LAS CRUCES — Tuesday is the beginning of another season in New Mexico, hunting season.
Hunting seasons for doves, blue grouse, band-tailed pigeons and squirrels opens Tuesday in Doña Ana County, and other areas of the state, according to a news release from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Licenses, maps, questionnaires and other related materials are available to hunters on the Game and Fish website, www.wildlife.state.nm.us.
Tuesday is also start of hunting seasons for deer, elk and turkey archery hunts, and for most small game. A list of available hunt dates and more information about bag limits and seasons is available on the department’s website.
Game and Fish Department officials expect an estimated 36,000 elk hunters, 27,000 deer hunters, 4,400 pronghorn antelope hunters, and 30,000 small-game and bird hunters this season, according to the department.
“September 1 is a huge opening day for hunting,” said Ralph Ramos, a New Mexico Game and Fish commissioner from Las Cruces. “We encourage hunters to be safe out there, and to abide by all of the rules.”
Ramos and Thomas “Dick” Salopek are two of seven Game and Fish commissioners from Las Cruces. No other community in the state has that many people serving on the commission.
John Cornell, sportsman organizer with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, said this could be a good hunting season.
“There are lots of favorable conditions, lots of dove,” Cornell said.
Cornell added that dove hunting will be available throughout the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.
A significant change this year for dove hunting season in Doña Ana County is that the U.S. States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission has opened bird hunting in three different areas along the Rio Grande, totaling 30 miles. According to a USIBWC news release, hunting areas are from the state Highway 187 bridge, near Derry to the Highway 187 bridge north of Hatch.
Hunting will also be allowed from state Highway 154, south of Hatch to the end of the levees north of Selden Canyon, and from state Highway 28 south of Mesilla to Highway 189, in Vado.
The USIBWC news release also includes maps that show where hunting will be allowed along portions of the Rio Grande. The news release can be found at the USIBWC website, www.ibwc.gov.
Dove hunting season is often considered a right of passage for youngsters and teens who get to go on their first hunting trip with adults.
“I’ve been taking my son with me the past two or three years that I’ve gone dove hunting,” said Las Crucen Tommy Grajeda. “I wanted him to learn from me, and his grandfather, all about dove hunting, the rules and all of safety measures that are required. Now that my son has a good understanding of all of that, we’ll let him do a little hunting with us. That will help all of us decide if this is something he wants to keep on doing.
“In any case, it’s been a really nice way to get out and do something with my kid, to bond together a little.”
Hunter safety remains a major consideration as new hunting seasons begin. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officials urge all hunters to emphasize safety, especially during archery seasons when hunters commonly are dressed in camouflage. Hikers, bicyclists and others using back-country roads and trails during hunting seasons are encouraged to wear bright clothing so they can be easily visible to hunters.
USIBWC officials also asked hunters to observe safety guidelines. Those include: use existing ramps to drive onto USIBWC levees or floodplains; remove any trash hunters create, including shell casings; the consumption of alcohol while hunting is prohibited; and hunters should not discharge firearms in or near the vicinity of homes, businesses or other people.
Only bird hunting is allowed on or along USIBWC property. No other hunting or target practice is allowed.
The USIBWC manages certain lands along the Rio Grande in Texas and New Mexico. The USIBWC has jurisdiction over U.S. lands on the river side of the levee but not on the land side.
Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452.
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