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Hunting

Ross' and snow geese on wildlife refuge / © Richard Albers, USFWSHunting is one of the priority recreational uses on National Wildlife Refuges and compatible with the mission of this refuge. Organized hunting of surplus wildlife species is one tool used to maintain wildlife populations at a level compatible with the available habitat. Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges is a privilege, please respect it.

The following information is for the 2015-2016 New Mexico Game and Fish license year.  Please contact the refuge's Hunt Program Coordinator, Shane Weigand at email address: daniel_weigand@fws.gov or (575) 835-1828 extension 231 with questions regarding hunting on Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.  Applications for permit hunts are available by clicking the link below.

Bosque del Apache Hunting Application (LINK)

General Hunting Regulations

  • These regulations supplement the general regulations that govern hunting on wildlife refuges as set forth in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations. 
  • We allow hunting of quail, cottontail rabbits, dove and mule deer with the following regulations:
  • State and federal hunting regulations regarding methods of take, dates, bag limits, etc., apply to all hunting on the refuge, in addition to refuge specific regulations.
  • Transportation of weapons across areas closed to hunting is allowed only when weapons are unloaded and cased.
  • Hunting of species not expressly mentioned is prohibited. No canoeing, boating, or floating is allowed through the refuge.
  • Hunting dogs may be used to retrieve game, but must be kept on a leash when not hunting.
  • Light Goose (snow geese, blue phase snow, and Ross’s geese) and Youth Turkey hunting opportunities are available through an application process. 

Light Goose Hunting Application Information
The 2015/2016 Light Goose Hunting Season dates begin December 14, 2015 with the hunt dates on: December 14, 16, and 18-2015 AND January 18, 20, and 22-2016.

APPLICATION DEADLINE HAS PASSED - December 6th, 2015; HUNTER NOTIFICATION - December 8-10th, 2015

This year the Application Form is an on-line, secure, fillable Form.  Hunters are selected by a lottery drawing. Complete the linked application form above, to participate in the drawing.  For the 2015-2016 light goose hunt, up to 30 permits will be issued for each hunt day.  Each permit is valid for one day only.  Eligible hunters can apply only once, if a hunter’s name appears on more than one application, those applications will be voided. Permits may not be transferred to another person or hunt dates changed.  Choose TWO dates and place by “Preference” in the space provided on the application form.  Only ONE date will be selected. Unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to show up on each hunt day for possible standby slots.  Standby hunters present each morning may be randomly assigned unfilled blinds.

A $6.00 application fee is required for each application submitted online.

Hunters must report to refuge headquarters by 4:45 am on each hunt day for hunter check-in, refuge orientation, and blind selection.  Hunters will be transported to field by 5:30 am and the hunt will conclude daily at 11:00 am.  The bag limit is 20 light geese per day.  All other wildlife species are protected.  Hunters are allowed 50 non-toxic shotgun shells. Light Geese may be taken with shotguns no larger than 10 gauge firing nontoxic shot, holding no more than 3 shells.    

Hunters are responsible for compliance with all State and Federal hunting regulations.  Also hunters must have the following in their possession: New Mexico Department of Game and Fish small game license, Harvest Information Program (HIP) Number, Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp) for hunters over 16 years of age, and Hunter Education certificate for hunters under the age of 18.  Youth hunters (under 18) must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

For all the details, please see our announcement

Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Information
The Youth Spring Turkey Hunt is a high quality guided hunting opportunity for hunters under 18 years of age. The hunt provides a unique opportunity for young hunters to experience the excitement of hunting this wary and challenging native species of New Mexico. The goal of the hunt is more than just harvesting a bird. The hunt focuses on teaching young hunters safe and ethical hunting practices and the art of setting up blinds, decoys and calling turkeys. All hunters must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian.

Application deadline: March 14th, 2016;  Hunter Notification March 21st, 2016

April 9-10, 2016
April 16-17, 2016
April 23-24, 2016
April 30-May 1, 2016
May 7-8, 2016

Big Game Hunting
Mule Deer Hunts
Hunting for mule deer is permitted during appropriate state hunting seasons. Areas open for mule deer include the following:

West Side - Mule Deer:
Primitive weapons -- State Highway 1 to west boundary, with the exception of Unit 3 and those areas closed to hunting (see map).
Modern firearms -- Power-line to west boundary Access on the west side of the railroad tracks is either by State Highway 1, or via Gravel Pit Road.

East Side - Mule Deer:
All legal weapons -- Rio Grande to the east boundary. East side access is by foot or bicycle only. Bicycle access is limited to established service roads only. Access to the east boundary is via San Pedro, off Highway 380, east of San Antonio.

Park at the gate leading into the refuge, but do not block access to the service road.

Oryx Hunts 
We allow oryx hunting from the east bank of the Rio Grande and to the east boundary of the refuge.  We will allow hunters possessing a valid State special off-range permit to hunt oryx on the refuge during the concurrent State deer season.

Small Game Hunting
Hunting for quail, cottontail rabbit, and dove is allowed during concurrent state designated hunting seasons. Non-toxic shotgun shells are required for all small game hunting. Contact the refuge for more information.

West Side - Small Game:
Areas open for small game hunting are State Highway 1 to west boundary, with the exception of Unit 3 and those areas closed to hunting (see map). Look for signs in this area. No hunting within ½ mile of developed areas, including the Refuge Visitor Center and Headquarters area, maintenance areas, Volunteer RV Park.

East Side - Small Game:
The east side is open to small game hunting from the Rio Grande to the east boundary. 

Helpful Information
Fishing/Frogging Map
Hunting Map
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

Page Photo Credits — Ross' and snow geese on wildlife refuge / © Richard Albers, USFWS
Last Updated: Dec 08, 2015
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