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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2020: New Mexico Elk and Deer

New Mexico's 2020 elk and deer application overview

 
Main writer: Jordan Christensen of The Draw

Jump to: NEW FOR 2020 State Information Draw System Elk Breakdown Mule Deer Breakdown Coues Deer Breakdown Whitetail Deer Breakdown

New Mexico’s draw process is arguably the most exciting draw in the country. With no point system every applicant has an equal chance at drawing and equal odds are the best odds. Every hunter has a chance to draw the best hunt in the state, which allows you to add two other top-shelf selections or two easier to draw options to your application and all three are considered before moving onto the next applicant. As a whole, New Mexico for deer and elk does not consistently produce some of the giant bucks and bulls that you may see coming out of Nevada, Utah and Arizona; however, there is not a unit in the state that is not capable of producing 350”+ bulls or 180”+ bucks. It may be less often in some areas of the state, but the chance is still there, especially when the winter and spring moisture is as good as has been so far this year. For 2020, expect to see some exceptional bucks and bulls from units that don’t historically have as strong of a track record. 

The biggest change in New Mexico’s draw system is not in the form of a new law as much as it is a change in the interpretation of an existing law. For many years, the quotas for the draw system in New Mexico allocate 86% of the available permits to residents, 10% of the permits to hunters who apply with an outfitter (resident and nonresident allowed) and 6% of the permits to nonresident hunters who would like to hunt do-it-yourself (DIY) or at least have the option to hunt DIY if they prefer. However, there were many times that the math was not exact and the state simply rounded up in these situations. 

An example would be if there were five permits available for any given hunt code. In that case, a small percentage of the permits would then need to be set aside for the guided pool. However, if the standard practice at that time was to round up, then there would potentially be six permits issued on that specific hunt code if there was at least one applicant in the guided pool. This same situation also occurred in the nonresident pool and could mean that in any given hunt code there were as many as two additional permits awarded each year in any given hunt code where the math was not landing on a whole number. Thanks to how the new law is interpreted, this type of roundup is over and the number of permits that were potentially being issued to nonresidents as well as applicants who choose to apply with an outfitter are no longer going to be issued. 

Basically, what you need to know is this: if you are applying with an outfitter, then you will need to apply for hunt codes with at least 10 permits and, if you are applying in the normal nonresident pool, you will need to apply for hunt codes with at least 17 permits available in order for there to be a permit available to you in the draw. 

Note: The online application deadline for New Mexico Barbary sheep, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, ibex, javelina, antelope and oryx is March 18 by 5 p.m. MST. Apply online here.


New for 2020

New rounding of permits

See the information at the beginning of the article.

Purchase 2020 game hunting license through draw application

Draw applicants purchasing 2020 big game hunting licenses to apply for draw hunts must click "Draw Hunt Applications" in the main menu and purchase the license as part of the application process. Do not click "License Sales."

New requirements for military

Documentation of proof of service for all military only hunts and returning Iraq/Afghanistan veteran oryx hunts must be received by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) prior to application.

Draw carcass tags by mail 

Successful draw applicants who did not choose the e-tag option will receive their license/tag(s) via the U.S. Postal Service in late May or early June.

No electronic check payments

Electronic check payments are no longer accepted. Payments may be made in person by cash or credit card online and by telephone by credit card only.

Cost to apply

Cost for license and permits for New Mexico
(required prior to applying with no refunds starting in 2019)

License Resident Nonresident
Hunting license $15 $65
Habitat stamp $5 $5
Habitat management
and access validation
$4 $4
Application fee
per species
$7 $13
Species cost
Deer $41 Standard: $283
High demand/quality: $368
Elk $90 Standard: $548
High demand/quality: $773
Antelope $65 $283
Oryx $160 $1,623
Ibex $110 $1,623
Barbary sheep $110 $373
Desert bighorn/Rocky Mountain
bighorn sheep
$160 $3,173

State information

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

New Mexico State Profile Elk Profile Mule Deer Profile Coues Deer Profile Whitetail Deer Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • Applications for desert bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, antelope, deer, elk, ibex, oryx, Barbary sheep and javelina must be submitted by 5 p.m. MST on March 18, 2020.
  • Applications can be submitted by phone or online here.
  • Up to four hunters can apply together on a group application for deer, elk, Barbary sheep and javelina. Up to two applicants can apply together on antelope, oryx and ibex applications. Group applications are not allowed for bighorn sheep applications.
  • Successful applicants will be notified by email, online, telephone or at any NMDGF office on April 29, 2020.
  • New Mexico hunting license, stamps and application fees are not refundable.

Drought in New Mexico

While the state has been having some fantastic winter weather, 55.76% of the state is still suffering from some level of drought conditions with the heaviest hit areas being in the north and northwest portions of the state. Most of the Gila as well as the Sacramento Mountains are still considered to be experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. However, this report is most likely not accounting for some great storms that have recently happened in both of these areas. As far as antler growth is concerned, New Mexico, like Arizona, looks to be shaping up for an incredible year.

2020

New Mexico 2020 Drought Monitor

New Mexico drought status update as of February 25, 2020. Source: New Mexico Drought Monitor

2019

New Mexico drought status as of March 2019

New Mexico drought status update as of March 5, 2019. Source: New Mexico Drought Monitor

2018

New Mexico late February 2018 drought monitor status
2018 New Mexico drought status update. Source: New Mexico Drought Monitor

Compare current conditions to 2018 when 99.92% of the state was experiencing some sort of drought conditions.


The New Mexico draw system

Understanding the draw

New Mexico’s draw system is a random drawing system. What this means is that each applicant has an equal chance at drawing regardless of how many times they have applied. This obviously lends itself to applicants who are just getting started as you could fast track your way into a top-shelf hunt sooner rather than later. When it comes to elite opportunities in the western states, units commonly referred to as the “best” are those with equal odds, which are good odds. An applicant can apply with confidence when they are not behind or suffering from a point curve. When applying, the permits are segregated into three categories: the resident pool (84%), the guided pool (10%) and the nonresident pool (6%). It is important to note that the guided pool is not exclusively for nonresidents and, although it would be a mistake for residents to apply in this category, they are allowed to if they want to. 

New Mexico offers their applicants five choices when applying. Different than many states, the first three selections will be considered prior to moving to the next applicant. This means that you need to, at a minimum, apply for three choices you would be interested in hunting as you are essentially as likely to draw your third choice as you are your first on any given application. The fourth choice is often when you select a quadrant of the state to be considered for, meaning prior to the leftover list being published. If you select a fourth choice, you will be awarded a permit in an area that had leftover permits once the draw process was complete. The fifth choice is typically reserved for some sort of population reduction opportunity. 

Apply with caution on the fourth choice as these opportunities are often selected by the state depending on the species and often do not line up with a nonresident hunter’s goals when looking to hunt in new areas. There is a reason the permits are going to be leftover. 

Applying for a fifth choice is recommended as you will receive your refund for an unsuccessful application and have the option to accept or decline the opportunity when it comes and you never know what it may be.

Guided draw

Because 10% of the permits are set aside in New Mexico for hunters who are interested in hunting with the help of an outfitter and there are often less applicants applying in this pool of permits, makes a decision to hunt with an outfitter in New Mexico prior to the draw is an important one to consider prior to applying. Again, we find that the odds increase is often minimal on the most sought after hunts in the state, but if you are chasing the odds, the guided pool will almost always provide a better roll of the dice. For more information on the guided draw, check out this article here.

New Mexico raffle hunts

One deer authorization will also be raffled with the assistance of the Mule Deer Foundation. Tickets must be purchased by June 11, 2020 to be considered for the June 12, 2020 drawing. The bag limit for these hunts is one fork-antlered deer.

One bull elk authorization will be raffled with the assistance of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) at the NMDGF Santa Fe office in June. If an enhancement license holder chooses to hunt on Valles Caldera, he/she must arrange access with the National Park Service: (575) 829-4100 at least two weeks prior to hunting. For more information, please visit the RMEF website.


What to expect when you apply for elk and deer in New Mexico

There is a lot to consider since you have three choices in New Mexico and a choice between the guided pool and the nonresident pool. There are two trains of thought: you can either choose to apply for what you believe to be the top three hunts in the state or you can mix and match selections with top-shelf hunts and hunts that have a history of having better draw odds. 

Simply applying for the best hunts in the state can have frustrating results. Often, we find that whether you apply in the guide pool or as a nonresident the difference in the odds are minimal.

If you want to be more aggressive, then look outside the more famous and notable hunt areas. This can often provide you with the better odds you are after. Whether it be further from the rut, a more primitive weapon or distance from these more well-known areas, often, you can find the odds you are looking for.

Consider applying for the hardest to draw hunt you are interested in as your first choice, following it up in succession with the next hardest and so on. You can find these odds on Filtering 2.0 or the Draw Odds features and apply with confidence. 

Overall, your odds will not be affected by which order you list your selections in, but it would be a shame to draw a lesser choice that is easier to draw in front of drawing a better hunt that is harder to draw simply because of which order you listed them on your application. 


New Mexico's 2020 elk breakdown

2019 as a whole did not disappoint for elk hunting in the Land of Enchantment. There were an incredible number of big bulls taken across the state and the overall age class seemed to be up a little across most units. The only asterisk on the year was that the rut seemed to take some time to get rolling and the early archers in the state had a tough time without much bugling and calling activity until later in September.

New Mexico statewide elk harvest - updated 2020

When planning a hunt for elk in New Mexico there are three different situations to consider when selecting your three choices. These three situations are based on how the state of New Mexico is managing the elk herds in the different areas/ecosystems of the state.

  • The north-central portion of the state has some of the highest elk density. Because of this, the state issues many more permits in most all of these units and offers much more opportunity to go hunting. However, it is difficult to find a bull over 300” in these areas of the state. It does happen, but it’s not as common as in units further to the south. 
  • The Gila and the Sacramento mountains both found in the southern half of the state as well as some of the closer surrounding units do not have as large of populations of elk as the northern units do; however, with fewer permits offered each year, the chances of finding an older age class bull is much better and more consistent in these portions of the state. Yet, these units are often the hardest hunts in the state to draw.
  • The remaining areas of the state are the outlying units in the more arid and lower elevations of the state. These units range from the very dry desert units that can be found in all corners of the state as well as the northeast quadrant of the state that is much more prairie than anything else. These areas of the state can be difficult to hunt as they usually have a very low density of elk. There is a chance to luck into an older age class bull, but can also have better drawing odds.

Antlerless elk draw odds

Find your resident antlerless elk draw odds here

Find your nonresident antlerless elk draw odds here

How contracting with a guide can change your draw odds

Contracting with a guide can increase your draw odds enough to give you the edge you are looking for. While it does not guarantee that you will draw, it does give you slightly better odds of drawing a tag, not to mention a better chance at filling that coveted tag. Use the Guided Draw filter in Filtering 2.0 to see the Draw Odds for a given hunt.


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. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Catron 8 12131516A16B16C16D16E21A2223
Lincoln 6 18363738
Colfax 2 48495455A55B5657
Cibola 1 910111213
Los Alamos 1 6C
McKinley 1 10, 7, 9
Sandoval 1 6A, 6B, 6C, 7, 9

Map of New Mexico's typical elk B&C all time entries 2020

Top B&C typical elk locations since 2010 - New Mexico 2020 app strategy

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
McKinley 1 7, 9, 10, 12
Otero 1 28, 30, 34, 36
Sandoval 1 6A6B6C79

Map of New Mexico's nontypical elk B&C all time entries 2020

Top B&C nontypical rocky mountain elk locations since 2010 - New Mexico 2020 app strategy


Managing expectations for elk

The New Mexico elk draw is one of the most exciting elk draws in the country where every applicant has a real chance at drawing what they believe to be is the best hunt in the state any given year. With no point system, even a first year applicant has as good a chance as anyone at drawing a tag. With a higher quota set aside for nonresident applicants between the guided pool and the normal nonresident pool than most other states, there are a large number of winners each year.

Find your resident elk draw odds here

Find your nonresident elk draw odds here

Archery

The archery elk season is now split into three different options. The first two of the year happen in September and are split between hunt dates that run Sept. 1 to 14 or Sept. 15 to 24. These are prime rut hunts and either one will give the hunter the opportunity to hunt bugling bulls. The second hunt is often considered the better of the two, but having first crack at the bulls and being there at the beginning stages of the rut can prove to be a better recipe to kill the best bull on the unit.

The remaining archery hunt of the year only happens in a few units in the state and runs Dec. 12 to 16 or Dec. 19 to 23, depending on which unit you select. These hunts tend to have very low success rates and require the hunter to only harvest bulls with at least 6 points on one antler. Apply with caution as the odds of drawing are very high and these can be a very challenging hunt for a multitude of reasons. 

Best odds for September archery elk in the nonresident pool for 320”+ bulls
(not in order of quality) 

Unit Trophy
potential
Bull:cow ratio Draw odds nonresident pool
Unit 2A, 2B, 2C 330"+ 37:100  21% Early
Unit 7 330"+ 33:100 26% Early
21% Late
Unit 9 300"+ 25:100 67% Early
23% Late
Unit 24 330"+ 42:100 22% Early
Unit 50 310"+ 38:100 23% Early
58% Late
* Check out the Unit Profiles to see which archery season.

Find your resident archery elk draw odds here

Find your nonresident archery elk draw odds here

Muzzleloader

New Mexico is different from other states because it has multiple units that only allow archery or muzzleloader hunting for elk. With no rifle hunters ever on the unit, these units can and do produce some exceptional bulls year after year for hunters willing to forego the rifle and hunt with something different. There are also multiple units that typically offer muzzleloader hunts prior to the rifle hunts. Some units also offer very late season muzzleloader hunts. These hunts can often be a way of hunting closer to the rut while not so limited, especially in this day and age of so much new technology happening with muzzleloaders. New Mexico is very progressive with its muzzleloading requirements and, although smokeless powder is not legal, other than that — if you push the bullet down the barrel, it is legal to hunt with during a muzzleloader hunt in New Mexico except a couple of hunts set aside for a truly primitive experience. Season dates for muzzleloader stretch from early October all the way into early December in some areas of the state.

Best odds for muzzleloader elk in the nonresident pool with 320”+ bulls
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Bull:cow ratio Draw odds
nonresident pool
Unit 7 330"+ 33:100 14%
Unit 13 360"+ 33:100 10%
(late)
Unit 24 330"+ 42:100 13%
Unit 45 330"+ 27:100 11%

Find your resident muzzleloader elk draw odds here

Find your nonresident muzzleloader elk draw odds here

Rifle

The rifle hunts in New Mexico are often situated in the second half of October in the bulk of the state. Most rut activity has completed by the time these hunts take place, but it's not completely outrageous to hear some level of bugling. However, it's not something you should count on during that time of year. There are also some December hunts to consider as well as a few new early October hunts that were added in 2019, which allow the successful applicants a chance to hunt bugling bulls with a rifle. 

Best odds for rifle elk in the nonresident pool for 330”+ bulls
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Bull:cow ratio Draw odds
nonresident pool
Unit 7 330"+ 33:100 13%
Unit 12 360"+ 33:100 14% Mid
18% Late
Unit 24 330"+ 42:100 10%
Unit 38 340"+ NA 16% Late
Unit 43 330"+ NA 24% Early
Unit 45 330"+ 27:100 15% Early
21% Late

Find your resident rifle elk draw odds here

Find your nonresident rifle elk draw odds here


New Mexico's 2020 mule deer breakdown

There are giant mule deer taken in New Mexico each year. The problem is that, often, they do not come out of the same place twice. The overall population of deer in New Mexico is one of the lowest in the western United States and, with a management strategy by the state that is less than ideal for buck to doe ratios, New Mexico offers an excellent chance to harvest a mule deer. However, if you are looking for bucks 180”+, there are only a few locations that have track records for deer of this caliber.

New Mexico statewide deer harvest - updated 2020

New Mexico Statewide deer harvest success - 2020 app strategy

All things considered, the odds of drawing a mule deer hunt in many areas of the state regardless if you are applying with an outfitter or in the normal nonresident pool are often quite good. As you look past the more well-known units in the state or hunt with a more primitive weapon, then the odds get even better. No matter where you plan on hunting, plan on putting in some time in order to be successful and have a chance to harvest an above average buck. 

Hit list units for mule deer in New Mexico

Top units to consider for 180+” or better mule deer

Unit Trophy
potential
Public
land %
Unit 2B 180"+ 84.6%
Unit 2C 180"+ 89.7%
Unit 5B 180"+ 81.8%

Managing expectations

Studying the Draw Odds is quite important as well as spending some time using Filtering 2.0 when getting ready to apply for deer in New Mexico. When considering archery or muzzleloader, this could become more of a decision to go hunting or try to get lucky with drawing a coveted hunt. As you will see, there are a number of hunts in both quotas that go undersubscribed each year or have a very high chance of drawing.

Archery

In 2019, New Mexico began segregating the September archery season with the January season for archery mule deer hunting. By doing this, they have created the opportunity for many more hunters to have a crack at drawing a deer permit in the state, especially on the September hunts. Many of these went undersubscribed in the nonresident pool and many more in the guided pool. 

The January hunts, on the other hand, stayed with similar odds as we have seen in the past. Because that the bulk of the state is in the rut, these are always going to be higher demand permits and harder to draw. If you use the Draw Odds and Filtering 2.0, you will see that there are still a number of hunts that have very good odds and that the rut, which will crank up the odds of harvesting an above average buck, is as high that time of year as it is during the entire hunting season.

Top units to consider for 170+” January archery mule deer with over 20% odds of drawing
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Public
land %
Draw odds
nonresident pool
Unit 13 180"+ 43.7% 25%
Unit 15 180"+ 77.5% 28%
Unit 18 170"+ 66.6% 38%
Unit 24 170"+ 62% 24%
Unit 36 170”+ 53.3% 25%
Unit 41 170”+ 20.4% 50%

Find your resident late archery mule deer draw odds here

Find your nonresident archery mule deer draw odds here

Muzzleloader

The muzzleloader mule deer hunts may be the biggest sleeper in the state for hunters who are looking to ensure a hunt for the coming fall. There are many different hunts that are drawing with a one in three chance or better in the nonresident pool and many more in the guided pool. The hunts also tend to have much better success rates than the early archery seasons and, with very lenient muzzleloader restrictions. Save a few select hunts. These can be a fantastic way to kick off your deer hunting for the fall. Most of the season dates for this hunt happen at the end of October and should not be confused with what is happening across most of the country at that time. These are in no way rut hunts and are quite the contrary. In some areas of the state, the bucks will have been out of velvet for less than a month prior to the opening day of these seasons. This is truly an early season hunt with a chance to catch a buck in his summer pattern. If you prefer to hunt with a rifle, but would hunt with a muzzleloader, consider using a muzzleloader code as a third choice on your application to really increase your odds of drawing a deer hunt of some kind.

Muzzleloader hunts in the nonresident pool with 170”+ bucks with over 50% odds of drawing
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Public
land %
Draw odds
nonresident pool
Unit 12 170"+ 39.1% 82%
Unit 13 170"+ 43.7% 89%
Unit 18 170"+ 66.6% 100%
Unit 24 170"+ 62% 100%
Unit 36 170”+ 53.3% 63%

Find your resident muzzleloader mule deer draw odds here

Find your nonresident muzzleloader mule deer draw odds here

Rifle

Like many states, the rifle hunts for mule deer are scheduled to happen during November. However, for the bulk of the state, this does not mean that you will be hunting rutting mule deer with your rifle. For the most part, these hunts are happening well outside of the peak rut, especially in the southern half of the state. Other than a few exceptions, the hunts are always scheduled to happen during the first and second weekend of November. If you want to chase the odds a little, consider applying for more second season hunts as they’re typically overlooked. The reason for this is simple: often, there will have been quite literally hundreds of hunters hunting days prior to your hunt beginning and can make for a difficult situation for success. Regardless, applying for one will definitely increase your odds of having a permit in your pocket for the fall. 

The most exciting things happening with mule deer, which happen to be rifle hunts, are all of the different youth opportunities that exist across the state. From some of the more notable units like 2B with a rut rifle hunt to the southern units that space out the hunt across multiple time periods, if you have a youth hunter looking to cut his teeth on a mule deer, not applying for New Mexico is a mistake. 

Rifle hunts in the nonresident pool with 170”+ bucks with over 30% odds of drawing
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Public
land %
Draw odds
nonresident pool
Unit 13 170”+ 43.7% 39% Late
Unit 18 170”+ 66.6% 50% Early
72% Late
Unit 24 170”+ 62% 51% Early
97% Late
Unit 36 170”+ 53.3% 39% Early
44% Late
Unit 51A 170”+ 86.2% 44% Late
Unit 51B 170”+ 66.3% 30% Late
Unit 57 170”+ 14.7% 46% Late

Find your resident rifle mule deer draw odds here

Find your nonresident rifle mule deer draw odds here


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. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Rio Arriba 17 2B2C45A5B6A6C7455051A51B52
San Juan 6 2A, 2B, 2C, 7
Catron 1 12131516A16B16C16D16E21A2223
Cibola 1 910111213
Lincoln 1 18, 19, 32, 36, 37, 38
San Miguel 1 45, 43, 42
Sandoval 1 6A6B6C79

Map of New Mexico's typical mule deer B&C all time entries 2020

Top B&C typical mule deer locations since 2015 - New Mexico 2020

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Rio Arriba 3 2B2C45A5B6A6C7455051A51B52
Sandoval 1 6A6B6C79

Map of New Mexico's nontypical mule deer B&C all time entries 2020

Top B&C nontypical mule deer locations since 2015 - New Mexico 2020


New Mexico 2020 Coues deer breakdown

Because the only other state that offers Coues deer hunting is Arizona, it may be best to compare the two head to head. There is no question that when it comes to age class and deer density, Arizona beats New Mexico hands down. However, you do not often find both age class and deer density in the same place in Arizona and, well, you won’t find it in New Mexico either. Hunting big deer in Arizona can often take many years worth of points, but if you are looking to hunt areas with a track record for producing older deer in New Mexico it could and does happen for many hunters even the first year they apply. There are exceptional bucks taken in multiple units in New Mexico each year and, while the deer density is not often what you might find in some of the more southern Arizona units, there are plenty of deer and a chance to hunt a big buck every time you draw a permit.

2020 hit list units for Coues deer in New Mexico

Archery

It was once said by the famous Chuck Adams that a doe Coues deer should qualify for Pope & Young and, if you look at the success rates on these hunts (especially in New Mexico), you can quickly see why applying for these hunts in New Mexico is often a decision to go hunting versus trying to get lucky. There are many hunts that go undersubscribed each year so apply with caution because whether you apply as a nonresident or in the guided pool you will more than likely be deer hunting in January. 

January archery hunts in the nonresident pool with 95”+ bucks with
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Public
land %
Draw odds
nonresident pool
Unit 23 95"+ 63.2% 83%
Unit 24 95"+ 62% 96%
Unit 27 95"+ 67.6% 96%

FIND YOUR ARCHERY RESIDENT COUES DEER DRAW ODDS HERE

FIND YOUR ARCHERY NONRESIDENT COUES DEER DRAW ODDS HERE

Muzzleloader

The muzzleloader hunts in New Mexico occur at the end of October and during the first few days of November. The dates for these hunts do not fall in the rut for Coues deer and are scheduled in conjunction with the mule deer hunts in the area. Given that there are few regulations on muzzleloaders and today's advances in technology, these hunts can give a hunter a decent crack at a big deer since they occur before any of the rifle hunts. However, it's important to spend some time on Draw Odds and Filtering 2.0 when considering a muzzleloader hunt. The odds of drawing these hunts — especially in the guided pool — are very high in most units.

Muzzleloader hunts in the nonresident pool with 95”+ bucks with over 15% odds of drawing
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Public
land %
Draw odds
nonresident pool
Unit 23
Burro Mtns
95"+ 63.2% 15%
Unit 23
Excluding Burro Mtn
95"+ 63.2% 87%
Unit 24 95"+ 62% 100%
Unit 27 95"+ 67.6% 15%

Rifle

There are two scheduled rifle hunts in each of the different units that offer Coues deer specific hunts. The first hunt is scheduled to happen towards the end of November and the second hunt starts the first Saturday in December. The second hunt is also the only nine-day gun hunt offered in the state. All other hunts are only five days. Neither hunt should be considered a rut hunt. However, when looking at the Draw Odds, you will see that the later hunt is always more difficult to draw than the earlier hunt. If you are looking to increase your odds of drawing, consider applying for three different units for the first rifle. This would be the most aggressive application you could apply with when wanting to hunt with a rifle. 

Top units to consider for 170+” January archery mule deer with over 20% odds of drawing
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Public
land %
Draw odds nonresident pool
Unit 23 95”+ 63.2% 12% Early
Unit 24 95”+ 62% 79% Early

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. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Hidalgo 5 2327
Grant 5 2327
Catron 2 23
Sierra 1 24

Map of New Mexico's typical Coues deer B&C all time entries 2020

Top B&C typical coues deer locations since 2015 - New Mexico 2020

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Catron 1 23
Grant 1 2327
Hidalgo 1 2327
Sierra 1 23, 24

Map of New Mexico's nontypical Coues deer B&C all time entries 2020

Top B&C nontypical coues deer locations since 2015 - New Mexico 2020


New Mexico whitetail deer breakdown

There are very limited opportunities for whitetail in New Mexico, but scattered populations can be found in the northeast corner of the state. Often, these deer are located on private property, but, in some units, there is enough state land that a DIY hunt is not completely out of the question. Any deer permit drawn in these portions of the state are good for either species of deer, but there are a few youth and adult rifle hunts that are set aside in December specifically for whitetail deer. The odds of drawing these are often very high. Also, keep in mind that with the new interpretation of the law, there will no longer be a nonresident permit available on these whitetail specific hunt codes, so applying with an outfitter will be necessary to have a chance at drawing.

The 2020 hit list units for whitetail deer in New Mexico

Rifle

There are only two distinct whitetail specific opportunities in New Mexico. Youth hunts are scheduled for early December. Adult hunts happen in the middle of the month. Hunters should expect to see some level of rut activity during either of these hunts with a chance to harvest an above average buck on either hunt any given year. Draw Odds in the guided pool are very high even with only one permit available in each hunt code each year. If you are looking for an outside-the-box chance at a nice whitetail, New Mexico is a real sleeper state to consider with prior arrangements made before you arrive. 

Rifle hunts in the nonresident pool with 95"+ bucks with over 10% odds of drawing
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Public
land %
Draw odds
nonresident pool
Unit 40 150"+ 10.4% 67% Early
97% Late
Unit 41 150"+ 20.4% 70% Late
Unit 42 150"+ 9.5% 73% Early
Unit 59 150"+ 24.5% 90%
 

Find your resident whitetail deer draw odds here

Find your nonresident whitetail deer draw odds here

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