Slight Increase in Nevada's Big Game Tags

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The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners approved the allocation of 22,500 big game tags at its May 15-16 meeting in Reno, a one percent increase over 2008 tag allocations.

Within that allocation the commission established separate tag quotas for mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, antelope, and mountain goat. Overall the 2009 tag allocation includes a two percent reduction in mule deer tags, a 10 percent increase in both elk and desert bighorn sheep tags, and an 11 percent increase in pronghorn antelope tags.

Many people involved said it was one of the smoothest quota setting processes ever. With elk and antelope populations increasing and mule deer numbers down, most County Advisory Board members appeared to have worked out details at their individual county meetings before coming to the Wildlife Commission meeting to provide their input. And commissioners were supportive of the advisory boards' recommendations.

The commission approved 354 fewer mule deer tags than last year for a total of 16,626 tags. Staff biologist Mike Cox explained that mule deer populations continue to be affected by a myriad of factors, including drought, fire, invasive species, and the old age structure of some plant communities, predation and habitat conversion that benefits grazers, such as elk and antelope, over species that primarily browse, like deer. In one area of the state, this year's fawn recruitment was the lowest ever recorded, at 19 fawns produced per 100 does, possibly associated with poor body condition of some of the does.

The commission approved 2,800 youth tags for the 1107 mule deer either sex hunt this year; 2,595 tags were sold last year. Only three of the 14 counties that provided input to the big game quota setting process disagreed with NDOW biologist recommendations. Many County Advisory Boards acknowledged that youth hunters are the future of the sport, and that tags must be allocated to allow recruitment of new youth hunters into the sport of hunting.

For the ever popular buck mule deer rifle hunt, the commission approved an allocation of 8,526 resident and 607 nonresident tags, a 6% reduction from last year. In other weapons groups, resident buck muzzleloader hunt tags were reduced from 880 to 863, a 3% drop, (111 for nonresidents) and resident longbow archery antlered mule deer dropped from 2,253 tags last year to 2,041 tags this year. An antlerless deer hunt in Area 10 will provide 987 tags.

Pronghorn antelope remain stable and a total of 2,703 pronghorn antelope tags were allocated, an increase of 275 tags over last year. The Wildlife Commission approved tags for the first muzzleloader hunt 2171 for buck antelope, with 23 tags. The buck antelope rifle hunt received 1,640 tags; the resident longbow hunt was allocated 482 tags. Likewise, the number of California bighorn sheep continues to grow and as a result the number of available tags was increased from 41 to 47 tags, one of the largest increases seen for this species.

Overall, the commission approved 2,894 elk tags, an increase of 268 tags over last year. The resident bull elk rifle hunt was allocated 727 tags, an increase of one tag over last year. The bull elk muzzleloader hunt received 82 tags; and the bull elk longbow archery hunt received 125 tags, an increase of 19 tags over last year. The resident cow elk hunt was allocated 1,374 tags, an increase of 164 tags.

Mountain goat tags remained about the same at 28 tags, a reduction of just one tag.

Detailed tag quotas are available online at To receive up-to-date emails on quotas, tag draw results, and other information sign up at NDOW's subscription page,

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