New Mexico – Hunters Should be Cautiously Optimistic

Forecast: New Mexico quail hunters should be cautiously optimistic that hunting will improve from 2011, but the New Mexico Game and Fish Department is not anticipating a “boom” year compared to years past. According to Dr. Joseph Sands, migratory game bird, wild turkey, and small game program coordinator for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, while New Mexico remains in a drought compared to its long-term average, 2012 provided improved timing and distribution of rainfall compared to 2011 for New Mexico quail.

The majority of quail harvested in 2011-2012 occurred in Lea, Doña Ana, Eddy, and Chavez counties. Southwest and southeast New Mexico will hold the greatest numbers of scaled and Gambel’s quail; high elevation pine-oak forests in the state’s southwest region for Montezuma quail; and extreme southeastern New Mexico for the northern bobwhite. Based on survey results hunters primarily harvested scaled and Gambel’s quail, though harvest was assumed to be down in during 2011-2012 due to poor hunting conditions. New Mexico, while currently experiencing hard times, traditionally holds healthy numbers of bobwhite, Mearns, Gambel’s and scaled quail.

Season Dates: November 15, 2012 through February 15, 2013
Daily Bag Limit: 15 per day; no more than 5 Mearns quail
Possession Limit: 30; no more than 10 Mearns quail
Field Notes: In 2005, the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management (BLM) launched the Restore New Mexico initiative with the goal of restoring disturbed lands on a landscape scale through an ambitious partnership approach. Thus far, over 1.4 million acres of impaired habitat have been treated, beginning the transition to healthy ecological states. Landscape restoration in New Mexico has focused on controlling invasive brush species, improving riparian habitat, reducing woodland encroachment, and reclaiming abandoned oil and gas well pads, all of which improves wildlife habitat and allows for the reintroduction of key species.

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