The restrictions in NM were not based on herd populations, they were more based on quality. The three muzzleloader elk units that showed the most impact were known for trophy class bulls. 350+ bulls weren’t hard to find. Now they are few and far between. The drought at the same time didn’t help either. The late season November bull hunts were probably the biggest reason for decline in quality. Outfitters mainly but all hunters with the new muzzleloader were shooting bulls cross canyon at 500 yards. These guys are good at what they do and we’re killing the top end of the bulls. If you kill todays 340 bull there isn’t a bull left to grow 380 next year.I would like to see the number of animals taken in ML season with these long range ML to see if the actions imposed are even justifiable. Or is this a just in case scenario with ML ?
Now the state set rules based on 3 units because they were other units that had the same muzzleloader early hunts that didn’t show the harvest or herd composition changing or any other species.
The game and fish should have just been honest and said we want to make muzzleloaders primitive again which was the real drive behind the rule.
I don’t know why people always say it’s about the money, the state employees don’t get raises when game and fish makes more money, and the game and fish departments can’t spend more more freely just cuz there is more in the account. There budgets are set year or more in advance. There is no drive from the employees to increase revenue. There pay check stays the same either way.