Youth Hunters Get a Second Chance for a Hunt of a Lifetime

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Youth hunters eligible for a Nevada Resident Junior Mule Deer Hunt tag have a good chance of getting a tag in the second draw if they play their cards right, according to staff with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). “We have 448 early season junior tags available in Big Game Management Area 10 after the first draw,” said outdoor educator coordinator Les Smith, who runs the state's Hunter Education program.

"The Wildlife Commission is committed to supporting youth hunting, so those youngsters who haven't applied before should certainly consider it this year."

Area 10 is home to one of the largest deer herds in the state, with a current population estimate of approximately 20,000 animals. Tony Wasley, game biologist for NDOW, whose area of responsibility includes Area 10 located in the north eastern segment of the state,says nearly 90% of the deer in Area 10 call the Ruby Mountains and the East Humboldt Range home. "While there is plenty of rugged terrain and some access issues in this area, the idea that it is too difficult or too crowded to have an enjoyable family hunt just isn’t true,” Wasley said.

Harrison Pass, one of the more accessible areas in the Ruby Mountains has a reputation for being crowded. But Wasley says that the last few years he has seen fairly low hunter density and that there have been very nice mature four-point bucks harvested in the area.

There are plenty of beautiful campsites perfect for hunting base camps, which are easily accessible by vehicle both north and south of Harrison Pass. Combine that with a network of two-track trails up to the wilderness boundary to the north as well as plenty of accessibility to the south, and there is ample hunting opportunity in this area. Dan Dallas, acting District Ranger for Ruby Mountain/Jarbidge District says that as part of the road improvement on the west side of Harrison Pass, the Forest Service has built some turnarounds off of the road that provide camping access to trailers and RV’s. "We also improved some of the roads that branch off of the Harrison Pass road to allow visitors better access into the backcountry,” Dallas said.

Wasley also feels that many hunters miss the opportunity to harvest a deer by sticking too close to roads. “By walking a short distance from the road, getting one or two canyons away, hunters often have the area to themselves and this greatly improves their odds of finding a deer as well as providing the solitude and beauty that is part of the experience.”

Another area that is overlooked, says Wasley, are the canyons on the east side of the Ruby Mountains north of Harrison Pass. Just north of Harrison Pass, Long-Hair Smith (also known as California Canyon) and Road Canyons provide multiple access points to good hunting areas. Also, continuing up the east side to Secret Pass there are even more access routes to the National Forest lands.

Wasley stresses that one of the keys to a successful hunt is getting to know the area you are hunting. He recommends starting with good 1:100,000 topographic maps of the area that can be obtained from the USFS and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). A lot can be learned from them including land status (private vs. public), access routes, two-track and trail locations, as well as water sources. More information can also be found on the NDOW's web site, www.ndow.org, in the form of Hunter Information Sheets.

If possible, the next step is to visit the area and get the lay of the land visually. Because of the unique conditions found in the Ruby Mountains and the timing of the Area 10 early hunt, deer are often found in the same area during the hunt as they are in the summer when many hunters are in the field scouting.

The Junior Hunt is an either sex mule deer hunt that allows junior hunters to hunt the archery, muzzleloader and rifle seasons when they are open until they harvest a deer. Youth must be 12 years old by the beginning of the archery season (August 14 in Area 10) and can be no older than 16 by the end of the last season for which they apply. For Area 10, the legal weapon hunt in Area 10 ends October 22, so youth must be no older than 16 by that date. If there are tags left over after the second draw, then junior hunters may apply for the Resident Junior Mule Deer Hunt as soon as they turn 12, and if there are still tags available, a lucky youth may acquire a tag even after the any legal weapons season opens on October 2. The application deadline for all remaining tags is July 6 by 5 p.m. Results will be available online and in NDOW regional offices by July 16.

So if your son or daughter has an interest in hunting, this is the perfect opportunity to get them and the whole family off of the couch and out into the field with an experience that will provide memories that will last a lifetime.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife is the state agency responsible for the restoration and management of fish and wildlife resources, and the promotion of boating safety on Nevada’s waters. Wildlife offices are located in Las Vegas, Henderson, Ely, Winnemucca, Fallon, Elko, and Reno. For more information on the Resident Junior Mule Deer Hunt, contact the agency web site at www.ndow.org or call your local Nevada Department of Wildlife office.