McDonald: Staying Safe And Aware In Our Forests During Hunting Season

Licensed outfitter and hunting guide

It’s hunting season in the forest area around Los Alamos County. When activities in the forest change, I want to help the community of hunters and non-hunters be aware of what is going on and when, so everyone can stay safe and a bit more prepared.

Here are the dates that you need to know:

  • Black Bear: Runs Sept. 1-22. Weapon is archery only and no dog use is allowed. On Sept 23, the hunt changes to any legal weapon and dog use is allowed and continues until Nov. 15 unless the quota is met, in which case the hunt will close early. There are unlimited licenses available that can be purchased online.
  • Elk: Runs Sept. 15-24. Weapon is archery only. Approximately 108 licenses available. Must be purchased by a landowner or drawn through New Mexico Game and Fish.
  • Deer: Runs through Sept. 24. Weapon is archery only. Approximately 100 Licenses in NMG&F unit 6C.
  • Cougar: Basically year round. Runs April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016. Unlimited licenses or until quota is met.

Hikers do not need to stay out of the woods during these hunts, but keep in mind that hunters are usually armed. Wearing bright colors visible to hunters is not a bad idea.

For the most part, we won’t see too many hunters pursuing cougars or Black Bear with dogs in the county since it is very difficult for handlers to recover their dogs, which most of the time wind up in Bandelier, Santa Clara, VCNP or on private land.

Most hunters are in the woods at a very early hour and sometimes come back for lunch. If they have found a great spot they may choose to stay out all day and come out after dark. Hunters are not required to wear blaze orange. The typical archer is very quiet, in good shape and will travel a long way in an area. You probably won’t see these guys too much in the local woods.

Animals also are busy this time of the year. Elk are starting their rut, which makes the bulls very active as well as their herds. Bear, like elk and deer, don’t want to see people so they move around a lot.

Some people are especially concerned about bear attacks since the recent attack of a Los Alamos resident. It’s important to remember we live in their world when we are out in the woods. Therefore, if you want to keep yourself safe from wild animal attacks, do research and talk to a professional. In New Mexico you can reach NM Game & Fish at 505.222.4700 and ask to talk to a biologist in your area. The New Mexico Game and Fish wardens also are a great resource and can be reached at the same number. Area hunters also are a great resource on the behavior of wild animals.

Los Alamos County is in New Mexico Game & Fish unit 6C. Courtesy/NMG&F

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