New Mexico’s 2024-2025 Big Game Hunting Rules and Information booklet is out. You can download a copy online by going to www.wildlife.state.nm.us/home/publications/, or you can call 888-248-6866 to order a copy.
The 2024 big game applications for all species in New Mexico must be submitted online before 5:00 p.m. MDT on March 20, 2024. The draw results will be posted on the Department’s website by late April.
|New Mexico Species Specific Information
|New Mexico Elk
|New Mexico Deer
|New Mexico Bighorn Sheep
|New Mexico Pronghorn Antelope
|New Mexico Exotic Hunting
|Available New Mexico Hunts (HF Adventures)
The New Mexico Big Game Application Deadline is March 20, 2024 at 5:00 P.M. MDT.
New Mexico has an online and phone application process. Hunters may apply online at https://onlinesales.wildlife. state.nm.us/. The Department provides a telephone call center for help in completing and submitting applications. For help in completing applications, call 888-248- 6866.
Residents and non-residents may apply together on the same application. Up to four people may apply for elk, deer, antelope, and Barbary sheep; up to two people may apply for oryx and ibex; and only one applicant may apply for bighorn sheep.
An applicant cannot edit their application once it has been paid for, they may only withdraw it. If an applicant withdraws an application, they may reapply. However, they will again be charged an application fee and the full tag fee. Withdrawn applications will be refunded immediately, except for the $13 application fee.
New Mexico guarantees a minimum of 84% of its special draw hunt tags for all species to its residents. They will attempt to issue 6% of draw tags to non-residents who are not applying with an outfitter and 10% of the tags to residents and/or non-residents who are contracted with an outfitter by using their outfitter’s ID number on the application. It is extremely unlikely for an outfitted applicant to draw a hunt code with 6 or fewer licenses or for a non-resident to draw a hunt code with 12 or fewer licenses. Applicants are given three regular, limited-entry application choices when applying for any big game species. When an applicant is drawn, all three choices are considered before the next applicant is drawn. An additional fourth or fifth choice may be offered, but these application choices do not pertain to regular hunt choices; rather, they apply to leftover tags or population management tags.
Successful applicants will be mailed a license/tag that will include the game hunting license, any stamps purchased, the big game license, carcass tag, and an antler/horn tag (if applicable) in one convenient document.
Hunters may choose the E-Tag option when purchasing or applying for any big game hunt. You will not receive a carcass tag if you choose this option. Hunters who choose the E-Tag will be required to download the E-tagging app on their phone, upload their big game license, and carry their phone in the field. A printed license and/or carcass tag is not required.
New Mexico law requires that any applicant who applies in the outfitter draw must have a signed Guide/Client Agreement. If the client draws a license by applying with a New Mexico outfitter’s number, they must be accompanied in the field by that outfitter or their registered guide for at least two days. After this requirement has been met, the client can then hunt on their own without the assistance of a guide.
Applicants are only allowed one tag in their lifetime for each of the following species: rifle ibex, “Premier” oryx hunts, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep ram, Desert bighorn sheep, and elk on the Valle Vidal. There are also once-in-a-youth hunts now available. There are no waiting periods for any other species or hunts.
All applicants are required to purchase a game hunting license and a Habitat Management and Access Validation (HMAV) prior to applying. Upon submission of your application, you will be charged the entire tag, license, and application fees. Make sure the appropriate funds are available on your credit card. If unsuccessful in the draw, you will receive a refund for the full amount of the tag fee on your credit card, minus the non- refundable application fee of $13 per species. The $65 game hunting license is non-refundable.
New Mexico’s deer and elk licenses vary in fee price, depending on each specific hunt code, and they will be listed in the regulations with the license type. These types are S-Standard, Q-Quality, and HD-High Demand. Keep in mind that the fees vary greatly based on the classification. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express credit and debit cards are acceptable forms of payment. If successful in the draw, it is required that the hunter purchase and possess a $10 Habitat Stamp in order to use U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in New Mexico. This may be purchased online at www.wildlife.state.nm.us, at NMDGF offices, from license vendors, or toll-free at 888-248-6866.
Hunters younger than 18 must have their hunter education certificate to apply or purchase a license and have it in their possession while out hunting or be registered in the Mentored-Youth Hunter program. There is no state law requiring a hunter to wear blaze orange; however, all hunters on military properties or hunters on any hunt on the Valles Caldera National Preserve must wear at least 244 square inches of blaze orange.
There is no minimum age to apply or hunt in New Mexico. However, this may change for the 2025 season.
New Mexico does not have a bonus or preference point system.
The odds listed in our tables are the most realistic odds that take into account the first three hunt choices of each application as well as group applications.
New Mexico reserves some of the very best hunts and dates exclusively for youth hunters. See our tables for more information on the exclusive youth opportunities for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, elk, deer, oryx, and ibex. Youth hunting licenses are only $15, and all species fees are full price. To qualify for youth-only hunts, applicants must be 17 years of age or younger on the opening day of the hunt.
Muzzleloaders may no longer have scopes of any style or power. This applys to all muzzleloader hunts. Only open or peep sights will be allowed. Muzzleloaders may shoot sabots, belted bullets, and an in-line ignition. Hunters are restricted to .45 caliber and greater muzzleloaders. There are a few “restricted muzzleloader” seasons in which this gear is not legal. Archery sights on bows may not project light, but lighted pins are acceptable. Arrows must have broadheads with cutting edges.
All leftover licenses will be sold online only. The date that leftover licenses will be available for purchase will be posted on the NMDGF website after the draw. New Mexico issues transferable landowner tags for sheep and elk. Sheep tags are extremely difficult to acquire as most are bought years in advance and, in most cases, are rotated from a public draw tag to a landowner tag on a bi-yearly basis. Elk landowner tags may be good “unit wide” or “ranch only,” depending on how the landowner registered their property. For antelope, hunters must obtain a private land only antelope license and tag. You must hunt on private land in the unit for which the tag was issued, have written permission from the landowner, and a habitat management and access validation stamp. The deer tags are for private land only. A hunter must have a private land only deer license and tag as well as written permission from the landowner and a habitat management and access validation stamp. No one may have more than one valid license per species in a license year for deer, elk, or antelope. New Mexico offers a limited number of raffle tags for elk, deer, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, and Desert bighorn sheep through various wildlife conservation organizations. Refer to our January 2023 issue for more information.
Customers may obtain a duplicate tag in person at any license vendor or NMDGF office. Duplicate licenses/tags will be charged a $6 fee. If a duplicate tag is obtained, the original tag number will be invalidated and the license must be reprinted. New Mexico offers several hunts exclusively for Mobility-Impaired (MI) hunters. Many of these MI exclusive hunts have great hunt dates. In order to qualify for this program, the applicant’s physician must sign and attest that mobility-impaired conditions apply. The MI license holder may use a crossbow during the archery-only season and may shoot from a stationary vehicle that is not on an established road or highway. Upon clearly wounding a legal game animal, the MI hunter may also be assisted by another person to track, retrieve, and/or kill the animal.
All hunting licenses are non-transferable and non-refundable, including fourth choice deer or elk hunts. Only the New Mexico Game and Fish Department Director may grant the refund or transfer of a hunting or species license. The only reasons that would constitute a refund or transfer are death, severe injury, life- threatening illness, a natural disaster that prevents the hunt, deployment by the United States military, or transferring to a youth or a resident veteran or resident first responder who has been approved through a non-profit wish-granting organization. For more information, contact the Special Hunts office at 505-476-8093.
Anyone who is licensed to hunt or take game on public or private land must report the results of their hunting or trapping season, whether or not they hunted. Licensed hunters who fail to report their harvest will have their future applications rejected. Harvest reports may be submitted by phone or online at www.wildlife.state.nm.us.
New Mexico has a Habitat Management and Access Validation program where hunters, trappers, and fishermen on any lands must purchase a $4 stamp once during the year. Funds from the sale of these stamps will be used to lease private land for public use, provide public access to landlocked areas of public land, and provide for the improvement, maintenance, development, and operation of property for Fish and Wildlife habitat management. This validation stamp does not replace the habitat stamp.
The wolf population in New Mexico has continued to steadily increase. The most recent survey showed there to be 186 Mexican gray wolves in the wild in the southern mountain ranges of New Mexico and Arizona. This marks a 24% increase in the population since last year’s count. This population has doubled in size in the last five years. At first glance, these wolves appear to resemble larger coyotes. Be careful and know what you’re shooting at because they are currently under federal protection. Illegally shooting a wolf in New Mexico can come with a one-year jail sentence and a $50,000 fine.
New Mexico acknowledges the sacrifices our armed forces have made for the country. They offer active duty military members the ability to apply for several special “Military Only” hunts. There is also a 50% discount for all licenses and stamps for resident active duty military or honorably discharged veterans.