Unit Wide Authorizations

This photograph shows the dilemma of small agricultural properties and the impact of off-season elk.  Elk feed on agricultural resources outside of hunting season and/or in the evening.  In this photo, northwest of Abiquiu, New Mexico, GMU 51-B, elk graze on a small ranch.  Unit-wide authorizations can help landowners recoup some of the damages from elk.  In these situations, the landowners can sell the unit-wide authorizations for hunters to use elsewhere in the GMU.  The challenge is that larger herds of elk can cause significant financial losses to farmers and ranchers in a very short time window.  The damage to agricultural resources and the costs of deterring elk can often outweigh any financial gains from selling unit-wide authorizations.  In addition, if the agricultural property is considered a small-contributing ranch (SCR) in the EPLUS system, then the landowner is not guaranteed yearly EPLUS authorizations.  Without more effective strategies to mitigate elk damage to crops and other agricultural resources, the elk and the landowners lose.  Elk can be fenced out of important lower-elevation winter habitat, elk can be hunted in special off-season depredation hunts, and landowners can suffer enough unmitigated agricultural damages that they “sell the farm,” resulting in habitat loss and fragmentation.

Ranches that participate in the EPLUS system can have a status of “Ranch-Only (RO)” or “Unit-Wide (UW)”.

Ranch-only authorizations allow the authorization holder to purchase an elk hunting license that is only valid on the ranch where they acquired the ranch-only authorization (or another qualifying EPLUS ranch, which is also RO, with written permission).

Unit-wide authorizations (UW) allow the authorization holder to purchase a unit-wide private-land elk license. Unit-wide hunters can hunt legally accessible public lands, unit-wide private ranches, and other private property with written permission within the same Game Management Unit (GMU).

Unit-wide authorizations are only available in the Primary Management Zone.

Please see the NMDGF interactive map of unit-wide ranches.

In the Primary Management Zone (PMZ), a landowner can choose an RO or UW status in some game management units (GMUs).

Unit-wide authorizations

A hunter that acquires a unit-wide EPLUS authorization, usually through a purchase from an EPLUS-qualified landowner, can hunt legally accessible public lands, unit-wide private ranches, and other private properties with written permission from the landowners within the same game management unit (GMU) as the ranch where the unit-wide authorization was acquired.

Unit-wide authorizations are only available in the Primary Management Zone.

Unit-Wide1 private land authorizations allow hunters who have a unit-wide license from the ranch to:

  1. Hunt any legally accessible public lands in the game management unit (GMU),
  2. Hunt on other unit-wide ranches in the GMU,
  3. Hunt on other private land with written permission within the GMU.

A ranch participating in EPLUS as a unit-wide ranch in a specific GMU must allow any other licensed elk hunter with either a public draw license (for that GMU) or a unit-wide elk license (also for that GMU) access to their unit-wide ranch.  Unit-wide properties increase the land available to all elk hunters with a public land or unit-wide private land license in that GMU.

Rules of Unit-Wide Authorizations and Unit-Wide EPLUS Ranches

The NMDGF rules for Unit-Wide Authorizations and Properties include:

  • Unit-wide private ranches are open during each public elk hunt for the sole purpose of hunting elk.
  • They are not open during any other time of year or for any other purpose.
  • Hunters are allowed free access to the entire unit-wide ranch during their licensed hunt dates, including scouting up to two days immediately preceding the start of their hunt.
  • Landowners and their employees may not interfere with elk hunters while on the ranch and elk hunters are not required to notify landowners or their employees before entering the ranch.
  • Vehicular access may be restricted on the ranch however; it must be equally restricted to all elk hunters, including hunters holding a license purchased with authorizations issued to the ranch.
  • No elk hunter, including hunters holding a license purchased with authorizations issued to this ranch, may drive off-road on a unit-wide ranch except to retrieve legally harvested elk with separate permission from the landowner.
  • Unit-wide ranches are not open for camping.

Distribution of Unit-Wide Authorizations to Base-Allocation EPLUS Ranches

Distribution of Unit-Wide Authorizations to SCR-Allocation EPLUS Ranches

Unit Wide Ranches Increase the Land Available to All Licensed Hunters in New Mexico

The NMDGF provides an interactive map of unit-wide ranches in New Mexico.

  1. NMAC 19.30.5.7.AF.  EPLUS Rule available at  https://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/download/hunting/maps/e-plus/Important/EPLUS-2018-Rule-Language-19_30_5-NMAC.pdf