unit 8||27 Sep – 03 Oct||Muzzleloader|
|Unit 8||14 Oct – 18 Oct||Any Legal Weapon|
|Unit 46||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bowhunting|
|Unit 46||27 Sep – 03 Oct||Muzzleloader|
|Unit 46||21 Oct – 25 Oct, 28 Oct – 01 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Unit 54||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bowhunting|
|Unit 54||27 Sep – 03 Oct||Muzzleloader|
|Unit 54||21 Oct – 25 Oct, 28 Oct – 01 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Unit 54 (Youth Only)||18 Nov – 26 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Units 55A, 55B||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bowhunting|
|Units 55A, 55B||27 Sep – 03 Oct||Muzzleloader|
|Units 55A, 55B||21 Oct – 25 Oct, 28 Oct – 01 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Units 55A, 55B (Youth Only)||18 Nov – 26 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Unit 2A||01 Sep – 24 Sep, 01 Jan – 15 Jan||Bowhunting|
|Unit 2A||27 Sep – 03 Oct||Muzzleloader|
|Unit 2A||28 Oct – 01 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Unit 2A (Youth Only)||21 Oct – 25 Oct, 18 Nov – 26 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Unit 25||01 Sep – 24 Sep, 01 Jan – 15 Jan||Bowhunting|
|Unit 25||28 Oct – 01 Nov||Muzzleloader|
|Unit 25||04 Nov – 08 Nov, 11 Nov – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Unit 26||01 Sep – 24 Sep, 01 Jan – 15 Jan||Bowhunting|
|Unit 26||28 Oct – 01 Nov||Muzzleloader|
|Unit 26||04 Nov – 08 Nov, 11 Nov – 15 Nov, 02 Dec – 10 Dec||Any Legal Weapon|
|Unit 27||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bowhunting|
|Unit 59||27 Sep – 03 Oct||Muzzleloader|
|Unit 59||21 Oct – 25 Oct, 28 Oct – 01 Nov, 09 Dec – 13 Dec||Any Legal Weapon|
|Unit 59 (Youth Only)||18 Nov – 26 Nov, 02 Dec – 06 Dec||Any Legal Weapon|
At the center of New Mexico’s wildlife lies the majestic Rocky Mountain elk. From soaring peaks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to lush meadows of the Gila Wilderness, these behemoths are found in a variety of habitats throughout the state.
If you’re an avid hunter looking for an adrenaline rush, September is your time! During this rutting season, bulls are highly vocal – so bowhunters will have plenty to keep them occupied.
Muzzleloader and rifle hunts follow soon after and extend until December; no matter what kind of hunt you prefer – calling or spot-and-stalk – New Mexico has it all.
New Mexico’s elk tags can mostly be obtained through a draw system with applications due each March. Though odds may seem intimidating at first glance, don’t let that stop you from chasing your trophy bull dreams. There are also private land options available if draws aren’t quite your cup of tea.
Elk Bow Hunting
|Bow||Sep 01 – Sep 14|
|Bow||Sep 15 – Sep 24|
Elk Any Legal Hunting
|Any Legal Hunting||Oct 01 – Dec 31, Oct 07 – Dec 31|
|Any Legal Hunting||Oct 21 – Dec 31, Oct 14 – Jan 31|
Elk Muzzleloader and Crossbow Hunt
|Muzzleloader and Crossbow||Oct 07 – Oct 11, Oct 14 – Oct 18|
|Muzzleloader and Crossbow||Oct 14 – Dec 31, Jan 01 – Jan 31|
Elk Mobility-Impaired Season
|Any Legal Hunting||Oct 07 – Oct 11|
|Muzzleloader and Crossbow||Oct 07 – Oct 11|
Elk Youth Only Season
|Any Legal Hunting||Oct 07 – Oct 11|
|Muzzleloader and Crossbow||Oct 07 – Oct 11|
Black bears are a common sight in New Mexico, from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to Gila National Forest and Lincoln National Forest. They love to be near water sources, like rivers and streams, so that’s often where you’ll find them.
What makes hunting these bears unique is their variety of colors – from black to brown, cinnamon, or even blond. Whether you go out for elk or deer during hunting season, you’ll want to remain calm if one of these creatures pops up – it pays off in the end.
These omnivores eat everything from berries and nuts all the way through insects and small mammals. This means they’re able to adapt easily no matter their environment – making them an exciting challenge for any hunter worth his salt.
Just remember that before going on your hunt, make sure you get all necessary permits as well as have knowledge about tracking down animals ethically.
Black Bear Season New Mexico
|Zone 1||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 1||25 Sep – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 2||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 2||25 Sep – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 3||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 3||16 Aug – 31 Aug, 25 Sep – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 4||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 4||16 Aug – 31 Aug, 25 Sep – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 5||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 5||16 Aug – 31 Aug, 25 Sep – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 6||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 6||16 Aug – 31 Aug, 25 Sep – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 7||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 7||16 Aug – 31 Aug, 25 Sep – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 8||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 8||15 Oct – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 9||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 9||16 Aug – 31 Aug, 25 Sep – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 10||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 10||25 Sep – 15 Dec||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 11||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 11||16 Aug – 31 Aug, 25 Sep – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 12||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 12||25 Sepv – 25 Dec||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 13||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 13||25 Sep – 30 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
|Zone 14||01 Sep – 24 Sep||Bow only|
|Zone 14||15 Oct – 15 Nov||Any Legal Weapon|
When it comes to hunting wild turkeys in New Mexico, spring is the best time. From mid-April to mid-May, male turkeys (toms or gobblers) become actively looking for hens for mating purposes and are easier to locate due to their increased vocalizations.
To attract these birds successfully, hunters can use calls such as box calls or mouth calls that mimic hen sounds and set up decoys near their location.
It’s important to remember that these creatures have powerful eyesight and hearing abilities so you must stay still and be well camouflaged while you wait patiently for them.
A valid small game license plus a turkey permit is required when hunting here along with bag limits established by local authorities – all of which ensure sustainable practices are kept in place. So if you’re planning on going after some wild turkeys this season, make sure your hunt takes place during springtime.
Wild Turkey Season New Mexico
|Unit 2A (Any Legal Weapon – Youth)||15 Apr – 10 May||1 bearded turkey|
|Units 2B, 2C (Any Legal Weapon)||15 Apr – 10 May||1 bearded turkey|
|Units 2B, 2C (Any Legal Weapon – Youth)||15 Apr – 10 May||1 bearded turkey|
|Unit 6B (Any Legal Weapon)||15 Apr – 30 May||1 bearded turkey|
|Unit 8 (Any Legal Weapon)||15 Apr – 10 May||2 bearded turkeys|
|Unit 9 (Any Legal Weapon – Resident only)||15 Apr – 10 May||2 bearded turkeys|
|Unit 30 (Any Legal Weapon – Youth)||29 Apr – 01 May or 6 May – 8 May||1 bearded turkey|
|Unit 33 (Any Legal Weapon – Youth)||08 Apr – 10 Apr, 15 Apr – 17 Apr||1 bearded turkey|
|Unit 55 (Any Legal Weapon)||15 Apr – 30 Apr||1 bearded turkey|
Barbary Sheep, also known as Aoudad, is a testament to the wild beauty of the state of New Mexico. Native to North Africa and brought here in the 1940s for hunting purposes, these sheep have flourished in New Mexico’s desert climate with their thick coats and impressive horns allowing them to survive even the harshest conditions.
While Hunting in New Mexico, don’t be fooled by their tough exterior; they can be quite difficult to hunt due to their sharp senses of sight and sound. Stealth is key when attempting this pursuit which is best done during cooler months from October through February when they’re most active. You’ll typically find them in groups ranging from 10-20 individuals so you can expect an exciting experience just trying to spot one.
Using a rifle with a good scope will help you get long-range shots while archery season offers up close personal hunts if that’s more your style. White Sands Missile Range has some great Barbary Sheep hunting opportunities providing challenging terrain for successful outings.
Barbary Sheep Season
|28||09 Dec – 13 Dec, 30 Dec – 31 Dec, 06 Jan – 07 Jan|
|29, 30||10 Oct – 16 Oct, 04 Dec – 10 Dec, 15 Dec – 21 Dec, 20 Jan – 27 Feb|
|32, 36, 37||10 Oct – 16 Oct, 04 Dec – 10 Dec, 15 Dec – 21 Dec|
|Statewide||01 Apr – 31 Mar|
New Mexico is a paradise for bighorn sheep hunters. Home to both Rocky Mountain and desert varieties, the northern parts of the state offer great opportunities to spot these majestic creatures.
From Wheeler Peak to Rio Grande Gorge, avid hikers can get within range of some big rams. And if you’re up for a challenge, head south or southwest – Peloncillo and San Andres Mountains are full of sought-after desert bighorns.
August through December is prime time when it comes to hunting these animals, but bagging one requires more than just luck (and firearms).
It takes patience, skill, and endurance – not forgetting your trusty binoculars. Spot-and-stalk is how most successful hunts unfold: lengthy treks lead you closer toward mature rams that can be bagged with proper care.
Bighorn Sheep Season
|Rocky Mountain Ram||01 Jan – 31 Jan||16B, 22, 23, 24|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||04 Aug – 13 Aug, 18 Aug – 27 Aug||45|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||18 Aug – 27 Aug||45 (Youth Only)|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||06 – 15 Aug, 01 Sep – 10 Sep||53|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||04 Aug – 13 Aug, 18 Aug – 27 Aug||53, 55|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||10 Aug – 24 Aug, 01 Sep – 15 Sep, 01 Nov – 15 Nov||49, 50, 53|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||15 Aug – 15 Jan||58|
|Rocky Mountain Ewe||16 Sep – 20 Sep, 30 Sep – 04 Oct, 01 Sep – 10 Sep||45|
|Rocky Mountain Ewe||30 Sep – 04 Oct||45 (Youth Only)|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||01 Dec – 15 Dec, 16 Dec – 31 Dec||13, 17|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||14 Dec – 21 Dec, 27 Dec – 03 Jan||19|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||16 Nov – 30 Nov, 01 Dec – 15 Dec||20 (South)|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||18 Aug – 27 Aug||20 (North)|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||17 Nov – 26 Nov||20 (North) Youth|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||15 Sep – 30 Sep, 01 Oct – 15 Oct||26 (Little Hatchet)|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||15 Sep – 30 Sep, 01 Oct – 15 Oct||26 (Big Hatchet)|
|Rocky Mountain Ram||01 Nov – 15 Nov, 16 Nov – 30 Nov||27|
Persian ibex have called New Mexico’s Florida Mountains home since the 1970s, and they present a unique challenge for hunters. Navigating the rocky terrain requires physical fitness, glassing skills, and plenty of grit – but it’s worth it when you finally spot these agile creatures.
Hunting season spans from October to March with different regulations for archery hunting, muzzleloading, and rifle hunting. If you’re looking to hunt Ibex in New Mexico though, be warned that tags are allocated through a lottery draw system so your odds of nabbing one aren’t great. Still, if luck is on your side, then chasing an ibex across its rugged homeland can give an unparalleled thrill.
|Statewide||17 Feb – 23 Feb, 09 Dec – 13 Dec, 03 Feb – 07 Feb, 01 Apr – 31 Mar|
|Statewide (Florida Mountains Hunting Area)||01 Oct – 15 Oct, 15 Jan – 29 Jan, 15 Nov – 29 Nov, 27 Dec – 10 Jan|
|17||01 Nov – 31 Dec|
|28||09 Dec – 13 Dec, 30 Dec – 31 Dec, 06 Jan – 07 Jan|
|29, 30||15 Aug – 15 Feb|
|32, 36, 37||15 Aug – 15 Feb|
|Statewide||01 Apr – 31 Mar|
|16A, 16B, 16C, 16D, 17||01 Jan – 31 Dec|
|18, 19, 20, 21||01 Jan – 31 Dec|
|28||16 Dec – 17 Dec, 06 Jan – 07 Jan|
|Statewide||01 Jun – 31 Mar|
|2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15-18, 20-27, 30-33, 36-43, 47, 54-59||12 Aug – 20 Aug||Bow Only|
|4, 50, 52||08 Aug – 16 Aug||Bow Only|
|2, 7-10, 12, 13, 15-18, 20-27, 31-33, 36-43, 47, 54-59||26 Aug – 28 Aug||General|
|12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 21, 24, 31, 32, 33, 36-42, 47, 54, 55, 56, 58, 59||07 Oct – 09 Oct||General|
|29||26 Aug – 28 Aug, 30 Sep – 02 Oct||Muzzleloader|
|4, 50, 52||26 Aug – 28 Aug||Muzzleloader|
|12, 15||07 Oct – 09 Oct||Mobility Impaired only|
|13, 16, 17, 21-27, 31-33, 36-41, 47, 56-59||30 Sep – 02 Oct||Mobility Impaired only|
|28||02 Sep – 03 Sep||Military only|
|41, 47, 56-59||14 – 16 Oct||Youth only|
|All Zones||01 Apr – 31 Mar||Varies zone by zone|
|Coyote||01 Jan – 31 Dec||No Limit|
|South Zone (Early Season)||01 Sep – 28 Oct||15 per day|
|South Zone (Late Season)||01 Dec – 01 Jan||15 per day|
|North Zone||01 Sep – 29 Nov||15 per day|
|Bobcat||01 Nov – 15 Mar||Statewide|
|Fox||01 Nov – 15 Mar||Statewide|
Mountain Lion Season
|Mountain Lion||01 Apr – 31 Mar||———|
|Quail||15 Nov – 15 Feb||15 per day|
|Pheasant||08 Dec – 31 Dec||3 males per day|
|Squirrel||01 Sep – 31 Dec|
Sandhill Crane Season
|Easturn Hunt||Oct 29 – Nov 01||3 per day|
|South Western Hunt||Oct 29 – Nov 06, Jan 07 – Jan 08||3 per day|
|Estancia Valley||Oct 29 – Nov 01, Nov 03 – Nov 06||3 per day|
|Middle Rio Grande Valley||Nov 12 – Nov 13, Nov 26 – Nov 27, Dec 11 – Dec 11, Jan 07 – Jan 08, Jan 14 – Jan 15||3 per day|
|Middle Rio Grande Valley (Youth only)||Nov 19 – Nov 24||3 per day|
Duck & Coot Season
|Central Flyway (North & South Zone)||Sep 10 – Sep 18|
|Central Flyway (North Zone)||Oct 08 – Jan 11|
|Pacific Flyway (North & South Zone)||Oct 19 – Jan 31|
|Central Flyway (South Zone)||Oct 28 – Jan 31|
|Central Flyway (North & South Zone)||10 Sep – 18 Sep||6 per day|
|Central Flyway Dark Goose||17 Oct – 31 Jan||5 per day|
|Central Flyway Light Goose||17 Oct – 31 Jan||50 per day|
|Central Flyway Dark Goose Conservation Order||01 Feb – 10 Mar||No Bag Limit|
|Pacific Flyway North Zone Goose||24 Sep – 09 Oct, 02 Nov – 31 Jan||5 Brant, 10 White-fronted, 20 Light Goose per day|
|Pacific Flyway South Zone Goose||17 Oct – 31 Jan||5 Brant, 10 White-fronted, 20 Light Goose per day|
|Central Flyway (North & South Zone)||08 Oct – 22 Jan||8 per day|
|Pacific Flyway (North & South Zone)||08 Oct – 22 Jan||8 per day|
|Central Flyway (North & South Zone)||10 Sep – 18 Nov||1 per day|
|Pacific Flyway (North & South Zone)||17 Oct – 31 Jan||25 per day|
|Central Flyway (North & South Zone)||10 Sep – 18 Nov||10 per day|
|Pacific Flyway (North & South Zone)||10 Sep – 18 Nov||25 per day|
New Mexico Hunting License Information
Acquiring a hunting license in New Mexico is essential for ethical and responsible hunters. Not only does it ensure that you meet the state’s regulations, but it also contributes to wildlife conservation efforts as funds from licenses go directly towards habitat maintenance, research projects, and management initiatives.
When obtaining your license, there are several options available: residents or non-residents, youth/adult/senior categories, species-specific, or combination (for both fishing and hunting).
For big game species like elk or deer, you may need to participate in the draw system which guarantees sustainable hunting practices while offering everyone an equal chance. Just make sure not to miss the application deadlines.
Also, if born after January 1st, 1980, hunter education courses must be completed before applying for your license.
Where Can You Hunt in New Mexico?
New Mexico is a paradise for hunters, with millions of acres of public lands ready to be explored. From deserts and mountains to forests, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offers an array of habitats perfect for hunting activities – just make sure you double-check with local offices before heading out.
National Forests in the state include Carson, Cibola, Gila, Lincoln, and Santa Fe; these are typically open for hunting but always adhere to regulations regarding restricted areas.
Hunting on State Trust Lands also requires an additional permit along with your license. Last but not least are Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), managed by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish mainly for conservation purposes yet still available for legal hunting.
Public Hunting Places in New Mexico
Gila National Forest
Tucked away in the heart of New Mexico, Gila National Forest is a hunter’s dream come true. Sprawling nearly 3 million acres, it offers an array of game and thrilling experiences novices and experts alike can enjoy.
Elk herds roam across high-country meadows while mule deer scurry through dense ponderosa stands – you may even get lucky enough to spot the reclusive Coues deer!
For those willing to put in the hard work, bagging one is sure to make your hunting buddies envious. Before setting out on your adventure though, make sure you’re up-to-date with all relevant regulations from The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (permits, season dates, etc.).
Carson National Forest
Carson National Forest beckons those seeking adventure in northern New Mexico. With 1.5 million acres of picturesque mountains, tranquil meadows, and lush woodlands, the forest invites hunters to experience something extraordinary.
Elk and mule deer reign supreme as they roam these majestic lands – their bugles ringing through the crisp morning air while white-tipped Merriam’s turkeys challenge all who seek them out with their characteristic gobble echoing throughout the wilderness. Carson offers a unique hunting opportunity that can’t be found anywhere else.
Santa Fe National Forest
Santa Fe is a hunter’s paradise. Its 1.6 million acres of Ponderosa pine forests, lush meadows, and hidden gems are the perfect backdrop for a wild hunting odyssey that’ll stay with you forever.
The majestic elk and mule deer roam these parts. But if you’re after something more elusive, take on the ‘ghost deer’ – Coues Deer – as they sneak through these wilderness-like shadows!
Merriam’s Turkeys also inhabit here; follow the sound of their gobble to find yourself immersed in an exciting game of hide-and-seek against Santa Fe’s breathtaking panorama.
Cibola National Forest
Cibola National Forest is a true haven for wildlife lovers. From mule deer to elk, turkey to black bear, and even cougars or bobcats – the varied terrain of dense woodlands and high desert plateaus provides a perfect home for them all.
However, it’s important to be aware of New Mexico’s hunting regulations. Different species have different seasons so make sure you read up on the latest rules before securing any necessary permits.
Whether you’re an experienced hunter or newbie, investing in quality gear is key; binoculars are essential for spotting game from afar while reliable rifles and bows come in handy when it comes time to hunt. Also, don’t forget comfortable clothing that suits the season.
Coronado National Forest
Hunting in Coronado National Forest is an experience like no other. Home to a wide range of species from mule deer and white-tailed deer, to elk and wild turkey, the terrain provides plenty of opportunities for the avid hunter. From its towering mountains down to rolling grasslands, there’s always something new to discover amidst this stunning landscape.
Scouting is essential for any successful hunting trip. Keep your eyes open for tracks, droppings, or anything that could indicate animal activity nearby – they can often be found lurking in hidden pockets among the diverse terrain. And with elevations ranging from 3,000 feet right up to 10,000 feet above sea level, you’ll need to prepare yourself accordingly before venturing out hunting in New Mexico.
Private Hunting Places in New Mexico
To hunt on private land in New Mexico, you need to know a few things:
Before hunting in private places in New Mexico, make sure your paperwork is up-to-date according to state guidelines from the Department of Game and Fish.
Landowners will usually grant permission for hunting if they trust you won’t cause any trouble or damage their property – so build that relationship first! Always carry written proof that you have the authority to be there when outdoors.
Trespassing laws are serious business here; respect all boundaries without exception or risk hefty consequences such as fines or jail time.
Hunting season dates vary by species – do some research ahead of time so you don’t miss out! Also, familiarize yourself with bag limits and weapon restrictions applicable during open seasons.