New Mexico has the reputation of a trophy elk state, but the trophy success over the last few years has been lacking. We simply haven’t seen as many big bulls hit the ground as you’d expect. However, with the great moisture the state has seen over the last 18 months, we predict some great changes in trophy potential in 2023. The top end units across the state have really struggled the last few years to live up to their hype, but in 2022, we started to see a significant increase in antler growth and really believe we are going to see even bigger strides in the right direction in 2023.
The state 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. 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 due to it being a more sought-after season, but we’d encourage you to consider applying for the first hunt just the same. The harvest success between the two hunt dates is not very different. If you ask a lot of the guys who archery hunt in New Mexico each year, they will tell you that a good portion of the better bulls are harvested on the first archery hunt when the bulls are consistently showing up at waterholes and are not with cows yet. 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 being patient and sitting water.
Before applying this year, be sure to check all weapon restrictions and season dates. A few huge changes have taken place for the 2023 elk season. These changes could really affect your draw strategy and unit selection.
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.
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The New Mexico Big Game Application Deadline is March 22, 2023 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