New Mexico Elk Hunting


There are two ways to get an elk license in New Mexico. The first is to apply for the public draw through New Mexico Game and Fish, which is the least expensive option. The other way to obtain a license is through the private landowner system.

The Landowner System

Landowners are given landowner tags based on the size of ranch they have, any habitat improvements they have made, and the number of elk using the ranch. Landowners are able to specify if they want their authorizations used specifically on their ranch – a ranch only license – or used through out the unit – a unit-wide license – including use on public land. These landowner tags are transferable, meaning that a hunter could purchase a license through a landowner if they did not draw a tag through the public draw. Top Notch Outfitters does have access to “unit wide” landowner tags for the areas we hunt so if you are unsuccessful in the draw you can still hunt by purchasing one of these unit wide tags through Top Notch Outfitters.  Top Notch also has Private Land Elk Hunts available.


The Draw System

There are three different draw pools a hunter can choose from in New Mexico. One pool is the “resident pool” which garners 84% of all the tags in that unit or area. The other pools are for non-residents who garner the remaining 16% of the tags in the unit. Of those 16% of non-resident tags, 10% go into the “outfitters pool” for hunters who book hunts with an outfitter, and 6% go into the general pool. When a hunter applies under an outfitter, he/she is entering the pool containing more than half of the available nonresident licenses (and usually less applicants) therefore increasing the odds of a draw.

Hunters can apply singly or in groups, with up to four applicants allowed per group submission. With group applications, either everyone draws a license or no one does.

When the draw takes place, Game and Fish will consider the hunter’s top three choices before they move onto the next applicant. This provides an opportunity for hunters to mix and match choices. For example: a hunter’s first choice might be the second archery season in unit 13, their second choice might be the rifle hunt in unit 34, and their third choice might be the muzzle loader hunt in unit 34 A hunter could also choose both archery hunts in unit 34 and one archery hunt in unit 13. Under this mix and match system, the possibilities for customizing hunting choices and experiences are vast.

The draw deadline for this year is March 18th. The results will be posted on the New Mexico Game and Fish website on April 29th. New this past year, the total license fee is due at the time the application is placed. License fees are $565 for standard hunts and $790 for quality and high-demand hunts plus a big game license that is $65.

Top Notch Outfitters offers draw hunts in several different areas:  the southern Sacramento Mountains, unit 34 and unit 36 in the Northern Sacramento mountains and unit 37 in the Capitan mountains.  All of the units that Top Notch operates in are quality units and fits into our “quality over quantity” motto.  Again, draw hunts are less expensive and are equal-opportunity. When a hunter enters the draw under an outfitter, it only increases the chances that the draw will be successful.


New Mexico Elk Hunting in the Sacramento Mountains, Unit 34 and 36

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The Sacramento Mountains are located in south central New Mexico and borders the Mescalero Apache Reservation. The two units that are in this region are unit 34 and 36.  Both units are similar in numbers of elk but the two noticeable differences between unit 34 and 36 is size of bulls and the terrain.  Unit 34 is much more moderate terrain where unit 36 has some easier to moderate country but a majority of 36 is difficult to extreme terrain.  The second difference between the two units is the quality of bulls.  Unit 36 still has good quality with an average bull being in the 280 to 300 class, it is my opinion that 34 has more of the bigger bulls.  The Sacramento region, both north (unit 36) and south (unit 34), has a large number of elk, including quality bulls. As with the Gila, hunters have a legitimate chance at finding a 350 class bull with most bulls falling into the 280 to 330 range. The Sacramento Mountain area is 6500 to 11,000 feet in elevation, and the terrain is moderate to fairly easy except for the wilderness portion in unit 36. This is a benefit to hunters of all ages and abilities. Again, Top Notch Outfitters recommends that hunters be in the best shape possible for an optimum hunting experience.  Top Notch offers New Mexico Rifle Elk Hunting along with New Mexico Archery Elk Hunting and New Mexico Elk Muzzle loading in the Sacramento mountain area.

Lodging will be local cabin rentals or RV. Rifle and Muzzle loader hunts include five days of hunting. Archery hunts include six, eight, or ten days of hunting.

Rates for this area are as follows:

New Mexico Archery Elk Hunting for the Sacramento Mountain area

1 on 1     6 Day = $5000        2 on 1     6 Day = $4000
1 on 1     8 Day = $6000        2 on 1     8 Day = $5000
1 on 1     10 Day = $7000      2 on 1     10 Day = $6000

2016 Archery Elk Dates in unit 34 and 36

September 1st-14th (6,8 or 10 day hunts)
September 15th-24th (6,8 or 10 day hunts)

New Mexico Muzzle Loader Elk Hunting for the Sacramento Mountain area

1 on 1     5 Day = $5000         2 on 1     5 Day = $4000

2016 Dates

October 15th-19th in unit 34

October 8th-12th in unit 36

New Mexico Rifle Elk Hunting for the Sacramento Mountain area

1 on 1     5 Day = $5000        2 on 1     5 Day = $4000

2016 Dates

October 22nd-26th in unit 34
October 15th-19th and October 31st-November 4th in unit 36

To book a hunt in the Sacramento Mountains, [button link=”” color=”red” size=”large” title=”Click Here” target=”_self” rel=”nofollow”] Click Here [/button].