in New Mexico
Mexico Department of Game and Fish
you seek game in the desert or game in the mountains, the state
of New Mexico offers sportsmen and women tremendous diversity
of opportunity. Quail and javelina frequent our deserts, and gigantic
bull elk are found high on our mountains. Even African oryx and
Persian ibex are available to the hunters lucky enough to be issued
a license during our annual special-hunts drawing of numbers for
the tightly regulated seasons.
are the premier big game in New Mexico. The state has between
70,000 and 90,000 of the large, regal deer. That's quite a recovery
since the beginning of the 20th century, when the state's
herds had been decimated and elk were considered extirpated here.
But then numerous releases on both private and public lands, combined
with conservative hunting strategies, brought these 600- to 800-pound
state has many fabulous areas in which to hunt elk, private ranches
and Indian reservations among them, but hunters can also find
plenty of elk on public lands. A national forest with a worldwide
reputation for elk-hunting is the Gila, in southwestern
Mexico. Huge bulls are taken every year in the Gila, designated
as Game Management Units 16-A through 16-E. Hunters drawing a
license for 16-B will need horses, because that unit is predominantly
within the Gila Wilderness (the nation's first designated wilderness
area), where motorized vehicles are prohibited. Hunters using
muzzleloaders or bows go to Units 15-A and 15-B, managed by the
Gila National Forest.
the Lincoln National Forest, elk hunting is good in Game Management
Units 34 and 36. Portions of Unit 36 are within the White Mountain
Wilderness, where horses would be useful in packing out an animal
as big as an elk. In fact, hunting in or near wilderness areas
is always a good idea when seeking reclusive species like elk.
Other places to consider hunting are the Cibola National Forest
in Unit 17; the Santa Fe National Forest in Unites 6, 44 and 45;
and the Carson National Forest in Unit 52 and the Valle Vidal.
Mexico's State Game Commission owns several properties around
the state, and some of them-the Colin Neblett, the Sargent, the
Urraca and the Humphries/Rio Chama-are excellent places to hunt
elk. But they are managed as essentially roadless areas, so hunters
are advised to use horses.
seeking exotic game can apply for the oryx hunts on White Sands
Missile Range. These productive African antelope make striking
trophies, and the meat is excellent. Although the imported oryx
feels quite at home in New Mexico's desert and reproduces easily
here, the state does not have enough for everyone who wants one.
So these licenses are issued by drawing on a once-in-a-lifetime
basis. Other limited-entry licenses include javelina, Persian
ibex and both Rocky Mountain and desert bighorn sheep.
the numbers are somewhat depressed now due to drought and other
problems, the state also has over-the-counter licenses for mule
deer and white-tailed deer. Other over-the-counter licenses include
wild turkeys, Barbary sheep, bear and cougar.
may choose their weapons: modern rifles, archery equipment or
muzzleloaders. To review the Big Game Proclamation, visit the
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Web site at www.gmfsh.state.nm.us/
won't need horses to pack a limit of blue grouse out of the mountains,
but you will enjoy much the same scenery frequented by the elk
hunter. The grouse is perhaps New Mexico's premier upland game
bird, but quail hunters can argue long and hard with that statement.
Quail hunters, however, usually find their quarry at much lower
altitudes, in desert grasslands that have their own beauty.
are four species of quail in the state. The bobwhite quail is
found along the east side, from Tucumcari south. Scaled quail
and Gambel's quail frequent the grasslands from Carlsbad to Lordsburg.
The most rare quail in New Mexico is the Montezuma or Mearn's,
a species scattered throughout southwestern New Mexico at higher
altitudes than the others.
and white-wing doves are two other species popular with bird hunters.
The numbers of these birds fluctuate depending upon breeding success;
and late-summer rainfall can also send them south before the September
New Mexico is frequently thought of as desert, the major rivers
and reservoirs do provide some waterfowl hunting. The Game Commission
owns farms on the Pecos River and in the Middle Rio Grande Valley,
where crops are grown especially for migrating waterfowl and hunting
is allowed on portions of those waterfowl-management areas. The
farms along the Pecos River also provide some good pheasant hunting,
although demand far exceeds supply. For that reason, hunters must
apply for permits to hunt the Seven Rivers and W. S. Huey wildlife
management areas for pheasants.
cranes migrate through the state each winter, and hunts are held
along the eastern side of the state from Quay to Eddy counties.
Permits for this east-side hunt are available for anyone who wants
to participate; but you must get one though a drawing if you want
to hunt in the Middle Rio Grande Valley or southwestern New Mexico.
pigeons and two species of squirrel complete the small-game picture
in New Mexico. A special federal permit is required to hunt the
band-tails, but it is available free from the New Mexico Department
of Game and Fish, Division of Wildlife.
as the old-timers say, Pick your poison, hunters. And good luck
the next time you go afield in New Mexico, the Land of Opportunity.
more information, call the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish,
505-827-7911, or visit our Web site at www.gmfsh.state.nm.us/. The mailing
address is: New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, P. O. Box
25112, Santa Fe, NM 87504.