Hunt trophy-size bulls on a budget
To hunt big bull elk at an affordable rate, book one of our semiguided hunts in New Mexico. You'll have a much better chance of drawing a tag because you'll be eligible to apply for one of the tags set aside for hunters who have contracted with an outfitter. The state allocates 10 percent of all elk tags for that purpose, and there are far fewer applicants than for the 6% of tags set aside for nonresidents who don't necessarily have an outfitter. For some hunts, 100% of applicants in the outfitter pool have been issued licenses.
Because tags are limited by the state, many bulls survive several years and grow good-size racks. The best units every year yield trophy-class elk in the 330-370 Boone and Crockett class. In good forage years exceptional animals can exceed 380 and occasionally a bull gross-scores more than 400 B&C points. Some units naturally are better than others.
Tags in units nationally famous for producing record-book bulls are in high demand, even tags in the outfitter allocation, but other units that hold big bulls are not as well known and attract less attention, so tags are easier to draw. Other areas have low demand for outfitter-allocation tags even if there are good numbers of mature bulls because the chances of seeing a record-book bull are not good. We offer semiguided hunts in those units at a greater discount.
Archery and muzzleloader permits are typically easier to draw than rifle tags. No rifle hunting has been allowed in some units for many years. Some of the best hunting occurs in such areas.
Besides the outfitter tag allocation, two other factors contribute to much better drawing odds here than in comparable units in other states, such as Utah, Arizona, Wyoming or Colorazdo:
- No bonus or preference points are issued to unsuccessful applicants. This results in fewer applicants and also gives you the same drawing odds as somebody who might not have received a permit in previous years.
- You get three hunt choices that actually mean something. Unlike the drawing system in states such as Utah or Colorado, the lottery computer in New Mexico is programmed to consider all your choices if your number is drawn before the next hunter's number is drawn. That means you can draw your second or third choice even while somebody else might be rejected for the same hunt as a first choice.
A semiguided hunt is not for everybody, but they're a good choice for well-equipped hunters with a lot of do-it-yourself hunting experience in the West. Plan to bring your own four-wheel-drive truck or ATV. We provide a guide for a party of four hunters, which means you'll be hunting on your own at times. You also should be in good shape because the guide will need help in packing game to the closest road. Fortunately, much of the good hunting country is close to roads.
Factors affecting success include hunter conditioning, shooting skills and trophy standards as well as weather, animal and hunter movements, and just plain luck. Most skilled, persistent hunters have a good chance of getting a crack at a mature bull.
Effective hunting techniques include spotting and stalking, still-hunting, stand hunting over trails and stand hunting over water holes or wallows. We like semiguided groups to arrive a day or so before the season begins so that they can be shown where and how to hunt on Morning 1.