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New Mexico Elk Hunting

New Mexico Elk Hunting

New Mexico offers great elk hunting opportunities across the state. With multiple weapon choices, types of terrain, season dates, and a healthy population of elk, you will have plenty of options to choose from when applying for hunts that fit your preferred style of hunting. It is a state that is really dependant on moisture. On a wet year, you are going to see giant bulls pop up throughout the state. Unfortunately, last year was a poor moisture year and most bulls were way off their maximum horn potential. New Mexico is looking good for moisture going into the 2022 season. Hopefully they will continue to get good moisture and we will see some great bulls for 2022.

New Mexico offers a wide range of season dates to choose from to best fit your fall schedule. The season kicks off with its archery hunts in September.

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New Mexico Elk Draw & 2022 Season Dates


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The peak of the rut typically starts somewhere on the last few days of the first hunt or the beginning of the second hunt, and you should be into screaming bulls sometime during your season if you draw either hunt. The second of these two hunts comes with tougher draw odds as it is a more sought-after season. On a statewide average, bull success rates on the first archery hunts are only 5% lower than those of the second hunts. Sometimes in the more desert type units, the first season can be good as it is typically hotter weather and the bulls are tied to water. A lot of big bulls have been killed over the years by hunters sitting water.

New Mexico is often regarded as more of a trophy elk state than it actually is. Even in the best units like 16A and 160, most bulls are going to be 300-330", but every year, hunters are chasing some 380"+ bulls on those two hunts. Other top hunts are 6B (Valles Caldera) and 55 (Valle Vidal). Both of these hunts will produce a couple 350"+ type bulls. Units like 12, 13, 17, 18, and 23 have the potential to produce a giant, but they are going to require a lot of scouting and getting lucky to put your tag on a top end bull. For those who don't need to kill a giant bull but are looking for a great all-around elk hunting experience, you can't go wrong with units 34 and 36. These areas hold some of the highest elk densities in the state, and there are plenty of 300-320" bulls to hunt. They also offer a variety of terrain from mild rolling hills to rugged, timbered mountains along with plenty of public land and some good access.

With no point system to deal with and three choices that are considered on each application, we consider it a must­-apply-for state for all elk hunters. If you are struggling to come up with a plan for your New Mexico elk application strategy or you'd like to apply with an outfitter to increase your odds of drawing this fall, give us a call. Most of us have spent a lot of time chasing elk in New Mexico.

For a hunter who isn't lucky enough to draw a tag, be sure to check out the Huntin' Fool Landowner Tags webpage for more information on New Mexico landowner elk tags.

Self Guided DIY New Mexico Elk Hunts

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For access to all of our research and data we've collected over the last 20+ years, then join today and access the best research tools for hunting Elk in New Mexico including 3D Maps, Draw OddsConsultations and much more. Go on more hunts with better information!

Private Land, Semi-Guided, and Guided Elk Hunts in New Mexico

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Application Dates for New Mexico Elk

The New Mexico Big Game Application Deadline is March 16, 2022 at 5 P.M. MDT.

New Mexico Non-Resident Elk Hunting Fees

Adult Game Hunting License (non-refundable) $65
Junior Game Hunting License (non-refundable) $15
Elk Q, HD, or Q/HD License $773
Elk S License $548
Habitat Management and Access Validation (required) $4
Habitat Stamp (if purchased on or after April 1st) (required by all who hunt BLM or USFS land) $10
License fees include a non-refundable application fee for each species. $13

New Mexico Elk Hunting Articles from Huntin' Fool Magazine