the New Mexico big game draw process and strategy

blog banner New Mexico big game draw process

New Mexico is a unique state for big game draws.  It uses a true random draw process with no loyalty reward system for habitual hunters like some other states.  This may dissuade you if you’re looking to build a 1, 5 or 10 year plan for non-resident hunting.  That would be a mistake.  Not only does New Mexico have the most diverse big game animal menus, you have a shot a drawing any of the best units in any given year.  Why not try?

New Mexico big game draw process

Basics (get draw deadlines HERE)

  • 84% of licenses for each hunt are for New Mexico residents.
  • 10% of licenses are for applicants (resident and Non-resident) who have a contract with an outfitter.
  • 6% of licenses are for non-resident only.

Applications, and their selections, are reviewed one at a time, in sequence based on a randomly generated order.

Application Choices

For the New Mexico big game draw you can make 4 selections.  The draw reviews the first 3 choices.  Each application receives a random sequence number to determine draw order.  When an application is selected, it’s reviewed in its entirety.   The first choice is reviewed based on the hunt quotas.  If no tags are available, the 2nd hunt choice is reviewed and, then the 3rd.

If you place a fourth choice (for deer and elk) it is indicating that you’re willing to accept ANY leftover tags.  This is important because all tags are payed for when you apply and re-funded if you don’t draw.  While there are no preference points to lose you’re still on the hook.  Thus, if you put a fourth choice with no intent to hunt whatever tag you may draw you’ll still be paying for.oryx gemsbok in New Mexico

Strategy

The strategy for the New Mexico big game draw process is much simpler due to their lack of a preference point system.  Since you can’t predict your draw results like a draw with a preference point system you really need to ask yourself what your goal is for New Mexico hunts.

If you want to kill a truly world class trophy Elk.  Then your strategy should be to put all 3 of your choices in the best units to achieve that.  Just don’t hold your breath for a tag.  You may be successful one of these years and just make sure your daughter doesn’t plan her wedding in November.  Alternatively, if you just want to hunt big game you can seek out 3 choices with more reasonable draw odds.  I do a mix of both.  I usually put my 1st or 2nd second choice as prized unites with a third that’s more reasonable.  Because New Mexico evaluates your whole application you can get the best of both worlds with this method.

In the end you’re playing more of a lottery with New Mexico’s draw.  While the odds for a hunt might be 33% this doesn’t mean you will get drawn once every three years.  In my experience it means you won’t get drawn at all in 10 years and your brother in-law will get drawn 6 or 7 times.  Its just how it goes.

Important Aspects of the New Mexico Draw Process

  • its important to reemphasize my earlier point about New Mexico’s hunt draw payment process.  You pay for your tags up front and get re-funded if you don’t draw.  When it’s all said and done you may only end up paying $600 bull elk tag and maybe $350 deer tag (non-resident prices).  BUT, if you apply for everything (hypothetically) New Mexico Department of Game and Fish might be holding $9,000 for you (Less than $1000 if you apply for all big game as a resident).  That’s more than the truck I drive is worth.   While this is staggering all available hunts is a lot of animals.  Besides your basic western big game of elk, deer pronghorn and big horn sheep; New Mexico offers Oryx, Ibex, barbary sheep and javelin.  Non-resident prices are still a steal if you are drawn but those holding costs are tough.
  • Ensure you evaluate the draw odds especially the outfitter tags. Usually, but not always, the odds for outfitter tags are better than the resident and non-resident odds.

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