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Application Strategy 2022: New Mexico Elk

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New Mexico's 2022 elk application overview

Jump to: NEW FOR 2022 State Information Draw System Elk 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 is 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.
  • No nonresident licenses available in 2022:
    • Unit 30 Sept. 15 to 24 archery season
    • Unit 14 Oct. 8 to 12 rifle season
    • Unit 18 Oct. 1 to 5 rifle season
    • Unit 30 Oct. 1 to 5 rifle season
    • Unit 38 Oct. 1 to 5 rifle season

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 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 causing some hunts to no longer have 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
Elk (standard) $90 $548
Elk (quality/high demand) $90 $773

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 elk. 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. In fact, there may be a slight disadvantage. For example, if an application with two people is drawn and there is only one license remaining, then 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. 

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 an elk 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 

Because of the way New Mexico conducts their draw 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 elk breakdown

New Mexico is one of our favorite states for elk hunting. Generally speaking, the populations are healthy, the trophy potential is good and there are many hunt options to choose from. In addition, the draw is completely random. In our opinion, New Mexico is a must apply state for elk. 

New Mexico manages some areas for better trophy potential and reduced hunting pressure. Those well known units exist largely in the Gila National Forest and include Units 16A, 16D, 16B. Units 15 and 17 are also high on the list of units that can offer the opportunity at a trophy caliber bull. A few other units like 55, 6B, 34 and 36 should also be listed among the top tier units and can provide phenomenal hunts. The units surrounding those can also offer great hunts and an occasional giant bull. Largely, trophy potential is tied to winter and spring moisture and unit management. If New Mexico continues to have good moisture — as they have for the past several months — trophy potential should be good in 2022. 

There are many other units throughout the state that can still offer good hunts and slightly better draw odds. Hunts with better odds than the units listed above are provided by one of two factors. One, populations may be very high and they are managed for an opportunity type of hunt versus trophy potential. The other is that the populations may be low, elk are scattered, terrain can be remote or unforgiving and hunting can be difficult due to those factors. A few other units also have better draw odds due to the complex mix of private and public land. For example, units like 51 and 52 have large elk populations and more licenses are available. Units like 2A, 2B, 2C, 18, 23, 24, 21A and 37, for example, have lower elk densities and, thus, generally better odds. Units like 10 and 13 have a complex mix of private, public and state land and can be tough to navigate; therefore, having better odds.

New Mexico does a good job in offering several types of hunts. They offer two archery seasons in most units and, in some cases, they also offer a late season archery hunt although those are only five days and can be very difficult. The early archery season ends on Sept. 14 while the second one kicks off on Sept. 15 and ends Sept. 24. The first archery season occurs mostly prior to the prime rut dates; however, harvest success is typically within approximately 5% of the second archery hunt. Draw odds for the first archery hunt are typically better than the second due to the early season dates. The second archery season regularly provides a very good rut hunt as can some of the early October muzzleloader and rifle hunts. The muzzleloader seasons occur in October with a few running into mid-November. Rifle seasons occur in October. The earlier rifle hunts can be tricky due the the fact that bulls are pulling away from cows and moving towards hidden winter range pockets where they can find refuge and feed to recover from the rut. If you hunt the early October rifle seasons, the time to kill a bull is when you see them because they may be hard to find on subsequent days. The late rifle hunts and muzzleloader hunts can be very good if you find the bulls. This time of year regularly offers hunters the ability to look over several bulls with the only downfall being that bulls can have broken antlers after the rut.  

There are many hunt options. Ultimately, each applicant should determine what their objective is for their hunt and apply accordingly. If a chance at a true trophy is the highest priority, take a look at the top tier units. If you just want to hunt and have good access to public lands and a chance to harvest, research those units in the north central portion of the state. If you are looking for a high risk high reward type of hunt, explore the units that have remote, physically demanding terrain and hard to access areas due to wilderness areas or a mix of private/public/reservation lands. Utilize the draw odds and the unit profiles to find the choices that make the most sense for you.

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 elk

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident
draw odds
Nonresident
draw odds
Total number
of licenses
16A 370"+ Archery: 30%
Archery: 34%
Rifle: 60%
Rifle: 31%
26%
13%
3%
8.8%
2.2%
0.87%
0.57%
1.4%
250
150
75
125
16D 370"+ Archery: 37%
Archery: 49%
Rifle: 49%
Rifle: 34%
17%
8.8%
3%
7.8%
1.2%
0.43%
0.38%
1%
90
60
55
50
16C 360"+ Archery: 22%
Archery: 17%
Rifle: 21%
Rifle: 19%
47%
26%
6.9%
19%
5.3%
3.1%
2.4%
3.7%
144
100
50
91
6B
(Valles Caldera)
360"+ Archery: 43%
Archery: 43%
Muzzleloader: 86%
Rifle: 93%
Rifle: 71%
5.7%
3.7%
1.6%
0.95%
2.3%
0.69%
0.46%
0.31%
0.29%
0.44%
25
25
15
15
20
36 360"+ Archery: 39%
Archery: 34%
Muzzleloader: 48%
Rifle: 47%
Rifle: 49%
24%
18%
15%
6%
10%
3%
2.3%
2.4%
1.7%
2.6%
133
132
140
140
140
13 360"+ Archery: 25%
Archery: 19%
Muzzleloader: 25%
Muzzleloader: 19%
Muzzleloader: 11%
39%
25%
11%
30%
41%
5.5%
3.4%
2.0%
6.3%
7.4%
190
138
80
117
117
17 360"+ Archery: 23%
Archery: 24%
Muzzleloader: 33%
Muzzleloader: 24%
Muzzleloader: 41%
36%
17%
14%
30%
20%
4.6%
2.5%
2.8%
5.0%
2.9%
125
75
100
100
25
34 350"+ Archery: 46%
Archery: 41%
Archery: 17%
Muzzleloader: 57%
Rifle: 64%
14%
10%
53%
10%
2.8%
2.2%
1.5%
11%
2.5%
1.1%
200
200
200
250
150
15 350"+ Archery: 23%
Archery: 30%
Muzzleloader: 42%
Muzzleloader: 18%
Muzzleloader: 20%
28%
15%
7.9%
23%
34%
3.5%
2.0%
2.0%
5.3%
6.4%
350
250
200
245
250
55A
(Valle Vidal)
340"+ Archery: 30%
Archery: 22%
Muzzleloader: 68%
Rifle: 47%
Rifle: 37%
16%
9.4%
4.1%
3.1%
8.1%
1.9%
1%
0.55%
0.78%
1.4%
25
25
20
35
40
16B/22 340"+ Archery: 19%
Archery: 18%
Rifle: 45%
Rifle: 21%
Rifle: 15%
50%
29%
4.0%
20%
34%
4.3%
2.5%
0.74%
3.5%
5.3%
225
165
25
135
160

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.

Mid-tier units for New Mexico elk

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident
draw odds
Nonresident
draw odds
Total number
of licenses
45 340"+ Archery: 15%
Archery: 34%
Muzzleloader: 13%
Rifle: 13%
Rifle: 41%
32%
24%
37%
20%
38%
4.7%
3.2%
7.7%
9.8%
15%
75
73
136
140
140
21A 330"+ Archery: 10%
Archery: 21%
Archery: 64%
Rifle: 19%
Rifle: 27%
Rifle: 14%
40%
27%
71%
6.2%
20%
30%
6%
4.7%
12%
2%
4.1%
5.9%
50
50
15
15
35
55
23 330"+ Archery: 25%
Archery: 17%
Archery: 0%
Muzzleloader: 16%
Rifle: 27%
57%
39%
91%
45%
19%
6.5%
4%
7.2%
6.5%
4.9%
125
75
15
75
75
24 330"+ Archery: 7%
Archery: 29%
Muzzleloader: 21%
Rifle: 11%
40%
31%
35%
14%
14%
No licenses
13%
6.5%
15
10
15
15
2A/2B/2C 320"+ Archery: 24%
Archery: 15%
Muzzleloader: 34%
Rifle: 57%
37%
28%
14%
5.2%
10%
8.3%
6.4%
2.5%
120
120
125
75
52 320"+ Archery: 24%
Archery: 20%
Muzzleloader: 37%
Rifle: 23%
Rifle: 26%
42%
34%
20%
14%
26%
7.7%
5.6%
5%
5.4%
8.9%
230
230
120
230
230
51A/51B 310"+ Archery: 31%
Archery: 21%
Muzzleloader: 36%
Rifle: 40%
Rifle: 32%
Rifle: 25%
37%
26%
36%
10%
21%
33%
6.9%
4.7%
8.8%
3.3%
6.9%
11%
180
180
145
220
220
220
53 310"+ Archery: 6%
Archery: 7%
Muzzleloader: 33%
Rifle: 14%
Rifle: 8%
58%
42%
35%
29%
67%
9.5%
6%
8.3%
6%
12%
65
60
80
131
94
50 310"+ Archery: 12%
Archery: 12%
Rifle: 21%
Rifle: 10%
93%
98%
49%
69%
11%
10%
12%
16%
60
55
120
125
5B 300"+ Archery: 11%
Archery: 22%
Rifle: 32%
Rifle: 21%
Rifle: 26%
Rifle: 55%
41%
30%
13%
28%
33%
20%
8%
7.2%
6%
9.1%
11%
5.1%
76
75
86
86
87
87

Managing expectations

New Mexico offers many more hunts than were covered in the tables above. Several of those can be tough hunts based on land ownership and low, scattered elk populations. Consider your objectives for your hunt and the time you have to put into research, scouting and hunting and apply accordingly. The INSIDER Filtering 2.0, standalone Draw Odds and unit profiles are key to finding the best opportunities for you. New Mexico is a phenomenal elk state and relatively cheap to apply if you can afford to front the cost of the license. If you have the means to apply with a guide, the odds are better and we highly recommend utilizing that option if you can afford to do so. We cover the guide pool draw odds within your INSIDER account. Do your research, pick and include three hunt choices and plan to apply in New Mexico in 2022.

Find your draw odds

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