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Application strategy 2022: New Mexico deer and antelope

Photo credit: Dreamstime

New Mexico's 2022 deer and antelope application overview

Jump to: NEW FOR 2022 State Information Draw System Deer Breakdown Antelope Breakdown

Note: The online application deadline for New Mexico Barbary sheep, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, ibex, javelina, antelope and oryx is March 16, 2022 by 5 p.m. MST. Apply online here.


Noteworthy for 2022

  • Electronic tag (e-tag) option for all big game: 
    • Hunters may choose the e-tag option when purchasing or applying for any big game or turkey hunts. You will not receive a carcass tag if you choose this option. Hunters who choose to e-tag will be required to download the New Mexico e-tag app on their phone, upload their license and carry their phone in the field. A printed license and/or carcass tag are not required, but the animal must still be physically tagged.
  • Purchase 2022 game hunting license through draw application:
    • Draw applicants purchasing 2022 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."
  • Draw refunds:
    • Draw license fee refunds for unsuccessful applicants will be processed shortly after draw results are released in April. Applications paid by credit card will be refunded directly to the credit card used for the transaction within 10 business days. Applications paid by cash will be refunded by check by the end of May. Game hunting license and stamp purchases will not be refunded.
  • Party applications:
    • If you are applying as a party, check the table “minimum number of licenses to apply” below to ensure that there will be enough licenses for the hunts you apply for to cover every applicant on the party application.
  • Youth hunters:
    • New Mexico offers some youth only hunts. You can explore the odds of those within your INSIDER account. The youth hunting license is only $15 and there is no minimum age to apply.

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 Mule Deer Profile Coues Deer Profile Antelope Profile GOHUNT Maps Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • The deadline to apply is March 16, 2022 at 5 p.m. MST. Apply online here.
  • Applicants can also apply via telephone by calling (888) 248-6866. 
  • Results will be available online on or shortly before April 27, 2022.
  • The draw is completely random. There are no bonus or preference points.
  • Applicants must purchase a hunting or combination hunting/fishing license to apply.
  • An applicant cannot edit an application once submitted. They can withdraw it and reapply, but will have to pay the application fees once again.
  • Applicants must front the entire cost of the license(s) they apply for.
  • Unsuccessful applicants in the draw will have the license fees reimbursed minus the hunting license and application fees.
  • Up to four applicants can apply in a party for elk and deer.
  • Residents and nonresidents can apply together on a group application.
  • There is no minimum age requirement to apply and hunt.
  • Hunters under the age of 18 must have completed a hunter’s education course to purchase a hunting license and apply in the draw.
  • Up to 6% of the licenses for each hunt can be allocated to nonresidents in the draw.
  • Up to 10% of the licenses for each hunt can be allocated to applicants applying with an outfitter/guide.
  • Both residents and nonresidents can apply in the guide draw, but they must have a signed guide/client agreement to do so.
  • Residents are guaranteed a minimum of 84% of the licenses for each hunt. 
  • Applicants cannot return and obtain a refund for a permit that they drew.
  • Harvest reporting is mandatory even if you do not harvest.

In 2020, New Mexico made a slight adjustment to their license allocation to guarantee that 84% of the licenses for each hunt goes to resident applicants. The change rippled through the nonresident and guided pool, resulting in some hunts no longer having licenses available. Use the table below to cross reference with the total number of licenses to ensure the hunts you are applying for will have enough licenses.

Minimum number of hunt licenses to ensure they are available to draw

Number
of applicants
Minimum license number
if applying in nonresident draw
Minimum license number
if applying in guide draw
1 13 7
2 25 19
3 44 25
4 63 38

 

Cost for license and permits for New Mexico

Item Resident Nonresident
Hunting license $15 (adult)
$10 (youth)
$65 (adult)
$15 (youth)
Habitat stamp $10 $10
Habitat management
and access validation
$4 $4
Application fee
per species
$7 $13
Deer (standard) $41 $283
Deer (high quality/high demand) $41 $368
Antelope $60 $283

Note: Applicants must buy a hunting license, habitat stamp, HMAV, and pay an application fee per species to apply. They must also front the cost of the license(s) they apply for, but will be refunded the cost of the license(s) (species) if they are unsuccessful in the draw.


The New Mexico Draw System

New Mexico has a random draw system. Every applicant is on an equal playing field to draw no matter how many years they have been applying. There is no preference or bonus point system. There are three pools of licenses: the resident pool, the nonresident pool and the guided pool. Residents are given 84% of the licenses for each hunt. Nonresidents can draw up to 6% of the licenses for each hunt. Up to 10% of the licenses for each hunt are allocated to applicants through the draw who have a signed agreement with a guide/outfitter. Both residents and nonresidents can apply with a guide and be considered for that guide pool of licenses. Once you have an agreement with a guide, you will apply in the draw with their guide number. If you enter the draw with a guide/outfitter and draw a license, you are required to hunt in the field with that guide for a minimum of two days. The draw odds are typically better for applicants applying with an outfitter. If you can afford a guided hunt in New Mexico, applying with a guide is a great way to improve your chances of drawing a license.

Party applications

Up to four applicants can apply as a party for deer and antelope. Nonresidents and residents can apply together in a party. A party application is treated as a single application in the draw. If selected, all applicants on the application would receive a license provided there are enough licenses to offer one to each applicant. New Mexico will not over allocate the license quota to cover a group application. In the case that residents and nonresidents apply together, nonresident licenses are pulled from the nonresident quota. When applying as a party, one applicant will apply first and, upon completing the process, will receive a party application number. The rest of the party will then select “attach to an existing application,” then enter the application code. There is no odds advantage to applying as a party. There may be a slight disadvantage. For example, if an application with two people is drawn and there is only one license remaining, that application will be rejected or if a nonresident and a resident apply together and there are not enough nonresident licenses, neither the resident or nonresident will be given a license.

Hunt choices

New Mexico allows applicants to include up to five hunt choices when they apply. In the draw, they will consider your first three choices before moving to the next applicant. To further explain: once your application is considered they will attempt to allocate your first hunt choice. If there are no licenses remaining for that choice, then they will then consider your second choice. If there are no licenses remaining for your second choice, then they will then consider your third choice. If there are no licenses remaining for the third choice, they will then move to the next application. Fourth and fifth choices are only considered if there are leftover permits after every application has been considered. If you include a fourth and fifth choice, applicants are agreeing to accept any leftover license, which means that they may allocate you a license that was not your fourth and fifth choice. We highly recommend that you do not include fourth and fifth choices unless you are willing to accept any leftover license. 

Note: hunters cannot submit applications for each of the deer species; they can only submit one application for deer. However, you can mix up your selections. For example, you can select a mule deer hunt as your first choice and Coues deer hunts for your second and third choice.

Standard, high quality, high demand

New Mexico lists each hunt as either a standard, high demand, quality or, in some cases, quality/high demand. A quality hunt is one that the state manages for better trophy potential and typically less hunting pressure. A high demand hunt is a hunt where the total number of applicants for a hunt exceeds 22% of the total applicants based on the draw for the two years prior. The standard hunts are typically lower quality, opportunity type hunts, but the cost is lower for the license. The cost for the quality, high demand and quality/high demand hunts is higher than it is for the standard license.

Hunt choice strategy 

Every year, we get asked because of the way New Mexico conducts their draw if there is some strategy in how you stagger your hunt choices. We recommend that you apply with the best hunt (worst odds) as your first choice and then select progressively better odds (average hunts) as your second and third choices. The reasoning behind this strategy is that with a random draw, you never know what position your application will be in the draw. Your application could be one of the first selected in the draw and, as such, you want to receive the higher quality license that should be your first choice. If your first hunt choice had better odds than your second and third choice, you are essentially wasting those choices.


New Mexico's 2022 deer breakdown

New Mexico deer hunting is discussed in forums or podcasts nearly as much as states like Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and even Arizona. The reason being is this: the trophy potential is generally not as good as those states, but for opportunity, New Mexico may be one of the most underrated states in the West. Remember that the draw is random and a quick review of the standalone draw odds will show that odds are quite good. New Mexico offers archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts. 

New Mexico offers early season September archery hunts and late season January hunts across the state. The archery hunts provide the best odds of drawing a license. If applicants are applying for elk, it may be worth considering also reviewing the odds for the mule deer seasons that overlap the elk hunt(s) you are applying for. One of the best bucks I could have taken was on an archery elk hunt where the odds of drawing were 100%. If I had done some research, applied and drawn the archery deer license, I could have taken the biggest archery buck of my life. These hunts are not for everyone, but if drawing a tag is the most important part of your goals, don’t overlook these as an option to add to your overall strategy.

New Mexico gives muzzleloader hunters the opportunity to hunt with a modern setup, including inline muzzleloaders, scope and sabots. The odds of drawing muzzleloader hunts across the state are good on average. These hunts — although later in the year — typically start in the later part of October and it’s not unheard of to find bucks still in their summer patterns. The rut in much of the state below Interstate 40 won’t really pick up until the last days of December and sometimes into the first week of January. 

Rifle hunts have tougher odds when compared to archery or muzzleloader hunts, but still offer a decent chance when compared to other species. Most units are going to produce yearling bucks up to 160”, but if you are looking for a rifle hunt in the West you should consider New Mexico. 

Populations of mule deer are good throughout the state and New Mexico also offers Coues deer hunts in the southwest corner of the state.

In terms of trophy potential, there are not many areas that annually produce bucks 180”+. The exception to that is the cluster of units in the northwest corner, which include Units 2B, 2C and 5B. Those units can and do produce giant bucks; however, the odds of drawing those reflect that. The best hunts for these units are typically the late season hunts although there are smaller populations of resident deer. Units 2B and 2C border the Jicarilla Reservation, which has historically been a prime spot for producing record book caliber bucks. The rest of the units throughout the state can still offer 150” to 170” caliber bucks, but rarely bigger.

Coues deer hunts are offered in Units 23, 24 and 27. The Burro Mountain December hunt and Unit 27 both offer good numbers of deer and good trophy potential with 90”  to 100” potential in both units.

The current drought status in New Mexico

2022


2022 New Mexico drought monitor status as of February 15. Source: United States Drought Monitor

 

2021

2021 New Mexico drought monitor status from February 16. Source: United States Drought Monitor

GOHUNT hit list for New Mexico mule deer

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident
draw odds
Nonresident
draw odds
Total number
of licenses
2C 190"+ Archery: 47%
Muzzleloader: 55%
Rifle: 93%
6.5%
3.9%
1%
0.45%
0.41%
0.06%
50
20
30
5B 190"+ Archery: 50%
Muzzleloader: 89%
Rifle: 76%
5%
3.5%
1.4%
No licenses
No licenses
0.21%
10
10
25
2B 180"+ Archery: 10%
Archery: 43%
Muzzleloader: 14%
Rifle: 35%
Rifle: 56%
Rifle: 45%
42%
11%
32%
13%
15%
8.3%
26%
1.6%
23%
11%
9.1%
3%
130
180
175
275
400
475

The units above represent the best options in terms of quality, but there are many more hunts to choose from — many of which have better odds. The table below indicates some of the better mid-tier hunts with generally better odds that can still offer a good hunt.

Other solid mule deer options to consider

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident
draw odds
Nonresident
draw odds
Total number
of licenses
2A 170"+ Archery: 8%
Archery: 20%
Muzzleloader: 33%
Rifle: 34%
39%
26%
33%
15%
17%
4.4%
16%
10%
40
80
50
150
7 170"+ Archery: 43%
Muzzleloader: 50%
Rifle: 35%
19%
17%
5.9%
No licenses
7.6%
2.1%
10
20
25
18 170"+ Archery: 17%
Archery: 36%
Muzzleloader: 37%
Rifle: 26%
Rifle: 33%
94%
36%
45%
16%
29%
100%
35%
54%
22%
38%
50
40
75
70
70
24 170"+ Archery: 29%
Archery: 33%
Muzzleloader: 22%
Rifle: 34%
Rifle: 24%
67%
42%
100%
42%
81%
69%
17%
99%
27%
38%
125
75
280
400
400
33 170"+ Archery: 22%
Archery: 40%
Rifle: 67%
Rifle: 69%
61%
15%
9.8%
16%
23%
7.2%
5.3%
7.4%
60
60
150
150
36 170"+ Archery: 26%
Archery: 37%
Muzzleloader: 26%
Rifle: 33%
Rifle: 35%
67%
36%
48%
23%
41%
47%
20%
23%
15%
24%
225
125
115
300
300
45 170"+ Archery: 32%
Muzzleloader: 43%
Rifle: 27%
Rifle: 31%
29%
24%
17%
23%
29%
28%
20%
26%
150
160
250
250
51A 170"+ Rifle: 30% 11% 18% 145
51B 170"+ Rifle: 14%
Rifle: 47%
6.2%
8.1%
5.2%
11%
15
15
52 170"+ Archery: 15%
Rifle: 32%
Rifle: 22%
30%
13%
16%
31%
19%
14%
80
90
90
55A
(Valle Vidal)
170"+ Archery: 70% 6.4% No licenses 10
6A/6C 160"+ Archery: 34%
Muzzleloader: 52%
Rifle: 34%
10%
11%
3.7%
11%
12%
5.2%
100
115
100
17 160"+ Archery: 21%
Archery: 22%
Muzzleloader: 44%
Rifle: 44%
Rifle: 47%
30%
19%
12%
4.3%
8.5%
27%
9.8%
11%
4.2%
3.7%
75
75
80
70
70
19 160"+ Archery: 63%
Muzzleloader: 70%
Rifle: 80%
9.8%
5.6%
1.7%
No licenses
No licenses
No licenses
10
10
5
23
(Burro Mtns)
160"+ Archery: 61%
Muzzleloader: 47%
Rifle: 38%
24%
27%
7.7%
11%
8.4%
3.1%
40
40
35
25 160"+ Archery: 10%
Archery: 23%
Muzzleloader: 35%
Rifle: 46%
Rifle: 53%
100%
24%
49%
19%
39%
100%
6.4%
40%
14%
22%
45
30
45
100
100
26 160"+ Archery: 14%
Archery: 21%
Muzzleloader: 40%
Rifle: 41%
Rifle: 39%
100%
41%
100%
39%
60%
100%
33%
89%
14%
21%
25
15
60
100
100
27 160"+ Archery: 38%
Muzzleloader: 32%
Rifle: 53%
Rifle: 30%
49%
96%
27%
53%
11%
19%
8%
12%
40
40
50
50
28 160"+ Rifle: 79% 7.8% 1.9% 25

 

New Mexico Coues deer hunts

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident
draw odds
Nonresident
draw odds
Total number
of licenses
23
(Excluding Burro Mtns)
100"+ Archery: 9%
Archery: 9%
Muzzleloader: 26%
Rifle: 31%
Rifle: 46%
100%
100%
99%
49%
20%
100%
88%
21%
5.9%
2.2%
100
50
45
100
50
23
(Burro Mtns)
100"+ Archery: 33%
Archery: 23%
Muzzleloader: 42%
Rifle: 48%
61%
71%
47%
11%
100%
27%
7.8%
0.96%
20
50
40
40
24 100"+ Archery: 15%
Archery: 36%
Muzzleloader: 32%
Rifle: 18%
Rifle: 23%
100%
92%
97%
83%
39%
100%
24%
92%
20%
4.1%
60
40
40
100
50
27 100"+ Archery: 19%
Muzzleloader: 29%
Rifle: 38%
Rifle: 45%
88%
74%
32%
13%
9.9%
8.6%
2.6%
1.3%
40
50
40
25

Conclusion

New Mexico should be on your radar as part of your application strategy every year for mule deer. As you review the tables above, you’ll see that in several instances the odds for nonresidents can actually be better than residents. This is largely due to the fact that New Mexico is not as hyped up as some surrounding states. The chances at a trophy caliber buck are not as good as it is in some other states, but it does offer a good chance to hunt and you can use it to supplement your schedule while you build points in Colorado, Utah or Wyoming. Bowhunters should take note of the late archery hunts offered throughout the state. The harvest success rates are relatively good and it offers a way for you to extend your season. Use the tables and information below and the other tools within your INSIDER account and consider applying for mule deer in New Mexico this year. 

Finally, some of the best hunts in the state are reserved for youth hunters. We include the odds for youth in your INSIDER account. This is a good opportunity to get your kids into hunting and offer them a good experience when hunting pressure is light.


New Mexico's 2022 antelope breakdown

In terms of trophy antelope potential, New Mexico is always going to be near the top of the list. It does not have the number of antelope that a state like Wyoming does and the odds of drawing licenses are not great, but for the lucky applicants who draw, the hunting is very good. New Mexico’s habitat is currently in better conditions than it was a year ago. The state is still experiencing drought conditions, but the summer monsoons were good and helped range conditions. Last fall, there were still a number of 80”+ bucks killed and, if the state continues to get some spring moisture and summer monsoons once again, the trophy potential should be that much better.  

New Mexico made a change a few years ago to their antelope hunt structure. Previously, applicants who applied for and drew a rifle license would have a ranch then assigned to them that they could also hunt. That is no longer the case. Currently, applicants who draw a rifle, muzzleloader or archery license through the draw can hunt public land within their unit(s) and any private land that they can gain written permission to hunt. New Mexico now offers unlimited antelope private land licenses and, for those that hire an outfitter who has access to private land, this is an excellent opportunity if you do not draw. You can also attempt to obtain permission on private land and, in that case, you can simply buy a license over-the-counter (OTC) from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department. It’s a tall order to gain permission on your own due to outfitters leasing access to the best private parcels, but for someone really willing to dig in and make a ton of cold calls, it may be possible. 

For those applicants applying in the draw for licenses, New Mexico offers archery, rifle and some muzzleloader licenses in select units. The archery hunt is early, generally running from Aug. 4 to 12 when hunting water can be a good option on a dry year. Monsoon rains can make that challenging and are not uncommon, but a good number of hunters still find success hunting on a water source. Most units have a few rifle hunts — most of which also occur in the last two weeks of August. 

The best trophy potential is still on private ranches, but the archery and rifle hunts available through the draw that occur on public land are still fun hunts with decent trophy potential. 

GOHUNT hit list for New Mexico antelope

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident
draw odds
Nonresident
draw odds
Total number
of licenses
13 80"+ Archery: 0%
Rifle: 90%
Rifle: 100%
8.8%
1.5%
2.6%
No licenses
No licenses
No licenses
10
10
5
15 80"+ Archery: 25%
Rifle: 80%
Rifle: 100%
Rifle: 89%
11%
1.2%
2.7%
3.4%
1.2%
No licenses
No licenses
No licenses
20
5
5
10
16 80"+ Archery: 33%
Rifle: 100%
Rifle: 100%
Rifle: 100%
8.1%
1.0%
2.2%
3.8%
1.2%
No licenses
No licenses
0.36%
20
10
10
20
17 80"+ Archery: 28%
Rifle: 100%
Rifle: 80%
Rifle: 80%
7%
0.8%
1.6%
2.8%
1.1%
No licenses
No licenses
No licenses
20
5
5
10
18 80"+ Archery: 19%
Rifle: 69%
Rifle: 82%
12%
2%
3.2%
3.9%
0.22%
0.45%
25
15
15
29 80"+ Muzzleloader: 92%
Muzzleloader: 79%
3.9%
6.6%
0.89%
1.8%
15
25
36/37 80"+ Archery: 50%
Rifle: 75%
Rifle: 50%
Rifle: 92%
18%
2.6%
5%
7.6%
5.7%
No licenses
No licenses
2.3%
20
10
10
15
38 80"+ Archery: 50%
Rifle: 82%
Rifle: 90%
Rifle: 80%
16%
3%
5.7%
7.7%
8.3%
0.65%
1.8%
2.1%
20
15
20
30
21/24 75"+ Archery: 18%
Rifle: 100%
Rifle: 89%
Rifle: 87%
13%
1.3%
3.1%
4.9%
4.7%
No licenses
No licenses
1.4%
25
5
10
15
31
(North)
75"+ Archery: 41%
Rifle: 80%
Rifle: 100%
Rifle: 92%
14%
1.3%
3.2%
6.4%
7.1%
No licenses
No licenses
1.5%
25
5
10
15
31
(South)
75"+ Archery: 62%
Rifle: 80%
Rifle: 100%
Rifle: 89%
15%
2%
3.4%
5.2%
6.6%
No licenses
No licenses
1.1%
50
10
10
20
32
(East)
75"+ Archery: 36%
Rifle: 89%
Rifle: 100%
Rifle: 100%
17%
2.3%
3.7%
7.5%
10%
No licenses
No licenses
2.6%
25
10
5
15
32
(West)
75"+ Archery: 50%
Rifle: 83%
Rifle: 70%
Rifle: 93%
13%
2.8%
4.8%
6.4%
3%
1.2%
No licenses
1.5%
20
15
10
15
33 75"+ Archery: 52%
Rifle: 79%
Rifle: 95%
Rifle: 96%
13%
2.6%
4.6%
7%
4%
0.93%
1.2%
1.9%
30
25
20
25

Conclusion

The units in the table above are the best public land draw antelope hunt options. As previously stated, there is good antelope hunting on private land and those licenses are available OTC if you can gain written permission to hunt or if you book a hunt with an outfitter who has access to private lands. Those private land licenses are only valid on the private land that permission was granted, but this is still a good way to secure an antelope license. It will just require booking with an outfitter or really digging into land ownership and making cold calls. 

New Mexico is an excellent trophy state for antelope, but getting a license can be hard for DIY draw hunters. With it being relatively cheap to apply, we encourage applicants to apply. You will be refunded the cost of the antelope license if you are unsuccessful in the draw. As long as you are buying the hunting license to apply for other species like elk, deer or the exotic species, you should strongly consider also applying for antelope!

Find your draw odds

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