Black-tailed Jackrabbit among creosotebush

Along the banks of the Rio Grande lies Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, a rest stop, home and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Since 1939, hunters and wildlife enthusiasts from around the world have been drawn to this oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert that consistently provides outstanding wildlife observation opportunities on more than 57,000 acres of protected habitat. The refuge has hunting opportunities for big game, migratory birds and upland game.

2022-2023 Hunt Regulations are now published!

Hunting and sport fishing opportunities are authorized and provided on FWS-managed lands in accordance with federal, state, and tribal (where applicable) regulations and seasons. 

For questions on hunting or sport fishing opportunities, regulations, and access, please contact the refuge. 

In addition to specific hunting regulations, there are regulations governing visitor use on the refuge. Please visit our Rules and Regulations page for more information. 

The refuge is open from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset daily. 

Legal shooting hours (with the exception of light geese when applicable), license requirements, bag limit, and possession limit are consistent with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. 

After reviewing information found on this website, please contact us if you have additional questions. 

Dates below are for the 2022-2023 hunt season. 

Migratory game bird hunting dates and locations (note: the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has not yet published their migratory game bird and upland game rules and information booklet - dates for the 2022-2023 season will be updated after that is made available)
Species West Hunt Unit Bajada Hunt Unit East Hunt Unit
Mourning dove

Sep 1 - Oct 28 and Dec 1 - Jan 1

Sep 1 - Oct 28 and Dec 1 - Jan 1 Sep 1 - Oct 28 and Dec 1 - Jan 1
White-winged dove Sep 1 - Oct 28 and Dec 1 - Jan 1 Sep 1 - Oct 28 and Dec 1 - Jan 1 Sep 1 - Oct 28 and Dec 1 - Jan 1

 

Upland game hunting dates and locations
Species West Hunt Unit Bajada Hunt Unit East Hunt Unit
Eurasian collared dove Apr 1 - Mar 31 Apr 1 - Mar 31 Apr 1 - Mar 31
Gambel's quail Nov 15 - Feb 15 Nov 15 - Feb 15 Nov 15 - Feb 15
Scaled quail Nov 15 - Feb 15 Nov 15 - Feb 15 Nov 15 - Feb 15
Northern bobwhite quail Nov 15 - Feb 15 Nov 15 - Feb 15 Nov 15 - Feb 15
Montezuma quail Nov 15 - Feb 15 Nov 15 - Feb 15 Nov 15 - Feb 15

 

Non-game and unprotected species hunting dates and locations
Species West Hunt Unit Bajada Hunt Unit East Hunt Unit
Jackrabbit (no closed season) (no closed season) (no closed season)
Cottontail (no closed season) (no closed season) (no closed season)
Feral hog Jun 1 - Mar 31 Jun 1 - Mar 31 Jun 1 - Mar 31

 

Big game hunting dates and locations

Species West Hunt Unit Bajada Hunt Unit East Hunt Unit
Mule deer (archery) (GMU 17) Sep 1 - 24 and Jan 1 - 15 Not applicable Not applicable
Mule deer (archery) (GMU 20) Sep 1 - 24 and Jan 1 - 15 Sep 1 - 24 and Jan 1 - 15 Sep 1 - 24 and Jan 1 - 15
Mule deer (muzzleloader) (GMU 17) Oct 29 - 31 Not applicable Not applicable
Mule deer (muzzleloader) (GMU 20) Oct 29 - 31 Oct 29 - 31 Oct 29 - 31
Mule deer (any legal sporting arm) (GMU 17) Nov 5 - 9, Nov 12 - 16 and Nov 19 - 27 (youth only) Not applicable Not applicable
Mule deer (any legal sporting arm) (GMU 20) Nov 5 - 9 and Nov 12 - 16 Nov 5 - 9 and Nov 12 - 16 Nov 5 - 9 and Nov 12 - 16
Javelina Jan 1 - Mar 31 Jan 1 - Mar 31 Jan 1 - Mar 31
Oryx Closed Closed Jun 1 - Mar 31

 

Turkey hunting dates and locations
Species West Hunt Unit Bajada Hunt Unit East Hunt Unit
Bearded Rio Grande Turkey Apr 15 - May 10 and Apr 8 - 10 (youth only) Apr 15 - May 10 and Apr 8 - 10 (youth only) Apr 15 - May 10 and Apr 8 - 10 (youth only)

GMU - Game Management Unit

Hunt Unit Descriptions

West Hunt Unit

How do I enter this unit?

Enter this hunt unit from the Canyon National Recreation Trail National Recreation Trail
A National Recreation Trail is a land-based or water-based trail that provides an outdoor recreation opportunity on federal, state, tribal or local public land. National Recreation Trails were established by the National Trails System Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-543), which authorized creation of a national trails system composed of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails. Whereas National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails may be designated only by an act of Congress, National Recreation Trails may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture to recognize exemplary trails of local and regional significance.

Learn more about National Recreation Trail
, Chupadera Wilderness National Recreation Trail, Covey Run Road (parking areas are located at each of these locations), or the walk in only Hunting Access Area adjacent to the refuge’s north boundary fence via State Highway 1.

Note: This hunt unit includes congressionally designated wilderness. We do not allow the use of horses, motor vehicles, motorized equipment, or mechanical devices (such as game carts or bicycles) in the Chupadera and Indian Well Wilderness Units. Please help us preserve wilderness character by practicing leave no trace principles. 

What’s the boundary?

The West Hunt Unit extends west from the powerline to the refuge’s western boundary fence, and runs approximately six miles from the refuge’s south boundary fence to the refuge’s north boundary fence.

What methods of take are allowed?

Any legal sporting arm, non-toxic shot is required for shotguns.

Note: The West Hunt Unit includes two separate Game Management Units (GMU): GMU 17 and GMU 20. 

Bajada Hunt Unit

How do I enter this unit?

Enter this hunt unit from the Canyon National Recreation Trail, Chupadera Wilderness National Recreation Trail, Covey Run Road (parking areas are located at each of these locations), or the walk in only Hunting Access Area adjacent to the refuge’s north boundary fence via State Highway 1. 

Note: Areas open to hunting will be posted with PUBLIC HUNTING AREA and NONTOXIC SHOT ZONE signs (if applicable), and units closed to hunting adjacent to hunting areas will be posted with NO HUNTING ZONE and/or AREA CLOSED signs. 

What’s the boundary?

The Bajada Hunt Unit extends east from the powerline and runs approximately six miles from the refuge’s south boundary fence to the refuge’s north boundary fence. The east boundary follows the transition of the sloped hills to the flat terrain of the historic floodplain until the sloped hills intersect with the train tracks, where it continues along the train tracks southward until it intersects with State Highway 1, where it continues along State Highway 1 until it intersects with the refuge’s south boundary.

What methods of take are allowed?

Bows and arrows, crossbows and bolts, muzzle-loader or muzzle-loading shotguns only, non-toxic shot is required for shotguns/muzzle-loading shotguns. 

East Hunt Unit

How do I enter this unit?

Enter through hiker/horse gates on the North and East boundaries, where you may park and walk in or use horses and packstock (no motorized vehicles of any type allowed). In this hunt unit, bicycles are only allowed on the East Side Service Road. 

The easiest point of entry is the gate at the end of Guadalajara Road. From San Antonio, travel east on Highway 380, turn right onto San Pedro Road and travel south, turn left on Guadalajara Road and travel to the end of the road. Park near the walk-through horse gate leading into the refuge, but do not block access to the service road or the gate. 

Note: This hunt unit includes congressionally designated wilderness. We do not allow the use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment, or mechanical devices (such as game carts or bicycles) in the San Pasqual Wilderness Unit. Please help us preserve wilderness character by practicing leave no trace principles.

What’s the boundary?

The East Hunt Unit extends from the refuge’s eastern boundary fence to the western bank of the Rio Grande, and runs approximately six miles from the refuge’s south boundary fence to the refuge’s north boundary fence.

What methods of take are allowed?

Any legal sporting arm, non-toxic shot is required for shotguns. 

Special Hunts

Light Goose Hunts

Light goose hunting for the 2018-2023 seasons has been temporarily suspended due to changes in the agriculture for wildlife program on the refuge. Reconstruction and reorganization is under way and we anticipate the hunts to reconvene at that time. 

Spring Turkey Hunts for Youth

Lottery registration for the spring 2023 mentored Youth Turkey Hunt at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge will open in 2023.

Elk Population Management Hunts

Intermittently, elk hunts are conducted by lottery system through New Mexico Department of Game and Fish's elk population management list. You must apply through the state drawing system in the spring to potentially be chosen for a hunt at Bosque del Apache. In any given year, there is no guarantee that an elk hunt will occur at Bosque del Apache. Contact the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish for more information on applying for an elk population management hunt.