Bighorn Sheep Hunting in New Mexico
The bighorn sheep hunting experience in New Mexico can be quite varied, depending on the location of the hunt. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep hunting in the alpine differs greatly from low-elevation river canyon hunts, and rugged desert bighorn sheep hunts. For in depth hunting and license information for bighorn sheep, reference the New Mexico Hunting Rules & Info found in our publications section.
Bighorn Sheep Maps
Hunting Bighorn Sheep in New Mexico: Detailed map of Game Management UnitsNew Mexico Bighorn Sheep Hunt Areas
Alpine hunts in the Pecos, Latir, and Wheeler Peak Wilderness take place at 12,000 ft to 13,000 ft. Access to these areas is often best achieved via horseback, as most groups of bighorn live far from trail heads. The climate can be very fickle in late summer and early autumn, and hunters need to be prepared for sunny warm days, as well as clouds, rain, and sleet, for days as a time. Care must be taken to not be trapped above timberline if a lightning storm should arrive. The high altitude provides an additional challenge as the shortage of oxygen can limit the hiking plans of even the most physically fit. The sweeping expanses of wilderness with jagged peaks and tundra plains are one of the highlights of hunting in the Pecos, Latir, and Wheeler Peak herds.
Low-elevation Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep hunts in Turkey Creek, San Francisco River, Dry Cimarron, and the Rio Grande Gorge provide a very different experience. The edges of bighorn habitat are accessible by vehicle, however moving within the habitat can be challenging. Steep canyon walls and large rock outcroppings can prevent travel, or cause long detours. This topography precludes use of horses over much of the terrain. Beautiful rock formations, and transitional vegetation provide rich ecosystems to explore while on these hunts.
Desert bighorn sheep hunts occur in southwestern and south central New Mexico. This landscape has much to offer with warmer days and spectacular mountain views. Unlike the other areas, water is scarce, so plan water supplies carefully. Bighorn in this herd are very skittish and wary of people, making finding and shooting a ram very challenging. As in the low-elevation herds, the edges of bighorn habitat are accessible by vehicle, but the very steep, very rocky slopes make travelling through the habitat difficult. The variety of cactus species in the Chihuahuan desert scrub provides a treat as you hike through the habitat, but be careful not to walk into them!
Links and Reports
- Publications → Hunting Rules & Information (Bighorn Sheep)
- Bighorn Sheep Biology and Management (Population status and the New Mexico management program).
- Applying for Draw Hunts
- Enhancement Licenses