New Mexico Hunting

New Mexico Hunting

New Mexico is a state brimming with a diverse ecosystem that provides an ideal habitat for various types of wildlife and game. From deer to turkey, mountain lions to bears, the state offers an array of hunting opportunities for enthusiasts. To ensure the preservation of its hunting culture and wildlife population, New Mexico has established strict hunting regulations. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of these regulations and the rich wildlife attractions of the state.

New Mexico Hunting Regulations: Preserving a Tradition

New Mexico takes great care to ensure that hunting activities are conducted responsibly, without adversely affecting the future of hunting or wildlife populations. The state encourages residents and hunters to report any violations to the New Mexico Fish and Game Commission.

Wildlife Attractions and Luring: A Balancing Act

One key regulation in New Mexico prohibits the use of any attractants, scents, or deer urine to lure games and wildlife. Additionally, capturing or hunting big game animals with edible products is strictly forbidden. However, exceptions are made for salt, water, or mixtures of salt with trace minerals specifically designed for livestock.

Hunting Licenses: A Must-Have

Before embarking on any hunting expedition, it’s crucial to possess a valid hunting or fishing license issued by the state. This license should be carried at all times during hunting activities. If hunting requires a tag, it’s equally important to possess one. Both the license and tag must be signed prior to commencing any hunting within the state.

Possession of Illegally Taken Game: A Serious Offense

According to New Mexico’s hunting laws, possessing any game or wildlife that has been unlawfully taken is strictly illegal. Whether or not you participated in the actual hunting, possessing such an animal is against the law if it wasn’t legally acquired.

Bag Limits and Wildlife Possession

The New Mexico Game and Fish Commission enforces possession limits and bag limits for different species. Hunting must be conducted within the established limits set by the commission. It’s essential to conduct thorough research before embarking on any hunting expedition to ensure compliance with these regulations.

See also  New Mexico Gun Laws

Tagging Big Game: A Compulsory Step

Hunters in New Mexico are required to tag all big game animals they capture. The tags provide instructions on proper tagging procedures, and it’s crucial to adhere to them diligently, along with other tagging rules stipulated by the New Mexico Game and Fish Commission.

Following the Hunting Seasons and Regulations

Hunting wildlife and game in New Mexico can only be done during the periods specified by the hunting commission. The commission also dictates when hunting periods start and end. It’s essential to stay informed about these regulations, especially if you specialize in hunting particular species.

Hunting Etiquette: Lights, Vehicles, and Residences

New Mexico strictly forbids the use of artificial lights during coyote hunting season. This includes headlights and spotlights unless exceptions are made for theft prevention. In such cases, firearms within vehicles must not be capable of discharging while using the spotlight. To adhere to this rule, all firearms, ammunition, bows, and arrows should be stored outside the vehicle or at camp.

Respect for Wildlife: No Hunting from Vehicles

Hunting from vehicles, whether on land or water, is illegal unless explicit permission is obtained from the New Mexico Fish and Game Commission. This regulation also extends to deliberately driving or hovering near wildlife to take a shot. Furthermore, transporting wildlife with a vehicle is prohibited, and getting off the main road to approach wildlife with a vehicle is strictly disallowed.

Approved Hunting Devices Only

Hunting games and wildlife in New Mexico is only permitted using devices approved by the state’s Fish and Game Commission. The use of any other device is strictly prohibited.

Shooting Near Residences: Seeking Permission

Discharging firearms or using weapons near residential buildings is unlawful without the permission of those occupying the structures. This rule includes bows, inflated weapons, and hybrid weapons. It’s essential for hunters to assume that these structures are occupied and to exercise caution when hunting nearby.

Leave No Trace: Clean Up After Hunting

Hunters in New Mexico are required to leave hunting areas clean after their activities. This means no litter in the camp and proper disposal of debris and animal carcasses according to hunting jurisdiction regulations.

See also  New Mexico Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW)

Responsible Shooting: Avoiding Roads and Rails

Hunters are prohibited from discharging firearms or shooting arrows across roads or railways while attempting to hunt wildlife. It’s important to note that these regulations are often violated during bird hunting seasons like doves and quails.

Licensing Requirements in New Mexico

Before engaging in any hunting activities in New Mexico, hunters must possess a valid hunting license issued by the state. The minimum age requirement for both residents and non-residents to apply for hunting licenses is 10 years old. Additionally, individuals under 14 years old must undergo a Hunter Education Training Course to be eligible for hunting games.

New Mexico Residents Hunting License

Residents of New Mexico can purchase resident hunting licenses provided they have resided in the state for at least six months prior to the license application. Members of the US armed forces posted to the state are also eligible for resident licenses. Non-residents can apply for non-resident licenses.

Complimentary and Special Licenses

Complimentary licenses are issued in New Mexico based on specific criteria, such as being a disabled veteran, a resident for a minimum of 25 years, or an apprentice hunter. The state introduced the apprentice hunting license to encourage more people to become hunters. With this license, experienced hunters can take beginners on hunting adventures without the need for a regular hunting license.

New Mexico Lifetime License and Non-Resident Licenses

Lifetime licenses are available for New Mexico residents, with costs varying based on the type of license and the applicant’s age. Non-residents who wish to hunt in New Mexico need to obtain non-permit tags to purchase licenses, stamps, and hunting tags. These can be obtained through mail without a hunt permit tag application.

Fishing License Options in New Mexico

For those interested in fishing in New Mexico, several licenses are available:

  • General Fishing Licenses for residents and non-residents
  • Combo Fish and Hunt Licenses
  • Youth Combo Hunt and Fish Licenses
  • Short-Term Combo Hunt and Fish Licenses
  • Community Fishing Licenses
See also  New Mexico Open Carry

Certain situations exempt individuals from requiring a fishing license, such as participating in fishing clinics sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish or fishing on designated free fishing days.

New Mexico Hunting Seasons

The state of New Mexico offers a range of hunting opportunities for various wildlife, including deer, bighorn sheep, bison, turkey, javelina, black bear, mountain lion, and small game species. Each hunting season varies based on the game type and hunting method.

Exploring New Mexico’s Wildlife

New Mexico boasts a rich array of wildlife, including pronghorns, bison, bighorn sheep, elk, mountain lions, doves, chukars, waterfowl, and more. Each species presents unique hunting challenges and experiences, making the state a haven for hunting enthusiasts.

Finding the Perfect Hunting Lands

For those interested in acquiring hunting lands in New Mexico, there are various options available for purchase, each offering different acreages and landscapes.

Exploring Public Shooting Ranges

New Mexico provides several public shooting ranges for enthusiasts to practice their shooting skills and ensure responsible firearm handling.


New Mexico’s diverse ecosystem and hunting regulations offer an incredible opportunity for both experienced and novice hunters to enjoy responsible and sustainable hunting experiences. By adhering to the state’s hunting regulations and respecting wildlife habitats, hunters can contribute to the preservation of this cherished tradition while enjoying the thrill of the hunt.


Q1: Can non-residents hunt in New Mexico?

Yes, non-residents can hunt in New Mexico by obtaining the necessary licenses and tags.

Q2: What is the apprentice hunting license?

The apprentice hunting license allows beginners to hunt under the supervision of an experienced licensed hunter.

Q3: Are there limitations to hunting mountain lions?

Yes, mountain lion hunting is limited to one animal per year, with specific shooting periods defined.

Q4: Can I hunt from a vehicle in New Mexico?

Hunting from vehicles is generally prohibited, except with explicit permission from the Fish and Game Commission.

Q5: What is the purpose of possession limits and bag limits?

Possession and bag limits ensure sustainable hunting practices by regulating the quantity of game taken.

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