Let me begin by saying, “There are NO downs.” The mountains of the Enchanted Circle offer plenty of game for all hunters; and, as an added bonus, it offers some of the most incredible sceneries we have here in the United States. You might find you will be tempted to shoot more with your camera.
As with any hunting excursion, licenses are required and restricted by New Mexico Game and Fish. Whether big game or upland game (non-waterfowl such as turkey, quail, pheasant, grouse, woodcock, prairie chicken, chukar, grey partridge), the fines and/or jail time for even one illegal kill can be staggering. (I could probably tell you how I know this, but I’ll just leave this to your imagination.) Make sure your permit matches your kill.
Private or Public Hunting
Hunting on private land requires permission from the land owner in conjunction with appropriate game license. If you are hunting on private land, be mindful that some landowners are landlocked by Public Land. Make sure you stay in the designated hunting area as provided by the permit you hold. (Another lesson learned the hard way.) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or Forest Service land is clearly marked.
Some private landowners offer field dress, processing and packaging of your kill. However, if you are on BLM or Forest Service land, you will be on your own for finding ways to make that happen. As you plan your trip, ask what might be available.
If you are planning to hunt on BLM or Forest Service land, you will also need a “Habitat Stamp” with your permit. Habitat Stamp currently cost $5 per hunter. That money is then used to help keep wildlife habitats healthy for future hunters. That is money well spent.
Another word of advice: If you have a 10 day excursion planned and make your allotted kill on the first day, you will be sitting around for the remainder of your stay. Hold out for your most challenging game. It will be so much more rewarding for you. Lessons….lessons….lessons...Weather.
With average low temperatures from October to December in the teens, (that’s cold enough for some folks to stay home and watch National Geographic - but not me), you definitely want to make sure you are protected from frost bite. As the old saying goes, “There are NO unimportant parts.” Other important items you absolutely need to make a successful hunt are orange vest, compass and binoculars.
Red River is a town of only 480 full time residents. However, there are plenty of restaurants and nightlife for those that still have the energy after a day in the mountains and want to celebrate their game. Finally, a nice warm bed at night, perhaps a hot tub or a hot drink, will help you relax, reminisce about your day and tell your hunting stories. This is a lesson I gladly learned - the easy way. Happy Hunting!