| Feb. 11, 2019 | Hunt Research

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:

'18 Draw Odds
Hunt CodeHunt Type'18 Resident Odds'18 Nonres. Odds'18 Outfitter Odds
BHS-1-201Ram - Rocky Mtn.0.66%0.18%0.33%
BHS-1-204Ram - Desert0.87%0.09%0.18%
BHS-1-202Ewe - Rocky Mtn.2.5%6.6%20%
'18 Total Tags Issued
Hunt CodeHunt Type'18 Tags Res.'18 Tags Nonres.'18 Tags OutfitterTotal
BHS-1-201Ram - Rocky Mtn.212326
BHS-1-204Ram - Desert211224
BHS-1-202Ewe - Rocky Mtn.262230

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:

Bighorn Applications By Area
Area1st Choice2nd Choice3rd ChoiceTotal
Rio Grande Gorge in GMUs 49, 50, and 53218810068514045
GMU 45 (Pecos) (1st)171112067943711
GMU 53 (Wheeler Peak)124513779123534
GMU 45 (Pecos) (2nd)18612729752433
GMUs 16B, 22, 23, and 248153636231801
Latir Mountains in GMU 53 (1st)2655477231535
Dry Cimarron, GMU 582974524631212
Latir Mountains in GMU 53 (2nd)108236349693
Culebras, GMU 553791368496
Youth, GMU 45 (Pecos)3673365465
Desert Applications by Area
Area1st Choice2nd Choice3rd ChoiceTotal
GMU 27 (Peloncillos)125683510853176
GMU 26 (Hatchets) (1st)96214585512971
GMU 13 and 17 (Ladrones)17433405012584
GMU 19 (San Andres)9596596092227
GMU 20 (Caballos) (1st)6476406301917
GMU 26 (Hatchets) (2nd)1957499561900
GMU 19 (San Andres)3547365291619
GMU 20 (Caballos) (2nd)1156094791203
GMU 20 (Fra Cristobal) (2nd)1663895491104
GMU 20 (Fra Cristobal) (1st)3463333651044
Youth, GMU 20 (Fra Cristobal)3341172417

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.

In the 2018 drawing there were almost 250 applicants who had the ewe hunt code as the 1st or 2nd choice on their application - in front of a Bighorn or Desert ram hunt code.

Changes in 2019

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!

See an error? Let us know.
Date has been set and published
AZ [1] Jan. 11, '19 Feb. 12, '19 Mid March
AZ [2] Early May Mid June Mid July
CO Mar. 1, '19 Apr. 2, '19 June 3
CO [3] May 3
CO [3b] Aug. 8, '19
ID [4] Apr. 1 Apr. 30 Early June
ID [5] May 1 June 5 Late June
MT [6] Feb. 19, '19 Mar. 15, '19 ~Apr. 24
MT [7] End of Mar. May 1, '19 ~Jun. 11
MT [8] End of Mar. Jun. 1, '19 ~Jul. 30
MT [9] End of Mar. Jun. 1, '19 ~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 [10] Jan. 2, '19 Jan. 31, '19 Feb. 21
WY [11] Jan. 2, '19 Feb. 28, '19 May 9
WY [12] Feb. 1, '19 Feb. 28, '19 May 9
WY [13] Jan. 2, '19 May 31, '19 June 20
[1] = AZ: Elk and Antelope
[2] = AZ: Deer, Sheep, Bison, Fall Bear/Javelina
[3] = CO: Sheep and Goat Results
[3b] = CO: Over the Counter Sales Begin
[4] = ID: Sheep, Moose, Goat
[5] = ID: Deer, Elk, Antelope
[6] = MT: Deer, Elk
[7] = MT: Moose, Goat, Sheep, Bison
[8] = MT: Antelope
[9] = MT: Deer B, Elk B Licenses
[10] = WY: Nonresident Elk
[11] = WY: Moose, Sheep, Goat
[12] = WY: Bison
[13] = WY: Res./Nonres. Deer, Antelope - Res. Elk