New Mexico Antelope Hunting - The Complete Guide | Great Days Outdoors

New Mexico Antelope Hunting – The Complete Guide

Antelope hunting is a great way to introduce eastern hunters to western hunting, youth to big game hunting, or an awesome way to have a more social and active big game hunt. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to plan and execute a successful New Mexico antelope hunting trip. From seasons and draw dates, to outfitters and must-have gear, we will cover all the essential aspects of antelope hunting in this beautiful southwestern state. 

Antelope In New Mexico

The pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana), while not an antelope at all, is a species of artiodactyl that is native to New Mexico and is the only surviving member of the family Antilocapridae. According to the FY 2015 Annual Report, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish estimated between 40,000 and 45,000 pronghorn in the state. Antelope are known for their speed and excellent eyesight, making them challenging big game animals to spot and stalk. On a recent antelope hunt, I was amazed to see a herd easily pick up my movement when I attempted to cross a draw 1200 yards away. 

World Record Antelope

The current world record for pronghorn antelope is held by Mike Gallo for a buck he took in 2013 in Socorro County, New Mexico. The buck scored an impressive 96-4/8 inches on the Boone and Crockett scoring system. The monster Antelope had horn lengths of 17-7/8 inches and a mass circumference of 7-2/8 inches. The antlers were also notable for their high prongs and exceptional symmetry. 

New Mexico Antelope Hunts

It is important to note that hunting regulations can change from season to season so it is important to refer to the State’s Wildlife Division to keep up to date with all current regulations. In New Mexico, You can find that information here

Antelope Hunting New Mexico Public Land

Antelope hunting on public land in New Mexico is a popular and accessible option for hunters. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish manages numerous public lands throughout the state, including national forests, wildlife management areas, and state trust lands, that offer opportunities for antelope hunting. The deadline to apply for pronghorn draw licenses is in March of each year, the specific date changes each year but typically falls during the middle of the month. This is a great option for party hunts where up to four members of a group can apply and be drawn to hunt on public lands. 

New Mexico antelope
When hunting Antelope, having good optics is essential to finding game at long distances over open ground.

New Mexico Private Land Antelope Hunts

Private land antelope hunts in New Mexico are another popular option for hunters. Private land hunting allows for more exclusive access to land and can increase your chances of a successful hunt. Private land pronghorn licenses are available over the counter, but they cannot be used on public land. If you are purchasing online or over the phone, you will want to purchase a minimum of 14 days in advance to allow for the mailing of your tags. Written permission is required from the landowner while hunting. 

New Mexico Trophy Antelope Hunts

New Mexico is well-known for its trophy antelope hunting opportunities, with many hunters seeking to harvest an antelope with exceptional size and quality. Some areas in New Mexico have a reputation for producing exceptional trophy antelope. A guide or outfitter with experience in trophy antelope hunting can help you identify potential harvests and navigate the terrain. They may also have access to private land with high trophy potential. Trophy antelope may be more difficult to find and may require covering more ground than a typical hunt.

New Mexico Antelope Season

The antelope hunting season in New Mexico typically runs from mid-August to early October, with specific dates varying by hunting unit and hunting method. It is important to carefully review the hunting regulations and season dates for the specific hunting zone and method you plan to use before your trip. Keep in mind that hunting season dates and regulations may be subject to change from year to year, so always check the most current information provided by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

New Mexico Antelope Draw

The New Mexico antelope draw is a lottery-based system used to allocate antelope hunting licenses to hunters. The application period for the antelope draw typically closes in mid-March. The lottery attempts to award 84% of licenses to residents, 10%  to non-residents hunting with an outfitter, and 6% to non-residents hunting without an outfitter. New Mexico offers a variety of antelope hunting licenses, including resident and nonresident licenses, youth licenses, and mobility-impaired licenses.

New Mexico antelope
UTVs, where legal, are a great way to cover ground between glassing points.

New Mexico Antelope Draw Odds

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish sets quotas for each hunting unit, and the number of licenses issued for each unit is based on the estimated antelope population. The drawing results are typically available in late June or early July, and successful applicants are notified by mail and email. If there are any leftover licenses after the draw, they may be available for purchase in person or online on a first-come, first-served basis. The full New Mexico Antelope Draw odds by unit are available here

New Mexico Antelope Tag Cost

As with all game and fish regulations, it is important to obtain the latest information from the state agency responsible for regulating such matters. As of the time of this writing, Private-land Only Pronghorn licenses are $53 for residents and $270 for non-residents. Draw license fees are $60 for residents and $283 for non-residents and are subject to a nonrefundable application fee (residents: $7; nonresidents: $13). 


New Mexico Antelope Outfitters

New Mexico offers a variety of outfitters that specialize in antelope hunting. Check out these outfitters to consider when planning your New Mexico antelope hunting trip.

Outfitters offer hunters the ability to get into game-rich country quickly. You still need to have the right gear and be prepared physically to finish the hunt strong.

If you are considering hiring an outfitter for your New Mexico antelope hunting trip, here are some key points to consider:

  1. Experience and reputation: Look for an outfitter with experience and a good reputation in the industry. You can ask for references or read reviews from previous clients to help assess their reputation.
  2. Services offered: Consider what services the outfitter provides, such as scouting, transportation, lodging, and meals. Make sure their services align with your needs and expectations.
  3. Access to private land: Many outfitters in New Mexico have access to private land with high-quality antelope populations, which can increase your chances of a successful hunt. Consider if private land access is important to you when selecting an outfitter.
  4. Licensing and permits: Outfitters must be licensed and permitted to operate in New Mexico. Make sure to check that they have the necessary licenses and permits before hiring them.
  5. Cost and value: The cost of hiring an outfitter can vary widely, so it is important to consider the value you will receive for the cost. Look for an outfitter that offers a fair price and a high level of service and expertise.

By carefully considering these points, you can select an outfitter that will provide the services, expertise, and values that align with your hunting goals. If you are looking for one place to not only find outfitters but research all of the above points and check availability for a hunt, consider using Mallard Bay, an easy-to-use booking platform for sportsmen looking to book hunting and fishing trips with reputable outfitters and charters across North America. Mallard Bay does the hard work of compiling all of the amenities, lodging info, and other details of every outfitter on their platform so that you know exactly what you’ll be getting when you book your trip. Check out these outfitters to consider when planning your New Mexico antelope hunting trip. Be sure to check back regularly, new outfitters are being added constantly once all of the vetting has been done.

Antelope Hunting Gear

Antelope hunting doesn’t require a ton of species-specific gear to ensure a successful and safe trip. As an Eastern hunter, I found that I had almost everything I needed for my trip, but there were a few things that I wished I would have had. Below I will go through a checklist of things you will certainly need to make your hunt comfortable and successful. 

Antelope Hunting Gear Checklist

  1. Rifle or bow: Don’t overthink this. Choose a rifle or bow that you are comfortable and proficient with. Your whitetail deer setup will work just fine on antelope. What’s more important is knowing how to shoot it at long distances and with crosswinds. 
  2. Hunting backpack: A good hunting backpack can carry all of your gear and keep it organized. Personally I would opt for a design that has load-hauling capacity. Antelope are not huge animals, so if you don’t have too far to go, you can gut your animal in the field and haul him right out for a cleaner and easier processing job back at camp. 
hauling an antelope
I field dressed and hauled this buck out 1200 yards just to show my Western buddies I could hack. 
  1. Binoculars: You will use binoculars constantly while antelope hunting. Bring something in 8-12X. 
  2. Spotting scope: A spotting scope can provide a closer view of antelope and help you assess their size. This is a great benefit to keep you from wasting time making stalks on herds that do not have an animal you wish to take. Make sure your tripod has a counterweight hook, as winds can be fierce and make your view rather shaky. Without stability, it will be hard to tell what kind of buck you are looking over at long distances. This may cause you to make stalks only to find there are no animals you want to take if the stalk is successful. This is a big waste of time.
  3. Range finder: Long shots are common in antelope hunting. A rangefinder is vital not only for gauging distance for a shot, but also in gauging distancing for stalks. 
  4. Boots: Comfortable and durable hunting boots are a must. Make sure your boots are broken in before your hunt. 
  5. Hunting App: A hunting app like OnXMaps or Huntstand can help you navigate unfamiliar areas and mark important locations. This is very helpful in marking herds that may be on private land or measuring distances to help you with a stalk. IT’s also really fun to take stock of how many acres you hunt over a week. I was surprised to see that during my last antelope hunt, we covered over 60,000 acres!
  6. Hunting Pants with kneepads – This was one thing I didn’t have on the first antelope hunt that I sorely (literally) regretted not getting. Cactus is prevalent in antelope country, and when spotting and stalking you will inevitably end up on your hands, knees, and elbows. Get a good pair of knee pads or hunting pants with knee pads built in or you’ll be picking out cactus for weeks afterward, ask me how I know.
  7. Scope Cover or Scope Caps – Antelope country is inherently dusty. You’ll be happy you brought a scope cover or caps to keep your optics clean. 
  8. Shooting Sticks or Bipod – If rifle hunting, having a steady rest can be the difference between making that long shot or passing for a shorter opportunity. 
  9. Merino Wool Baselayers – Merino wool outperforms any other material for multi-day hunting and will keep you from chafing if you are prone to that. Make sure you get Merino wool underwear as well as socks and baselayer tops and bottoms
  10. Binocular Harness – A good binocular harness will hold your binoculars, rangefinder, basic first aid, and other essentials while keeping your optics clean. You may find it beneficial to drop your pack at some point, and having your binocular harness with all your essentials is very helpful. In a pinch, it also doubles as a rifle rest. 
knee pads
The right gear will let you take a much more comfortable, successful final shot at your New Mexico antelope.

Final Thoughts On New Mexico Antelope Hunting

New Mexico is one of the top states for antelope hunting in North America. As with most types of Western hunting, there are a lot of details to consider. From obtaining the necessary licenses and permits to scouting locations and selecting the right gear and outfitters, this guide has covered all the essential aspects of antelope hunting in New Mexico. If you’re heading out after Pronghorn this season, remember to get your body in good condition well before your hunt and spend a lot of time at the range. If you put in the effort, you will be rewarded!

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