Applying for Big Game Hunts in New Mexico

Big Game Draw FAQ 2023-24 (Updated 11-23-2022)

Click the headings below to learn more about applying for Big Game Hunts in the state of New Mexico.

(Updated 1-10-2023)

Important Information

Be sure to read the instructions in the Hunting Rules and Information booklet carefully before submitting your application. Check the section for each species to be sure of eligibility requirements, license fees and exceptions to the information and procedures outlined here. All website page number references refer to the rules booklet.

Online Applications

The online application process is fairly simple, and can eliminate many common errors.

Applicants for big-game draw licenses must first select a nonrefundable Game Hunting or Game Hunting and Fishing license with a Habitat Management and Access Validation (age 18 and older only for HMAV) before they can proceed to the application process. Several additional options will be available depending on eligibility. See “Additional Stamp/Validation Options” in the “Important!” tab.

Online applicants for deer, elk, oryx, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, ibex, javelina and Barbary sheep will be charged the application fee and the full license fee at the time of application. Unsuccessful applicants will receive refunds for the license fee. All application fees are nonrefundable.

Applicants interested in being placed on a list to be considered for population management hunts must check the population management box on their deer, elk, antelope, Barbary sheep or oryx application. Unsuccessful applicants who check this box will receive a refund for the license fee. If contacted, these hunters will be asked to accept or decline the hunting opportunity. If they accept, they will need to purchase the appropriate license and stamps. More information will then be provided by the contact person.

No license fees will be charged if you are successful for a turkey, bear, sandhill crane or pheasant draw permit. Successful applicants for these species must purchase the appropriate license to validate their permit.

You will need to create an account with a username and password the first time you apply using the online application. Be sure to keep this information for your records. For subsequent applications, for example when applying for a different species, you’ll just need to log in to your account using your customer ID or username, and password.

Party Applications

For party applications, the first applicant will create a new application. Upon completing the process, the applicant will receive an application number and an attach code. All subsequent applicants will need to select “attach to an existing application” then enter the application number and attach code. Up to three people may attach to an existing application for most species. See the Hunting Rules and Information booklet for exceptions. Anyone wishing to attach to an existing application must be eligible for all hunt codes selected.

Changes to Account Information

Online applicants may edit most of their personal information (except name, residency status, DOB and SSN) as well as their address. If the name, date of birth or last four digits of the Social Security Number or residency status are incorrect, applicants will need to contact the Information Center at 888-248-6866. Do not create another account.

All Applicants Must Purchase a Nonrefundable Game Hunting License with a Habitat Management and Access Validation

All hunters wishing to purchase or apply for any big game or turkey license must first purchase an annual game-hunting license or combination game-hunting and fishing license and Habitat Management and Access Validation (if 18 or older) through the draw application process. By itself, a game-hunting license is valid for hunting all small game (migratory and upland game birds and squirrels). The purchase of a game-hunting and fishing license is valid for fishing in addition to hunting small game. Junior, senior, handicapped and disabled veteran game-hunting and fishing licenses are also available for NM residents who qualify.

PAID Applications Can’t Be Changed

Applicants will NOT be able to edit their applications in any way once their application has been paid for; they will only be able to delete the application and re-apply. Applicants cannot re-attach to the same application if they deleted themselves from a party application. All applicants on a party application must delete their application and start over if an incorrect hunt code or any other attribute needs to be changed.

The license fee for deleted applications paid for with credit or debit cards will be refunded immediately. Applicants must pay the application fee AND the full license fee again to re-apply. License fees for applications paid by cash will be refunded with the normal refund process in April or May. All application fees are nonrefundable.

Please ensure that you’ve either created or attached to an application appropriately and that the application is complete and correct (hunt codes are correct, etc.) before submitting it.

Additional Stamp/Validation Options

  • New Mexico residents may select a Second-Rod validation when purchasing the Game-hunting & Fishing License.
    Residents and nonresidents will be offered the option to purchase the Habitat Stamp. Applicants under 18 years of age will be offered the Habitat Stamp only.
  • Residents age 70 and older on April 1 may select the Free Fishing License in addition to the Senior Game Hunting License
  • The Harvest Information Program (HIP) number will also be available for applicants to select, requiring completion of a survey about previous year’s migratory bird hunting.

Full Fee Up Front

The nonrefundable application fee and full license fee for each species will be charged at the time the application is submitted. Credit cards, debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express) or cash are acceptable forms of payment. License fees for each species are automatically refunded after draw results are released.

Draw Quotas

State Law requires:

  • 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.

New Mexico Residents Only for Cow Elk and WMA Hunts

Only New Mexico residents are eligible to apply for Antlerless (A) Elk Draw Licenses and hunts held exclusively on State Game Commission owned Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).

Nonresidents are allowed to apply for Either Sex (ES) and Mature Bull (MB) Elk Draw Licenses and they are allowed to purchase a private-land elk license to hunt any legal elk. Nonresidents may also apply for hunts that occur concurrently on both WMAs and public lands.

ALL Youth Hunters Must Have a Hunter Education or Mentor Youth Certification Number

All youth hunters, younger than 18, must have a Hunter Education certification number from New Mexico or another state, or a Mentor Youth number prior to purchasing their Game-hunting License or Game-hunting and Fishing License.

This certification number is required even if they will only be applying for bow hunt.

Hunt Codes

Every hunt offered through the drawing has a hunt code that determines:

A )  the location of the hunt
(except Bighorn sheep for which the location is contained in a distinct Hunt Area option)
B ) the sporting arm
C ) the season dates,
D ) the fee type (for deer and elk),
E ) the maximum number of licenses/permits issued
F ) the bag limit

All hunt codes are listed in the Hunting Rules and Information booklet under the section for each species. You can enter up to three hunt codes (choices) for each species, and can enter a quadrant of the state as a fourth choice for deer and elk.

NOTE: You must be willing to accept ANY hunt in the quadrant you choose if you enter a fourth choice. No refunds will be offered for those who draw a 4th choice hunt.

The first part (three letters) of the hunt code indicates the species.

The middle digit indicates the sporting arm type
1=any legal sporting arm,
2=bow only,
3=muzzleloader or bow.

The last three digits are the hunt number  indicating the time frame and other attributes of the hunt.


Individual applicants can be rejected from party applications. Be sure that everyone on your application has correctly and completely filled out the form and has fulfilled all other requirements (mandatory harvest reports for prior year species or trapping, for example).