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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2016: Nevada Deer, Elk, Antelope

 

Large bull elk walking
Photo credit: Getty Images

Nevada's mule deer, elk and antelope application overview

Jump to: New for 2016 State Information Draw System Mule Deer Breakdown Elk Breakdown Antelope Breakdown

Nevada holds a large and diverse landscape that continually produces opportunities for hunters to take trophy animals each year. This is largely due to the state implementing conservative tag numbers for both residents and nonresidents. Even with a prolonged drought there have been plenty of trophy mule deer, elk and antelope taken each year. It is this reason that hunters keep applying or building points in the Silver State each year.

With a bonus point system that squares your earned points, applicants that have been applying for several years have an advantage to draw a tag. It is never too late to begin applying in Nevada. In fact, all tags are drawn randomly so applicants with few or no points actually have a chance to draw a tag. Nevada’s bonus point system allows hunters to build points fairly inexpensively through the purchase of a hunting license and the cost of the bonus point.

Note: The application deadline for mule deer, elk and antelope hunts in Nevada is April 18, 2016 at 11 p.m. PST. You can apply online here.



Why Nevada for mule deer, elk and antelope

Great season dates

Nevada accommodates different weapon types very well for mule deer and elk. In a way, each season tends to rewards hunters, rather than limits success. Mule deer dates are great for both archery and rifle holders while still protecting the mule deer rut in most units and elk hunters are rewarded with tags offered in the rut as well as late in the season when bulls are bachelored up.

Top end quality deer

Hunters regularly harvest mature bucks in most of Nevada’s units in the 140” to 165” Boone & Crockett (B&C) range. Bucks over 200” are also harvested every year as are bucks over 180” in many units.

Pick your terrain

Nevada is home to wide array of mule deer habitat types. While it is definitely home to plenty of arid desert regions like those units found in southern portions of the state, there are also plenty of high alpine landscapes to hunt in, too. Trophy bucks can be found scattered throughout different hunt areas.



New for 2016

•  The Table Mountain early elk hunt is not available for 2016.
•  Nevada will continue the combination antlerless elk management tag program.



State information

State quotas will not be set until the May 2016 Commission meeting. This is done to ensure that the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has the latest and most current data on big game herds.

Note: Keep in mind that Nevada hunting hours are half an hour before sunrise to sunset for all big game hunts, unless otherwise specified. This is different from the typical 30 minute allotment after sunset in most western states.

To view important information and an overview of the Nevada’s rules/regulations, the draw system and bonus points, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map, check out our State Profile. You can also view the Nevada Deer Profile, Elk Profile and Antelope Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

State Profile Mule Deer Profile Elk Profile Antelope Profile

Important dates and information

•  You may begin applying NOW.
•  The deadline to apply is April 18, 2016 at 11 p.m. PST for online applications and 5 p.m. for paper applications.
•  You can apply online here.
•  Bonus point only applications will be accepted up to April 25, 2016 at 11 p.m. PST.
•  You can apply for a bonus point only here.
•  Results will be made available on or before June 10, 2016.

Drought in Nevada
 

As of April 5, 2016, nearly the entire state of Nevada is under drought conditions. The west and northwest regions continue to struggle from the effects of prolonged drought conditions. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a small portion of western Nevada is under exceptional drought, with the remainder of the region under extreme drought.
 

Nevada snow water equivalent percent of normal 2016
Percent of normal snow water equivalent (SWE) for the state of Nevada and portions of California. Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service


The draw system

Understanding the draw

For all species in Nevada, there are five hunt choices. When drawn, all five choices are considered prior to drawing the next application.

Mule deer bonus point only
•  
For mule deer bonus points only application, use the bonus point code: ABP

Elk bonus point only
•  
For residents, the bull elk bonus points only code is: HBP
•  
For nonresidents, the bull elk bonus points only code is: RBP

Antelope bonus point only
•  
For antelope bonus points only application, use the bonus point code: EBP

2016 max bonus points for elk: 23
2016 max bonus points for deer: 21
2016 max bonus points for antelope: 21

Bonus point only application after the main draw

If you missed the application deadline to apply for a tag or you just want to apply for bonus points, then you may submit an application for a bonus point during the main big game application or within seven days after the application deadline. Application fees will still be charged. It is highly recommended that you print a copy of your application confirmation page for your records after applying. The last day to apply for a bonus point only is April 25, 2016 at 11 p.m. PST. You can apply for a bonus point here.

Unlocking Nevada’s system

The key to finding success in Nevada’s drawing is twofold. First, you will need some luck on your side since Nevada is a true bonus point state and does not reserve any tags for the applicants with the most points. It is also important to understand that you get five hunt choices and your first two choices should be filled with the hunts that you desire most regardless of your point level or the popularity of the hunt choice.

Nevada's draw order and why it matters

With five choices, there is always a slim chance for applicants with little or no points to draw a tag. After your first two “dream” choices are filled in, then you must determine if your intentions are to hold out for only the best of hunts or if you would be happy with a less popular selection. Remember, your bonus points are squared in Nevada. See the Nevada State Profile for more information.


 

Nevada's mule deer breakdown
 

Mule deer buck taken with Pine Peak Outfitters
Mule deer taken with Pine Peak Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

When people hear the words “Nevada mule deer” they instantly think of giant bucks and horrible draw odds when the reality is that the first part of that is true and the second part is mostly true as well. Mule deer population levels are swiftly declining and at their lowest numbers in 35 years! 2015 marked the first time that the statewide mule deer population dropped below 100,000. Since the last population spike in 1988 of 240,000, the mule deer population trend has been on the decline. 

Nevada mule deer population estimate

The graph above is very, very alarming for Nevada and shows the decline of mule deer since the last spike in 1988. Recent bouts of drought are severely impacting already low deer numbers. We expect the 2016 statewide deer tag quotas to once again decrease because of this drastic drop.

Nevada mule deer tags issued and harvest numbers

The graph above shows how many mule deer tags were issued and the total harvest during the same time period of the population graph. You can clearly see the trend in tags and total harvest follows similar patterns.

Although there is a major decrease in deer numbers, don’t let that scare you. Nevada is still home to giant bucks and there are giant bucks hiding out just about every unit. What’s even better is that 54% of Nevada’s units have the potential to produce 170” or better bucks and 19% of Nevada’s units have the potential to produce 180” or better bucks.

Nevada statewide mule deer 4 point or better harvest

Current mule deer herd condition

Winter storms have caused a few isolated die-offs in 2015/2016. This has occurred most notably in northern Nevada. In addition to that, drought, loss of habitat and potentially too many tags have caused a drastic decline in deer herds. Unfortunately, the severe drought that has been affecting the majority of Nevada will certainly have an impact on antler growth and feed resources during 2016, but, thanks to the consecutive mild winters, fawn recruitment should be up.

In certain areas of the state, there are fairly liberal tag allocations that provide hunters with greater opportunities to draw a tag and hunt deer. Be aware that you will also see increased pressure and competition in those units. Nevada also manages several units for trophy potential. Units with this management strategy tend to consistently produce the 180”+ type bucks. While mule deer herds are statistically on a decline, the state still has plenty of available areas to pursue trophy bucks. Early talks indicate a bunch of tag cuts in Unit 101 to 109. We expect to see similar trends in other units.

The seasons

Nevada has a really straightforward set of hunting season dates and each one offers a unique set of challenges.

Archery

Bowhunters get the first crack at mule deer in Nevada. The great part about Nevada is the early season dates. The majority of the units hold an Aug. 10 archery opener. This is normally a week before Utah’s season and three weeks before Colorado. This unique season date provides eager bowhunters the ability to chase velvet bucks in multiple states each year.

Nevada also holds some late bowhunts during the rut. Season dates are typically Nov. 10 to 20, but a few units have December hunting dates, too. These hunts typically have lower draw odds, but the wait is worth it to hunt rutting mule deer with your bow and significantly less tag holders running around. There are a total of 34 units that hold late archery hunts. You can filter out the late archery seasons in Filtering 2.0 or you can access them at this link.

Muzzleloader

Muzzleloader seasons offer a great chance at a trophy buck in Nevada. Season dates mainly open up Sept. 10, giving hunters a decent chance at finding bucks that just shed their velvet and may still be bachelored up.

Rifle

Nevada offers great early and late rifle season dates. The majority of the early rifle hunts run from Oct. 5 to Nov. 5 and some of the true late hunts start on Nov. 5 and go until Nov. 30. These late November hunts are your best chance at hunting the mule deer rut in Nevada.

Top hit list units to consider for 180" or better mule deer
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Buck:doe
ratio
% bucks 4pt
or better
Unit 131 190"+ 32:100 37%
Unit 132 190"+ 32:100 55%
Unit 194 190"+ 33:100 67%
Unit 231 190"+ 23:100 54%
Unit 241 190"+ 23:100 63%
Unit 242 190"+ 23:100 63%
Unit 031 180"+ 29:100 49%
Unit 065 180"+ 40:100 51%
Unit 071 180"+ 23:100 30%
Unit 072 180"+ 23:100 37%

 

* 11 other units with 180”+ trophy potential


How to uncover hidden gem units

The key to unlocking hidden gem units in Nevada is to either pick up a bow or muzzleloader; that will greatly increase your chance of drawing a tag. The other way to truly unlock hidden gem units is by utilizing Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds to pick units that meet your trophy potential, draw odds percentage, buck:doe ratio, and percentage of 4pt or better. Not only that, but you can also closely examine the number of applications and the number of tags drawn in every unit for both resident and nonresident. This information is great for finding units that meet your criteria and also may have less people applying. With the vast amount of tools at your fingertips, it is relatively easy to find a hidden gem deer unit.


Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

Nevada's top B&C producing counties
since 2010 for typical mule deer

County No. of
entries
Units found
within county
Lincoln 10 115, 132, 133, 221, 222, 223, 231, 241, 242, 243, 245, 271
Elko 4 061, 062, 064, 065, 066, 067, 068, 071, 072, 073, 074, 075, 076, 077,
078, 079, 081, 091, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 121, 144
White Pine 4 065, 103, 104, 108, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115,
131, 132, 144, 164, 221, 222, 231
Humboldt 2 012, 031, 032, 033, 034, 035, 041, 042, 044, 046, 051, 066, 151
Eureka 1 064, 065, 068, 131, 141, 142, 143,
144, 145, 152, 155, 154, 162, 163

 

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

Nevada's top B&C producing counties
since 2010 for nontypical mule deer

County No. of
entries
Units found
within county
Lincoln 3 115, 132, 133, 221, 222, 223, 231, 241, 242, 243, 245, 271
Elko 2 061, 062, 064, 065, 066, 067, 068, 071, 072, 073, 074, 075, 076,
077, 078, 079, 081, 091, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 121, 144
Lander 1 068, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 161, 162, 172, 173, 183, 184

 

Trending buck:doe ratio units
 

Nevada mule deer buck taken with Nevada Outfitters
Mule deer taken with Nevada Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

You have probably noticed that we provide data on buck to doe ratios for each hunt unit in Nevada. Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status of the herd. A higher buck to doe ratio could indicate that a unit could have a higher availability of mature bucks compared to a unit with a lower buck to doe ratio. This doesn’t always indicate that the bucks will be the highest scoring, but more bucks equates to more bucks to find and harvest. When selecting an area, or comparing several areas, take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in-depth.

Top 10 Nevada mule deer units for buck:doe ratios

Unit Buck:doe
ratio
Trophy
potential
Unit 033 54:100 170"+
Unit 114 47:100 180"+
Unit 115 47:100 180"+
Unit 065 40:100 180"+
Unit 151 39:100 170"+
Unit 152 39:100 170"+
Unit 154 39:100 160"+
Unit 155 39:100 160"+
Unit 051 38:100 170"+
Unit 181 38:100 150"+
 


The points system

The bonus point race

2016 maximum bonus points for mule deer: 21

Managing points and expectations

Find your draw odds

Nevada mule deer bonus points going into the 2016 draw

I have 0 mule deer bonus points. What can I expect?

With Nevada's draw system, there is always a possibility that you will get lucky and draw a permit regardless of the unit. Yet the odds are that it will take a few more years to gain enough bonus points to draw a tag for any of the trophy areas. There are a few units that a nonresident could draw with zero points. Your best bet is applying for archery hunts as your third to fifth choice.

Residents: If you have zero points and want to hunt mule deer than you will need to pick up a bow. A bowhunter has several options in Nevada for areas they can draw almost every year. Look at the following units for hunts that you could potentially draw with zero points: Units 043, 044, 045, 046, Unit 051, Units 101-109, Units 114, 115, Units 141-145, Units 151-156 and Units 171, 172, 173. If you want to extend your range a little bit, a resident could also potentially draw the Units 101-109 muzzleloader tag with zero points. Rifle tags with zero points will take a lot of luck.

Select a dream hunt choice that you would as your first choice. Early rifle seasons, muzzleloader and archery choices should be used as your second through fifth choices if you are hoping to draw a tag with zero bonus points. If you are willing to bowhunt, there are leftover tags still available after the draw in a few units.

Nonresidents: A nonresident should seriously consider archery if they expect to hunt with zero bonus points. Areas to consider would be Units 101-109, Units 141-145, Units 151-156 and Units 181-184.

What can I do with 3 or 4 mule deer bonus points?

Note: You will lose your accumulated bonus points if you purchase a leftover tag in Nevada. Consider this before purchasing a leftover tag.

Residents: With three or four bonus points the resident hunter should decide if this is the year that they should hunt or if the hunter would rather wait to draw a more coveted tag. While you still have a chance at drawing a premier area because of Nevada’s squared point system, it is most likely to take a few more bonus points. There are some good rifle units that resident hunters have a fair chance of drawing such as Unit 032 and Units 181-184. If you are serious about burning your bonus points for a rifle tag, you can use the Draw Odds page and adjust the filters to show you draw odds that are 50% or higher. That will give you a great starting point for further research. There are also some really good odds for certain muzzleloader hunts and archery choices. 

Nonresidents: If you're a rifle hunter that is determined to only hunt the top trophy units in the state, then you should keep applying for the areas that they wish to draw only. Otherwise you could end up burning your points on a fourth or fifth choice. The late rifle seasons are consistently proven producers of better bucks. If you are a rifle hunter with three or four points and would like to draw, then list early rifle season hunts as your third through fifth choices. The early seasons will not provide a rut hunting experience. Muzzleloader and late archery hunts may be closer to rut, depending on which units they prefer.

What can I expect with 9 or 10 mule deer bonus points?

Residents: With 10 or more points most units are within reach. Apply for the dream units and with a little luck, you should be mule deer hunting in Nevada this fall. Late archery tags and even late muzzleloader tags are well within reach. Hunters who have waited to draw a special late season rifle also have a great chance of drawing.

Nonresidents: 10 or more bonus points provides a great chance of drawing rifle and muzzleloader tags throughout Nevada. If you have waited this long, keep applying to the areas you want to hunt unless you are ready to burn points to go hunting. With 10 points you have a lot of options to consider. Take a good look at the Draw Odds for point level and weigh your options carefully.

What can I expect with 15 or 20 mule deer bonus points?

Residents: There are currently only three residents with 15 mule deer bonus points. If you're at this point level, look at some of the premium deer units such as Units 194, 196, Unit 231, and Units 241-245.

Also, a lot of the late rifle hunts are within reach. Units such as: Unit 014, Unit 033, Unit 061, 062, 064, 066, 067, 068. Units 221, 222, 223 might take some luck to draw, but you would be the max point holder if you apply.

Nonresidents: There are 175 people that have between 15 and 17 mule deer bonus points and only 29 people with 18 to 21 bonus points.

Archery Units 131, 132, 133, 134, Units 221, 222, 223, Unit 231, and Units 241-245 are still going to be tough to draw in this bonus point range because of the low number of nonresident tags. Some late archery hunts will be obtainable. Check out the Draw Odds page to get a better idea at how many people are applying at each unit to help guide your application process.

If you are holding out for the top trophy units in Nevada, you could be waiting a few more years. Draw odds for the late hunt at 15 points range from 0.39% to just over 60%. Top units like Units 131-134 and Units 221, 222, 223 are still not even breaking over 1% draw odds at 15 points, and at 20 points Units 221, 222, 223 is still at a staggering 0.68%. But the wait could be worth it for a chance at some of the largest mule deer in the state.


 

Nevada's elk breakdown
 

Casey Spanish with his Nevada bull elk taken with 7L Outfitters
INSIDER member Casey Spanish with his Nevada bull elk taken with 7L Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

Nevada is home to a stable population of elk and the majority of the elk taken each year are 6 point or better (average 72% the past five years). This state has quickly become one of the hot spots for hunters looking to pursue trophy bull elk.

The growing population and quality genetics makes for tough draw odds, but this is a state that every serious elk hunter should apply for. The state has bulls grossing over 380” and some may be lucky to land a 400” bull, which can be found in different regions and units across the state. An impressive 49% of Nevada’s units have the potential to produce bulls over 350”. This makes the application process all that more important.

The following table shows the trend of NDOW’s elk management working to produce quality bulls in the state.

Nevada statewide bull elk harvest and percent 6pt or better

The unique part about the data in the table above is that the continued rise in the total number of bulls harvested per year has not directly impacted the percentage of six point or better bulls taken over the last five years. This is another reason Nevada needs to be on your radar as a state to build points for.

With the large number of quality bulls roaming the state, the odds of drawing a tag have become increasingly difficult for residents and nonresidents.

Current elk herd condition

The elk herd in Nevada is strong and plentiful. With the recent mild winter, most herds should only be minimally impacted and calf recruitment should be strong. The biggest issue facing elk in this state is the continued drought that is affecting feed resources and water availability in certain areas and may become an issue without spring and summer rains. The snowpack is very light in nearly all areas of the state.

Nevada elk population estimate

Due to the high level of calf recruitment, we can expect to see more elk tags issued across the state in the years to come. While mule deer number are declining rapidly, elk on the other hand are growing at an exponential rate each year.

Herd growth has been so good that Nevada has implemented a “spike only” hunt and added more areas to their depredation hunts which do not affect bonus points.

The seasons

Archery

This is one of the best chances to take a trophy bull in Nevada. The majority of archery seasons run Aug. 25 to Sept. 16 with a handful of units opening Aug. 16 (Units 061, 071 and Unit group 062, 064, 066, 067 and 068). With only 284 resident and 30 nonresident archery bull elk tags offered in 2015, competition for these coveted tags is very high!

Muzzleloader

A few muzzleloader hunts offer peak rut dates in early and middle September. Units 061, 071 and Unit group 062, 064, 066, 067 and 068 offer Sept. 1 to Sept. 16 early rut dates. Later in that hunt you go, the better chance to get on more rutting bulls. Also, Unit group 072, 073, 074, Unit 075 and Unit group 161, 162, 163, 164, 171, 172, 173 offers Sept. 17 to Sept. 30 dates which are right in the middle of the rut. The rest of the units with a muzzleloader season offer dates in mid October to the first week of November.

Rifle

Early rifle dates are highly coveted, and for good reason. This season allows for a lot of rut hunting action in some of the best trophy units in the state. The late hunt is really turning on the past few years. There are 14 units available on the late hunt. You can find more information on these units in Filtering 2.0 or Draw odds. Typical season dates for the late hunt are Nov. 6 to Nov. 20, with a few units having Nov. 21 to Dec. 4 dates.

Top hit list hunt units to consider for 360" or better elk
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Bull:cow
ratio
Percent 6pt
or better
Unit 114 380"+ 33:100 83%
Unit 115 380"+ 33:100 71%
Unit 221 380"+ 33:100 71%
Unit 222 380"+ 33:100 76%
Unit 231 380"+ 52:100 70%
Unit 161 370"+ 29:100 93%
Unit 162 370"+ 29:100 65%
Unit 077 360"+ 48:100 66%

 

How to uncover hidden gem elk units

There really are no secrets to drawing an elk tag in Nevada. Luck will mainly need to be on your side, even if you have a lot of bonus points.

Nevada percent bulls over 50

NDOW has implemented antlerless elk management hunts in combination with buck or bull elk tag applications. A person could possibly draw a bull elk tag and an antlerless elk tag in the same draw in 2016. For more information, check out the 2016 regulations book.

Five year B&C entry trends for Nevada elk


Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

Nevada's top Boone & Crockett producing counties
since 2010 for typical elk

County No. of
entries
Units found
within county
White Pine 14 065, 104, 108, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115,
131, 132, 164, 221, 222, 231
Elko 8 061, 062, 064, 065, 066, 067, 068, 071, 072, 073, 074, 075, 076,
077, 078, 079, 081, 091, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 121
Nye 3 131, 132, 161, 162, 163, 164, 171, 172, 173, 262
Eureka 1 064, 065, 068, 131, 145, 161, 162, 163, 164
Lincoln 1 115, 132, 221, 222, 223, 231, 241, 242
 
 
Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

Nevada's top Boone & Crockett producing counties
since 2010 for nontypical elk

County No. of
entries
Units found
within county
White Pine 7 065, 104, 108, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115,
131, 132, 164, 221, 222, 231
Elko 1 061, 062, 064, 065, 066, 067, 068, 071, 072, 073, 074, 075, 076,
077, 078, 079, 081, 091, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 121

 

Trending bull:cow ratio units

Stephen Spurlock with his 2015 Nevada archery bull elk
INSIDER member Stephen Spurlock with his 2015 Nevada archery bull. Photo credit: Stephen Spurlock

You have probably noticed that we provide data on bull to cow ratios for each hunt unit in Nevada. Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status of the herd. A higher bull to cow ratio could indicate that a unit could have a higher availability of mature bulls compared to a unit with a lower bull to cow ratio. This doesn’t always indicate that the bulls will be the highest scoring bulls, but more bulls equates to more bulls to find and harvest. When selecting an area, or comparing several areas, take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in-depth.

Top hit list units for bull:cow ratios

Unit Bull:cow
ratio
Trophy
potential
Unit 131 68:100 350"+
Unit 132 68:100 350"+
Unit 171 62:100 310"+
Unit 172 62:100 310"+
Unit 173 62:100 350"+
Unit 231 52:100 380"+
Unit 072 49:100 350"+
Unit 073 49:100 340"+
Unit 074 49:100 350"+
Unit 076 48:100 330"+
 


The points system

Managing points and expectations

2016 maximum bonus points for elk: 23

Find your draw odds

Nevada elk bonus points going into the 2016 draw

I have 0 elk bonus points. What can I expect?

Both residents and nonresidents will have a hard time drawing an elk tag with zero points for any of the weapon choices. The best advice is to place your dream hunts first through third and use your last two choices for hunts that might be easier to draw. Keep in mind that the number of hunt choices for elk are far fewer than mule deer in Nevada. This places more pressure/applicants in fewer units so draw odds are greatly reduced.

Resident draw odds for an archery elk tag are between 0.09% to 2.9% for all available units and they only get worse for muzzleloader and rifle.

Nonresident odds are even worse for all of the seasons and range from 0.01% to 0.42%. It will be a long waiting game, but if you ever want to hunt elk in Nevada, you should start to build points.

What can I do with 3 or 4 elk bonus points?

Remember to list premium season dates that coincide with the rut as your first and second choice, followed by season and weapon choices you would be happy with as your third through fifth choice.

Residents: Once again, drawing a bull elk tag in Nevada is not easy, even if you have four years’ worth of bonus points built up.

Caution should be made at this point range so you don’t apply for a unit with poor season dates or a hunt that you might not be satisfied with. With four points you have a reasonable chance to draw Unit group 061, 071, Unit 075, Unit group 072, 073, 074, Unit group 076, 077, 079, 081 and Unit group 062, 064, 066, 067, 068.

Realistically, you are going to be waiting quite a few more years to draw one of the premium Nevada elk tags. Hunters should study the tag quotas within the unit profiles to determine which areas have the most permits. Muzzleloader and late rifle seasons give you the next best odds at a tag.

Nonresidents: Normally, it will take 10 or more bonus points to draw a bull tag in the Silver State, but there is always that random chance of pulling an exceptional tag. Apply for your most desired tags in your hunt choices if you are holding out for only the best of the best. If an opportunity is all you seek, apply for the very best rut seasons in first and second choice followed by late rifle seasons as third through fifth choice.

What can I expect with 9 or 10 elk bonus points?

Residents: 10 bonus points really puts you in the game for a lot of archery options. Almost all of the archery unit groups are in reach except for: Units 104, 104, 121, Units 108, 131, 132, Units 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, Units 221, 222, 223, Unit 231, Units 241, 242 and Unit 262. That may seem like a lot of units that are still out of reach… but of those units just mentioned, the draw odds range from just under 10% to 32%. Just a few more years for a lot of those units and you could be elk hunting. If you want to use your points now, adjust the minimum draw odds percent on our Draw Odds section to around 50%. Then take a closer look at unit to see if it meets your criteria. If not, continue to pick your dream hunts and hope you are lucky this year.

A lot of muzzleloader options are also available if you have 10 bonus points. Heavy hitters like Unit 231 and Units 062, 064, 066, 067, 068 will still be tough to draw.

If you want an early rifle tag, you’re best chance at drawing a tag with 10 points will be Units 061, 071 and Units 072, 073, 074 and Unit 075. Otherwise you may want to continue trying try draw your dream hunt because you have already waited so long to draw.

Late rifle tags overall are going to be a little easier to draw. Some giants bulls have been shot on the late hunt the past few years. Units within reach on the late hunt are: Units 061, 071, Units 072, 073, 074 and Unit 075.

Nonresidents: The limited tag quota for nonresidents among the premium units and seasons creates a lot of competition for tags. However with Nevada’s draw system squaring points, hunters with 10 or more points certainly have a chance. Archery hunters have a greater chance on average of drawing than someone wanting to hunt during the rut with a firearm or muzzleloader. The best chance bowhunters have at drawing a tag is Units 061, 071 with 10 points. The majority of muzzleloader and early rifle seasons have draw odds hovering around less than 1% to 10%. That late hunt in Units 108, 131, 132 are really your only real chance at drawing a coveted late rifle tag, but even those odds are barely above 25%. The accumulation of more bonus points will be greatly beneficial.

What can I expect with 15 or 20 elk bonus points?

Residents: At this point in the game, you are very close to packing your bags and heading out on an elk hunt in Nevada.

To put things in perspective:

•  There are only 119 residents with 15 or more bonus points.
•  There are only 37 resident with 20 or more bonus points.

Nonresidents: The truth is, at 15 bonus points as a nonresident you still need a lot of luck on your side to pull a tag. Draw odds are still in the single digits for the most part on all rut hunts. The early rifle hunt on Units 061, 071 has some of the best draw odds as well as Unit 072-074 and Units 104, 108, 121 on the late rifle hunt.

To put things in perspective:

•  There are still 402 nonresidents with 15 or more bonus points.
•  There are only 34 nonresident with 20 or more bonus points.



Nevada's antelope breakdown
 

Todd Harneys 2015 Nevada archery antelope buck
Todd Harney of KUIU with his 2015 Nevada archery antelope buck. Todd drew this tag with five bonus points as a nonresident. Photo credit: Todd Harney

Drought conditions and antelope seem to go hand in hand. Although drought continues to plague Nevada, antelope numbers are stable. Nevada is an exceptional state to take trophy antelope and currently ranks third in the nation for B&C entries from 2010 to 2015 — just behind Wyoming and New Mexico.

The key to these big bucks is access to high quality habitat near private agriculture fields . Most of these private agriculture fields are near a mixture of open federal lands and bucks in most areas travel to and from public land on a daily basis. Don’t let the thought of private land discourage you.

Nevada antelope horn lengths

According to hunt questionnaire data conducted by NDOW, 27% of the bucks harvested during the 2014 seasons had a horn length of 15” or more compared to 24% in the 2013 hunts. When you consider that Nevada hunters took 1,741 bucks in 2014 and, of those hunters, 1,678 reported their horn lengths. Out of the reported horn lengths, having 27% of them over 15” means that there are plenty of trophy hunting opportunities.

It should also be noted that 25 bucks over 17” were taken in 2014! With that being said, it is possible to find a B&C buck in each unit; however, hunters will need to scout, cover a lot of ground, and pass up a lot of bucks in order to find a B&C caliber buck.

Current antelope herd condition

Antelope continue to do well in Nevada despite ongoing and intensifying drought. The snowpack conditions going into the 2015 season were extremely low and resulted in poor habitat conditions and limited water sources for antelope last year.

Nevada antelope population estimate

Due to extensive wildfires in recent decades, large expanses of habitat that was formerly utilized by mule deer is now more suitable for antelope. Antelope numbers are on the upward trend, which could be explained by the increase in habitat.

The seasons
 

Nevada antelope buck taken with G and J Outdoors
Nevada antelope taken with G&J Outdoors — A goHUNT Business Member

Nevada has a really straightforward set of antelope hunting season dates.

Archery

The Nevada archery horns longer than ears season opens on Aug. 1. The great part about this early season is that it enables hunters to get out in the field before the archery deer season dates. This can help extend your hunting season and can be a way to plan a multi-week hunt if you are lucky enough to draw an archery antelope tag and archery mule deer tag in the same year.

Muzzleloader

The muzzleloader season opens Sept. 25 and is only available to residents. This unique season allows hunters to catch the tailend of the antelope rut. This is a great tag to have in your pocket.

Any legal weapon

The majority of the horns longer than ears any legal weapon seasons open on Aug. 22. Several units have a late hunt: Unit 033, Unit 041 and Unit 042, which opens Aug. 29 and Unit 202 and Unit 204 which has a two week hunt starting Oct. 15.

Top hit list hunt units to consider for 80" or better antelope
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Buck:doe
ratio
Unit 162 80"+ 31:100
Unit 011 80"+ 28:100
Unit 012 80"+ 29:100
Unit 013 80"+ 29:100
Unit 014 80"+ 29:100
Unit 015 80"+ 27:100
Unit 021 80"+ 27:100
Unit 022 80"+ 27:100
Unit 031 80"+ 20:100
Unit 032 80"+ 20:100

 

* 9 other units with 80” plus trophy potential
 

 

Hidden gem information

If you are a nonresident with zero bonus points, the only unit you have a decent chance at drawing is Unit group 205, 206, 207, 208. In 2015, the one nonresident tag offered in this unit was drawn with two bonus points. He was also the only applicant to apply for the unit as a nonresident. Keep that in mind if you really want to hunt antelope in 2016.

Five year B&C entry trends for Nevada antelope
 

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

Nevada's top Boone & Crockett producing counties
since 2010 for antelope

County No. of
entries
Units found
within county
Washoe 19 011, 012, 013, 014, 015, 021, 022, 033, 041
Elko 6 061, 062, 064, 065, 066, 067, 068, 071, 072, 073, 074, 075, 076, 077,
078, 079, 081, 091, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 121, 144
Humboldt 6 012, 031, 032, 033, 034, 035, 041, 042, 044, 046, 051, 066, 151
Lander 6 068, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 161, 162, 172, 173, 183, 184
Eureka 3 064, 065, 068, 131, 141, 142, 143, 144,
145, 152, 154, 155, 161, 162, 163, 164
Nye 3 131, 132, 161, 162, 163, 164, 171, 172, 173, 262
Pershing 3 012, 034, 041, 042, 043, 044, 045, 046, 151, 153, 182, 183
White Pine 3 065, 103, 104, 108, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115,
131, 132, 144, 164, 221, 222, 231
Mineral 1 202, 204, 205, 206

 

Trending buck:doe ratio units

You have probably noticed that we provide data on buck to doe ratios for each hunt unit in Nevada. Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status of the herd. A higher buck to doe ratio could indicate that a unit could have a higher availability of mature bucks compared to a unit with a lower buck to doe ratio. This doesn’t always indicate that the bucks will be the highest scoring, but more bucks equates to more bucks to find and harvest. When selecting an area, or comparing several areas, take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in depth.

The table below is another way to unlock hidden gem units in Nevada. You will notice these units have a high number of buck to doe ratios. What that means is you will have a greater chance of finding bucks in this unit and, ultimately, a great chance to find bucks that are up to par on the trophy potential scale.

Top 10 Nevada antelope units for buck:doe ratios

Unit Buck:doe
ratio
Trophy
potential
Unit 078 147:100 70"+
Unit 105 147:100 75"+
Unit 106 147:100 75"+
Unit 107 147:100 70"+
Unit 066 68:100 75"+
Unit 076 57:100 75"+
Unit 077 57:100 75"+
Unit 079 57:100 75"+
Unit 081 57:100 70"+
Unit 091 57:100 75"+

 


 

The points system

The bonus point race

2016 maximum bonus points for antelope: 21

Managing points and expectations

Find your draw odds

Nevada antelope bonus points going into the 2016 draw

I have 0 antelope bonus points. What can I expect?

Residents: Like all species in Nevada, you have two choices: either apply with a strategy in hopes of drawing dream hunts (but ultimately you are hoping to build points) or apply for dream hunts (but ultimately drawing a tag for this year).

If you want the top trophy areas, then apply for your dream hunt options as your first through fifth choice. That way you can start to build points, but have a chance at drawing a top trophy area. If you want to hunt this year, you should still apply for trophy areas as your first and second choice, but consider archery and muzzleloader options as third through fifth choice.

Draw odds for archery range from less than 1% to 37%. Keep in mind that the easy draw areas could have a smaller population and/or smaller trophy potential. Muzzleloader options are pretty nonexistent for residents with zero points. Draw odds are less than 4% across the board.

Nonresidents: Similar strategies should be applied for nonresidents as residents.

Nonresident applicants that are willing to bowhunt for antelope could consider archery for their final three choices. Trophy antelope bucks live in most available units in Nevada. The only unit you have a decent chance at drawing is Units 205, 206, 207, 208. In 2015, the one nonresident tag offered in this unit was drawn with two bonus points. He was also the only applicant to apply for the unit as a nonresident. Keep that in mind if you really want to hunt antelope in 2016.

What can I do with 3 or 4 antelope bonus points?

Residents: If you are a bowhunter, you are really in the game with four bonus points. Special attention should be given to the order you place your units on your application because you could draw almost any archery tag in the state. A little luck will still need to be on your side if you want to draw Unit group 021, 022, Unit 033 or Unit 251 as draw odds range from 5.9% to 16%.

Muzzleloader hunts are now in reach as well. In this point range, draw odds range from 6.5% to 47%. Take a close look at the trophy potential and the buck to doe ratios for the unit you are considering before you burn four years’ worth of points.

Rifle hunts are still a little out of the question, but someone has to draw. Some units give out lots of resident rifle tags and the draw odds show that. The luck card will need to be played if you want to draw some of the best areas of the state, such as Unit 021, 022, Unit 033, Unit group 221, 222, 223, 241, and Unit 251.

Nonresidents: A nonresident with only four points is still going to have a long wait to draw a Nevada antelope tag for any of the weapon choices. Statewide, archery draw odds are almost all below 10%. The areas you have decent draw odds above 50% are Unit 051, Unit 061, 062, 064, 071, 073, Units 065, 142, 144, Unit 067, 068 and Units 205, 206, 207, 208. Utilizing the Draw Odds page is your key to finding hunt options at this stage.

What can I expect with 9 or 10 antelope bonus points?

Residents: At 10 points, a resident hunter could potentially draw any archery or muzzleloader unit in the state. Only six residents applied in the 2015 draw with 10 or more bonus points. Three people had 10 bonus points and three people had 11 points. With that in mind, there are also an additional 93 applicants with 10 to 19 bonus points who just applied for points last year.

If you are waiting for a rifle tag, units are becoming easier to draw. Check out the Draw Odds page and Filter by Nevada > Resident > Antelope > Point level (10 in this case) > Season > Rifle. Or go to this link to get that search. From there you can see the draw odds for 35 different results. You can also narrow down your choices by taking the draw odds slider and adjusting it to various minimum draw odd percentages. This is a great way to see what units you could potentially draw this year if you want to finally hunt.

Nonresidents: If you are a nonresident with 10 or more points for antelope, you will now have the chance to draw a lot of archery hunts. You will still have steep odds of drawing a tag in these units: Units 021, 022, Unit 033, Units 041, 042 and Units 076, 077, 079, 081, 091. For more information on archery draw odds with 10 points, check out the Draw Odds page. Unless you are anxious to use your points and are itching for an opportunity to hunt, stay the course and apply to that area you have always dreamed of hunting as there is a chance.

A nonresident hoping to draw one of the coveted rifle tags in the premium units will still need lots of luck on their side. You really only have great odds to draw the following units: Units 132, 133, 134, 245 at 36% odds or Units 141, 143, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156 at 92%. Check out the Draw Odds page for more information on what units you may want to apply for with 10 bonus points.

What can I expect with 15 or more antelope points?

Residents: In 2015, there were no applicants who applied for the draw with 15 points. Currently, three people have 15 points, two have 16 points and one has 19 points. Each one of those people applied in 2015 for bonus points only. It is safe to say that once these people decide to enter the draw… they are going to sway draw odds drastically because they are the point kings.

Nonresident: At 15 points, a few more units are within reach if you want to rifle hunt, but your odds are not that much better than when you had 10 points. Yet, with Nevada’s draw system, anyone has a chance to pull a tag. There are a total of eight units that have 80% draw odds or better. If one of these units meets your criteria for a hunt or if you are sick of building points, then apply for it.

There are three people with 20 plus bonus points for antelope in Nevada. Two people have 20 bonus points and one has 21 bonus points. In 2015, all three applicants applied for bonus points only. These people, once they apply for a hunt, will greatly affect draw odds.

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