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 Hunting in Mexico: Rules and Regulations

Firearms (guns) & Ammunition are illegal to bring to Mexico. Extended jail time and heavy fines are almost guaranteed.

The Mexican Government allows licensed sport hunting in season, as regulated by SEMARNAP. This is the Federal Agency of Mexico that is responsible for the regulation of Mexico's Natural Resources. A wide array of trophy game animals, as well as birds may be legally harvested in certain areas of Mexico.

Endless flights of White-Wing and Mourning Dove, migrating from Central/South America blacken the sky each and every year during peak hunting times in parts of Mexico. Covey, after covey of Quail (Bobwhite, Blue and Mountain) are prevalent all throughout Mexico. Millions of Ducks and Geese, call Mexico home during the mild winter months. Monstrous White-Tail Deer of "a life time" with Boone and Crockett qualities, are harvested every year by hunters, no less than 30 minutes drive time, from the United States border.

Hunting popularity is on the rise

Because of the vastness of the unpopulated areas, liberal game limits, extended seasons, affordable rates, ample amounts of rainfall, convergence of major Northern Flyways, non-existent hunting pressure, a mild winter climate and abundance of grains, Mexico is becoming one of the worlds most attractive hunting destinations. Hunting is very popular in Northern and Western Mexico among Europeans and Mexicans alike and is gaining popularity with hunting groups from the States.

North Western Region

State of Sinaloa, northeast, west, and northwest of El Fuerte, respectively, are Presa Huites, Presa Miguel Hidalgo, and Presa Josefa Ortiz de Domingues. This area is very popular for hunting Canada goose, various duck species (canvasback, mallard, pintail, redhead, teal, widgeon, and others), quail, and white-wing dove.

In the Culiacan vicinity, swarms of Geese, ducks, doves, quail and blue pigeons are abundant in huge quantities. Local hunters welcome hunters to help keep the populations down.

In the Mazatlan area, just due north, the Presa Comedero area is a popular hunting spot for a wide variety of game, including pintail ducks, gadwall, bluebill, brandt, widgeon, cinnamon teal, green-winged teal, bluewing, dove, quail, deer, and wild pig.

Many other areas in the Northwestern Region of Mexico offer tremendous opportunities for hunting Mexico. Adequate time should be invested in contacting Tourist Bureau offices in Baja California, Sonora, Sinaloa, and Chihuahua for names of recommended outfitters in the area.

North Eastern Region
State of Coahuila and Nuevo Leon, bordering Southwest Texas, these two Mexican States are primarily noted for their huge WhiteTail Deer. Several "book" deer are taken each season from specific areas of these states. Primarily, in Nuevo Leon, the best area is located directly southwest of the city of Nuevo Laredo. This brush country is full of trophy white-tail deer of a lifetime, and plentiful "blue quail". In the State of Coahuila, the area which is prime for trophy white-tail deer, is the area just northwest of Nuevo Laredo and north along the Rio Grande River, not more than 25 miles inland, until just north of the city of Piedras Negras. Both of these areas are teaming with dove, quail and deer. Contact the tourist bureau in these states for specific outfitter names.

White-wing dove

State of Tamaulipas, primarily known for its awesome wing shooting, this Mexican State, is a virtual "hunters paradise" when it comes to bird hunting. Millions of ducks and geese call the Laguna Madre area along the Eastern Mexican coastline home, as well as millions of white-wing dove. Because of the ample food, moderate winter temperatures, convergence of major northern flyways, non-existent hunting pressure and ample water, this area is teaming with Hundreds of millions of birds.

The area surrounding the city of San Fernando, approx 100 miles south of Brownsville, Texas is the most popular area hunted for white-wing dove. This line of hunting exist, surrounding San Fernando and travels east towards the coast, bordering the cities of at Soto la Marina, Abasolo and south towards Lake Guerrero. Each year millions of these "flying knuckleballs", migrate from South and Central American each summer to invade the grain fields of central Tamaulipas. Awesome wing shooting is best during late summer and early fall. Quail hunting is done mainly in January and February, after the first cold snap.
Several factors have led to the popularity of Mexico, as the next "Hunters Paradise" of North America. NAFTA has allowed hunters in the United States greater awareness of the bountiful resources and opportunities available to them, on both sides of the border of the two countries. By relaxing trade restrictions on the two countries, more business people are exposed to the opportunities available to them and this single fact has acted like a "Word of Mouth" magnet to hunters looking for better places to enjoy their sport.

Additionally, Mexican Federal Firearms laws have recently been relaxed regarding some infractions of the law, which were earlier punishable by mandatory prison terms. Now, "common sense" Firearms laws, for the most part, are in place, to still protect the public and allow for proper importation of firearms and ammunition required for sporting use. Common sense is still required for proper importation of Firearms into Mexico.

Hunting Regulations, which include bag limits on both size and number, are enforced in Mexico, where possible. For the most part however, some birds, such as dove, are considered by most farmers, as field pest and hunters are encouraged to shoot liberal limits of birds.

1999 Mexican Hunting Season's and Bag Limits
Applicable to most Mexican States
White-Wing Dove August 21 - October 18 Daily Limits 40
Possession 120
Mourning Dove August 21 - December 8 Daily Limits 40
Possession 120
Ducks October 23 - February 21 Daily Limits 15
Possession 45
Geese October 23 - February 21 Daily Limits 5
Possession 15
Quail October 30 - February 28 Daily Limits 10
Possession 30
White-Tail Deer December 15 - January 15 Limit 1 Buck Only for season

Check with the authorities in the State in which you are hunting for the exact dates and Bag limits for each species hunted.

A Maximum of 2 Rifles or Shotguns per hunter is allowed, guns may be accompanied by no more than 2 boxes of American Shells per gun (50 shells per gun). With the proper hunting permit, additional shells may be purchased in Mexico through various Licensed Sporting Goods Dealers. Only .22 caliber bullets and 12, 20 and .410-guage shotgun cartridges are available. Cost is somewhat expensive, but when measured with the risk of going to prison for smuggling shotgun shells into Mexico to save a few lousy dollars, the cost is cheap.
Do's & Don'ts
  1. Do use Common Sense; remember you are in a foreign country, with their own set of laws. It's not important, if you think you are in the right or not. Remember�����..�your guilty till proven innocent in Mexico.
  2. Do follow Mexican Laws.
  3. Do carry your passport, hunting license and gun permit at all times.
  4. Do be patient and respect the Mexican people, they intern, will respect you.
  5. Do double-check your car or truck for extra ammo or unlicensed weapons, prior to your entry into Mexico. Most people get into trouble for this single reason.
  6. Do watch where you walk. Rattlesnakes in Mexico are large enough to kill a person.
  7. Do remember to check references.
  1. Don't be stupid. If you have trouble differentiating what "stupid is" in the United States, that should raise a "red flag" to not attempt to hunt Mexico.
  2. Don't even try to smuggle unlicensed guns or ammo into Mexico. It's not worth the penalty. The Mexican prison system is full of stupid American's, wishing they had been smarter.
  3. Don't walk in high grass without snake leggings on and watching where you step. For some reason, in 20 years of Hunting Mexico, I have never seen a small rattlesnake.

A bountiful, early morning hunt

SEMARNAP hunting permits come in six types:
Type I-Waterfowl, Type II-Doves, Type III-other birds, Type IV-mammals, Type V-limited, Type VI-special.

Permits are issued from a Government Licensed Dealer in Mexico.

In addition to the SEMARNAP hunting permit, foreign hunters need a consulate certificate, special visa, and military gun permit. The consulate certificate may be obtained from any Mexican embassy or consulate upon presentation of a letter from the hunter's local police or sheriff's office (on original police letterhead) verifying that the hunter has no criminal record. This certificate is also necessary for obtaining the military gun permits, which is issued by the army garrison in the major border town in the Mexican State in which you are going to hunt.

Proof of U.S. Citizenship is required. This document, must have your picture on it (i.e. Passport) if not, your voter's registration card accompanied by a photocopy of your Drivers License will suffice. Additionally, 8 passport size pictures are usually required with each gun permit and hunting license issued and the final number of pictures depends on the State you are hunting. Finally, a new regulation requires that all foreign hunters be accompanied by a licensed Mexican hunting guide. Your Hunting License agent can advise you on this requirement. Hunting License Cost is approx. $450 U.S. and includes Gun Permit.

The whole process of obtaining, on your own, the required permits and license is very time consuming, frustrating and discouraging for the average U.S. hunter. Even if you speak perfect Spanish, your better off arranging the license and permits through a U.S. broker or a licensed Mexican Outfitter, which specializes in the State that you are hunting. This assures you that a qualified agent is looking out for your interest, and that the job will be done in a manner which is acceptable to the State Agency for which you are hunting. A list of Licensed Outfitters can be requested from any Mexican Consulate in the State you are going to hunt.

Last and most important piece of advice, is to check out the references for the people that you plan to use. Use "common sense" questions when interviewing past clients of the lodge or outfit. Don't take anything for granted, ask the most basic questions you can think of.

Hunting Lodges & Outfitters

Important Links

IMPORTANT: Rules on bringing guns into Mexico

Bringing your birds home from Mexico - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Consulates of Mexico

Mexican Government Tourism Offices

SEMARNAP, government agency in charge of natural resources.

State Tourism Offices in Mexico

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