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Hunters planning to enter the drawing for 2011-2012 big-game licenses have until March 28 to apply with the Department of Game and Fish.
This year’s deadline is earlier than previous years’ to allow hunters to take advantage of discounts available when they buy combination hunting and fishing licenses. The department is expecting more than 130,000 applications for about 62,500 licenses for deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and other animals.
At the Valles Caldera National Preserve, Hunt Manager Mick Trujillo said the numbers of hunters fluctuate year to year but this year the preserve will give away 75 bull elk tags and 150 antlerless elk tags.
Due to the mild snow fall this winter, Trujillo said not a lot of elk migrated off the preserve. As a result, “We are anticipating a very a good hunt season,” he said.
He added the first archery hunt of the season will be Sept. 6-12 followed by another Sept. 16-20.
Hunters will also be out in the preserve in October and November.
“We promote two main drivers on hunting in the preserve, which are safety and quality of experience in everything we do related to hunting on the preserve,” Trujillo said.
There have not been any serious accidents during the hunting season, which Trujillo credits to the preserve’s work to promote safety and the quality of the hunters.
“We have had many, many good hunters hunt the preserve,” he said.
Whether to hunt at the preserve or elsewhere, the deadline to apply at www.wildlife.state.nm.us is 5 p.m. March 28. Paper applications must be postmarked on or before March 28, or delivered by 5 p.m. March 28 to the Santa Fe office.
“The earlier deadline will allow hunters to save some money by buying combination licenses, and to have full use of their license when the license year begins April 1,” said Alexa Sandoval, the department’s chief of administrative services.
Late applications will not be accepted. Applicants are reminded that everyone applying for a public-land license or permit, or purchasing a license via a private land authorization or the Valles Caldera must first obtain a free Customer ID Number online at www.wildlife.state.nm.us or in person from any department office.
This number must be included on each application, paper or online or the application will be rejected.
Hunters who held deer permits or elk licenses for the 2010-2011 season must have reported their harvest results before applying.
Hunters who fail to report their 2010-2011 harvest results – successful or not – will have their 2011-2012 applications rejected.
Harvest reports can be submitted online at www.newmexico-hunt.com or by calling toll-free (888) 248-6866.
There will be an $8 late fee charged for hunters who missed the Feb. 15 reporting deadline.
Additionally, hunters who applied for 2011-2012 licenses for oryx, special turkey and bear licenses on Wildlife Management Areas will be able to check their results starting today on the Department of Game and Fish website, www.wildlife.state.nm.us or in person at any Department office.
Be mindful of fire, bears
Anyone who ventures in the outdoors this summer is urged to be aware of drier than normal conditions for the spring and summer.
The Department of Game and Fish advises outdoor enthusiasts to be careful with fires.
Anglers, campers and hikers who use state wildlife areas are urged to check restrictions before they travel. Wildlife areas observe the same fire restrictions in place by the New Mexico Forestry Division, or in adjoining national forests, Bureau of Land Management and State Trust lands.
Fireworks are banned on all 105 wildlife areas that the Department either owns or leases around the state. Warmer weather also will bring out the bears, and campers are urged to avoid unpleasant encounters by properly disposing of trash and using “bear-aware” camping practices while in the outdoors.
That includes keeping food and garbage securely stored, never storing food in tents, never cooking near where you sleep, and changing clothing that could hold odors before sleeping.
For more information about fire restrictions statewide, please visit nmfireinfo.wordpress.com, www.publiclands.org/firenews/NM.php or www.emnrd.state.nm.us/FD. Information about bears can be found at www.wildlife.state.nm.us.