Elk (E-PLUS) Private Lands

NOTE – The A-PLUS (Antelope Private Land) information has moved to its own page.

E-PLUS: Elk Private Lands Use System (New Mexico Game and Fish) recognizes the contribution of landowners to elk management and offers sport hunting opportunities.

Hunters can purchase elk private-land licenses online. Click the tab headings below to learn more about the program. To purchase your private-land elk license visit the Online License System.

E-PLUS Program

The Elk Private Lands Use System (E-PLUS) program was created in recognition of the important benefits that private lands make to the elk populations and hunting opportunities in New Mexico. The program gives hunters and landowners a way to work together to effectively hunt and manage elk on private lands.

Through E-PLUS, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish distributes a portion of the State’s elk hunting opportunity to private landowners. Landowners receive private land elk authorization certificates from the Department which can be used by hunters to buy private-land elk licenses.

The Elk Private Lands Use System program is authorized and regulated by:
* Chapter 17 – Game and Fish and Outdoor Recreation: 17-1-14, 17-1-26, and 17-3-14.1 NMSA 1978.
* Title 19 – Natural Resources and Wildlife: 19.30.5 NMAC

NMDGF uses the E-PLUS program to manage elk hunts on New Mexico private land.

Hunters

Click the Hunters tab above for more information about private land elk hunting in New Mexico. To learn more about buying a private-land elk license, you may also visit the Licenses and Permits section of this website or consult the current New Mexico Rules & Info booklet .

Landowners

Landowners enrolled in the E-PLUS program may be eligible to receive private land elk authorization certificates. If you are a private landowner interested in E-PLUS, please click the Landowners tab above for more information.

Hunting Elk on Private Lands

It is the hunter’s responsibility to ensure they understand all the rules and regulations for hunting elk in New Mexico; please consult the current New Mexico Rules & Info booklet before hunting. Hunters must be properly licensed to hunt elk on private land.

The E-PLUS program distributes private land elk authorization certificates to landowners. Landowners may transfer the authorization certificates to hunters or their agents. A hunter may use an authorization certificate to buy a private land elk licenses for specific elk hunt.

There are two types of authorization certificates. These are ranch-only and unit-wide.

A unit-wide authorization certificate allows a hunter to buy a unit-wide private land elk license. Unit-wide hunters are allowed to hunt legally accessible public lands and unit-wide private lands within the boundaries of the Game Management Unit (GMU).

Hunters can use the landowner list to find private land elk authorization.
Unit-wide private lands are open to properly licensed elk hunters during each public elk hunt for the sole purpose of hunting elk. Hunters are allowed free, unrestricted, and equal access to unit-wide ranches. Unit-wide ranches are not open for camping. Scouting may occur during legal shooting hours during the two days immediately preceding the start of the hunt.

A ranch-only authorization certificate allows a hunter to buy a ranch-only private land elk license. Ranch-only hunters are restricted to the private land within the boundaries of the ranch. No public lands may be hunted using a ranch-only private land elk license. In GMUs 4, 5A, 46, 55A, and 55B ranch-only hunters are allowed to hunt on other private lands within the GMU with written permission from the landowner.

Finding a Private Land Elk Authorization Certificate

Private land elk authorization certificates may be obtained from landowners who have been issued them for the current hunting season. Any arrangements for authorization certificates are between the landowner and hunter. Hunters may check the E-PLUS landowner lists, by following the links below, to find landowners who have been issued authorization certificates. These lists are provided as a courtesy from the Department of Game and Fish. They are normally updated each year in May-June.

There are three different E-PLUS landowner lists (below) that hunters can use to find landowners who have been issued authorization certificates.

  • The Landowner List – These landowners have been issued one or more authorization certificate for their land that is within the Core Occupied Elk Range (COER).
  • The SCR Landowner List – These landowners were lucky in the Small Contributing Ranch (SCR) drawing and received a single authorization certificate for their land that is within the COER.
  • The Outside the COER Landowner List – These landowners have received authorization certificates for their land that is located outside the COER.

New Mexico land owners can qualify for private land elk authorization certificates.

Purchasing a Private Lands Elk License

Icon of A-PLUS / E-PLUS License Purchase Instructions A-PLUS / E-PLUS License Purchase Instructions

Hunters may not hold both a private-land elk license and a public-draw elk license in the same license year, and may not exchange a public-draw license for a private-land license. Private-land elk licenses are available online, by telephone (1-888-248-6866), and at NMDGF offices. They are not available over-the-counter (OTC) from other vendors. To buy a private-land elk license you will need to have the following things:

  • Ranch Number
  • Authorization Certificate Number
  • Hunt Code

For additional information and instructions about buying a private-land elk license, you may also visit the Licenses and Permits section of this website or consult the current New Mexico Rules & Info booklet.

Private-land Elk License Fees

License Type Resident Nonresident
Antlerless $69 $347
Mature-Bull or Either-Sex $99 $557
Quality Antlerless $69 $782
Quality Mature-Bull or Either-Sex $99 $782
Junior/Senior Elk License $67 Not Issued

Harvest Reporting

Harvest reporting is mandatory for all licensed elk hunters. The deadline to file a harvest report for an elk license is February 15th. Harvest reports filed after this deadline will be subject to an $8 late fee. Licensed elk hunters who do not report will be ineligible the following year for all special entry hunt applications, population management authorizations, and private land authorizations.

General Information

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (Department) distributes private land elk authorization certificates to landowners through the E-PLUS program.

The goal of the E-PLUS program is to give landowners and hunters a way to work together to effectively hunt and manage elk on private lands in an equitable and sustainable manner.

Landowners that qualify for the program may receive authorization certificates. These authorization certificates can be bartered, sold, or traded to hunters. An authorization certificate may be used by a hunter to buy a private land elk license.

The sale of landowner authorizations may result in a Gross Receipts Tax liability. Contact a qualified tax professional if you have questions.

It is the responsibility of the Landowner/Authorized Ranch Contact to maintain records regarding the sale of authorizations. The Department of Game and Fish does not maintain these records.

Authorization Certificates

There are two types of authorization certificates. These are ranch-only and unit-wide.

A unit-wide authorization certificate allows a hunter to buy a unit-wide private land elk license. Unit-wide hunters are allowed to hunt legally accessible public lands and unit-wide private lands within the boundaries of the Game Management Unit (GMU).

Unit-wide private lands are open to properly licensed elk hunters during each public elk hunt for the sole purpose of hunting elk. Hunters are allowed free, unrestricted, and equal access to unit-wide ranches. Unit-wide ranches are not open for camping. Scouting may occur during legal shooting hours during the two days immediately preceding the start of the hunt.

A ranch-only authorization certificate allows a hunter to buy a ranch-only private land elk license. Ranch-only hunters are restricted to the private land within the boundaries of the ranch. No public lands may be hunted using a ranch-only private land elk license. In GMUs 4, 5A, 46, 55A, and 55B ranch-only hunters are allowed to hunt on other private lands within the GMU with written permission from the landowner.

The Department uses two different strategies for managing elk hunting on private lands. The rules will differ for landowners depending upon which strategy is being used in the area where their ranch is located.

For lands that are inside the boundaries of the Core Occupied Elk Range (COER), the number and type of private land elk authorization certificates available to landowners is limited and controlled through regulation. With only two exceptions, private lands located within the COER boundaries may have the option to receive either unit-wide or ranch-only authorization certificates. Unit-wide authorization certificates are not available in GMUs 4 and 5A; ranches in these units may only receive ranch-only authorization certificates.

For lands that are outside the boundaries of the COER, the number and type of private land elk authorization certificates available to landowners is not controlled through regulation. Private lands located outside the boundaries of the COER may only receive ranch-only authorization certificates.

Landowners may use the Core Occupied Elk Range Maps (PDFs) available online by GMU to identify if their property is within the boundaries of a COER area.

How private land authorization certificates are allocated to individual landowners

Private land elk authorization certificates will be issued to landowners each year in May. If a landowner has been issued an authorization certificate, they will receive an Authorization Account Statement in the mail.

The total number and type of authorization certificates available to landowners that are within the boundaries of a COER area is determined by the percentage of public land to private land.

The number of authorization certificates issued to an individual landowner is based upon a formula that takes into consideration the acreage of the property and the properties Elk Contribution Rating (ECR), is assigned by the Department during the enrollment process.

If a property qualifies to participate in the program but is too small to receive an authorization certificate through the acreage formula, it is considered a Small Contributing Ranch (SCR). SCRs are not guaranteed an authorization every year but will receive a single authorization during years they are lucky in the draw.

Once a SCR has been successful in the draw, it will be ineligible to draw the same bag limit again until all SCRs n the GMU have successfully drawn an authorization of that same bag limit.

Additional incentive authorizations may be available to landowners that are within the COER to recognize management practices that significantly benefit elk. Incentive authorizations are only available if there are left-over authorizations for a GMU. They are issued on a first come first serve basis.

For areas that are outside the COER, the Department takes into account the management goals of the individual landowner when determining the number of authorization certificates to issue that landowner.

NMDGF uses the E-PLUS program to manage elk hunts on New Mexico private land.

Qualifications

To qualify for participation in the E-PLUS program a private property must make a meaningful contribution to elk and meet the following conditions:

1. The property must be inhabited and regularly used by elk for the majority of at least one season.
2. The property must contain some habitat components suitable for elk that are beneficial to their summer, winter, or transitional range.
3. The property cannot be within a village, town, or recorded subdivision with covenants or ordinances that prohibit hunting and/or the discharge of firearms.

Note: If a Conservation Officer determines that a property qualifies for the program but is unsafe to hunt with a rifle or muzzleloader, the landowner may participate in the program, but may only be eligible to receive archery-only, ranch-only authorization certificates.

In addition, the landowner must agree that:

1. Participation is voluntary.
2. The number authorizations available are subject to change.
3. They cannot be guaranteed a specific number of authorizations per year.
4. They will accept elk on their participating lands.

Applications

E-PLUS applications are available online, at any Department of Game and Fish office, or by calling 1-888-248-6866. Applications are normally available for the following year by October 1. Applications must be submitted to the Department, hand delivered or post marked, no later than February 1st. Applications submitted after the February 1 deadline and incomplete applications will be rejected. There is no fee to submit an E-PLUS Application. Early submittal is encouraged to ensure the application is complete by the deadline.

The following documentation is required to be submitted with the application. Please see the application for more detailed information.

1. Initial E-PLUS application and agreement.
2. Copy of current recorded deed(s).
3. Legal description of property and acreage amount.
4. Ranch location and boundary map.
5. Written directions to the property.
6. Assignment of authorized ranch contact – signatures must be notarized

Applications should be mailed or hand delivered to:

E-PLUS Program Manager
Wildlife Management Division
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
P.O. Box 25112
Santa Fe, NM 87504
1 Wildlife Way
Santa Fe, NM 87507

Application Process

Applications are reviewed in the order they are received. New applications will be evaluated to make sure they qualify for participation in the E-PLUS program.

Qualifying properties that are within the COER boundaries will be assigned an Elk Contribution Rating (ECR). The ECR is used to measure the frequency that elk are on the property.
• 1.00 = Occasional elk presence and use.
• 1.25 = Frequent elk presence and use.
• 1.50 = Continuous elk presence and use.

Once the Department has received your complete application it can take about 90 days for the Department to process the application and to notify you of the outcome. Applications submitted during the hunting seasons may require longer processing time.

If the Department determines that a property does not qualify to participate in the program, the landowner will be notified by mail. Non-qualifying landowners have the right to appeal the Department’s decision. Appeals should be submitted in writing and include documentation that refutes the Department’s decision. The Department may take up to 12 months to consider the appeal.

New Mexico land owners can qualify for private land elk authorization certificates.

Participating Landowners

Participating landowners will receive an annual E-PLUS agreement from the Department. Agreements for lands that are inside the COER are normally mailed out during the first part of December. The agreement must be signed and returned to the Department, hand delivered or post marked, by no later than February 1. Agreements for lands that are outside the COER are normally mailed out in April.
Landowners are responsible for reporting any changes to the acreage or boundaries of their properties within their E-PLUS agreements. Changes must include all required documentation as described in the E-PLUS agreement.

The E-PLUS agreement sets forth the terms for participating in the program. Landowners may select from the ranch-only or unit-wide option, where available. Once the agreement has been received, no changes will be made regarding the unit-wide or ranch only option for the upcoming season.

A landowner may be removed from the E-PLUS program if the Department determines that the landowner has falsely represented a property or has failed to comply with the Department or the terms in the E-PLUS agreement. Landowners that have been removed from the program may have their properties inactivated and all unconverted authorization certificates they have been issued will be voided. Any landowner that has been removed from E-PLUS for these reasons may be suspended from participating in any Department sanctioned private lands programs for a period up to 3 years. They may also be subject to the revocation processes set forth in 19.31.2 NMAC.