Big game not hindered by conditions

Big game hunting forecasts estimate an increase in deer population.

Big game hunting forecasts estimate an increase in deer population.

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The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners set big game tag quotas for the 2014 hunting season, which included increases in elk, desert bighorn and mountain goat. Tag quotas were also established for several new hunts including spike elk and bighorn ewe hunts.

Mule deer buck quotas are slightly down (4 percent) from last year, excluding junior hunts. The harvest level expected from the 2014 tag quota is intended to maintain the statewide management objective of 30 bucks to 100 does.

“Nevada’s mule deer populations have been relatively stable over the past two years,” said Nevada Department of Wildlif Big Game Biologist Mike Cox. “If hunters wish to maximize antler growth, maintaining a healthy buck ratio will be even more important in the persistent drought conditions Nevada has been experiencing.”

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners voted in their February 2014 meeting to approve the first ever bighorn sheep ewe hunting season in Nevada at the recommendation of NDOW staff. Several factors impacting herds such as drought and disease conditions were cited as the reasons for the hunt. Ewe tag quotas were set at 85 for Nelson (Desert) Bighorn and 15 for California Bighorn.

Nelson (Desert) Bighorn ram tags increased slightly statewide based on continued presence of strong age classes of middle to older age rams. California Bighorn ram quotas were slightly reduced statewide due to fewer mature rams in some units.

Mountain Goat tag quotas increased moderately as recent aerial and ground surveys confirmed good numbers of billy goats.

Nevada’s Rocky Mountain Elk resource continues to provide substantial elk hunting opportunity for the sportsmen of the state. Earlier this year, the State Wildlife Commission adopted several new hunts for the 2014 season. These new hunts combined with existing hunts created and increase in elk tags of over 50 percent.

“Nevada’s elk harvest management continues to be based on meeting population objectives within the guidelines of the state’s Elk Species Management Plan,” said Cox. “Statewide population increases resulted in a substantial increase in overall recommended tag quotas.”

Pronghorn Antelope tag quota changes are variable depending on specific unit groups and based on observed buck ratios and fawn recruitment. Approximately half of the rifle and archery buck unit groups have similar or higher quotas than in 2013. A few of these unit groups have substantial increases due to high buck ratios observed during 2013 post-season surveys.

Overall pronghorn are doing well. The 2014 statewide pronghorn population estimate is 27,500, though relatively static when compared to the 2013 estimate, it has significantly increased since a decade ago when the statewide pronghorn estimate was only 18,000.

Black Bear quotas remained the same with resident quotas set at 41 and nonresident quotas at four. The Black Bear harvest objective remains at 20 bears for the 2014 season, which will be closed immediately if harvest objectives are met. Harvest objectives have not been met in any of the past three years’ hunts.

For complete details on all quotas set for each species and unit group visit the Department website at

NDOW protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. Find them on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at


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