Last year 9,300 mule deer and Coues deer were harvested in New Mexico, making it a decent hunting season. Drought continues to stress deer herds and hamper any attempts to increase both deer populations.

“Recruitment has been low the past three years in the southern part of the state, so hunting should reflect a decrease in the number of bucks,” said Kevin Rodden, southwest region habitat biologist for the N. M. Department of Game and Fish. “Harvest success rates have declined slightly across the state, but drastically in the South. The Department has responded by reducing license numbers in the southern part of the state.”

About 80,000 mule deer and 12,000 Coues’ call New Mexico home. They experienced one of the worst droughts on record this past year, until rains came in July. Rodden noted that an above average monsoon season around the state has revived the land, providing much-needed habitat for deer and other wildlife.

“This precipitation may have come too late this year, but we should be in good condition for next year, depending on winter moisture,” added Rodden.

Regulation Changes
This year the license and carcass tag have been combined. Hunters successful in the draw for any big-game species, as well as hunters purchasing a license online, now print their license at home (no printer–no worries, call: 1-888-248-6866 for assistance). On this year’s license is an area where the species must be completely blacked out or punched at the time of kill. Immediately upon arriving at a vehicle, camp, or place of storage, the date and time of kill must be permanently written on the appropriate line. Carcass tags will no longer be issued. For further information see pages 24-25 of the Hunting Rules and Information booklet.

Despite the persistence of drought, the Land of Enchantment provides plenty of public hunting land. The state’s most well-known Game Management Unit 2B gives hunters good opportunity to bag a mature muley.