New Mexico Big Game Draw 2024

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New Mexico Big Game Draw Overview

The New Mexico Big Game Draw is the primary opportunity to obtain nearly all big game hunting tags in the state. Unlike many states where years of points building is required to have a shot a premium tags, New Mexico gives all applicants a chance to draw any tag in any year. Odds for top tags are still slim, but if you can afford the application fees, New Mexico should be on your list of states to apply every year.

The draw is managed through the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and applications are submitted through their online portal.

Sale Date: When is the New Mexico Big Game Draw?

The draw for 2024 tags opened on January 18th, 2024 and closes on March 20th 2024, at 5:00pm Mountain Time.

The New Mexico big game draw typically opens in January and closes in mid-March. Results are usually announced in early to mid-April. The following table lists important dates for the 2024 application period. Click here to start tracking your apps for free.

Online Application OpensJanuary 17th, 2024
Deadline to ApplyMarch 20th, 2024
Draw Results ExpectedMid April

Draw requirements: What is required to apply in the draw?

To apply in the New Mexico big game draw, you must possess a valid annual hunting license. In addition, you must pay an application fee for each species applied for. In New Mexico you must pay the full fee of the desired tags you are applying for at the time of the draw.

Tag prices: How much do New Mexico tags cost?

Prices for the required licenses and tags are summarized below.

General Fees
ItemResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Game Hunting License$15.00$65.00
Habitat Management & Access Validation$4.00$4.00
Habitat Stamp$10.00$10.00
Draw Application Fee, per species (does not apply to OTC tags)$7.00$13.00
Species specific tag fees
ItemResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Elk License - Standard$83.00$535.00
Elk License - Quality / High Demand$83.00$760.00
Deer License – Standard$34.00$270.00
Deer License – Quality / High Demand$34.00$355.00
Pronghorn License$53.00$270.00
Bighorn Sheep License - Ram$153.00$3,160.00
Bighorn Sheep License - Ewe$78.00$3,160.00
Oryx License$153.00$1,610.00
Barbary Sheep License$103.00$360.00
Ibex License$103.00$1,610.00
Javelina License$58.00$165.00
Cougar License$43.00$290.00
Bear License*$47.00$260.00
Turkey License (Spring or Fall Season)*$25.00$100.00

Draw Process: How the New Mexico big game draw process works

New Mexico does not have a point system, which means applicants within the same groups have the same odds, whether or not they have applied in prior years. However, special tag allocations are made for guided hunts and allocation limits are applied to nonresidents hunts, which varies your odds depending on which group you fall into.

Tag Allocation

New Mexico has the following approach to tag quotas and allocations:

  • A minimum of 84% of draw licenses are awarded to New Mexico residents.
  • 10% of draw licenses are awarded to residents and nonresidents applying with a New Mexico registered outfitter.
  • 6% of draw licenses are awarded to nonresidents applying without a New Mexico registered outfitter.

If you are a non-resident, the best way to improve your draw odds is to apply with an outfitter.

Applying with an outfitter

If you would like to apply with an outfitter, you must make this selection before the draw. You should start this process long before the draw deadline because you need to find an outfitter in your desired area, confirm availability, and sign a contract with the outfitter indicating an intent to hunt with them if successful in the draw. Once you do this, you will be provided with an outfitter number that will be entered on your application.

Hunt Choices

Hunters may select up to four choices, however the 4th choice has a unique approach from the first three choices. For each of the first three choices, hunters will select a specific hunt code they would consider. For the 4th choice, hunters may elect to add a quadrant of the state that they would be willing to accept a tag for. However, these 4th choice hunts will typically be very low quality and demand. A 4th choice is not required, and should only be added if the hunter is willing to accept the tag. No refunds are given for tags issued, even 4th choice.

Draw Process

Each applicant is assigned a random number, and applications are considered in order of that number. For each application, the first choice is considered and if tags are available and within nonresident and guide quotas, the tags are allocated. If the tag is unavailable or the hunter is beyond the nonresident or guide quota, their 2nd choice is then considered. The same process is applied then to their 3rd choice.

Due to this system, an applicant’s 2nd or 3rd choice hunt can be allocated before other applicants’ first choices. Continue reading below to optimize your application strategy based on this system.

After all 1st-3rd choices are considered, any remaining tags are then considered in a second pass through the draw. This time only 4th choices are considered, and most remaining tags are issued.

Group Applications

New Mexico allows parties of up to four applicants for deer, elk, antelope, and Barbary sheep hunts and parties of up to two applicants for oryx hunts. Both residents and nonresidents are permitted to apply together, with the exception of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, desert bighorn sheep, and ibex hunts. The party application process begins with the first applicant creating a new application and receiving an application number and attach code. The remaining applicants then attach to the existing application using the provided information and pay separately.

Application Strategy: Recommended approach to the New Mexico Draw

Given the simple draw process with no points system, we recommend applying to New Mexico in every year that you can afford the fees and have the availability to hunt a drawn tag.

When making your application, make sure you choose a hunt code for all three hunt choices. Many states consider all applicants 1st choices before considering second choices, which often means no desired tags are remaining when it comes to 2nd or later hunt choices. However, New Mexico considers each hunter application, then assess each hunt choice of the applicant before moving on the next hunter. This means 2nd and 3rd choices often result in a successful tag, and more often than not lower tag choices are the ones hunters receive, due to individual hunt draw odds. Once you have decided to apply, we recommend the following approach for each species hunt choices within your application.

1st Choice: This is your chance to reach for the stars and a potential once-in-a-lifetime quality tag. The top units will be prioritized by a large number of hunters and tag allocations will be fully distributed very early in the draw process. To secure on of these tags, you will need to put it as your first choice and get very lucky. However, it is possible to draw one of these tags that otherwise could cost tens of thousands to purchase as a landowner tag.

2nd Choice: Chose a quality unit, but one with a fair amount better draw odds than your first choice. If you choose one with similar draw odds to your first choice, it will likely be fully allocated around the same spot in the draw as your first choice, so it’s very unlikely you would draw it.

3rd Choice: Chose a unit with the highest odds (and likely lowest quality) that you would still be willing to hunt. This is typically the most likely choice you will draw, given the odds or often much better than your first or second draw. Your overall draw odds in the draw will be set by your hunt choice with the best odds, so we recommend putting it third.

Alternate options to get tags in New Mexico

New Mexico does a very good job of distributing tags through their draw process. Typically few tags are remaining after the draw, and generally not of high quality. However, leftover tags are made available for sale though a leftover tag sale process. Residents are given first chance at these tags. The day after tag sales are opened to residents, non-residents can also purchase these tags.

Landowner Tags

New Mexico offers landowner tags in the state, and these can be purchased on the second hand market. These are often option when looking to hunt with an outfitter. Applicants can often apply in the draw, and if unsuccessful purchase a landowner tag. However these tags are usually quite expensive, especially for quality units.

New Mexico Draw FAQ

What do landowner tags cost in New Mexico?2023-04-18T14:41:18+00:00

The cost of a landowner elk tag in New Mexico varies depending on the specific unit and the quality of the elk population in that area. However, on average, landowner tags can range from $5,000 to $12,000 or more. It’s important to note that landowner tags are limited and highly sought after, making them a valuable commodity for hunters. Additionally, landowner tags allow hunters to access private land otherwise unavailable to hunters on tags through the draw, which can significantly increase the chances of a successful hunt.

Can you buy landowner tags in New Mexico?2023-04-18T14:35:41+00:00

Yes, New Mexico offers landowner tags for sale. Landowner tags for elk in New Mexico are available in two types. The first type is a private landowner tag that allows the buyer to hunt on the specific private land that the landowner tag was granted from. The second type is a unit-wide landowner tag that enables the buyer to hunt all public lands in a designated unit, any private lands that are part of the landowner program in the unit, as well as the specific landowner’s private property.

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