Hunting in New Mexico

New Mexico Hunting at Glance

If you’re looking for an interesting and unique hunting destination, New Mexico is definitely worth considering. With a variety of different types of hunting available, as well as a wide range of game species, there’s something here for everyone. And, with some beautiful scenery to boot, it’s no wonder that New Mexico is becoming increasingly popular with hunters from all over the world.

New Mexico’s hunting opportunities range from urban to rustic. Elk, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, mountain lion, black bear, javelina, and pronghorn are big game species found in the state. Wild turkeys, small game, upland birds, and waterfowl are all excellent targets for hunters.

Exotic species such as Persian ibex, oryx, and Barbary sheep or aoudad have been introduced in certain regions of the state. Scaled, Gambel’s, bobwhite, and Montezuma quail are some of the many species of quail found in New Mexico.

The draw is the only way to obtain licenses for many of New Mexico’s big game species, but private land tags for Barbary sheep, bear, cougar, deer, ibex, javelina, turkey, and oryx may be bought over-the-counter while elk and pronghorn landowner tags are available through many outfitters.

You’ll need a hunting license, a species’ permit (if necessary), habitat management and access validation, and/or a habitat stamp if you hunt on BLM or Forest Service lands while pursuing big game. It is not necessary to wear blaze orange, but it is highly suggested.

New Mexico ranks #25 in the nation for hunting license per capita and has a strong hunting culture with over 0.053 of the population classified as registered hunters.

Table of Contents

Hunters (Based on Hunting Licenses)
Population: 2,117,522
Hunters 112,229
Hunter % 5.30%
Hunters Rank 25
Land Types (Acres)
Acres % Rank
Total 77,673,600
Huntable Public 31,427,000 40.46% 8
Private Land 38,596,280 49.69% 44
Tribal Land 7,522,600 9.68% 3

New Mexico ranks #44 for the percentage of private land vs total acres and number 3 in terms of acres of tribal land.

New Mexico Hunting Seasons & Requirements

For the most accurate information on New Mexico Hunting Seasons, along with the state’s requirements for tag and bag limits, it’s a good idea to check with the New Mexico DNR.  We’ve provided their contact information below, along with links to helpful resources, including licensing.

New Mexico DNR

1 Wildlife Way
Santa Fe,, NM 87507

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Popular Game to Hunt in New Mexico

Deer and elk hunting are definitely the most common types of hunting in New Mexico. These two species are by far the most popular with hunters, and as such there are a number of different areas around the state where they can be found in good numbers. Other popular game animals include pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, javelina, quail, doves and ducks.

Small Game Hunting in New Mexico

New Mexico is home to a variety of small game, and hunters have many options when it comes to choosing their prey. Squirrel, rabbit, quail, dove, and pheasant are all popular choices, and each offers its own unique challenges. Squirrel hunting requires patience and precision, as these fleet-footed creatures are quick to dart up trees and out of sight. Rabbits can be more challenging to track down, but their stillness makes them ideal targets for shooters with good aim. Quail are fast and agile, making them a test for even the most experienced hunters. Dove hunting is often considered a rite of passage for new hunters, as these birds are notoriously difficult to hit. Finally, pheasant offer a hearty meal for those who are successful in their pursuit. No matter which animal you choose to hunt, New Mexico provides ample opportunity for a rewarding experience.

Big Game Hunting in New Mexico

The most popular species to hunt are mule deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, and pronghorn. Each offers its own challenges and rewards, and hunters can choose to pursue any or all of these species. Mule deer are the most widely distributed big game animal in New Mexico, and they can be found in all types of habitats. Elk are found primarily in the mountainous regions of the state, and they are prized for their large size and impressive antlers. Bear can be found in both forested and open areas, and they provide a challenging hunt for even the most experienced hunters. Mountain lions are found throughout the state but are most commonly seen in the southwestern region. Pronghorn are found in the open grasslands of eastern New Mexico, and they are one of the fastest animals in North America. Whatever your preference, New Mexico has something to offer every big game hunter.

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Where are the Best Areas to Hunt in New Mexico

New Mexico offers great hunting opportunities across the state, both on public and private land. We’ve included some of the best areas for public hunting below and as we have access we’ll be adding more private land too.

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Popular Public Hunting Land in New Mexico

New Mexico is a mecca for hunters, with its diverse landscape and abundance of game. The state is home to five national forests, which offer a variety of hunting opportunities. The most popular forest to hunt in New Mexico is the Gila National Forest. The Gila is home to elk, deer, Bear, and cougar, making it a popular destination for big game hunters. The Santa Fe National Forest is also a popular hunting ground, with deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope. For those looking to hunt small game, the Cibola National Forest offers opportunities to hunt quail, rabbits, and squirrels. The Carson and Kit Carson National Forests are also popular hunting destinations, with a variety of game animals including deer, elk, and bighorn sheep.

1. Gila National Forest
2. Santa Fe National Forest
3. Cibola National Forest
4. Carson National Forest
5. Kit Carson National Forest

Hunting Private Land in New Mexico

Since the majority of New Mexico is private land getting access for hunting can be very appealing. When you hunt private land, it’s not only less crowded, the animals also tend to be less skittish and this means you’ll have a better day out in the field.  Traditionally, accessing private land for hunting has been complicated and expensive.  You either needed to join a club, hire a guide, or start knocking on doors.

Fortunately Wing It is simplifying this for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts of all types. We’re adding new land every day and if we have some in your area, you’ll see some options great below.

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Wing It - Access. Granted White

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