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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2017: New Mexico Elk, Deer, Antelope

Bull elk with harem of cows

New Mexico's elk, deer, and antelope application overview

Jump to: New for 2017 State Information Draw System Elk Breakdown Mule Deer Breakdown Coues Deer Breakdown Antelope Breakdown

Trophy quality among New Mexico’s elk and antelope are among the best in the West. Thanks to a mild winter across much of the state, elk herd conditions are in good shape. New Mexico continues to produce some of the largest antelope bucks because of stellar genetics and great management. New Mexico is home to a unique variety of deer species. Deer hunters can select from mule deer, Coues deer, and eastern whitetail.

With no bonus point system in place, it is never too late to begin applying in New Mexico. This article will give you the knowledge you need to develop an application strategy and apply for 2017.

Note: The application deadline for all fall hunts is March 22, 2017 by 5:00 p.m. MST. Apply online here.



Why New Mexico for elk, deer, and antelope in 2017?

No points

Although this can be viewed as a bad thing by some, having no point system means that some good old fashioned luck can provide you with an opportunity of a lifetime. Everybody has the same chance of drawing!

Some of the best elk hunting in the nation

The famed Gila region continually generates big bulls and other areas, such as the units near the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation, are also consistent producers.

Top quality antelope

The current world record antelope was taken in New Mexico only a few years ago (2013). Additionally, New Mexico has nearly as many Boone & Crockett (B&C) entries as Arizona, Nevada, and Montana combined.

Increased draw odds with an outfitter

If you are willing to hire an outfitter, you can increase your odds of drawing. The outfitter draw receives a special allocation of tags and, by contracting with an outfitter prior to applying, you can gain an edge on the competition. You can see the guided draw odds on our standalone draw odds page under New Mexico.

New Mexico guided draw odds on INSIDER

Extensive public land

New Mexico is home to the vast Gila Wilderness—the largest plot of public land in the Lower 48. This Land of Enchantment also has the Cibola and Santa Fe National Forests, Jemez Wilderness, and El Malpais National Conservation Area, which give public land hunters ample opportunity to locate a quality animal.

Low cost to apply

Applying in New Mexico for elk makes sense, especially when compared to Idaho, which also doesn't have a bonus points program.

The cost to NOT build points

Applying in New Mexico for elk makes sense when compared to Idaho who also doesn't have a bonus points program.

Idaho and New Mexico application cost comparison for nonrefundable fees

The cost to NOT build points

Elk tag application cost comparison
New Mexico vs Idaho — Nonresident only
  New Mexico Idaho
Application item Cost Refundable Cost Refundable
Annual hunting license $65 Yes $154.75 No
Application fee $13 No $14.75 No
Online processing fee N/A N/A $21.08 No
Elk tag $773 Yes $416.75 Yes
Total out of pocket $851   $607.33  
Refunded if unsuccessful $838   $416.75  
Net cost to apply $13   $190.58  

 


 

New for 2017

Premier statewide tags for deer and elk

New for 2017 are Premier tags for deer and elk. There is one tag available for deer and one tag available for elk, which means that the chances of drawing are about as low as it gets; however, this premiere tag allows you to use any legal arm on any date between Sept. 1, 2017 and Jan. 31, 2018 in any unit throughout the state on public or private land (with written permission). While it might be tough to draw, it would certainly be the tag of a lifetime if you drew it. Note: the tags are for residents only.

Valles Caldera (Unit 6B) elk hunt is now a regular draw hunt

The Valles Caldera National Preserve hunt has historically had a separate special draw process. Once again in 2017 it is a part of the regular draw and can be selected as one of your three hunt choices when applying.

Hunters helping the hungry program

A new program to donate deer and elk meat to help feed the hungry is available to hunters. Hunters can drop off fresh, clean, properly stored elk or deer meat at approved meat processors statewide. The program pays processing costs and distributes the ground meat to soup kitchens and others for use in prepared meals. Those who donate cash or meat to the program can receive a receipt for charitable tax deduction purposes. This is a great option for those who are unable to transport all of their meat back home or for those who just want to give to those in need.

State information

View important information and an overview of the New Mexico’s rules/regulations, the draw system, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. You can also view the New Mexico species profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you locate trophy units.

New Mexico State Profile Elk Profile Mule Deer Profile Coues Deer Profile Antelope ProfileDraw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • Draw applications are due on March 22, 2017 by 5:00 p.m. MST.
  • For those who had New Mexico tags in 2016, late harvest reports must be submitted by March 22, 2017 for you to be eligible for the draw.

Drought or snowpack in New Mexico

February 28 2017 New Mexico drought monitor status

New Mexico has seen below average rainfall this winter and is heading into the warmer months of 2017, which means that drought conditions looming. Snowpack throughout the mountains has also been below average. The USDM anticipates drier-than-normal conditions heading into this summer.

Impact of wolves in New Mexico

There are currently fewer than 100 Mexican wolves in the wild within the state. Up until 2014, the population had been slowly increasing, but it has seen a recent decrease, according to a recent study in the state. The federal government and the State of New Mexico are currently in litigation over the federal government’s plan to release more wolves in the state. There have not been any additional wolves released because of this litigation, which means that herds have not been recently affected.



The draw system

Understanding the draw

You must purchase an annual big game hunting license in order to apply for a big game species. This license can be purchased online at the time of application or at a New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) office. The license is valid for the calendar year.

All draw applications are entered into an automated system that randomly assigns each application a sequence number. Based on this number, the system matches the first, second, third choices on the application with available tags. If all choices have already been awarded, the system advances to the next application. New Mexico does not grant preference or bonus points to unsuccessful applicants. If an applicant selects a fourth choice hunt, he/she will be placed in a second pool from which tags may be awarded if a hunt has not met its full number. Only successful applicants will be notified by email. An unsuccessful applicant will not be notified, but may check their NMDGF account online. For more information about the Draw Hunt System, click here.

Remember that New Mexico distributes their deer, elk, and antelope permits under this quota:

  • 84% of draw licenses are awarded to New Mexico residents.
  • 10% of draw licenses are awarded to residents and nonresidents applying with a New Mexico registered outfitter.
  • 6% of draw licenses are awarded to nonresidents applying without a New Mexico registered outfitter.

If you want to improve your chances at drawing a tag and you are willing to hire an outfitter if you draw, then use our Outfitter Directory to find a New Mexico outfitter to contract prior to the draw. The outfitter will then assist you in the application process.

Because the draw system is not based on points, your chances of drawing are the same as everyone else who applied for the same tags. Since the New Mexico draw system will consider your first three choices before moving on to the next applicant, the order that you select a hunt choice has a significant impact on your odds of drawing that choice. Be sure to list your prefered hunt first as you will have the greatest chance of drawing your first choice. For an in-depth breakdown of your draw odds for any given hunt, be sure to check out the Draw Odds tool.

Podcast listening

Podcast episode to hear more information on the New Mexico application with Jay Scott Outdoors.

Episode 257 - New Mexico Ibex, Oryx, Elk and Bighorn Sheep Breakdown with Joseph Graham of Graham's Guide Service

Listen as Jay talk's with "Ibex Nut" Joseph Graham of Graham's Guide Service — A goHUNT Business Member, about New Mexico Ibex, Oryx, elk and bighorn sheep hunts. This episode is full of great info for anyone applying in New Mexico.

Episode 260 - New Mexico Elk, Deer, Bighorn Sheep, Ibex and Oryx with goHUNT.com’s Trail Kreitzer

Trail Kreitzer of goHUNT's INSIDER and Jay Scott discuss drawing tags in New Mexico for elk, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, and ibex. Hear the story of Trail's adventure on his archery elk hunt last year in Unit 45.

You can find the podcast index for all of the episodes on Jay's website, iTunes and on PodBean.



New Mexico's 2017 elk breakdown
 

Giant bull elk taken with Compass West Outfitters
2016 bull elk taken with Compass West Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

Current elk herd condition

With a mild winter and relatively low predation, elk numbers in New Mexico have been healthy. Although current precipitation numbers are lower than usual, there has still been enough moisture in the state to promote healthy herds. The 2017 forecast is anticipating a rainier than usual summer carrying into a relatively wet fall. This should ensure that antler growth and overall vitality of elk herds is above average heading into hunting season.

New Mexico statewide elk harvest

Seasons

The New Mexico elk rut is in its prime between Sept. 20 and Oct. 10. With this in mind, choosing hunt dates in relation to the rut can help increase your chances of locating and tagging a quality bull. The second September archery season during the early rifle and muzzleloader seasons in October offer the best chance of being in the rut. Youth-only and mobility-impaired hunts also take place in the first week of October and offer good rut action with a firearm.

2015 STATEWIDE PUBLIC & PRIVATE LAND HARVEST SUCCESS BY WEAPON


How to uncover hidden gem elk units
 

Bull elk taken with Ridgeline outfitters
Bull elk taken with Ridgeline Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

Beyond the top shelf units in New Mexico are quite a few others that are more easily drawn and still allow a chance at taking a mature bull scoring greater than 320”. Utilize our Filtering 2.0 tools and manipulate the Trophy Potential to display the units that have a legitimate chance at bulls that score 320” or better. Customize your search and click on a specific unit to access the Unit Profile in order to gain the greatest resource available to thoroughly learn a unit. Our New Mexico Elk Species Profile is another great way to determine other units in the state to consider. Within the Species Profile you will find a table showing the top B&C producing units over the years for both typical and nontypical bulls.

Since there are no bonus or preference points in New Mexico, everyone has the same chance of drawing a given tag. Therefore, it makes sense for the wise hunter to find the hunts that offer the best chance at both drawing a tag and tagging a quality animal.

Hunts with the best combination of draw odds, trophy potential and harvest success

Unit Season
dates
Weapon
type
Draw
odds
Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Unit 18 Sept. 1 to 14 Archery 22% 340"+ 25%
Unit 2C Sept. 1 to 14 Archery 39% 330"+ 17%
Unit 45 Oct. 7 to 11 Muzzleloader 20% 330"+ 29%
Unit 7 Oct. 7 to 11  Muzzleloader 66% 330"+ 43%
Unit 21B Oct. 21 to 25 Rifle 29% 320"+ 36%

 

Hunts with 40% or more harvest success

Unit Season
dates
Weapon
type
Draw
odds
Harvest
success
Trophy
potential
Unit 56 Oct. 7 to 11 Rifle Res: 9.0%
Nonres: 4.4%
90% 300"+
Unit 58 Oct. 7 to 11 Rifle Res: 8.3%
Nonres: 6.3%
88% 300"+
Unit 57 Oct. 7 to 11 Rifle Res: 8.3%
Nonres: 6.3%
88% 320"+
Unit 4 Oct. 7 to 11 Rifle Res: 2.2%
Nonres: NA*
70% 330"+
Unit 55A Sept. 15 to 24 Archery Res:
Nonres: NA*
60% 320"+

* Residents only.
 

 

B&C entry trends for New Mexico elk

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

New Mexico's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for typical elk

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Catron 6 12131516A16B16C16D16E21A2223
Lincoln 6 18363738
Colfax 2 48495455A55B5657
Cibola 1 910111213

 

New Mexico's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical elk

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Catron 3 12131516A16B16C16D16E21A2223
Colfax 2 48495455A55B5657
Sierra 2 16B16C21A21B24
Sandoval 1 6A6B6C79

 



Discovering the best bull:cow ratio units

New Mexico archery elk taken with Southwest Biggame Brokerage

New Mexico archery elk taken with Southwest Biggame Brokerage — A goHUNT Business Member

Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status of the herd. A higher bull to cow ratio may indicate that a unit could have a higher availability of mature bulls compared to a unit with a lower bull to cow ratio. This doesn’t always indicate that the bulls will be the highest scoring bulls, but more bulls equates to more bulls to find and harvest. When selecting a unit, or comparing several units, take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in-depth. The best way to find the units with the best bull to cow ratios is to use Filtering 2.0 under New Mexico elk. Then, sort the results by male to female ratio. You can jump to those results here.



The 2017 hit list units for elk in New Mexico

Archery

Top units to consider for 350” or better bulls
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Harvest
success
Bull:cow
ratio
Unit 16A 370"+ Sept. 1-14: 23%
Sept. 15-24: 42%
37:100
Unit 16D 370"+ Sept. 1-14: 35%
Sept. 15-24: 34%
37:100
Unit 6B 370"+ Sept. 1-14: NA*
Sept. 15-24: NA*
42:100
Unit 13 360"+ Sept. 1-14: 25%
Sept. 15-24: 21%
41:100
Unit 16C 360"+ Sept. 1-14: 17%
Sept. 15-24: 25%
37:100
Unit 17 360"+ Sept. 1-14: 26%
Sept. 15-24: 35%
48:100
Unit 36 360"+ Sept. 1-14: 40%
Sept. 15-24: 33%
58:100
Unit 15 350"+ Sept. 1-14: 21%
Sept. 15-24: 25%
37:100
Unit 16E 350"+ Sept. 1-14: 14% 
Sept. 15-24: 33%
37:100
Unit 34 350"+ Sept. 1-14: 39%
Sept. 15-24: 45%
49:100

* Last year was the first time Unit 6B was a state draw. Harvest reports for 2016 are not out yet.


Muzzleloader

Top units to consider for 350” or better bulls
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Harvest
success
Bull:cow
ratio
Unit 6B 370"+ Oct. 7-11: NA* 42:100
Unit 13 360"+ Oct. 14-18: 31%
Oct. 21-25: 22%
Nov. 18-22: 26%
41:100
Unit 17 360"+ Oct. 14-18: 28%
Oct. 21-25: 18%
Nov. 18-22: 29%
48:100
Unit 36 360"+ Oct. 7-11: 49% 58:100
Unit 15 350"+ Oct. 14-18: 29%
Oct. 21-25: 25%
Nov. 18-22: 17%
37:100
Unit 16E 350"+ Oct. 14-18: 28% 37:100
Unit 34 350"+ Oct. 14-18: 28% 49:100

* Last year was the first time Unit 6B was a state draw. Harvest reports for 2016 are not out yet.


Rifle

Top units to consider for 350” or better bulls
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Harvest
success
Bull:cow
ratio
Unit 16A 370"+ Oct. 14-18: 49%
Oct. 21-25: 40%
37:100
Unit 16D 370"+ Oct. 14-18: 57%
Oct. 21-25: 36%
37:100
Unit 6B 370"+ Oct. 14-18: NA*
Oct. 21-25: NA*
42:100
Unit 16C 360"+ Oct. 14-18: 38%
Oct. 21-25: 10%
37:100
Unit 36 360"+ Oct. 14-18: 43%
Oct. 28-Nov. 1: 41%
58:100
Unit 16E 350"+ Oct. 21-25: 33% 37:100
Unit 34 350"+ Oct. 21-25: 48% 49:100

* Last year was the first time Unit 6B was a state draw. Harvest reports for 2016 are not out yet.

 

Managing expectations
 

New Mexico bull elk taken with Old West Guides and Outfitters
New Mexico elk taken with Old West Guides and Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

How do I apply if I am only concerned with trophy quality?

You only have three choices so you want to make sure to pick the absolute best hunts for your goals. By way of review, when your application is drawn, all three choices are considered before moving on to the next application. If trophy quality is your main focus, you can do one of two things: (1) select three seasons from our Hit List units above and call it a day; or (2) use our Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds tools to select your three hunt choices. Filter based on trophy potential, paying special attention to Units 6B, 13, 15, 16A, 16D, 17, 34, and 36. Remember to list the season that you have the lowest chance of drawing first. Your third choice should be the option with the best chance of drawing. If you will only be happy drawing the tag that gives you the best chance at a huge bull, you will need to be patient because it may take years to get lucky and draw a tag. 

How do I apply if I am interested in opportunity more than quality?

Since everyone has the same chance of drawing, you will want to focus on the hunts that offer the best balance of draw odds and harvest success. A low harvest success percentage and high draw probability likely means that there are not a lot of elk there. On the flip side, a high harvest rate with 0.1% draw odds means there is a good chance you won’t be hunting. Utilize Draw Odds and Filtering 2.0 to zero in on the hunts that will offer a higher than 25% success rate and a 20% to 30% draw chance (for nonresidents and residents, respectively). For a nonresident, there are 18 hunts that have 35% or better draw odds and residents there are 83 hunts. You'll see this on Draw Odds for residents at this link and for nonresidents at this link.

Find your draw odds



New Mexico's 2017 mule deer breakdown
 

Mule deer buck taken by Ridgeline Outfitters
Mule deer taken with Ridgeline Outfitters LLC — A goHUNT Business Member

New Mexico is one of only two western states to offer three different deer species, which makes it an extremely diverse state for deer. Although mule deer trophy quality seems to be improving in New Mexico, the overall mule deer hunt quality is average at best. Solid Coues deer opportunity exists in the few units that have them. The third deer species is eastern whitetail, which are very limited in habitat, but offer some true trophies on private lands. Below is a breakdown by species. Remember that you can mix and match species types on your application to fill out your three choices!

Current deer herd condition

If you compare New Mexico to other western states, the average mule deer quality is below average. Overall, deer numbers across the state have declined over the last few decades. There are still a few good areas within the state that provide a quality hunt for quality bucks, but these areas are very few. Some very good bucks have been taken over the past few years, but most of the units provide a chance for a branch antlered buck, not a high scoring buck.

New Mexico statewide deer harvest - updated 2017


How to uncover hidden gem mule deer units

The standout units for mule deer continue to be Unit 2B, Unit 2C, and Unit 5B. However, utilizing Draw Odds and Filtering 2.0, it is possible to locate the other units that offer the best shot at a trophy class mule deer.

Hunts with the best combination of draw odds, trophy potential and harvest success

Unit Season
dates
Weapon
type
Draw
odds
Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Unit 12 Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 Rifle 54% 170"+ 25%
Unit 18 Nov. 4 to 8 Rifle 25% 170"+ 33%
Unit 24 Sept. 1 to 24, 2017
Jan. 1 to 15, 2018
Archery 58% 170"+ 35%
Unit 2A Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 Rifle 20% 170"+ 29%
Unit 33 Nov. 18 to 22 Rifle 20% 170"+ 47%

 


 

B&C entry trends for New Mexico mule deer

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

New Mexico's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for typical mule deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Rio Arriba 13 2B2C45A5B6A6C7455051A51B52
San Juan 4 2A, 2B, 2C, 7
Catron 1 12131516A16B16C16D16E21A2223
Cibola 1 910111213
Lincoln 1 18, 19, 32, 36, 37, 38
Sandoval 1 6A6B6C79

 

New Mexico's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical mule deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Rio Arriba 2 2B2C45A5B6A6C7455051A51B52
Sandoval 1 6A6B6C79

 



The 2017 hit list units for mule deer in New Mexico
 

Top units to consider for 170” or better bucks
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Avg. harvest
% or past 5 yrs.
Unit 2B 180"+ Archery: 46%
Muzzleloader: 21%
Rifle: 41%
Unit 2C 180"+ Archery: 35%
Muzzleloader: 42%
Rifle: 74%
Unit 5B 180"+ Archery: N/A
Muzzleloader: N/A
Rifle: 66%
Unit 12 170"+ Archery: 3%
Muzzleloader: 22%
Rifle: 14%
Unit 13 170"+ Archery: 14%
Muzzleloader: NA
Rifle: 85%
Unit 15 170"+ Archery: 27%
Muzzleloader: NA
Rifle: 43%
Unit 18 170"+ Archery: 18%
Muzzleloader: 23%
Rifle: 18%

 


 

Managing expectations for mule deer
 

New Mexico muzzleloader mule deer taken with Brugman Outfitting Service
New Mexico muzzleloader mule deer taken with Brugman Outfitting Service — A goHUNT Business Member

How do I apply if I am only concerned with trophy quality?

If you are only interested in trophy mule deer, then you should stay focused exclusively on Unit 2B, Unit 2C, and Unit 5B and focus on the hunts that will give you the best chance at catching big bucks during the rut. The very best mule deer hunts are the late archery in January in Unit 2B and Unit 2C. There is also a good November rifle option in Unit 2C that is in mid-November and should have limited rut activity. Either way, expect to wait a few years until luck finally comes your way. A good way to go about researching potential trophy mule deer units in New Mexico would be to use Filtering 2.0, select mule deer, adjust the trophy potential slider to 170"+ and then select your residency. With New Mexico's draw system, Filtering 2.0 is very powerful because you can see how many people applied for each hunt as well as the draw odds. A good starting spot on Filtering 2.0 for residents can be found here and nonresidents here.

How do I apply if I am interested in opportunity more than quality?

With this mindset, it is important to use our Filtering 2.0 extensively to find hunt choices that have high harvest success as well as decent draw odds. If you can’t draw the tag, you can’t go hunting. Remember to list a high quality choice as your first choice, just in case you get lucky. Follow it up with two acceptable, good success rate hunt choices that fit your trophy potential. Remember that you can mix and match deer species.

Find your draw odds



New Mexico's 2017 Coues deer breakdown

When it comes to deer in New Mexico, Coues deer may be the highest quality deer species. Coues deer enthusiasts generally look to Arizona and Old Mexico as the places to hunt trophy Coues. This gives New Mexico the ability to grow some trophy bucks since the hunting pressure is somewhat low and the terrain is relatively remote and rugged. Illegal immigrant travel should be a consideration before hunting areas along the U.S./Mexico border. Much of southwest New Mexico is situated along some major illegal immigration trafficking routes. This can be a major issue in Unit 27 so be prepared if you decide to hunt there.

Current deer herd condition

Coues deer are more adaptable to drought conditions and numbers have held steady, which means great hunting opportunity.


 

B&C entry trends for New Mexico Coues deer

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

New Mexico's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for typical Coues deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Hidalgo 4 2327
Grant 3 2327
Catron 1 23

 

New Mexico's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical Coues deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Grant 1 2327
Hidalgo 1 2327

 



The 2017 hit list units for Coues deer in New Mexico

There are only three units that have designated Coues deer numbers. These units are Unit 23, Unit 24, and Unit 27. All three of these units are capable of producing a trophy Coues deer scoring over 90” and as high as 100” plus. Unit 23 has a dedicated hunt within the Burro Mountains that offers much better quality and opportunity due to much fewer tags. The rest of Unit 23 has an enormous amount of tags so expect pressure to be high. There are pockets of Coues deer that inhabit a few other units that lie adjacent to these three units, but not high enough numbers to justify an actual season and tag designated as Coues deer only.

Top units to consider for 95” or better bucks
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Unit 24 100"+
Unit 27 100"+
Unit 23 95"+

 


 

Managing expectations

How do I apply if I am only concerned with trophy quality?

For Coues deer, give good consideration to the Burro Mountain hunt option in Unit 23 due to the limited amount of tags and possible animal quality. Then, use our Draw Odds calculator to see what your most difficult to draw choice is and list that as choice number one. Again, the easiest to draw choice should be listed third. Keep in mind the timing of the Coues deer rut when selecting your hunts as the chance of taking a true giant can increase as breeding activity increases.

How do I apply if I am interested in opportunity more than quality?

With this mindset, it is important to use our Filtering 2.0 extensively to find hunt choices that have high harvest success. Look for hunt choices that fit your abilities and preference. Remember to list a high quality choice as your first choice just in case you get lucky. Follow it up with two acceptable, good success rate hunt choices that fit your trophy potential. Keep in mind the timing of the Coues deer rut when selecting your hunts. Remember that you can mix and match deer species.

Find your draw odds



New Mexico Whitetail deer breakdown

By far the fewest in number among New Mexico’s deer species are the eastern whitetail deer. Nearly all of the whitetail are found in northeast New Mexico on large ranches with creek or river bottoms and agricultural fields nearby. Surprisingly, there are some trophy bucks to be found that often exceed 140” B&C, but arranged access through an outfitter is highly recommended prior to considering hunting New Mexico for whitetail deer. An interesting fact is that there has only been one whitetail deer from New Mexico that has ever been entered in B&C records. Obviously, this is not the destination for a book whitetail.



New Mexico's 2017 antelope breakdown
 

Youth hunter Gus with a New Mexico antelope taken with Compass West Outfitters
Youth hunter Gus with a New Mexico antelope taken with Compass West Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

New Mexico antelope make up a quarter of the B&C entries from North America. Needless to say, if you want to find big antelope, New Mexico is the place to find them. No matter where you draw a tag in New Mexico, you have an opportunity to shoot a truly huge antelope.

Current deer herd condition

While the winter has been drier than usual, it has also been relatively mild. Antelope will be found on many private ranches with dedicated water tanks so water is seldom an issue. With a wet summer predicted, antelope herds should be doing well and horn growth will be exceptional.

New Mexico statewide antelope harvest

How the antelope draw works

When you apply for rifle or muzzleloader antelope in New Mexico and are lucky enough to draw, then you will be assigned a ranch to hunt. You do not know what ranch you will be permitted to hunt at the time of application. Most ranches in New Mexico have great antelope to hunt; others are not as good. Archery antelope hunters are allowed to hunt the public lands within the unit. Like other species, you will have three choices to consider when applying for antelope. You can mix up your choices with rifle, muzzleloader, or archery options.



How to uncover hidden gem antelope units

As with elk and deer, utilizing Draw Odds and Filtering 2.0 is the best way to uncover sleeper units that might otherwise pass under the radar. Unique to antelope is the problem that even those “lesser known” unit groups could have thousands of applicants. Even so, Unit Group 18, 36, 37, 38 and Unit Group 41, 42, 43, 46, 47, 48, 54, 55 (A, B), 56, 57, 58, 59 offer wide open country, plenty of access, and plenty of antelope with a slightly better chance of drawing than the other groups.


 

B&C entry trends for New Mexico antelope

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

New Mexico's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for antelope

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Socorro 25 131416E17182021B
Catron 24 12131516A16B16C16D16E21A23
Mora 24 42464748
Quay 6 40, 41, 42
Colfax 4 47, 48, 54, 55A, 55B, 56, 57, 59

Three other counties with four entries.
 


The 2017 hit list units for antelope in New Mexico
 

Antelope buck taken with Brugman Outfitting Service
Antelope buck taken with Brugman Outfitting Service — A goHUNT Business Member
 

Top units to consider for 80” or better bucks
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Avg. harvest
% the past 5 yrs.
Unit 13 80"+ Archery: 14%
Rifle: 85%
Unit 15 80"+ Archery: 66%
Rifle: 53%
Unit 16
(A, C, D, E)
80"+ Archery: 41%
Rifle: 90%
Unit 17 80"+ Archery: 29%
Rifle: 82%

 


 

Managing expectations

How do I apply if I am only concerned with trophy quality?

If a book antelope is what you are after, then you must be applying for New Mexico antelope. Your first selection should be for our number one pick in our Hit List, focusing specifically on Unit 15, 16 (A, B, C, D, E) 17, 21 (A, B). This area has more high end antelope bucks than any other part of the state. With continued moisture, this year should be a great year to have that tag. Select other unit groups from the Hit List as second and third choices. If you are proficient with a bow, then look to this same unit group as a substitute for your third choice.

How do I apply if I am interested in opportunity more than quality?

Antelope tags are tough to draw in New Mexico…period. As with other species, select a top end unit group as your first choice in case you are drawn early. Follow that up with archery choices to finish out your second and third choices in order to give you the greatest chance at drawing a tag. Utilize the Draw Odds calculator to find which unit groups to use as your second and third choices by adjusting the draw odds slider. Good luck!

Find your draw odds

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