Hunting is a very popular sport and hobby in New Mexico. There are opportunities to hunt a wide variety of animals in different parts of the state. My husband recently went on a once-in-a-lifetime New Mexico oryx hunt in the southern part of the state. The oryx is considered an exotic species and is not native to New Mexico. It is originally from Africa and does well in the high desert terrain of the White Sands area.
The oryx is in the antelope family and can weigh up to 450 pounds and averages 47 inches tall at the shoulder. The average horn length for both male and female oryx is 34 inches. Around the late 1960s to early 1970s, oryx were brought to New Mexico from Africa to increase large game hunting opportunities for New Mexicans.
Generally, this article is about the overall costs of a New Mexico Oryx hunt.
Initial costs for a New Mexico Oryx hunt
Hunting is not a cheap sport. From a rifle and ammunition to travel costs, the total cost of a New Mexico oryx hunt is generally in the thousands. It’s even more expensive for non-residents.
To hunt the Oryx in New Mexico, you will need a game hunting license and a draw license. Hunting licenses in New Mexico are $15 for residents and $65 for non-residents. The hunting license can be purchased online, over the phone, or at any New Mexico Game & Fish office.
You will need a hunting license before you can apply for a draw license. There is a deadline every year to apply for draw licenses, which is usually in the middle of March for a fall hunt. So, if you’re thinking of drawing for this hunt, it requires planning months in advance.
Draw license for New Mexico Oryx hunt
New Mexico law has established drawing quotas for big-game hunts in New Mexico, which includes an Oryx hunt. The drawing quota means that, for all submitted license applications, 84% of draw licenses are awarded to New Mexico residents, 10% are awarded to residents and nonresidents applying with a registered outfitter, and 6% are awarded to nonresidents.
If your draw license application is successful, the license cost is $160 for New Mexico residents and $1,623 for non-residents, according to the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish. The Oryx tag is a bit more expensive because it is an exotic large-game species.
White Sands Missile Range access fee for Oryx hunt
Most of the Oryx hunts take place on the White Sands Missile Range (WMSR) near Alamogordo, NM. The Missile Range charges a $150 hunter access fee per hunter. Since they are located on federal military land, they also require a security background check from each hunter. This is a full background check with fingerprints.
Once the Missile Range approves your application and you pass the background check, you are ready for your hunt!
Hunting weekend costs
Like any travel weekend, there will be travel costs. My husband and his brother spent two nights at a hotel in Alamogordo, NM, which is the closest town to White Sands Missile Range. If you have a recreational vehicle, then you can park it at an RV site in the area.
There are many ancillary costs for a hunting weekend. If you have hunted before, then you may already have a majority of these items. During our relationship, my husband has slowly built up his hunting gear and it can get pretty expensive. His most recent purchase was a pair of Leupold binoculars for $150, which was a steal during Black Friday.
For the hunting items listed below, prices range from $100 for hunting gear up to a thousand dollars for a rifle and scope.
- Hunting gear
- Hunting boots
- Large coolers to store game
After the New Mexico oryx hunt
Once you harvest your Oryx, you will want to process the meat and display your trophy at your home.
My husband’s Oryx was pretty large, approximately 450 pounds. After he took the initial shot from 600 yards, the Oryx ran out of sight. When they found his Oryx, the Missile Range was about to close. Due to the location of the animal, they didn’t have time to quarter it and hike it out, so they tagged it and left.
A local game butcher charged $330 to process this meat. Fortunately, there are many game butchers in New Mexico. Because the animal was left out overnight, we only got about 150 pounds of meat. The butcher included steaks, roast, back strap, summer sausage with green chile, ground meat, and green chile bratwurst.
Honestly, I was pretty excited about the variety. I started to make plans for cooking the different cuts of meat. It was also pretty cool that the butcher was able to incorporate green chile into the summer sausage and bratwurst. Green chile is a New Mexican staple. Due to the large meat haul, we had to buy a standalone freezer, which cost an additional $200.
My husband and his brother wanted a taxidermy half mount of their respective Oryx harvests. Since this is a once-in-a-lifetime hunt, they wanted to memorialize it. Taxidermy mounts are pretty common in New Mexico. I’ve seen people decorate their homes or cabins with different mounts. There’s a feed store about 20 miles from us that has an entire room of full taxidermy mounts of many different species. It’s surreal to walk through that room and see life-size bears and cougars standing right in front of you.
The cost of the taxidermy was $1,000 and the process takes seven to eight months. So, at the time of writing this article, we still don’t have the taxidermy mount. When we get it, I’ll definitely post a picture.
Overall, it was an interesting experience from the wife’s perspective. My husband truly enjoys hunting and has been doing it since I met him. Will you find me out on the hunting range any time soon? Probably not but I will be cooking with the game meat.
I did a rough return on investment calculation for the meat, which came out to approximately $13.53 per pound. I didn’t include previously owned equipment in this calculation, just all the costs to hunt Oryx for the weekend. In general, hunting a New Mexico oryx is pretty expensive and requires a lot of planning.