You'll recall the population reduction hunts are part of an effort by New Mexico Game and Fish to slash the oryx population, which has been growing steadily since the animals were first released back in 1969. The reduction hunts take place throughout the year, as opposed to those on the missile range, which are offered from mid-September to mid-February. Applicants for the Population Reduction Hunts must choose the month they wish to hunt when they apply. Spring months can be the toughest to draw, while summer months are less popular due to the intense heat. The New Mexico Game and Fish Commission had not yet decided how many permits will be offered for 2005 population reduction hunts, but previous years have seen 500 permits issued. The applications will be due February 5.
As for the hunts on the missile range, there will be 170 permits available this year. Five of those will be specially issued to soldiers returning from Iraq. Another 10 of the permits will be for a completely new hunt area within the missile range. It's called the Mountainous Areas Hunt and is for three full days instead of the usual two days allowed for a hunt on White Sands. This new hunt also allows participants to camp on the missile range, which is not allowed on other hunts. The catch is that this is strictly a backpack hunt - no vehicles allowed at all. Hunters will have to hike into the mountains and pack their oryx out........(continued)