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Getting started with New Mexico elk hunting units

New Mexico elk hunting is still vastly under-rated yet growing in popularity.  Many people hunting elk in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho are now seeing New Mexico as a prime location for a life changing experience. The state’s popularity as an elk hunting destination is no surprise given the massive amount of public land available.  While New Mexico Game and Fish divide the states into 59 different hunting units. We’ve selected the top units for chasing trophy bulls.

New Mexico state game management units - LOH Outfitters

Unit 10

Overview: New Mexico Unit 10 is dominated by ponderosa pine and juniper. It’s thick country and a very challenging areas to hunt if you don’t know where to go or haven’t scouted the area during the off season. This unit doesn’t have a lot of glassing opportunities. If you are seeking a trophy elk you’ll have use calling as a primary hunting tactic. Cibola National Forest makes up a significant portion of this elk hunting unit. The Cibola National Forest (pronounced SEE-bo-lah) is a 1,633,783 acre (6,611.7 km2) area with elevations ranging from 5,000 ft (1,500 m) to 11,301 ft (3,445 m). The Cibola National Forest currently has 137,701 acres designated as Wilderness.

Unit 10 is known for bugling bulls and the rut hunt is often described as a hunt you’ll talk about for the rest of your life. Be prepared to cover a lot of ground in a very rough country. All opportunities are earned.

New Mexico Elk Hunting Seasons 

Early Elk Muzzleloader season is October 10-14.

Scouting:  General area maps include BLM and U.S. Forest Service Maps.  We recommend a combination of maps including the use of Google Earth and available mapping apps like OnyX to really dial in the specific areas you want to hunt.

Maps for GMU 10

BLM Maps: Zuni Quad, Gallup Quad, Grants Quad, and Acoma Pueblo Quad.

US Forest Service Maps: Cibola National Forest, Mount Taylor District.

These and other maps may be found at NM Public Lands Information Center, (877) 851-8946, or you can go to their website http://plicmapcenter.org/NM/

Unit 13

Overview: Cibola National Forest makes up a significant portion of this elk hunting unit. The Cibola National Forest (pronounced SEE-bo-lah) is a 1,633,783 acre (6,611.7 km2) area with elevations ranging from 5,000 ft (1,500 m) to 11,301 ft (3,445 m). The Cibola National Forest currently has 137,701 acres designated as Wilderness. This unit is excellent for primitive weapon hunts (bow and muzzleloader. We covered this in a recent blog post

New Mexico Elk Hunting Seasons

  • Elk Youth Muzzleloader season is October 10 – 14.
  • Elk 1st Muzzleloader October 17-21.
  • Elk 2nd Muzzleloader October 24-28

Scouting:  General area maps include BLM and U.S. Forest Service Maps.  We also recommend using Google Earth or OnX for finding water sources and recent burn areas.

Maps for GMU 13

BLM Maps: Acoma Pueblo Quad, Magdalena Quad, Fence Lake Quad, Belen Quad, Quemado Quad, and Socorro Quad.

U.S. FOREST SERVICE:
Cibola National Forest, Magdalena District. These and other maps may be found at the New Mexico Public Lands Information Center:
1-877-851-8946 and http://plicmapcerter.org/NM/.

Unit 36

Overview

Lincoln National Forest is located in southern New Mexico.  This forest covers over 1,103,897 acres and stretches across three counties near the Texas border. The terrain includes four mountain ranges and a mix of desert to heavily forested mountains and sub-alpine grasslands.  

New Mexico Elk Hunting Seasons

  • Elk Early Muzzleloader season is October 10 -14
  • Elk Rifle is October 17- 21 and October 31 – November 4

Scouting

Hunting in unit 36 is featured in one of our recent blog posts. General area maps include BLM and U.S. Forest Service Maps.  We also recommend using Google Earth or OnX for finding water sources and recent burn areas. Our guides scout this unit regularly and help our clients more easily locate bull elk.

Maps for GMU 36

U.S. Forest Service 

Lincoln National Forest, Sacramento Ranger District. These and other maps may be found at the New Mexico Public Lands Information Center: 1-877-851-8946 and http://plicmapcerter.org/NM/.