New Mexico – From a Deer Hunter’s POV

Posted: 08/26/2012 in Archery, Hunting, Legal, News, Regulations
Tags: , , , ,

This is an ongoing series looking at each state from the point of view of a nonresident hunter trying to find information about deer hunting, the basic explanation is HERE.

New Mexico

Is the information easy to find?

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish hunting web page is at the top of the search results.

Grade: A

Website: is it easy to use and understand?

Asking the normal questions on the New Mexico website, when to hunt, where to hunt, and how much will a license cost, quickly becomes frustrating.  There seems to be multiple links to explain processes that are nearly devoid of basic information, resulting in a user finally clicking what seems to be a ‘full regulations‘ link, but that leads to a list of topical links that are helpful.  Most of the information on hunting deer is contained in a 10 page PDF file, most of which is micromanaged hunting dates.  As for ‘where to hunt,’ two PDF files can be found on the Full Regulations site, Federal, Tribal and State lands, and Open Gate Program. This information is poorly presented and organized, with emphasis on process rather than information.

Grade: D

Does the state hold a lottery system for non-residents or are over the counter licenses available?

New Mexico’s big game drawing is subject to a quota system. In accordance with state law, the draw attempts to distribute 84 percent of the licenses for each hunt to New Mexico residents, 10 percent to residents or nonresidents who’ve contracted with an outfitter and 6 percent to nonresidents who have not contracted with an outfitter (this does not prohibit nonresidents in the 6 percent pool from contracting with an outfitter if they are lucky in the draw).

The summary of that is ‘unless you’re willing to pay the premium to a guide, you are limited to luck in drawing a tag out of the 6% of the quota dedicated to nonresidents.’  In further reading, the method used to draw tags means that:

Because the order of an application in the sequence is the determining factor in drawing success, it is possible for an applicant to receive a license for his or her second or third choice before a first choice applicant for the same hunt is even considered. The earlier in the drawing sequence an application is, the better the chances that a first, second or third choice hunt will still be available.

Only 6% of the quota for nonresidents not able or willing to pay a guide, and your first choice hunt could get eliminated by somebody else’s second or third choice because of the methodology in choosing tags.  There appears to be over the counter licenses for nonresidents to hunt on private land, however other than a one-page PDF on deer hunting (another one) I have yet to find this information. If you enjoy parsing statistics, here is a link to the ‘drawing odds‘ PDF.

Grade: D

How much does it cost to hunt, and is there a short term license available?

New Mexico charges residents $15.00 for a Game-Hunting license, which is required for any big game permit. In addition to that, there is a $4.00 habitat stamp, and a $5.00 Habitat Management and Access Validation fee for using U.S. Forest Service or BLM lands.  Deer hunting is split into several types, with private land resident deer tags priced at $34.00, quality deer tags priced at $34.00, deer drawing tags are priced at $42.00 for residents, with three types to choose from, deer, deer quality, and deer high demand.  The PDF that lists these fees does NOT explain the difference at all. It is important to note that, as stated in the Deer PDF, DO NOT purchase an over the counter license if you apply for the draw, it is ILLEGAL TO APPLY if you have already purchased a tag.

Nonresidents who wish to hunt New Mexico must purchase a Game-Hunting license, $65.00, with a $4.00 habitat stamp, in order to purchase a deer permit. The same $5.00 permit for using U.S. Forest Service or BLM lands that a resident pays.  Private land deer permits (over the counter) are $270.00, private land quality deer permits are $355.00, deer drawing tags are $290.00, deer quality drawing tags are $375.00 and deer ‘high demand’ tags are $375.00.   The lowest cost option would be private land ONLY deer, which for a nonresident would be $339.00.  The highest cost option would be either the deer quality or deer high-demand drawing, which would be $414.00.

I see no specific archery, muzzleloader, or primitive weapon tags.

Grade: C

Are the hunting seasons easy to find and laid out in a logical manner?

The hunting seasons were not easy to find, and when the are found they do not appear to be logically presented, as it takes a 10 page PDF file to present the seasons. Below is an example, reduced to fit:

Note that the ‘bag limit’ is actually a ‘legal type’ statement: FAD means “Fork-Antlered-Deer,” while “FAMD” would be “Fork-Antlered-Mule-Deer,” and “FAMWTD” would be “Fork-Antlered-White-Tail-Deer.”

Grade: D

Is public hunting available, if so, are the rules different? If the rules are different, are they easy to understand?

Nonresidents may NOT apply for any draw hunt that is held exclusively on a state 0wned Wildlife Management Area.  Other than that, there are rules for Federal, Tribal, and State owned lands and a separate Open Gate Program.  It is interesting to note that Tribal Lands require the permission of the Tribal Officials, with entirely different rules.

Native American Lands
Permission to hunt or fish must be obtained from tribal officials before going on any tribal lands. A New Mexico license is not required to hunt or fish on Reservation Trust Lands. Game or fish taken on or from a reservation must be accompanied by an official tribal document, such as a license or receipt, showing lawful possession. Tribal reservations and pueblos may have firearms, ammunition and travel restrictions. It is advisable to completely separate any firearm from its ammunition when traveling across these lands. Hunters should contact tribes directly for specific information on hunting and fishing season dates, transporting firearms, permits and travel restrictions.
Acoma (505) 552-9866
Jicarilla Apache (575) 759-3255,
Mescalero Apache (575) 464-7448 or (575)-464-9770,
Navajo (928) 871-6450
Taos (575) 758-3883
Zuni (505)782-5851.

Despite the ‘no nonresidents’ applying for WMA specific hunts, there are 9 million acres of Federal, Tribal, and State land for hunting, not counting the open gate program.

Grade: C

Are there major issues in hunting this state as a non-resident?

Chronic Wasting Disease is active in New Mexico, the Department of Fish and Game has a page specifically to educate the public about this problem.   This appears to be the major issue facing nonresident hunters other than the usual anti-hunter wrangling in the state legislature.

Grade: B

Summary: Final Grade C

Only six percent of the states quota tags are used for nonresidents, chronic wasting disease, an abysmal website for conveying information to hunters, high prices and a governor who dismisses a game commissioner without explanation:

Gov. Susana Martinez removed Game Commission member Jerry Maracchini without providing sportsmen any explanation and replaced him with Robert Espinoza, executive director of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. Maracchini, a former director of Game and Fish, had actively reached out to the sportsmen of northeast New Mexico, unlike the commissioners of most other regions.

The only conclusion is that the state is at least partially hostile to hunting, particularly nonresident hunters.

States CompletedAlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelaware,

FloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndiana, IowaKansasKentuckyLouisianaMaineMaryland

MassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire

New Jersey


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