As you may recall from last week's column, this is that time of the year when hunters apply for Nevada big game tags for Pronghorn Antelope, Mule Deer, Rocky Mountain Elk, California Bighorn Sheep, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and Rocky Mountain Goat, if they are eligible.
Note the key phrase "If they are eligible." Many Nevada hunters will not be eligible this year for a variety of reasons running the gamut all the way from those who can not apply due to having been successful in past years to those who have lost their licenses by court action for being found guilty of a "No No."
As an example of not being eligible, I was successful in drawing a Rocky Mountain goat in 2001.
In Nevada, once you draw a goat tag, whether you are successful or not in your hunt, you can never apply again in your lifetime.
Whew, thank goodness I was successful that year, and I now have an impressive Billie Goat mount on our front room wall.
On the other hand, I have tried and tried and tried to draw a rifle bull elk tag and have never been successful, through all those years.
Out of curiosity, I recently went to the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) website, looking for data on big game hunts for Rocky Mountain Goat and Rocky Mountain Elk and hit the jackpot.
Here is just a small sampling of the information I found:
Rocky Mountain Goat
The goat hunts are held in Big Game Management Areas 101-102-103, located in the Ruby Mountains of Elko County, where the season normally runs from the end of August to the end of October.
In 2000: There were a total of 17 resident tags and 1 Partners In Wildlife (PIW) tag.
In 2001: A total of 22 resident tags and 1 PIW (22 of the 23 total hunters were successful, including yours truly).
In 2002: A total of 22 resident tags and 1 PIW.
In 2003: 21 resident tags, 1 non-resident and 1 PIW.
In 2004: 22 resident tags, 1 non-resident and 1 PIW.
In 2005: 23 resident tags, 4 non-resident and 1 PIW.
In 2005, your chances of drawing a goat tag were as follows:
In big game management area No. 101, a total of 1,075 hunters applied for 4 tags. All 4 hunters were successful.
In area No. 102, a total of 2,189 hunters applied for 18 tags. Of the 18 hunters, 14 hunters were successful.
In area No. 103, a total of 258 hunters applied for 1 tag. That only tag holder was successful.
A total of 881 hunters applied for the one and only 1 PIW tag. That tag holder was successful.
In summary, in 2005 there were a total of 4,403 applications for only 24 tags. That's one tag for every 183 applications!
Your chances of drawing one of those hard-to-get tags are awfully slim (you have a better chance of winning an office pool!). However, if you do draw one, it will be the hunt of a lifetime. It sure was for me!
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK
Elk are found throughout eastern, northeastern, central and a portion of southern Nevada, where those healthy populations continue to grow and migrate to new areas.
A rifle bull elk tag is what I have "lusted for," through many years, and who knows, this could be the year. I hope so!
In 2005, these were the bulls that were taken (counting the antler points on the left side):
One point: 20 bulls.
Two points: 9 bulls.
Three points: 6 bulls.
Four points: 34 bulls.
Five points: 139 bulls.
Six points: 418 points.
Seven + points: 97 bulls.
Most astonishing for Nevada being considered a "Desert State" by many people around the country, 654 of a total of 723 bulls in 2005 were five pointers or larger! That is a mind-boggling 90.45 percent!
Now, you know why I would love to draw one of those elk tags. I sure would like a chance at a trophy-sized bull elk.
Remember that the final deadline for receiving your applications, this year, is at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 17.
Special request: If you are a big game hunter, do not apply for a rifle bull elk tag for the Ely area. If you don't, it will increase my chance of finally drawing my tag! Sigh, oh well, I tried.
n Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you how the Rocky Mountain Elk were first introduced into Nevada.
If he grins and says, "Many years ago, a small group of elk, which had been live-trapped at Yellowstone National Park, was transplanted into the Ely area," he is going to win this bet.
n Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal.