It seems like I get a lot of questions concerning how elk tags are allocated here in New Mexico. I thought I would try and clear up a few questions on this.
First it is important to know how private land elk authorizations are issued through the E-Plus program and how you can use them.
All ranches are determined to be inside the occupied elk range (COER) or outside the occupied elk range (NON COER). Ranches issued tags that are inside elk range are required to use them during specific dates that coincide with the public land hunts. Ranches that are issued bull elk tags that are outside the occupied elk range can pick their dates (any 5 consecutive days). These are usually between October 1 thru December 31.
In my opinion, properties that are outside the occupied elk range are actually a better deal. You can hunt during the rut if you want or perhaps a late winter hunt might be better for that particular ranch.
All private ranches must decide whether they want their tags to be RANCH ONLY or UNIT WIDE. Ranch Only tags can ONLY be used on the private land within the ranch. The gates and access can be locked and other hunters are kept out. This usually applies to larger properties.
Unit Wide tags can be used anywhere in the unit that the ranch is located in. However, the private land must be left open for public hunters to hunt also. Most unit wide properties are small and could not possibly be hunted as a Ranch Only property.
So when considering a private land authorization, the important questions to ask are:
Ranch Only or Unit Wide?
Size of property?
When can tags be used?
Numbers of elk and quality of bulls?
The cost of a private land bull elk authorization is southwestern New Mexico will range from $5,000 – $10,000 plus, regardless if the property is Ranch Only or Unit Wide or inside or outside the occupied elk range.
See next article for Part 2 of Private Land vs. Public Land Elk Hunting
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