Preferences of Applicants in the Draw for Public Land Elk Licenses

Preferences of Applicants in the Draw for Public Land Elk Licenses

GMU 6C, New Mexico

“Can’t see the forest for the trees”

                             — John Heywood, 1546

It is understandable that hunters are concerned about the number of available licenses for public land elk hunting and the alleged reduction in the chances of winning them due to the NMDGF EPLUS system. However, it is important to consider the facts before making any assumptions. In this case, it seems that the claim is baseless.

Here are some reasons why:

  • Wildlife biology and associated herd population management goals determine the number of elk hunting licenses available — not the number of hunters who want licenses1.
  • The number of available licenses assigned to public and private lands is based on the ratio of public/private acreage in each Primary Management Zone (PMZ) Game Management Unit (GMU).
  • An imbalance in this assignment could lead to elk bunching up on private land during elk season if hunting is eliminated or reduced on private lands2.
  • The EPLUS system helps landowners maintain critical, unfragmented habitat and migration corridors for the elk of New Mexico.  Protecting these vital habitats is key to maintaining healthy elk herds in New Mexico3.

The analysis of choices made by hunters in the NMDGF draw for elk hunting licenses on public land indicates that many of them are choosing ultra-competitive GMU/bag draw options.

Summary Statistics of Applicants in the NMDGF Draw for Public Land Elk Licenses for 2020, 2021, and 2022

A summary of the number of public land elk hunting licenses available via the NMDGF annual draw for {2020, 2021, and 2022} and the number of 1st choices by applicants in the draw by bag type are shown here.  Note that the weapon type chosen in the draw is aggregated in these data.

  • Each bag limit’s total number of available licenses (red bars in the chart) remained constant between years.
  • NM resident (R) applicants in each bag limit, except APRE/6/A, peaked in 2021 (note the log scale)
  • Nonresident (NR) applicants for ES licenses increased between 2020-2022.  NR applicants for MB peaked in 2021.
  • Outfitter (OF) applicants increased for every bag limit between 2020-2022.

Where Resident, Nonresidents, and Outfitters Prefer to Hunt Public Lands in New Mexico

Below is an analysis of the choices made by residents, nonresidents, and outfitters in the NMDGF draw for public land elk licenses. Select a tab for the years 2020, 2021, or 2022.

2022 GMU Preferences for Public Land Mature Bull Elk Licenses

Observations

  • The highly competitive GMU 16A and 16D were the top preferences for applicants aiming for an MB license in the 2022 NMDGF public land elk license draw.
  • In the 2022 draw, New Mexico residents show a more uniform distribution of preferences across GMUs for MB public land elk licenses compared to non-residents.The top three GMUs with the highest preference among NM residents are GMU16A (8.8%), GMU36 (7.8%), and GMU15 (7.2%). This may indicate that proximity to home is a factor for residents when selecting their preferred GMUs for hunting. In contrast, nonresidents may be more inclined to travel to a hunting destination independent of their home location.Of these top three GMU choices for MB resident applicants, the availability ratios4 are:
    • GMU16A = 0.051
    • GMU36 = 0.127
    • GMU15 = 0.224
  • Nonresidents drawing for MB licenses show stronger preferences for GMU16A (14.9%), GMU16D (10.1%), and GMU36 (9.3%).  The choices of nonresidents are not as uniformly distributed across the GMUs in the Primary Management Zone as compared with residents.  Nonresident hunters may be more willing to travel to GMU locations far from their homes than residents.
  • Outfitters drawing for MB licenses had stronger preferences for specific GMUs than others. Outfitters top three first choices for MB licenses were GMU16D (20.3%), GMU16A (15.8%), and GMU36 (7.9%).
  • In 2022, the top three choices for residents were, in order, {(GMU 34, ES), (GMU 6B, ES), and (GMU 16A, MB)}, which were the same top three choices for residents in 2021, and the same in 2020.
  • Nonresident’s top three choices, in order, were the same as that of residents in 2022 and 2021 and slightly different in 2020 with {(GMU 34, ES), (GMU 6B, ES), and (GMU 16A, ES) } — still very consistent from year to year in their choice preferences in the draw.
  • Outfitters top three choices, in order, were 2022 – {(GMU 34, ES), (GMU 16D, MB), and (GMU 6B, ES)}; 2021 – {(GMU 34, ES), (GMU 6B, ES), and (GMU 16A, MB)}; 2020 – {(GMU 34, ES), (GMU 16D, MB), and (GMU 6B, ES)}, also relatively the same from year to year.
2022 Resident Applicant, Mature Bull Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of New Mexico residents as their first choices for mature bull (MB) licenses in the 2022 public land elk hunting license draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

8.8% of resident applicants chose GMU 16A and an MB license as their first choice, making it the most preferred option compared to other GMU choices for public land MB elk hunting licenses—source 2022 NMDGF data.

2022 Nonresident Applicants, Mature Bull Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the preference of GMUs for nonresident applicants’ first choices for a mature bull (MB) license in the 2022 public land elk hunting license draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

GMU 16A was the most preferred choice among nonresident applicants for an MB elk license. 14.9% of nonresident applicants chose it as their first choice in the drawing, compared to all other GMU choices for an MB elk license—source 2022 NMDGF data.

2022 Outfitter Applicants, Mature Bull Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the preference of GMUs for outfitter mature bull choices in the 2022 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

Among outfitter applicants, GMU 16D was the most preferred choice. 20.8% of outfitter applicants chose it as their first choice in the 2022 drawing, compared to all other GMU choices for a public land MB elk license.  GMU 16A was the second preferred choice across all outfitters’ first choices for public land MB elk licenses in the 2022 draw.

2022 GMU Preferences for Public Land Either Sex Elk Licenses

Observations

  • GMU 34 was the top preference for either sex (ES) bag limits among NM residents, nonresidents, and outfitters
  • ES bag limits were available with all weapon types {any legal weapon, bow, muzzleloader}.

2022 Resident Applicant, Either Sex Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of New Mexico residents as their first choices for either sex (ES) licenses in the 2022 public land elk hunting license draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2022 Nonresident Applicants, Either Sex Public Land Elk License Preferences

This map displays the preference of GMUs for nonresident applicants’ first choices for either sex (ES) licenses in the 2022 public land elk hunting license draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2022 Outfitter Applicants, Either Sex Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the preference of GMUs for outfitter either sex (ES) choices in the 2022 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2022 GMU Preferences for Public Land Antlerless Elk Licenses

Observations

  • GMU 34 was the top choice for antlerless (A) bag limits for NM residents and outfitters in the draw for public land licenses.
2022 Resident Applicant, Antlerless Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of New Mexico residents as their first choices for antlerless (A) licenses in the 2022 public land elk hunting license draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2022 Outfitter Applicants, Antlerless Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the preference of GMUs for outfitter antlerless (A) choices in the 2022 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

The 2022 relative preferences of NM residents for 1st choice in the public land draw are shown here by GMU and bag limit.  Taller bars indicate GMU/bag choices that were more preferred as choices in the draw for public land elk hunting licenses. The draw does not have all bag limits in all GMUs.  Those GMUs with relative preferences of 1.0 in this chart indicate GMUs that were the only GMUs with the opportunity for a specific bag limit (e.g., GMU 4 being the only GMU with a bag of MB/A and GMU 34 being the only GMU with a bag of APRE/6/A).  These data show that GMUs 16A, 36, and 55A had the highest preferences for residents in the draw for 1st choice MB elk licenses. The hover/tooltip provides additional data on each GMU/bag.

Choices in the 2022 NMDGF Public Land Elk Hunting License Draw

ID zone GMU bag availLicenses availabilityRatio R_GMU_pref R_GMU_pref_rank NR_GMU_pref NR_GMU_pref_rank OF_GMU_pref OF_GMU_pref_rank R_1st_Choices NR_1st_Choices OF_1st_Choices Total_1st_Choices
129 PMZ 2 A 150 0.190 0.062 11.0 0.000 107.0 0.083 8.5 785 0 5 790
130 PMZ 2 ES 240 0.487 0.014 60.0 0.006 54.0 0.002 67.5 413 66 14 493
131 PMZ 2 MB 200 0.115 0.052 17.0 0.029 20.0 0.011 48.0 1,463 210 62 1,735
132 PMZ 2C A 50 0.222 0.018 50.0 0.000 107.0 0.033 26.0 223 0 2 225
133 PMZ 4 A 60 0.522 0.009 75.0 0.000 107.0 0.000 109.5 115 0 0 115
134 PMZ 4 ES 40 0.159 0.008 77.0 0.000 107.0 0.002 74.0 241 0 11 252
135 PMZ 5A A 40 0.870 0.004 107.0 0.000 107.0 0.000 109.5 46 0 0 46
136 PMZ 5A ES 10 0.526 0.001 126.0 0.000 85.0 0.000 109.5 18 1 0 19
137 PMZ 5A MB 40 0.377 0.004 108.0 0.001 74.0 0.000 82.5 97 7 2 106
138 PMZ 5B A 177 0.535 0.026 35.0 0.000 107.0 0.050 16.5 328 0 3 331
zone GMU bag availLicenses availabilityRatio R_GMU_pref R_GMU_pref_rank NR_GMU_pref NR_GMU_pref_rank OF_GMU_pref OF_GMU_pref_rank R_1st_Choices NR_1st_Choices OF_1st_Choices Total_1st_Choices
∑ = 1,007 ∑ = 3,729 ∑ = 284 ∑ = 99 ∑ = 4,112

This spreadsheet can be sorted to display the top choices of applicants for public land elk licenses in New Mexico. It shows the number of first-choice selections for specific GMU (Game Management Unit) and bag values in the draw.

The availability ratio, given by the number of available licenses divided by the number of applicants, is given for each (GMU, bag) combination.  It is related to the odds of being successful in the draw.5

The top three choices for residents were, again, (GMU 34, ES), (GMU 6B, ES), and (GMU 16A, MB) with availability ratios of {0.065, 0.017, 0.051} respectively — relatively low odds of winning in the draw.

The preferences of NM residents (R), nonresidents (NR), and outfitters (OF) are compared against each other for the same bag limit.  For example, amongst nonresidents, which GMU was chosen the most in the public land elk license draw for an ES elk license? The answer for these data is that most nonresidents (23.6%) wanting an ES public land elk license chose GMU 34 in the draw.

  • R_GMU_PREF = GMU preferences of residents relative to all other resident applicants for a given bag.
  • NR_GMU_PREF = GMU preferences of nonresidents relative to all other nonresident applicants for a given bag.
  • OF_GMU_PREF = GMU preferences of outfitters relative to all other outfitter applicants for a given bag.

Another example is for resident applicants interested in a mature bull (MB) elk hunting license; GMU 16A was their top choice, appealing to 8.9% of resident MB license applicants.  (GMU 16A, MB) had an availability ratio of 0.051.  In contrast, fewer (6.8%) residents applied for (GMU 51, MB), which had a much higher availability ratio of 0.264, more than five times more likely to win in the draw.

Of course, the choice of GMU is not only determined by the odds of winning in the draw.  Other factors, such as weapon type (any legal hunting weapon, bow, muzzleloader, or rifle ), ease of access, chances of trophy elk, distance from home, terrain, scenic beauty, and camping/lodging options for the GMU, come into play when applicants make their choices in the draw.  It should be noted that applicants do not know a priori the number and choices of the other applicants, although they can access the draw statistics from past years to inform their choices for the current hunt year.

2021 GMU Preferences for Public Land Mature Bull Elk Licenses

2021 Resident Applicants, Mature Bull Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of New Mexico residents as their first choices for mature bull (MB) licenses in the 2021 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2021 Nonresident Applicants, Mature Bull Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the mature bull (MB) preferences of GMUs for nonresident applicants’ first choices in the 2021 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2021 Outfitter Applicants, Mature Bull Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the preference of GMUs for outfitter mature bull choices in the 2021 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2021 GMU Preferences for Public Land Either Sex Elk Licenses

2021 Resident Applicants, Either Sex Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of New Mexico residents as their first choices for either sex (ES) licenses in the 2021 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2021 Nonresident Applicants, Either Sex Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the either sex (ES) preferences of GMUs for nonresident applicants’ first choices in the 2021 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2021 Outfitter Applicants, Either Sex Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the preference of GMUs for outfitter either sex (ES) choices in the 2021 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2021 GMU Preferences for Public Land Antlerless Elk Licenses

2021 Resident Applicants, Antlerless Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of New Mexico residents as their first choices for antlerless (A) licenses in the 2021 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2021 Outfitter Applicants, Antlerless Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the preference of GMUs for outfitter antlerless (A) bag choices in the 2021 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

The 2021 relative preferences of NM residents for 1st choice in the public land draw are shown here by GMU and bag limit.  The draw does not have all bag limits in all GMUs.  Those GMUs with relative preferences of 1.0 in this chart indicate GMUs that were the only GMUs with the opportunity for a specific bag limit (e.g., GMU 4 being the only GMU with a bag of MB/A and GMU 34 being the only GMU with a bag of APRE/6/A).  These data show that GMUs 5A,6B,15,16A,16D, 36, 51, 52, and 55A had the highest preferences for residents in the draw for 1st choice MB elk licenses. The hover/tooltip provides additional data on each GMU/bag.

Choices in the 2021 NMDGF Public Land Elk Hunting License Draw

ID zone GMU bag avail_Licenses availability_Ratio R_GMU_pref R_GMU_pref_rank NR_GMU_pref NR_GMU_pref_rank OF_GMU_pref OF_GMU_pref_rank 1stChoiceR 1stChoiceNR 1stChoiceOF 1stRndTOT
503 SMZ 1 A 0 0.000 0.000 187.5 0.000 0.000 168.0 0 0 0 0
504 SMZ 1 ES 0 0.000 0.000 187.5 0.000 124.0 0.000 168.0 0 0 0 0
505 SMZ 1 MB 0 0.000 0.000 187.5 0.000 124.0 0.000 168.0 0 0 0 0
506 PMZ 2 A 150 0.168 0.064 11.0 0.000 0.180 3.0 885 0 9 894
507 PMZ 2 ES 240 0.520 0.013 60.0 0.006 51.0 0.002 72.0 381 66 15 462
508 PMZ 2 MB 200 0.107 0.052 16.0 0.027 20.0 0.011 48.0 1,610 195 59 1,864
509 PMZ 2A A 0 0.000 0.000 187.5 0.000 0.000 168.0 0 0 0 0
510 PMZ 2A ES 0 0.000 0.000 187.5 0.000 124.0 0.000 168.0 0 0 0 0
511 PMZ 2A MB 0 0.000 0.000 187.5 0.000 124.0 0.000 168.0 0 0 0 0
512 PMZ 2B A 0 0.000 0.000 187.5 0.000 0.000 168.0 0 0 0 0
zone GMU bag avail_Licenses availability_Ratio R_GMU_pref R_GMU_pref_rank NR_GMU_pref NR_GMU_pref_rank OF_GMU_pref OF_GMU_pref_rank 1stChoiceR 1stChoiceNR 1stChoiceOF 1stRndTOT
∑ = 590 ∑ = 2,876 ∑ = 261 ∑ = 83 ∑ = 3,220

This spreadsheet can be sorted to display the top choices of applicants for the 2021 public land elk licenses in New Mexico. It shows the number of first-choice selections for specific GMU (Game Management Unit) and bag values in the draw.

The availability ratio, given by the number of available licenses divided by the number of applicants, is given for each (GMU, bag) combination.  It is related to the odds of being successful in the draw.6

The top three choices for residents in 2021 were (GMU 34, ES), (GMU 6B, ES), and (GMU 16A, MB) with availability ratios of {0.069, 0.019, 0.049} respectively — relatively low odds of winning in the draw.

The preferences of NM residents (R), nonresidents (NR), and outfitters (OF) are compared against each other for the same bag limit.  For example, amongst residents, which GMU was chosen the most in the public land elk license draw for an antlerless (A) elk license? The answer for these data is that most nonresidents (16.6%) wanting an A public land elk license chose GMU 34 in the draw.

  • R_REL_PREFS = GMU preferences of residents relative to all other resident applicants for a given bag.
  • NR_REL_PREFS = GMU preferences of nonresidents relative to all other nonresident applicants for a given bag.
  • OF_REL_PREFS = GMU preferences of outfitters relative to all other outfitter applicants for a given bag.

Another example is for outfitter applicants interested in a mature bull (MB) elk hunting license; GMU 16D was their top choice, appealing to 24.7% of outfitter MB license applicants.  (GMU 16D, MB) had an availability ratio of 0.032.

When choosing a hunting area in the GMU draw, the odds of winning are not the only factor. Accessibility, trophy elk likelihood, distance, terrain, scenery, and lodging options also play a role. Applicants are unaware of others’ choices but can check past draw statistics for guidance.

2020 GMU Preferences for Public Land Mature Bull Elk Licenses

2020 Resident Applicants, Mature Bull Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of New Mexico residents as their first choices for mature bull (MB) licenses in the 2020 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2020 Nonresident Applicants, Mature Bull Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the mature bull (MB) preferences of GMUs for nonresident applicants’ first choices in the 2021 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2020 Outfitter Applicants, Mature Bull Elk Public Land License Preferences

This map displays the preference of GMUs for outfitter mature bull choices in the 2020 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2020 GMU Preferences for Public Land Either Sex Elk Licenses

2020 Resident Applicants, Either Sex Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of New Mexico residents as their first choices for either sex (ES) licenses in the 2020 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2020 Nonresident Applicants, Either Sex Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of nonresidents as their first choices for either sex (ES) licenses in the 2020 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2020 Outfitter Applicants, Either Sex Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of outfitters as their first choices for either sex (ES) licenses in the 2020 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2020 GMU Preferences for Public Land Antlerless Elk Licenses

2020 Resident Applicants, Antlerless Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of New Mexico residents as their first choices for antlerless (A) licenses in the 2020 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

2020 Outfitter Applicants, Antlerless Elk Public Land License Preferences

The map displays the preferred GMUs of outfitters as their first choices for antlerless (A) licenses in the 2020 public land draw. Hover your mouse over each GMU to see its relevant data.

The 2020 relative preferences of NM residents for 1st choice in the public land draw are shown here by GMU and bag limit.  The draw does not have all bag limits in all GMUs.  Those GMUs with relative preferences of 1.0 in this chart indicate GMUs that were the only GMUs with the opportunity for a specific bag limit (e.g., GMU 4 being the only GMU with a bag of MB/A and GMU 34 being the only GMU with a bag of APRE/6/A).  These data show that GMUs 5A,6B,15,16A,16D, 36, 51, 52, and 55A had the highest preferences for residents in the draw for 1st choice MB elk licenses. The hover/tooltip provides additional data on each GMU/bag.

Choices in the 2020 NMDGF Public Land Elk Hunting License Draw

ID zone GMU bag availLicenses availabilityRatio R_GMU_pref R_GMU_pref_rank NR_GMU_pref NR_GMU_pref_rank OF_GMU_pref OF_GMU_pref_rank R_1st_Choices NR_1st_Choices OF_1st_Choices Total_1st_Choices
129 PMZ 2 A 150 0.190 0.062 11.0 0.000 107.0 0.083 8.5 785 0 5 790
130 PMZ 2 ES 240 0.487 0.014 60.0 0.006 54.0 0.002 67.5 413 66 14 493
131 PMZ 2 MB 200 0.115 0.052 17.0 0.029 20.0 0.011 48.0 1,463 210 62 1,735
132 PMZ 2C A 50 0.222 0.018 50.0 0.000 107.0 0.033 26.0 223 0 2 225
133 PMZ 4 A 60 0.522 0.009 75.0 0.000 107.0 0.000 109.5 115 0 0 115
134 PMZ 4 ES 40 0.159 0.008 77.0 0.000 107.0 0.002 74.0 241 0 11 252
135 PMZ 5A A 40 0.870 0.004 107.0 0.000 107.0 0.000 109.5 46 0 0 46
136 PMZ 5A ES 10 0.526 0.001 126.0 0.000 85.0 0.000 109.5 18 1 0 19
137 PMZ 5A MB 40 0.377 0.004 108.0 0.001 74.0 0.000 82.5 97 7 2 106
138 PMZ 5B A 177 0.535 0.026 35.0 0.000 107.0 0.050 16.5 328 0 3 331
zone GMU bag availLicenses availabilityRatio R_GMU_pref R_GMU_pref_rank NR_GMU_pref NR_GMU_pref_rank OF_GMU_pref OF_GMU_pref_rank R_1st_Choices NR_1st_Choices OF_1st_Choices Total_1st_Choices
∑ = 1,007 ∑ = 3,729 ∑ = 284 ∑ = 99 ∑ = 4,112

This spreadsheet can be sorted to display the top choices of applicants for the 2020 public land elk licenses in New Mexico. It shows the number of first-choice selections for specific GMU (Game Management Unit) and bag values in the draw.

The availability ratio, given by the number of available licenses divided by the number of applicants, is given for each (GMU, bag) combination.  It is related to the odds of being successful in the draw.7

The top three choices for residents in 2020 were (GMU 34, ES), (GMU 6B, ES), and (GMU 16A, MB) with availability ratios of {0.065, 0.017, 0.051} respectively — relatively low odds of winning in the draw.

The preferences of NM residents (R), nonresidents (NR), and outfitters (OF) are compared against each other for the same bag limit.  For example, amongst residents, which GMU was chosen the most in the public land elk license draw for an antlerless (A) elk license? The answer for these data is that most nonresidents (17.2%) wanting an A public land elk license chose GMU 34 in the draw.

  • R_REL_PREFS = GMU preferences of residents relative to all other resident applicants for a given bag.
  • NR_REL_PREFS = GMU preferences of nonresidents relative to all other nonresident applicants for a given bag.
  • OF_REL_PREFS = GMU preferences of outfitters relative to all other outfitter applicants for a given bag.

Another example is for nonresident applicants interested in an either sex (ES) elk hunting license; GMU 34 was their top choice, appealing to 23.6% of nonresident ES license applicants.  (GMU 34, ES) had an availability ratio of 0.065, not very high.

When choosing a hunting area in the GMU draw, the odds of winning are not the only factor. Accessibility, trophy elk likelihood, distance, terrain, scenery, and lodging options also play a role. Applicants are unaware of others’ choices but can check past draw statistics for guidance.

References and Footnotes

  1. In the Secondary Management Zone (SMZ), the NMDGF does not set elk herd management goals, and unlimited private land licenses are available over the counter.
  2. Research from BYU wildlife sciences professors finds that when hunting season starts, elk in Utah move off of public lands — where they can be hunted — and onto private lands — where they cannot be hunted. And then, when hunting season is over, they shift right back to public lands.The state-funded study found elk’s use of public land decreased by over 30% by the middle of rifle season. “It’s crazy; on the opening day of the hunt, they move, and on the closing day they move back,” said study senior author and BYU professor Brock McMillan. “It’s almost like they’re thinking, ‘Oh, all these trucks are coming, it’s opening day, better move.”“They understand death,” added co-author and fellow BYU professor Randy Larsen. “They get it; they’ve figured it out.”While this is fascinating animal behavior, it’s actually quite problematic for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. That’s because dense elk populations can be harmful to habitats throughout the state, even disrupting farming operations as they are prone to steal food from livestock grazing on private lands and cause damage to farming infrastructure. In fact, they’re so disruptive that the state is bound by law to manage elk populations.“The state had been getting complaints on both sides of the issue with elk migrating to private lands,” Larsen said. “One side says there are not enough elk to hunt — ‘Why are you issuing permits?’ — while private owners are saying ‘The elk are eating us out of house and home!’” BYU News, “State-funded BYU study finds elk move when hunting season starts — and it’s causing problems, February 16, 2022
  3. “The EPLUS program was created in recognition of the important benefits that private lands make to the elk populations and hunting opportunities in New Mexico. The program gives hunters and landowners a way to work together to effectively manage and hunt elk on private lands.Through EPLUS the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish distributes a portion of the State’s elk hunting opportunity to qualifying private landowners. Landowners receive private-land elk authorizations from the Department which can be used by hunters to buy private-land elk licenses.    “NMDGF EPLUS System
  4. We define availability ratio as the number of available licenses in the draw for a specific GMU/bag divided by the total applicants for that GMU/bag, including R, NR, and OF applicants.  The higher the availability ratio, the higher the odds of winning; however, your draw application has to be first randomly selected in the sequence of all draw applicants.
  5. The actual odds are more complex as they depend on the application being randomly selected from all draw participants, independent of the bag, GMU, residency, and other applicants’ 2nd and 3rd choices.  However, a high availability ratio (GMU, bag) has a better chance of winning than a low availability ratio. See the NMDGF website.
  6. The actual odds are more complex as they depend on the application being randomly selected from all draw participants, independent of the bag, GMU, residency, and other applicants’ 2nd and 3rd choices.  However, a high availability ratio (GMU, bag) has a better chance of winning than a low availability ratio. See the NMDGF website.
  7. The actual odds are more complex as they depend on the application being randomly selected from all draw participants, independent of the bag, GMU, residency, and other applicants’ 2nd and 3rd choices.  However, a high availability ratio (GMU, bag) has a better chance of winning than a low availability ratio. See the NMDGF website.