"In our March, 2011 issue, I predicted that the proposed changes in New Mexico's Outfitter drawing pool would have repercussions for nonresidents and outfitters alike. If you will remember, the outfitter's allocation in the public drawings was limited to 10 percent, and out-of-state outfitters were virtually shut out of the drawings altogether.
"Early indications are that nonresidents will find it even more difficult to draw a permit in the future than I first predicted. There is little doubt now that fewer nonresidents, including myself, even applied this year. Of course, it will be over a year before the department has specific data on the drawings, but I've been doing an informal survey by talking to a number of my contacts. It appears to me that you can expect to see fewer applicants for even fewer tags in future years, as soon as the official statistics expose the dramatic drop in the drawing odds, especially if they report the nonresident data.
"You see, not only did they severely restrict the outfitter pool, where, historically, most nonresidents obtained their permits, but they made a number of other changes, including requiring that applications are made only online or by phone. They also required paying the full fee at the time of the application (thousands for a nonresident), and adopted rules which increase the possibility of abuse within the system.
"I have had more than one outfitter tell me that they think nonresident permits for guided hunts are being fraudulently obtained. An applicant only has to mark a box stating that it is a guided hunt, without showing proof that they ever actually booked a guided hunt. Although a warning is posted that the applicant must have a signed contract with a New Mexico outfitter prior to applying' I am told that there is virtually no follow-up to see if the hunt was ever actually........(continued)