Things to Know Before Hunting in New Mexico

You’re headed to New Mexico for some hunting. You won’t be disappointed. You may just score that coveted trophy you’ve been seeking whether you’re seeking pronghornelk, or mule deer. However, before you head out to the woods (Please note that dates are subject to change. Always refer to the NMDGF website for latest information):

  1. All turkey and big-game hunts now require a separate carcass tag and antler/horn tag. This tag is required in addition to the license. Do not hunt without that valid tag! Online or telephone purchases of private-land deer, javelina, Barbary sheep, oryx, antelope and elk must be purchased at least 14 days prior to the hunt to allow the tags to be mailed to you.
  2. Mandatory harvest reporting is required for all Barbary sheep, ibex, oryx, deer, javelina, elk, pronghorn antelope, turkey and trapper license holders.
  3. Early purchases for Licenses for the upcoming 2018–19 license year which begins April 1, will be available online, by telephone, and at license vendors and NMDGF offices beginning March 22, 2018.
  4. There’s a new free mobile app from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Look for the app on your smartphone. It offers a ton of information such as license purchases, maps, rules and regulations, and fishing reports. Go to your app store on your smartphone and search for NM Fish & Wildlife Guide. Be sure to do this while on WiFi as it takes a few minutes to download.
  5. Permits and licenses can be printed on standard sheets of paper, however, all turkey and big-game hunters must obtain tags from a licensed vendor or NMDGF.
  6. Active duty military or veterans receive 50% discount on permits, licenses, and stamps with proper identification.
  7. Don’t forget your season start dates:
    1. April 6th: Spring youth-only turkey season begins
    2. April 15th: Spring turkey season begins
    3.  September 1: Squirrel and dusky blue grouse season begins, in addition to bow-only turkey season
    4.  November 1: Fall turkey season begins
    5. November 15: Quail season begins
    6. December 16: Statewide pheasant season (except Valencia County)
  8. All trappers, hunters, and anglers (except those under 18 or over 70 and those 100% disabled) must purchase and possess Habitat Management and Access Validation. This annual fee (once per license) is for lease access to private land for public use, provide public access to landlocked public land, and enable land improvement, maintenance, development and operation of property owned/managed by The State Game Commission and for wildlife habitat management.
  9. Feral hogs may be hunted by residents and nonresidents year-round, without a license. The state’s basic hunting rules still apply: get permission before entering private land, no assistance from artificial light, no discharging of firearms within 150 feet of occupied dwellings. Please become familiar of the differences between feral hogs and javelinas. Javelinas are protected game. They’re slightly smaller than feral hogs and will not have a tail. Look for a white strip of hair near their neck and shoulders.
  10. While in the field you must have on you at all times:
    1.  Your game hunting license
    2. A turkey or big-game license, the carcass permit and tag for the hunted species
    3. A Habitat Management and Access Validation
    4.  A Habitat Stamp if hunting on forest service lands or BLM
    5. If hunting on private land, written permission from landowner
  11. Waste of game meat is prohibited: A hunted bighorn sheep, deer, elk, ibex, Barbary sheep, oryx, turkey, or pronghorn antelope must have all edible portions moved from the field. This includes back straps, tenderloins, all four quarters, and neck meat. Rib cage or organs are not required.  For turkeys, the legs, breast, and thigh meat must be removed. If you’ve wounded or suspect you’ve wounded any big-game, you must go to the spot the animal may have or did sustain the wound and make a reasonable attempt to track and kill the animal. These requirements do not authorize the ability to trespass onto private property.

These are just some of the latest and most altered rules for hunting in New Mexico. For a complete understanding, and for licensing fees or additional information, read 2018-2019 New Mexico Hunting Rules and Info. provided by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

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