There is one universal truth when it comes to sheep hunting in the lower 48: ram tags are extremely difficult to draw. Let's take a closer look at the numbers for New Mexico:
|Hunt Code||Hunt Type||'18 Resident Odds||'18 Nonres. Odds||'18 Outfitter Odds|
|BHS-1-201||Ram - Rocky Mtn.||0.66%||0.18%||0.33%|
|BHS-1-204||Ram - Desert||0.87%||0.09%||0.18%|
|BHS-1-202||Ewe - Rocky Mtn.||2.5%||6.6%||20%|
|Hunt Code||Hunt Type||'18 Tags Res.||'18 Tags Nonres.||'18 Tags Outfitter||Total|
|BHS-1-201||Ram - Rocky Mtn.||21||2||3||26|
|BHS-1-204||Ram - Desert||21||1||2||24|
|BHS-1-202||Ewe - Rocky Mtn.||26||2||2||30|
The drawing for sheep in New Mexico is a bit unique in that there is a single hunt code for Bighorn rams (BHS-1-201) and a single hunt code for Desert rams (BHS-1-204). And then within each of these hunt codes you are allowed to choose up to 3 specific sheep hunting areas. So if you are lucky enough to be drawn for either Bighorn (BHS-1-201) or Desert (BHS-1-204), they will then look at the specific areas on your application, in order, to see if any remaining tags are available in the areas you applied for.
To our knowledge the breakdown of how applicants applied at an area level generally is not published. We requested and were able to obtain this information from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department. Here is how applicants used their area choices in 2018:
|Area||1st Choice||2nd Choice||3rd Choice||Total|
|Rio Grande Gorge in GMUs 49, 50, and 53||2188||1006||851||4045|
|GMU 45 (Pecos) (1st)||1711||1206||794||3711|
|GMU 53 (Wheeler Peak)||1245||1377||912||3534|
|GMU 45 (Pecos) (2nd)||186||1272||975||2433|
|GMUs 16B, 22, 23, and 24||815||363||623||1801|
|Latir Mountains in GMU 53 (1st)||265||547||723||1535|
|Dry Cimarron, GMU 58||297||452||463||1212|
|Latir Mountains in GMU 53 (2nd)||108||236||349||693|
|Culebras, GMU 55||37||91||368||496|
|Youth, GMU 45 (Pecos)||367||33||65||465|
|Area||1st Choice||2nd Choice||3rd Choice||Total|
|GMU 27 (Peloncillos)||1256||835||1085||3176|
|GMU 26 (Hatchets) (1st)||962||1458||551||2971|
|GMU 13 and 17 (Ladrones)||1743||340||501||2584|
|GMU 19 (San Andres)||959||659||609||2227|
|GMU 20 (Caballos) (1st)||647||640||630||1917|
|GMU 26 (Hatchets) (2nd)||195||749||956||1900|
|GMU 19 (San Andres)||354||736||529||1619|
|GMU 20 (Caballos) (2nd)||115||609||479||1203|
|GMU 20 (Fra Cristobal) (2nd)||166||389||549||1104|
|GMU 20 (Fra Cristobal) (1st)||346||333||365||1044|
|Youth, GMU 20 (Fra Cristobal)||334||11||72||417|
Part of the reason we wanted to get the area information details is that we were curious to see if your choice of areas per hunt code had any material impact on your overall draw odds. For nonresidents and outfitters the answer was mostly no. Unfortunately with so few tags available in the nonresident and outfitter pools you've generally won or lost the battle before area choices become any factor. But you should still be sure to use all of your 3 area choices per hunt code when you apply.
But for residents it did make a very slight but noticeable difference. In every simulated draw that we ran there would be a handful of resident apps pulled - with ram tags still left to give somewhere - that would be unsuccessful because the area choices they specified were all of higher demand. So if you are a resident, make your 3rd area choice per hunt code a reasonable one (ie less popular) to avoid this scenario. It could be the difference between getting a chance to harvest a ram in your lifetime - and not.
You are allowed up to 3 hunt codes on your applications so you may also apply for a ewe tag if you choose to do so. The ewe hunt code is (BHS-1-202) and in 2019 they have also added a new archery only ewe hunt code (BHS-2-203). In 2018, there were a total of 1474 applications for the 30 total ewe tags awarded. Take caution when applying for a ewe hunt code as it is easy to get them mixed up! Unless you specifically want to harvest a ewe, the ewe hunt code should always be the last choice on you application. If you do draw a ewe tag, the cost is the same as a ram tag for nonresidents: $3173.
For Bighorn Sheep the total # of ram tags available in the '19 drawing will be 22, a decrease of 3 from the 2018 stated quotas. They have dropped a tag from the 2nd Pecos hunt in GMU 45, the Culberas ram tag in GMU 55 is not available for '19 and the 2nd hunt in GMU 53 Latir has also been eliminated. They have split the 4 tags in the Rio Grande Gorge area into 2 different seasons - one that begins on Aug. 10 and one that begins on Sep. 1. They have also split the 4 available tags in the GMU 53 Wheeler Peak area - the first season beginning Aug. 6 and the second on Sep. 1.
As previously stated they have added a new archery only ewe hunt code (BHS-2-203) for 2019 with hunts in the Rio Grande Gorge area and GMU 45 (Pecos). Additionally they have made available 36 ewe tags for the Rio Grande Gorge area including 12 tags in a youth only season.
For Desert Sheep the total # of ram tags available in the '19 drawing will be 25, an increase of 1 from the 2018 stated quotas. They have added a tag for the following 3 hunts: GMUs 13, 17 (Ladrones), GMU 20 (Caballos) 1st Hunt, and GMU 20 (Caballos) 2nd Hunt. Additionally, the 2 tags that were available in GMU 20 (Fra Cristobal) 2nd Hunt are not in the drawing for 2019.
As always, best of luck in the draws!
|AZ ||Jan. 11, '19||Feb. 12, '19||Mid March|
|AZ ||Early May||Mid June||Mid July|
|CO||Mar. 1, '19||Apr. 2, '19||June 3|
|CO ||Aug. 7, '18|
|ID ||Apr. 1||Apr. 30||Early June|
|ID ||May 1||June 5||Late June|
|MT ||Feb. 12, '18||Mar. 15, '18||~Apr. 24|
|MT ||End of Mar.||May 1, '18||~Jun. 11|
|MT ||End of Mar.||Jun. 1, '18||~Jul. 30|
|MT ||End of Mar.||Jun. 1, '18||~Jul. 16|
|NV||Mar. 18||Apr. 29, '19||May 24|
|NM||Jan. 16, '19||Mar. 20, '19||Apr. 24|
|OR||Early Feb.||May 15, '18||Jun. 20|
|UT||Jan. 31, '19||Mar. 7, '19||May 31|
|WY ||Jan. 2, '19||Jan. 31, '19||Feb. 21|
|WY ||Jan. 2, '19||Feb. 28, '19||May 9|
|WY ||Feb. 1, '19||Feb. 28, '19||May 9|
|WY ||Jan. 2, '19||May 31, '19||June 20|