Nevada Announces Big Changes to Big Game Regulations

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The 2007 big game tag application process is just around the corner. Hunters can start planning, using the Nevada 2007 Big Game Seasons and Application Regulations brochure available online at www.ndow.org. Hunters who have applied in one of the previous two years should receive their copy and application materials in the mail soon. NDOW offices began stocking the brochures Tuesday, March 20th, and retailers authorized to sell NDOW licenses will receive their brochures sometime that week.

Hunters who have been around a while will notice several important changes from years past. Perhaps the biggest changes affect the scheduled season dates for the upcoming fall hunting seasons. Rather than opening on a designated day of the week, as has been done in the past, the 2007 hunting seasons will begin and end on specific dates. Those dates have been set for the next two years. This, according to NDOW, will allow seasons to remain constant from year to year and should make it easier for hunters who need to plan their hunts and put in for vacation time early in the year.

This is a significant change for a hunting culture that is rich in tradition, but NDOW is hoping that the changes will ultimately make it easier for hunters and their families when it comes to applying for tags and planning their hunts.

"The long-term goal is to pursue standard seasons and eliminate unnecessary changes and confusion to tag applicants and hunters every two years," said Mike Cox, NDOW's big game staff biologist. "The diverse and changing work force of Nevadans, commitment of hunters to hunt regardless of what day of the week it is, the spread of hunting pressure across the opening day and first weekend of a season, and trends of other western states were all taken into account."

Another significant change is the creation of split hunting seasons for mule deer and elk hunts in several areas. These changes will provide hunters with a choice of early and late rifle hunts. The benefit of the split seasons, Cox said, is the ability it gives NDOW to recognize and manage two groups of hunters, “opportunity hunters” and “trophy hunters.” Each group has different expectations and demands. Split seasons also provide a level of protection to the mature buck segment by controlling the harvest of these bucks later in the fall.

For those who have been anxious to hunt with a crossbow, the time has come. However, crossbows are only legal for hunting during the any legal weapon season, so using them during the archery season is out. In order for a crossbow to be considered legal for hunting big game animals it must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds, a minimum draw length of 14 inches measured from the front of the bow to the nocking point, a stock at least 18 inches in length and a positive safety mechanism.

Crossbow arrows, or bolts, must be at least 16 inches long and have fixed broadheads at least 7/8-inch wide at the widest point. Expandable broadheads may also be used, but they too must meet the 7/8-inch criteria when in the open position.

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners adopted these and several other changes to the 2007-2008 big game hunting seasons at its February meeting in Reno.

Other important changes affecting big game hunts include the following:

  • Antelope - Archery seasons will start one week earlier (July 27) than last year. Any legal weapon seasons will start Aug. 22 and have been lengthened from nine to 15 days.
  • Elk – The any legal weapon hunt for bull elk in Units 076, 077, 079, 081 has been split into an early and late hunt. All muzzleloader seasons for bull elk will start Oct. 20, and most rifle seasons will start Nov. 4. Cow elk seasons have been added in units 061 and 071.
  • Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep – A new hunt has been added in Unit 114 on the Nevada-Utah state line.
  • California Bighorn Sheep - Unit 041 is now closed, but a new hunt has been added in Unit 022. The nonresident hunt in Unit 035 has been replaced with one in Units 066 & 068.
  • Desert Bighorn Sheep – Two new units have been added -- Unit 131 and Unit 204. The hunting season in Unit 161 has been split into an early and a late hunt. Unit 205 has been split into north and south sub-units. Nonresidents will find new tag opportunities in Unit group 243, 271.
  • Mountain Goat – For nonresidents, the hunt area was split and two separate hunts were created, one in Unit 101 and another in Unit 102.
  • Mule Deer – An antlerless deer hunt has been added in Area 6 and many hunt areas will now offer an early and late split rifle season. However, the resident junior deer rifle season was not split (single 22-day season). Some interstate deer herds have all three weapon class hunts in December.

Unit Boundary Changes

Pilot Peak in eastern Elko County is now designated as Unit 091. In prior years Pilot Peak was included in Unit 079, but that unit is now limited to the Toana Range and surrounding area. Other units with revised boundaries include: 072 - 075, 102, 104, 111, 114, 131, and 221.

Hunters should be aware and research that wilderness areas are greatly expanded across White Pine, Lincoln and portions of Clark County. These areas restrict motorized access. The Hunt Unit Map at ndow.org displays the wilderness boundaries. An updated Nevada hunt unit map can be found on the NDOW website at www.ndow.org/hunt/maps/unitmap.shtm.

The Big Game online tag application program went live on March 20 and will end on April 16.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (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. For more information, visit www.ndow.org.