January 12, 2015

2014 Elk HuntIt’s that time of year when many of you start planning for next fall’s hunts. Nobody likes going through the drawing, but if you want to hunt you’re going to have to apply and play the game.  So I thought I might try to clear up a few misconceptions about the drawing and how the landowner system works. Maybe this will be helpful to some of you when you’re planning next year’s hunts.

New Mexico does issue private land authorizations for elk to landowners that have elk using their private land.  A private landowner authorization is simply a piece of paper that allows you to purchase a license.  If they are Unit Wide authorizations, they are good for the entire unit.  If they are Ranch Only authorizations, they are only good for that particular ranch.  These authorizations are usually quite pricey, so I would recommend you do your homework before purchasing one.

New Mexico does not have a preference points system in our lottery.  Everyone has an equal chance at drawing a tag regardless of how many times you’ve applied, if you drew a tag last year, or if you’ve never drawn a tag.  Currently New Mexico issues 10% of the tags to hunters that apply through an outfitter, 6% of the tags are issued to non-residents that do not apply through an outfitter, and 84% of the tags are issued to New Mexico residents.

It is my understanding that New Mexico Game and Fish just starts pulling up applications when conducting the lottery.  For example, when drawing for elk licenses, they will pull up an elk application and either issue a tag or exhaust all of the choices on that application.  Then they will pull up application number two and repeat the process.  So what it all boils down to is when you application is pulled up.  If it’s pulled up early, you’re probably going to draw your first choice, if your application is pulled up later you might draw your second or third choice.  If your application is pulled up even later in the drawing you’re probably not going to draw anything.

So here’s a few things I would suggest you do when applying in New Mexico:

1.  Apply early.  There is no benefit in waiting until the last minute and possibly missing the deadline.

2.  Use an outfitter’s number on your application if you are a non-resident.  You just as well be in the 10% pool as opposed to the 6% pool.

3.  Put three choices on your application.  This give you a better chance of drawing a tag.

4.  Apply for other species:  elk, deer, big horn sheep, etc.

If you have any questions about how all this works, give me a call at 575-536-9368 and I will do my best to help you.  I also encourage you to subscribe to our website and follow us on Facebook.  You can find the subscribe option on each page in our website and our Facebook address is:  The New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish website address is:

Good luck in the 2015 New Mexico Drawing.


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