Hunting in New Mexico

Hunting in New Mexico opens hunters to experience interesting and unusual game species. So, if you want to experience the thrill of hunting ibex, oryx, and barbary sheep, this state is just for you!

Although neighboring state like Texas boasts a proud population of game species, numerous hunters opt for New Mexico due to the vast expanses of hunting grounds for pursuing the state’s trophy-quality game species.

Discover thrilling hunting opportunities in this state with our informative guide. Find out all you need to know for an unforgettable experience. Keep reading!

Hunting Season

The management of hunting seasons in New Mexico falls under the responsibility of the state’s Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF). Their primary goal is to ensure sustainable utilization of wildlife resources while also creating hunting opportunities.

Here are the hunting seasons curated for the state hunters to enjoy:

Elk HuntingArchery Season: Early to late September
Muzzleloader Season: Early to mid-October
General Season: Early October to late December
Deer HuntingArchery Season: Early to late September & Early to late January
Muzzleloader Season: Late September to early October
General Season: Early September to late January
Pronghorn HuntingArchery Season: Early to mid-August
Muzzleloader Season: Mid- to late August
General Season: Mid- to late August
Bighorn HuntingEarly August to late January
Javelina HuntingEarly January to late March
Black Bear HuntingMid-August to late November
Cougar Hunting Year-round
Wild Turkey HuntingFall-General Season: Throughout November
Fall-Archery Season: Throughout September
Spring-General Season: Mid-April to mid-May
Spring-Youth Season: Weekends in early April
Always consult the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish for the most up-to-date information on hunting seasons and regulations.

Unique Hunting Season

Hunting enthusiasts often flock to New Mexico as it boasts hunting seasons for unique and impressive game species found only in the United States.

Here are the hunting seasons for these interesting game species:

Barbary Sheep HuntingEarly January to late March
Ibex HuntingArchery Season: Early October to late January
Muzzleloader Season: Early to mid-December
General Season: Mid-November to late March
Oryx HuntingEarly September to late February

unique Game Hunt

With its diverse terrain, ecosystems, and game species, New Mexico is a prime destination for exceptional hunting experiences. The state offers a variety of unique opportunities for hunting enthusiasts, including:

Ibex Hunting

New Mexico is one of the few places in North America where you can hunt Persian (Bezoar) ibex. These animals were introduced in the 1970s and now thrive in the Florida Mountains near Deming.

This challenging hunt involves navigating steep and rugged terrain, making it a memorable experience for adventurous hunters.

To hunt ibex in New Mexico, hunters must apply for a lottery-based hunting tag. The application period usually happens in the early part of the year. The limited number of tags promotes the sustainability of wildlife.

Oryx Hunting

Gemsbok, or oryx, are African antelope species introduced to New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range in the 1960s. Oryx hunts are unique to New Mexico, as it is the only state offering public hunting opportunities for these exotic animals.

The hunts are conducted on the missile range and surrounding public lands, and the success rates are typically high.

Like ibex hunting, oryx hunting tag is distributed through a random lottery to sustain the species’ population. Hunters who wish to participate in this hunting must apply on the NMDGF’s website; the application coincides with the ibex hunt application.

Barbary Sheep Hunting

Also known as aoudad, Barbary sheep are native to North Africa and were introduced to New Mexico in the 1950s. These elusive animals inhabit rugged, arid areas, providing a challenging and unique hunting experience.

Barbary sheep can be found in the state’s southeastern part, including the Sacramento, Guadalupe, and Capitan mountains.

The state has established a draw system for distributing Barbary sheep hunting tags. To participate, hunters must submit their applications during a specific period, usually at the start of the year.

This process ensures that all applicants have an equal chance of being selected for a tag and helps maintain fairness and transparency in the hunting process.

Merriam’s Turkey Hunting

New Mexico is home to the Merriam’s turkey, a subspecies found primarily in the mountainous regions of the southwestern United States.

Hunting Merriam’s turkeys in New Mexico offers a unique experience, as they inhabit the ponderosa pine forests and high-elevation meadows of the state.

The bag limit for spring turkey hunting is usually two bearded turkeys per hunter per season. For fall turkey hunting, the bag limit is typically two turkeys of either sex per hunter per season. These limits help maintain a sustainable turkey population.

Where To Hunt in NM

New Mexico offers diverse hunting opportunities across the state, with various game species and beautiful landscapes to explore.

Here is an overview of some top hunting destinations in New Mexico:

Gila National Forest

Gila National Forest in New Mexico is an over three million-acre hunting spot for elk, deer, and turkey.

This national forest is particularly renowned for its trophy elk hunting opportunities. The forest’s lush meadows, high-elevation woodlands, and abundant water sources create an ideal habitat for elk.

The area’s remoteness and rugged terrain offer a challenging and rewarding hunting experience.

Carson National Forest

Carson National Forest covers 1.5 million acres in northern New Mexico and offers excellent hunting opportunities for elk, mule deer, and black bears.

Carson National Forest is accessible through numerous forest service roads, allowing hunters to explore various parts of the forest.

There are also several campgrounds and dispersed camping options available for overnight stays.

White Sands Missile Range

The range is an exclusive location for oryx hunting, as the African antelope species was introduced here in the 1960s.

Access to White Sands Missile Range for hunting is limited and strictly controlled. Hunters may need additional permits and clearances, such as a background check, to access the range.

Safety is of utmost importance due to the military activities taking place on the range. For a safe hunt, follow the rules and guidelines, like attending a briefing and staying in designated areas.

Hunting Cost

To hunt in New Mexico, you must have a valid license and any required permits, such as big game tags.

Additionally, all hunters must purchase a Habitat Management & Access Validation, which costs $4 for residents and $10 for nonresident hunters. This validation helps fund wildlife habitat management and improvement programs in New Mexico.

You can get licenses and permits online, over the phone, or from authorized vendors. Here are the available hunting licenses in the state:

Resident License

Adult HuntingHunting Only: $15.00
Hunting & Fishing: $30.00
Senior HuntingHunting Only: $10.00
Hunting & Fishing:
Special HuntingYouth Hunting: $10.00
Veteran Hunting: $10.00
Handicapped Hunting: $10.00

Nonresident License

Adult HuntingHunting Only: $65.00
Hunting & Fishing: $104.00
Youth Hunting$15.00

Species-Specific Permit

License TypeResidentNonresident
Bear License$47.00$260.00
Cougar License$43.00$290.00
Barbary Sheep License$110.00$373.00
Ibex License$130.00$1,623.00
Javelina License$65.00$178.00
Elk LicenseStandard: $60.00-$90.00
Quality: $60.00-$90.00
Standard: $548.00
Quality: $773.00
Deer LicenseAdult: $41.00
Youth/Senior: $29.00
Adult: $283.00
Youth/Senior: N/A
Pronghorn License$60.00$283.00
Bighorn Sheep LicenseRam: $160.00
Awe: $85.00
Ram: $3,173.00
Awe: $3,173.00
Oryx License$160.00$1,623.00

Big Game Draw Hunts

New Mexico operates a lottery system, known as draw hunts, for many big game species, including deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, Barbary sheep, ibex, oryx, and javelina.

The draw hunts ensure a fair distribution of hunting opportunities while managing the population of game species sustainably.