Public Hunting Areas in New Mexico

Elk in a meadow

There's more than 30 million acres of public lands open to hunting in New Mexico, with a comparable amount of private land also available. While most folks are after deer, antelope and elk, there's also lots of dove, quail and pheasant and, in the White Sands area of south central New Mexico, some unusual species for the more adventurous hunters.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish publishes the annual Proclamation of Big Game and Furbearer Seasons in late January or early February with specifics for hunters. They also provide useful hunting information through their website. The license year runs from April 1 to March 31. The Proclamation contains a mail-in license form, although licenses can also be purchased over-the-counter at many vendors around the state. The Proclamation also contains an Access Courtesy Card to be used for obtaining written permission to hunt on private land from private landowners. The Game and Fish Department also publishes four other proclamations during the year:

  • New Mexico Recreation and Heritage Guide
  • Big Game Units of New Mexico
  • Smal Game Seasons
  • Waterfowl Seasons

Hunting is also allowed on certain tribal lands:

All outfitters and guides operating in New Mexico must be registered with the Department of Game and Fish. They are also required by state law to have legally signed contracts with all clients for all services they offer. Nonresidents must also have signed contracts with registered outfitters before applying for special hunts. Nonresidents requesting big-game hunting materials from the Department can also request to have lists of registered outfitters mailed to them.

Any hunting or fishing guides who operate in any New Mexico State Park must also be registered with the New Mexico State Parks and Recreation Division. Guides who operate on waters or land administered by the US Forest Service, BLM or Army Corps of Engineers must be authorized by those agencies. A current list of active members can be gotten from the New Mexico Council of Outiftters and Guides by calling 505-522-9845.

Selected State Wildlife Areas
  • Belen State Waterfowl Area - Farming operations for waterfowl, primarily in winter. South of Belen.
  • Colin Neblett Wildlife Area - 33,116 acres (largest in New Mexico). Deer, elk and other animals. Hunting in season. East of Eagle Nest.
  • Edward Sargent State Wildlife Area - 20,400 acres of prime elk habitat. This is where the official state herd hangs out. Wildlife viewing. Hunting by permit only. North of Chama. 505-756-2300
  • Elliot S. Barker Wildlife Area - 5,415 acres. Horseback riding, hiking, hunting in season, wildlife viewing. High-clearance vehicles recommended highly. 14 miles northwest of Cimarron.
  • Fort Bayard Wildlife Refuge - Large resident elk herd. 10 miles east of Silver City.
  • Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex - (formerly the Bernardo Wildlife Area) - Fishing and wildlife viewing with crops grown for birds. Water bird hunting in season. Along the Rio Grande north and south of Bernardo. 505-864-9187
  • Manzano Hawk Watch Site - Camping, with hawks, eagles and falcons around. Off FR 245 near Manzano. 505-255-7622
  • Mills Canyon - Canadian River canyon, 800-feet deep, with mountain lions, antelope, wild turkey, golden and bald eagles, and black bear. North of Roy along the Canadian River. 575-374-9652
  • Milnesand Lesser Prairie Chicken Wildlife Areas - Wildlife viewing, seasonal quail and dove hunting. 40 miles south of Portales around Milnesand. 575-762-5127
  • NRA Whittington Center - 30,000 acres, private, shooting ranges, lessons, guided hunts. 10 miles southwest of Raton. 575-445-3615
  • Rio Chama State Wildlife and Fishing Area - 13,000 acres of fishing and hunting with access to 12 miles of Rio Chama and El Vado Lake.
  • Rio de los Pinos State Wildlife and Fishing Area - Camping, fishing and hunting. East of Chama with access from Cumbres, CO. 505-756-2300.
  • Tres Piedras State Wildlife Area - 3,300 acres of high prairie for big game. Near Tres Piedras.
  • Uracca State Wildlife Area - 14,000 acres of elk and deer habitat, hunting in season, wildlife viewing. 16 miles north of Questa.
  • W.A. "Bill" Humphries State Wildlife Area - 9,000 acres. Wildlife viewing, elk hunting by permit only, accessible on foot or horseback only. 10 miles west of Chama.
Selected National Wildlife Refuges
  • Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge - There have been 357 species of birds identified in these wetlands, including sandhill cranes. Wiuldlife photography, bird watching, seasonal hunting, tours. Lots of dragonflies. N. Main Street in Roswell, then east on Pine Lodge Road. 575-622-6755
  • Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge - 377 species of identified waterfowl, including sandhill cranes. Open year-round from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Visitor center. 16 miles south of Socorro. 575-835-1828
  • Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands - Rangeland, watershed, recreation, fish, and wildlife. Hiking with 2 miles of Santa Fe Trail wagon wheel ruts. 15 miles south of Clayton. 575-374-9652
  • Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge - Eagles and waterfowl. 5 miles southeast of Las Vegas. 505-425-3581
  • Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge - Prairie dog town, fishing, nature photography, waterfowl and eagles. Northwest of Maxwell. 575-375-2331
  • Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge - Some areas open to the public but most areas closed. Open house with guided tours in October. Visitor center. Between Socorro and Belen. 505-864-4021
  • Valle Vidal - 100,000 acre special management area in Carson National Forest. Fishing, backcountry camping. 27 miles north of Cimarron. 575-586-0520 logo
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