GLS Shooting Logo

New Mexico Hunting

Learn More

Written by:  Devn Schumacher 

May, 10 2021

The New Mexico ecosystem is well suited for the various types of games and wildlife. Some of the common games are deer, turkey, mountain lions, bears, and small game animals.

New Mexico Hunting Regulations

New Mexico has hunting regulations to ensure that hunting culture in the state is well preserved and recent activities do not affect future hunting. The state also implores hunters and residents, in general, to report any form of violation to the New Mexico Fish and Game Commission.

New Mexico’s Hunting Regulation and laws you should know as a hunter in the state include the following:

Wildlife Attractions and Luring

It is unlawful to lure games and wildlife with any attractant, scent, or deer urine. The state also prohibits the capture or hunting of big games with the use of any form of edible product. But exceptions are made for salt, water, or the mixture of salt with trace minerals that are originally designed for livestock.

Hunting Without a License

Before you can hunt or capture games and wildlife in the state, it is compulsory that you own a valid license issued for either fishing or hunting. You must also be in possession of the license every time you go hunting. If a tag is necessary for hunting, you must possess one too. The license and tags must also be signed prior to any hunting activity in the state.

Possession of Games and Wildlife that are Illegally Taken

If you take any game or wildlife unlawfully, then according to hunting laws in New Mexico, the possession of such an animal is illegal. It does not matter if you were part of the hunting or capturing of the wildlife, as long as it was not lawfully taken, its possession is unlawful.

Wildlife Possession and Bag Limits

The New Mexico Game and Fish Commission has possession restrictions and bag limits for various types of species. The hunting of wildlife must be according to the quantity and limits defined by the commission. So it is important that you do research before taking wildlife.

Big Game Tagging

It is compulsory to tag all big games captured in New Mexico. The tags usually carry instructions on the tagging procedure at their back. You must follow the instructions to the letter, as well as other tagging rules provided by the New Mexico Game and Fish Commission.

Hunting Wildlife in Closed Seasons, Artificial Lights, and in Legal Hours

In New Mexico, you can only hunt wildlife and games in periods that the hunting commission prescribes. The commission is also responsible for stopping hunting periods, and during the close season, you may not hunt wildlife.

If you are a hunter specialized in a particular species, make sure that you get information about the regulations provided by the commission before embarking on a hunting journey.

New Mexico hunting laws prohibit the use of artificial light during coyote hunting season in the state. This also means that you are not allowed to make use of vehicle headlights or spotlights while hunting. However, exceptions are made for theft reasons but ensure that the firearm in the vehicle is not able to discharge when making use of the spotlight. The best way to go about this is to leave all firearms, ammunition, bows, and arrows outside the vehicle or in the camp.

The state also prohibits the use of artificial lights to prolong hunting shooting hours.

Hunting from Vehicles

It is illegal to take games and wildlife from vehicles such as motor, watercraft, or aircraft. An exception is made for those that obtain permission from the New Mexico Fish and Game Commission. In the context of this regulation, the word “Take” refers to the hunting, killing, capturing, pursuing, and shooting of wildlife.

Furthermore, this regulation explains that you may not deliberately drive or hover around in a vehicle to search for wildlife before taking it. The purview of this law does not only stop at shooting the animal from a vehicle, you may not also transport wildlife with a vehicle. And it is a prohibition to get off the main road and move closer to wildlife with a vehicle.

Hunting with Devices

You are only permitted to hunt games and wildlife with devices approved by the New Mexico fish and game commission. Making use of any other device is a prohibition.

Discharging Firearms Near a Residential Building

It is unlawful to discharge firearms while hunting near a residential building unless you seek the permission of those living in the building. This regulation also includes the use of bow and arrow, inflated weapons that have a .35 caliber, and hybrid weapons. Buildings in this regulation also refer to constructions like cabins, huts, barns, and sheds.

Hunters must assume that the structures are occupied before hunting close to them. Violations to this regulation are common during bird hunting seasons like doves and quails.

Clean Up After Hunting

It is compulsory for hunters to clean up when they are done with activities. There should be no litter in the camp, and all debris or castings should be moved out of camp. This also extends to the cleaning of animals’ carcasses. There are usually regulations in hunting jurisdictions for the disposal of carcasses and hunters must clean up according to these regulations.

Shooting Across a Road

It is a prohibition for hunters to discharge firearms from across the road or a railway while trying to take wildlife. These regulations also affect the shooting of bow and arrow. Hunters are advised to beware of this regulation since it is mostly violated during dove hunting seasons.

New Mexico Hunting License Permits and Tags

Before you can hunt games and wildlife in New Mexico, you need a valid license issued in the state. The age requirement to apply for any of the hunting licenses in New Mexico is 10 years old for both residents and non-residents hunters in the state. People under 10 years old are allowed to hunt other wildlife that is not big game, as long as they are under the supervision of a licensed hunter who is at least eighteen years old. The licensed hunter can only be in charge of at least 2 kids during a session.

Even if you have a valid hunting license in New Mexico, you will not be allowed to hunt games if you are under 14 years old and you are yet to undertake Hunter Education Training Course.

New Mexico Residents Hunting License

Residents of the state are allowed to buy a New Mexico resident hunting license. To be a resident of the state you must have lived in the state for a period of 6 months prior to the application of your license, permit, or tag. You must also not be a resident of another state in the US.

Other people that can apply for the New Mexico resident license are members of the US armed forces who are posted to the state for either permanent or temporary duties. Only those identified as residents of New Mexico may buy a resident hunting license in the state. Others may only apply for the non-resident license.

Complimentary Hunting License

New Mexico issues complimentary licenses to those that meet the criteria to obtain free licenses in the state. Complimentary licenses can be used for fishing and hunting in the state. You can only get a complimentary license from the New Mexico Fish and Game Department.

Pioneer Hunting License

This is a type of resident license issued in New Mexico to those who are at least 70 years old and have been a resident of the state for a minimum period of 25 years.

Disabled Veteran Hunting License

To obtain this type of license, a veteran must produce proof from the state Veteran administration to prove disabilities. The person must also be a resident of New Mexico for consecutive years prior to the application of the license.

Apprentice Hunting License

New Mexico introduced an apprentice hunting license in 2009 as a way of improving the hunting culture of the state. The license is free of charge, and it is the state’s strategy to encourage more people to become hunters.

With a New Mexico apprentice hunting license, licensed hunters in the state will be able to take prospective ones on hunting adventures. The prospective or beginner hunters will not have to purchase a regular license to go hunting because of the apprentice license.

The license is not only valid for residents of New Mexico, but non-residents can also apply for it, and it is free of charge.

However, an apprentice license will only be valid for consecutive days, and can only be used for hunting small games, fur games, birds, predators, and nongame mammals.

You can get the apprentice license from the state Fish and Game department. But you must have a mentor who is a resident of New Mexico and a licensed hunter that is at least 18 years old before applying. The mentor must also not exceed the required 2 apprentice hunters in a year. Beginner hunters may only get one apprentice license in a year.

New Mexico Lifetime License

These types of licenses are for only residents of New Mexico. The cost for the application for a lifetime hunting license in the state will depend on the type of the license and the applicant's age.

New Mexico Non Residents Hunting License

Non-residents hunters that want to hunt in New Mexico have to obtain a non-permit tag form to purchase licenses, stamps, and hunting tags, etc. This can be done via mail, and they are required to submit the form to the state’s fish and game department separately, without a hunt permit tag application.


New Mexico Fishing License Permits and Tags

The type of fishing licenses that are available in New Mexico include the following:

General Fishing Licenses

New Mexico general fishing licenses are available for both residents and non-residents in the state, with prices of $37 and $55 respectively. The license can be used to partake in all state fishing activities.

Combo Fish and Hunt Licenses

This is a combination of both fishing and hunting licenses in New Mexico. They are also available for residents and Non-residents of the state at prices of $57 and $160 respectively

Youth Combo Hunt and Fish

This is a fishing license issued by the New Mexico Fish and Game Department at a very subsidized price of $5 for both residents and non-residents youths.

Short Term Combo Hunt and Fish

This is a limited license to hunt and fish for a particular period. Residents can purchase this license at a price of $15 for one day, while non-residents can purchase at $20 for one day.

Community Fishing License

New Mexico community fishing licenses can be purchased at $24 for residents and non-residents of the state.

You do not require a New Mexico fishing license when taking part in fishing activities on public water, on a day that is free for fishing. Free fishing day in New Mexico is always on the first Saturday after the National Fishing and Boating Week.

You do not need a fishing license if you register to become a participant in a fishing clinic that is sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

You do not need a fishing license for activities on any private water in the state, including tanks and ponds, as long as you seek permission from the property owner.

New Mexico Hunting Seasons 2020/2021

New Mexico provides unique hunting opportunities for wildlife such as turkey, quail, and deer. But for big games, the state will only offer animals such as bison, bears, and the bighorn sheep.

Hunting season in New Mexico varies for the games and the types of weapons used to take them.

The 2020/21 hunting season for various wildlife in New Mexico includes the following:

New Mexico Deer Hunting Season

  • General Season (23rd of October to 31st of December)
  • General Youth-Only Season (9th of October to 29th of November)
  • Challenged Hunter Access Mobility (18th of September to 24th of September and 23rd of October to 29th of October)
  • Muzzleloader Season (23rd of October to 31st of December)
  • Muzzleloader for youths Season (2nd of October to 11th of October and 20th of November to 29th of November)
  • Archery Season (21st of August to 10th of September and 11th of December to 31st of December)

New Mexico Bighorn Sheep Hunting Season

  • General Seasons (1st of October to 31st of December)

Also, a lot of bighorn sheep are almost inaccessible, so you should only prepare to hunt them down in backcountry regions that are isolated.

New Mexico Bison Hunting Season

  • General Season (4th of December to 6th of December and 13th of December to 15th of December)
  • General Season with Limited Opportunity (25th of September to 31st of December)
  • Muzzleloader season with Limited Opportunity (11th of September to 23rd of September)
  • Archery Limited Opportunity Season (21st of August to 9th of September)

New Mexico Turkey Hunting Season

  • General Season (2nd of October to 8th of October)
  • Youth Hunt Season (2nd of October to 8th of October)
  • Archery Season (21st of August to 10th of September)

New Mexico turkey hunting is only possible with a valid license and tag. Also, there is a hunting limit of just one turkey per annum.

New Mexico Javelina Hunting Seasons

  • Archery Season (21st of August to 31st of December)
  • Youth Season (2nd of October to 26th of November)

New Mexico Javelina hunting requires a valid state permit, and hunters are issued the permits through a lottery system organized by the state Fish and Game Department. The limit for Javelina hunting in New Mexico is a maximum of 2 per annum.

New Mexico Black Bear Hunting Season

  • General Season (7th of August to 31st if December)

New Mexico bear hunting is legal for all black bears, but exceptions are made for little cubs and sows.

New Mexico Mountain Lion Hunting Season

  • General Seasons with Daylight Shooting Periods (21st of August to 31st of May)
  • Archery Season (21st of August to 31st of May)
  • Pursuit Season (21st of August to 31st of May)

In New Mexico, mountain lion hunting is limited to just one animal per annum. There are 2 shooting hours for mountain lions, daylight, and daylong periods. For daylight hunts, it must be during the daytime, while daylong includes daytime and midnight.

New Mexico Small Games Hunting Seasons

  • Chukar Partridge Season (1st of September to 7th of February)
  • Dusky Blue Grouse Season (1st of September to 8th of November)
  • Cottontail Rabbit Season (July 1st to June 30th)


  • Shotgun Season (1st of September to 15th of September)
  • Archery Season (16tth of October to 7th of February)
  • Falconry Season (14th of September to 7th of February)
  • Tree Squirrel Season (1st of July to 30th of June)


  • General Season (16th of October to 7th of February)

The date for each season may vary according to zones for all games and wildlife in the state.

New Mexico Wildlife Game and Fish

New Mexico is one of the states in the US where you have hunting opportunities for big games, small games, furbearers, Waterfowl, and Predators.

Some of the wildlife games available for hunting in the state include the following:

New Mexico Pronghorn Hunting

Pronghorns are one of the big game hunting peculiar to states in the Northern part of America. Pronghorns in New Mexico inhabit the northern plains of the state and high elevations exist among forest areas. They are also found in herds on grassland areas in the southeast part of the state.

New Mexico Bison Hunting

The New Mexico Game and Fish Department manages the 2 bison herds in the state. They are the Raymond herd and the House Rock herd.

New Mexico Bighorn Sheep Hunting

Bighorns in New Mexico consist of the Rocky Mountains and deserts, and the Department of Fish and Game estimates that there are about 6000 of them.

New Mexico Elk Hunting

At a point in time Elks were one of the populated deer species in North America, and you could find them almost everywhere. But a reduction in their figure came about due to agriculture activities and unregulated elk hunting in New Mexico and other states. The population of Elks in New Mexico today is just around 35,000.

New Mexico Mountain Lion Hunting

Mountain lions are widely dispersed in various regions of New Mexico, and they can be found in most places where herds are located since they prey on deer.

New Mexico Pigeon Hunting

Pigeons in New Mexico are bad-tailed pigeons and they are not the same as the feral ones usually found in towns and city regions of the state.

New Mexico Grouse Hunting

Dusky grouse in New Mexico inhabit aspen forests and mixed conifer parts of the state.

New Mexico Dove Hunting

There are quite a lot of dove species that occur in New Mexico, and the most common of them is the Mourning Dove.

New Mexico Chukar Hunting

Chukars in New Mexico mostly migrate from India as they are only native birds to the middle east region.

New Mexico Waterfowl Species

Waterfowl hunters in New Mexico can get to hunt from about the 15 species available in the state.

New Mexico Bobcat Hunting

Bobcat in New Mexico is a very common predator animal and evenly distributed in the state.

New Mexico Fox Hunting

For fox hunting in the state, there are 3 various species, namely, gray fox, red fox, and kit fox.

New Mexico Shooting Range

Some of the public shooting ranges in New Mexico include the following:

  • Albuquerque Trap Club
  • City of Carlsbad Rifle Range
  • City of Carlsbad Rifle Range
  • Creosote Flats Sporting Clays Range
  • Los Alamos Sportsmans Club
  • NRA Whittington Center
  • Sidney Paul Gordon Shooting Range

New Mexico Hunting Lands for Sale and Lease

Hunting lands for sale in New Mexico include the following:

  • Tres Piedras, New Mexico (Taos County) 35 acres.
  • Timberon, New Mexico (Otero County) 0.34 acres.
  • El Morro, New Mexico (Cibola County) 87 acres.
  • Ramah, New Mexico (Cibola County) 20 acres.

There are currently no hunting lands for lease in New Mexico.

The information provided on the Website is for general information purposes only and is not an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer. We may receive commissions from our partners when you click on some of the links. Learn More