How To Get Elk, Deer, and Antelope Tags in New Mexico for My Property
Ranchers are not automatically enrolled in any of the New Mexico landowner tag programs. To see if you qualify you must sign up and apply through your NM Department of Game and Fish. There are 3 types of management zones. The Primary Management Zones are what was always referred to as EPLUS for landowners.
Ranchers in New Mexico can click on this MAP LINK here to see if their property is located within the boundaries of a PMZ. Clicking on the legend will reveal the pink color as the Primary Management Zone and the orange color is Special Management Zone.
Primary Management Zone (previously COER) –
These pink areas displayed for NM where all elk license quotas are set by the NMDOW commission. The biologist sets the harvest objectives then decides how to allocate the determined number of general draw elk hunting licenses and how many to distribute as private land authorizations. The Primary Management Zones were expanded for the 2019 season for the following Big Game Management Units (GMU) 9, 12, 13, 21B, and 34.
New Mexico Secondary Elk Management Zones –
These areas/properties are not inside the primary and/or special management zones. The SMZ has no specific management goals for big game and therefore landowner tags are not available to sell. In these Secondary Management Zones or areas, private land licenses can be purchased over-the-counter; however, hunters or individuals must have a NM ranch code and written permission from the landowner to purchase a New Mexico hunting license.
How does New Mexico Division of Wildlife distribute the private land authorizations?
They are issued to qualified individual landowners in the Special and Primary Management Zones through a program called EPLUS. Landowner tags can be sold to hunters, traded for items, bartered for any legal item or used by anyone of your choosing. Once a hunter obtains an elk authorization he must then purchase an elk license for youth, adult and resident or non-resident to legally hunt.
See if you qualify to be a New Mexico EPLUS landowner tag recipient.
New Mexico Landowner Tag Qualifications for Property Owners
For lands that are inside the boundaries of the Primary Management Zone, the number and type of private land elk authorizations available to landowners is limited and controlled through regulation. EPLUS is a voluntary program available to eligible landowners. To qualify for participation a private property must make a meaningful contribution to elk and meet the following conditions:
- The property must be inhabited and regularly used by elk for the majority of at least one season.
- The property must contain some habitat components suitable for elk that are beneficial to their summer, winter, or transitional range and receive a minimum Ranch Score of seven.
- The property cannot be within a village, town, or recorded subdivision with covenants or ordinances that prohibit hunting and/or the discharge of firearms.
New Mexico Landowner Tag Allocations thru EPLUS
How private land authorizations are allocated to individual landowners:
The total number and type of authorizations available to landowners that are within the boundaries of a Primary Management Zone is determined by the percentage of public land to private land.
Once the number of authorizations available to private lands in a GMU is determined, ranches will receive individual authorizations based on the percentage of the private land that ranch has within the GMU. For example, if a ranch comprises 10% of the private land in the GMU, it will receive approximately 10% of the authorizations available. Ranches able to receive at least one whole authorization through this formula are considered Base Ranches.
When a property is not large enough to receive at least one whole authorization through the formula, it is considered a Small Contributing Ranch (SCR). In the past, there was a rotational system used for the SCR draw whereby an SCR could not receive an authorization of a specific type until all SCRs within the GMU had received that specific authorization type. With the new rule, SCRs will compete for authorizations in a random draw weighted on the ranches ranch score.
Bonus and two-year unconverted allocations will now be added into the pool for the SCR drawing first, which will improve the odds for the SCR draw. Any bonus or two-year unconverted allocations remaining after the SCR draw will be redirected to the acre based allocation formula for base ranches.
The number of authorizations available to landowners is subject to change. Landowners cannot be guaranteed a specific number of authorizations per year. The acreage based formula used to issue authorizations is described in detail in the EPLUS rule (19.30.5 NMAC).
Additional incentive authorizations may be available to landowners that are within the Primary Management Zone to recognize management practices that significantly benefit elk. Incentive authorizations are only available if there are left-over authorizations for a GMU.
Private land elk authorizations will be issued to landowners each year in May. If a landowner has been issued authorizations, they will receive an Authorizations Account Statement in the mail.
New Mexico Landowner Tag/Authorizations Rules and Facts
With only two exceptions, private lands located within the Primary Management Zone boundary may have the option to receive either unit-wide or ranch-only authorizations.
Unit-wide authorizations are not available in GMUs 4 and 5A; ranches in these units may only receive ranch-only authorizations.
Landowners may select from the ranch-only or unit-wide option, where available each year when the agreement is reviewed, signed and returned to the Department. Once the agreement has been received, no changes will be made regarding the unit-wide or ranch only option for the upcoming season.
A New Mexico unit-wide authorization allows a NM hunter to buy a unit-wide private land elk license. Unit-wide hunters are allowed to hunt legally accessible public lands and unit-wide private lands within the boundaries of the Game Management Unit (GMU).
Unit-wide private lands are open to properly licensed elk hunters during each public elk hunt for the sole purpose of hunting elk. Hunters are allowed free, unrestricted, and equal access to unit-wide ranches. Unit-wide ranches are not open for camping. Scouting may occur during legal shooting hours during the two days immediately preceding the start of the hunt.
A ranch-only authorization allows a hunter to buy a ranch-only private land elk license. Ranch-only hunters are restricted to the private land within the boundaries of the ranch. No public lands may be hunted using a ranch-only private land elk license. In GMUs 4, 5A, 46, 55A, and 55B ranch-only hunters are allowed to hunt on other private lands within the GMU with written permission from the landowner.
Where do I find applications to sign up my property for New Mexico Landowner Tags?
Here is a list of links for new applicants wanting to sign their property up into the New Mexico landowner tag program, EPLUS
New Applicants for New Mexico Landowner Tag Program EPLUS
EPLUS Participation Guideline Commission Approved for New Mexico
EPLUS Habitat Programs for New Mexico Landowners
New Mexixo EPLUS Special Management Ranch Application
New Mexico Landowner Tag EPLUS Account Changes/Updates
EPLUS applications are available online, at any Department of Game and Fish office, or by calling 1-888-248-6866. Applications are normally available for the following year by October 1. Applications must be submitted to the Department, hand delivered or post marked, no later than January 5th for the current application period. Applications submitted after the deadline and incomplete applications will be rejected. There is no fee to submit an EPLUS Application. Early submittal is encouraged to ensure the application is complete by the deadline.
The following documentation is required to be submitted with the application. Please see the application for more detailed information.
- Initial EPLUS application and agreement.
- Copy of current recorded deed(s).
- Most recent property tax records from the county for the property included in the application.
- Ranch location and boundary map.
- Assignment of authorized ranch contact – signatures must be notarized
Applications should be mailed or hand delivered to:
EPLUS Program Manager
Wildlife Management Division
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
P.O. Box 25112
Sante Fe, NM 87504
1 Wildlife Way
Santa Fe, NM 87507
Applications are reviewed in the order they are received. New applications will be evaluated to make sure they qualify for participation in the NM EPLUS program.
All ranches within the Primary Management Zone will be evaluated using a scoring system that assesses specific habitat measures. Scoring will be done by a committee consisting of local biologists and conservation officers assessing six major criteria; forage, water, cover, surrounding area, agricultural use, and for other meaningful benefits not captured elsewhere. Ranches must receive a minimum final score of seven points to qualify for the EPLUS program. The application review process is normally finished by the end of April.
Qualifying properties that are within the Primary Management Zone will be assigned an Elk Contribution Rating (ECR). The ECR is used to measure the frequency that elk are on the property.
- 1.00 = Occasional elk presence and use.
- 1.25 = Frequent elk presence and use.
- 1.50 = Continuous elk presence and use.
If the Department determines that a property does not qualify to participate in the program, the landowner will be notified. Non-qualifying landowners have the right to request a review of the Department’s decision. Review requests should be submitted in writing and include documentation that refutes the Department’s decision. The Department may take up to 45 days to consider the request.
Participating Landowners in New Mexico for EPLUS
New Mexico participating landowners will receive an annual EPLUS agreement from the Department. Agreements for lands that are in the Primary Management Zone are normally mailed out during the first part of December. The agreement must be signed and returned to the NMG&F Department, hand delivered or postmarked, by no later than January 5 of the year they wish to receive tags..
Landowners are required to report any changes to the acreage or boundaries of their properties within their EPLUS agreements. Changes must include all required documentation as described in the EPLUS agreement.
The EPLUS agreement sets forth the terms for participating in the program. A landowner may be removed from the EPLUS program if the Department determines that the landowner has falsely represented a property or has failed to comply with the Department or the terms in the EPLUS agreement. Landowners that have been removed from the program may have their properties inactivated and all unconverted authorizations they have been issued will be voided. Any landowner that has been removed from EPLUS for these reasons may be suspended from participating in any Department sanctioned private lands programs for a period up to 3 years. They may also be subject to the revocation processes set forth in 19.31.2 NMAC.
Secondary Management Zone in New Mexico
The Secondary Management Zone (SMZ) is that area within the state where no specific elk management goals are set and licenses are available over-the-counter to hunters who possess a ranch code from a landowner who is registered with the department. Hunters must also have written permission from the landowner issuing the ranch code for a private land elk license to be valid.
New Mexico landowners in the SMZ will need to register their ranches through the NMF&G Department’s Online Licensing System to receive an over-the-counter ranch code at: https://onlinesales.wildlife.state.nm.us/. The Online Licensing System is where NM landowners will create their personal account and obtain a Customer Identification Number (CIN). This is the same account where hunters, trappers and anglers purchase licenses and apply for the draw. If a NM landowner already has a customer account, there is no need to create another one.
After creating a customer account, New Mexico landowners in the SMZ will be required to complete the SMZ Ranch Code Application (located below) and, after NMF&G department approval, a ranch code will be assigned to the ranch in theOnline Licensing System. This ranch code will be required for hunters to purchase a private land elk license for that specific property. Landowners will need to renew their ranch code in the Online Licensing System at the beginning of each license year.
New Mexico ranch codes will only be issued to ranches/properties or portions of ranches/properties that lie within the Secondary Management Zone. If a portion of a private land ranch resides in or crosses into a Special or Primary Management Zone application must be made to the EPLUS program to enroll those acres separately. If you are uncertain where your property is in relation to the new elk management zones you may view a map at: http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/hunting/maps/elk-private-lands/elk-mgmt-zone-maps/.
All licenses in the Secondary Management Zone shall be ranch-only and transferrable to other private lands within the same GMU and management zone with written landowner permission. Ranch codes will be available in the Customer Account through the department’s Online Licensing System at: https://onlinesales.wildlife.state.nm.us/. If you do not have internet access you may also obtain ranch codes by contacting the department at 1-888-248-6866 or by visiting any NMDGF office.
New Mexico Special Management Zone for Elk Landowner Vouchers
Significant changes were recently made to the Private Land Elk License Allocation rule (19.30.5 NMAC), better known as the EPLUS program. Part of that change included creation of the Special Management Zone (SPZ) comprising Game Management Units (GMUs) 46, 54 west of Hwy 199 and 55A.
The SPZ is an area within the state where no specific elk management goals are set however some control of the licenses is desirable due to the importance of these local herds and their proximity to the Primary Management Zone elk herds. In addition the SPZ is mainly or completely composed of private land and the EPLUS license allocation formula does not work as it does in other GMUs.
Landowners in the SPZ will continue to operate largely as in the past and elk authorizations will be a negotiation between the Department and the landowner.
For license year 2020-2021 all New Mexico elk authorizations allocated to ranches in the SPZ were re-evaluated and established based on the average number of licenses used over the last three years for each active ranch. Negotiations to adjust the total number of authorizations can be considered by calling 575-445-2311 and providing justification to the New Mexico Game and Fish.
The new elk rule established season dates for the SPZ in New Mexico. Archery season will be September 1-24 and the any-legal weapon (rifle) season will be any 5 days from October 1 – December 31.
Any antlerless authorizations negotiated in a landowner’s agreement that are intended to be used after December 31 may be considered for January hunt dates by calling 575-445-2311 and providing justification to the department. Requests must be made at least 10 business days prior to the requested hunt extension dates in order to allow time for processing. Authorizations issued for January will be ranch-only and not transferable to other private land or ranches..
New Mexico landowners wishing to enroll new property located in the SPZ must complete the EPLUS Initial Application and Agreement located here: EPLUS 2021-22 Initial Application and Agreement PMZ and SPZ
If you are uncertain where your property is in relation to the new elk management zones you may view a map at: http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/hunting/maps/elk-private-lands/elk-mgmt-zone-maps/.