Screenshot from a New Mexico Elk Hunter Facebook page.
With COVID-19 ramping back up in various parts of the country, many states have travel restrictions and requirements in place that must be followed – even by hunters who thought they might be exempt. New Mexico’s governor has issued a 14-day quarantine requirement for anyone traveling to the Land of Enchantment, KRQE News 13 reports.
Here is the direct quote from the New Mexico governer's order that could cause issues for hunters: "The terms “self-isolate” or “self-quarantine” refer to the voluntary physical separation of a person or group of people in a residence or other place of lodging. Any person who is self-isolating or self-quarantining may only leave a residence or place of lodging to receive medical care and should not allow others into the residence or place of lodging except for those providing medical care, emergency response, or other individuals designated by the New Mexico Department of Health."
The one exception, according to the governer's order is people don't have to abide by the 14-day quarantine if they are "persons who are employed or contracted by an “essential business”, as defined by the operative public health order addressing mass gathering restrictions and business closures, and who are traveling into New Mexico to conduct business activities."
What does this mean? If you thought you were traveling to New Mexico for a five-day hunt, you’ll possibly have to reschedule that to a 19-day hunt with 14 of those days under self-quarantine. This could be a huge roadblock for nonresident hunters who drew an out-of-state tag for big game – a season that starts this week. Further, because antelope season is popular with nonresident hunters, the state typically sells thousands of tags for “thousands of dollars,” according to KRQE News 13, meaning that the quarantine requirement could also impact the state economy.
However, quarantine requirements and coronavirus precautions are important and, according to KRQE News 13, some outfitters and guiding companies are following the governor’s orders by “wearing masks on hunts and providing hand sanitizer.”
To ensure compliance, the governor has requested that hotels “police guests and not book out of state residents unless they’re here for more than 14 days” or passing through the state and stopping for only one night. However, many hunters forego hotels and camp or stay on private ranches.
Note: there is an exception to this according to the New Mexico Council Of Outfitters and Guides (NMCOG). Anyone who is "contracted by an essential business" and because "all outfitter clientele is, by statute, required to be contacted by the business and because under the current NM Public Health Order outfitters are clearly labeled as essential as businesses that provide "fresh meat", "food cultivation", and food related logistics... NMCOG is confident that any client who is properly contracted with a legal NM outfitter is exempt from the 14-day quarantine."
Regardless, best of luck and stay safe!