Hiker Safety During Hunting Season

Creation Date: 10/5/21

In the fall of every year, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish issues a booklet titled Hunting Rules & Info – Rules and Information for Big Game and Turkey.

The scheduled hunts are organized by Game Management Unit (GMU) and type of weapon allowed. Our main interest is in the “Any Legal” hunts for deer or elk in GMUs that contain one or more of our hikes. Any Legal Sporting Arm (Any Legal) is defined as: “Any firearm, muzzle-loader, compressed air gun, shotgun, bow or crossbow. All firearms, except handguns, must be designed to be fired from the shoulder” (see p. 28 of the hunting rules document).


  1. Hikers should wear bright clothing on hikes from October through mid-January. (Hunters wear fluorescent orange.) No beige or brown! (This year there will be a “premium” hunt with one license each for deer and elk where the hunter can hunt in any unit statewide during this period, so those two hunters could be any where, any when.)
  2. If possible, hikes should be scheduled on Thursday or Friday. Most of the regular hunts skip those two days of the week, with a few exceptions highlighted in the table linked to below.
  3. Designated recreation areas (such as the Orilla Verde Recreation Area) are excluded from hunting. State parks, wildlife refuges, and private lands may prohibit hunting, but it’s best to look up the applicable website and ask before scheduling a hike there.


Some resources to use for choosing hikes are:

  • Table of hikes sortable by hike name and/or GMU.
  • List of deer or elk hunts on public lands (date intervals when firearms hunting is allowed) for each GMU in which we hike. You may search for a specific date interval.
  • Interactive map showing GMU boundaries and trailheads for our hikes.

You can use these resources in various ways. Some examples:

  • You want to lead a hike in the Manzanos on a Wednesday. In the table of hikes by hike name and GMU, locate any one of the hikes in the Manzanos and get the GMU number. Then go to the list of deer or elk hunts, and find the applicable GMU. The dates shown are the dates to avoid.
  • You’ve created a list of hike names that you’d like to lead. Any Thursday or Friday is OK, but you’d like to see if any other days of the week would be safe. Go to the table of hikes by GMU. Write down the GMU of each hike of interest. Then go to the list of deer or elk hunts, and locate the applicable GMUs. The dates shown are the dates to avoid.