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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2020: Nevada Sheep and Mountain Goat

Nevada's 2020 bighorn sheep and mountain goat application overview


Main writer: Jordan Christensen of The Draw

Jump to: NEW FOR 2020 State Info Draw System D. Bighorn Breakdown R. Bighorn Breakdown C. Bighorn Breakdown Mtn Goat Breakdown

There is not another state in the country that issues more bighorn sheep permits than Nevada. There are more desert bighorn sheep permits given each year in Nevada than in all of the other states combined. Add to this the California bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (residents only) and there is really no state that even comes close to this much opportunity for a bighorn sheep hunt. Getting started in Nevada should be considered a long-term goal, but with five selections available per application and all selections considered on the first pass, you always have the chance to apply for what you believe to be the best hunt in the state while still having the option to chase the odds with some or all of your remaining selections. There will be 30 nonresident desert bighorn sheep permits as well as six California bighorn sheep permits this year. There will not be a Rocky Mountain bighorn or mountain goat permit issued to a nonresident hunter this season. Given the cost of the hunting license and the low cost per application, it is worth it to consider applying for all species of interest in this incredible state. 

Note: The application deadline for all species in Nevada is May 4, 2020 at 11 p.m. PST for online applications. PAPER APPLICATIONS ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTED IN NEVADA. You can apply online here.


New for 2020

  • Within seven days of the public release of draw results, the successful tag recipient can choose to electronically return his or her tag here.
  • Harvested bighorn sheep ewes do not need to be physically inspected by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). 
  • Successful bighorn sheep ewe tag winners and mountain goat tag winners must complete a mandatory sheep and goat gender identification course prior to receiving their tags. 
  • Harvest return card questionnaires are not required if a harvested bighorn sheep ram, black bear or mountain goat is physically inspected by NDOW. 

Ewe bighorn draw odds

Remember, we have Draw Odds for all female species. In Nevada, there are many opportunities for females of each species for residents and nonresidents.

Desert bighorn sheep ewe draw odds

Find your resident desert bighorn ewe draw odds here

Find your nonresident desert bighorn ewe draw odds here

California bighorn sheep ewe draw odds

Find your resident California bighorn ewe draw odds here


State information

State quotas will not be set until the May 2020 Commission meeting. This is done to ensure that NDOW has the latest and most current data on big game herds.

To view important information and an overview of 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 Specie Profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

Nevada State Profile Desert Bighorn Profile Rocky Bighorn Profile California Bighorn Profile Mountain Goat Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • You may begin applying now.
  • The deadline to apply is May 4, 2020 at 11 p.m. PST. 
  • Paper applications are no longer accepted.
  • You can apply online here.
  • Bonus point only applications will be accepted until May 11, 2020 at 11 p.m. PST.
  • You can apply for a bonus point only here. You will still need to purchase a hunting license.
  • Results will be made available on or before May 22, 2020.
  • Second draw deadline for leftover tags is June 22, 2020 at 11 p.m. PST. 
  • Second draw results will be available on or before July 8, 2020.

Drought in Nevada

2020

Nevada 2020 drought monitor

Nevada drought status as of March 31, 2020. Source: United States Drought Monitor

2019 

 

Nevada drought monitor as of April 2019

Nevada drought status as of April 9, 2019. Source: United States Drought Monitor

Nevada has not had as much of the winter moisture that other western states have experienced over the past few months. In fact, there are more areas of the state that are classified as abnormally dry than last year. 

2019 versus 2020 snow depth analysis

This comparison below shows year over year more clearly the incredible amount of moisture that the Silver State is receiving this year in all of its highest elevations.

2020

Nevada snow depth and snow pack 2020

Nevada's Snow Depth Analysis as of April 6, 2020. Source: Weatherstreet.com

2019

Nevada snow depth analysis as of early April 2019

Nevada's Snow Depth Analysis as of April 11, 2019. Source: Weatherstreet.com

Compared to 2019, snowpack is slightly down, but things generally look good with decent levels in all of the mountains that normally hold snow in Nevada.


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. If any selection is still available you will be awarded the permit.

  • 2020 maximum bonus points for desert bighorn sheep: 27
  • 2020 maximum bonus points for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep: 24
  • 2020 maximum bonus points for California bighorn sheep: 27
  • 2020 maximum bonus points for mountain goat: 27

Bonus point only application after the main draw

If you missed the application deadline to apply for a tag or you only 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 May 11, 2020 at 11 p.m. PST. You can apply for a bonus point here.

Unlocking Nevada’s system

As mentioned before, Nevada should be considered a long-term goal and the key to success in this state like others is to keep applying and to only apply “point only” when you absolutely cannot pull off a hunt that fall. You never know when it’s going to be your year and to miss out on a year of having your name in the hat is a mistake that should be avoided whenever possible. If you are looking for a hunt sooner rather than later in the Silver State, Nevada makes it possible to chase the odds while still applying for a top-shelf hunt by allowing the applicant to select five choices each year. 

Nevada's draw order and why it matters

With five choices available, the first two selections on your application should always be for the best units in the state or the hunt you desire the most. The last three selections can be a continuation of this strategy or allow the applicant to aggressively chase the odds and often draw in many fewer years. The applicant will lose all his/her points on any successful application regardless of which choice so be realistic in what kind of hunt you are looking for and always swing for the fence on your first two selections. Remember that your bonus points are squared each year plus one additional point for that year’s application. See the Nevada State Profile for more information.


Nevada's 2020 desert bighorn sheep breakdown

Interest in hunting Nevada bighorn sheep is often due to the number of nonresident desert bighorn permits that are issued each year. This year, in the state draw, there will be 30 up for grabs, which is more than all of the other states combined. With 277 resident permits also available, there simply isn’t anywhere like Nevada. As a resident, you have some of the best odds in the country, especially if you are willing to apply in units across the state that have better than average odds. As a nonresident, it's not about the odds as they are just as rough as most other bighorn sheep applications, but it's about the fact that the applicants get spread out much better with so many hunts to choose from. If a desert bighorn sheep is on your bucket list, you need to seriously consider getting started in Nevada.

Current desert bighorn sheep herd condition

There is no finer herd of desert bighorn sheep in the country than the herds that call the Silver State home. With over 10,000 bighorn sheep estimated within the state, there are more permits given for both residents and nonresidents than all other states combined. 

Nevada desert bighorn population estimate - Updated 2019 app strategy

Total number of Nevada Desert bighorn tags per year - 2020 app strategy

Top hit list units to consider for 165" or better desert bighorn sheep
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest success
2019
Average age of
harvested rams
Ram:ewe ratio
Unit 268 175"+ 96% 7.6 104:100
Unit 262 170"+ 80% 7.7 47:100
Unit 263 170"+ 100% 6.1 41:100
Unit 267 170"+ 100% 8.1 55:100
Unit 181 165"+ 100% 6.5 37:100
Unit 261 165"+ 60% 7.7 49:100
Unit 272 165"+ 0% NA 135:100
Unit 283 165"+ 100% 7.6 58:100
Unit 286 165"+ 100% 8.6 49:100
Unit 280 165"+ 60% 9.7 35:100
Unit 281 165"+ 50% 8.7 71:100
Unit 282 165"+ 75% 9.0 48:100

B&C entry trends for Nevada desert bighorn sheep

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. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Nevada's top Boone & Crockett producing counties since 2010 for desert bighorn sheep

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Clark 60 243, 244, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267,
268, 271, 272, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 286
Nye 23 243, 244, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267,
268, 272, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 286
Lincoln 13 133, 223, 241, 243, 245, 271, 280, 281, 282, 283
Churchill 6 181, 182, 183, 184
Mineral 2 181, 202, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208
Esmeralda 2 208, 211, 212, 213
Pershing 1 044, 045, 182, 183

Map of Nevada's Desert bighorn sheep B&C all time entries 2020

TOP B&C DESERT BIGHORN SHEEP LOCATIONS SINCE 2015 - Nevada 2020


The points system

The bonus point race

2020 maximum bonus points for desert bighorn sheep: 27

Managing points and expectations

I have 0 desert bighorn sheep bonus points. What can I expect?

Residents:

There will be 277 resident desert bighorn sheep permits issued in Nevada this year. That is simply incredible and, as a resident, even in year one you have higher odds of drawing than most hunters in the country — even ones applying for every chance to hunt sheep in the country. With five choices available on your application, consider applying for the most number of permits available unless you have a reason to apply for a specific unit be it sentimental or something else. All selections at this point will have less than 1% chance of drawing, but don’t lose hope: you couldn’t get started in a better place than as a resident of the Silver State.

Find your resident desert bighorn sheep draw odds with 0 points here

Nonresidents:

If you are interested in hunting a desert bighorn sheep, then applying for Nevada is a solid starting point for sure. With 30 nonresident hunts available this year, there is not another state that comes close to this many opportunities. The odds of drawing are less than 1%, but given the number of chances, it's hard not to consider throwing your name in the hat. Given that you have five choices, consider applying for the hunts with the most number of permits for all five choices to keep your name in the runnings a little longer into the process.

Find your nonresident desert bighorn sheep draw odds with 0 points here

What can I expect with 9 or 10 desert bighorn sheep bonus points?

Residents:

As a resident in Nevada with 10 points, you now have arguably better odds than the majority of all the other bighorn sheep applicants in the country. Many of the units have higher than a 1% chance of drawing while you can find as high of odds as 8.1% in Unit 132. If simply drawing a bighorn sheep hunt is the main priority versus the best bighorn sheep hunt in the state, consider looking at the five hunts with the least number of applicants. 

Find your resident desert bighorn sheep draw odds with 10 points here

Nonresidents:

Ten years into this game you are starting to get the picture. There isn’t a lot of change since you started this process. As mature as this point system is, whether you have zero points or 20, you are going to have within 1% of the same odds as most other applicants. There is good and bad in this. If you started this process hoping that you would get to a finish line at some point, it is hard to hear. If you understand that you are simply purchasing a raffle ticket for $14 per year, then this isn’t so hard to swallow. Remember equal odds are the best odds and, if all applicants have a less than 1% chance, then that's awfully close to equal odds. 

Find your nonresident desert bighorn sheep draw odds with 10 points here

What can I expect with 15 or more desert bighorn sheep bonus points?

Residents:

In 2019, there were five hunts that had better than one in 10 chances of drawing for applicants with 15 points. This is unbelievable odds for a bighorn sheep hunt in the country. If you are chasing the odds, consider applying for all five of these hunts as your choices or maybe swing for the fence on your first choice with the hunt you believe to be the best in the state and follow up with the hunts that have the higher odds. Who knows? Drawing at this point isn’t completely out of the question. Keep your fingers crossed. It could be your year.

Maximum point holders can see draw odds as high as the mid to upper 20%. Check out the standalone Draw Odds details page for more information.

Find your resident desert bighorn sheep draw odds with 11 points here

Nonresidents:

Unfortunately, not much has changed for you since when you began this process. All selections still have close to a 1% chance of drawing. Consider looking at the number of applicants if you are in a hurry and apply for the hunts that historically have fewer applicants year over year. Hopefully, you have gotten to enjoy hunts for other species during this process. Stay the course. Who knows? Considering what's happening in the world, there could be a decline in the number of applicants this year and it could finally be your turn. 

Find your nonresident desert bighorn sheep draw odds with 11 points here


Nevada's 2020 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep overview

There will be six Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep permits issued in Nevada this year. None of these permits will be issued to nonresident hunters. This is one less permit than last year as the state has decided not to continue the hunt that was conducted in Unit 91 again this coming season. There is an early and a late hunt in Unit 114 this season per usual and the herd located in this unit is still considered the strongest in the state — with half of the total permits issued in Nevada coming from this unit. 

Current herd condition

In 2019, Nevada released its latest edition of the big game status book, which is a compilation of all the different surveys on big game populations and other things. In this, we can see that, based on numbers, there are currently approximately 200+ Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep living in the Silver State. These bighorn sheep are spread out across six different units with only three of these units containing enough bighorn sheep that the state feels they can conduct hunts for the upper age class rams. The two units in the Ruby’s continue to struggle after the 2014 die-off and, with poor recruitment in Unit 91, the state has decided to not move forward with another ram hunt for this coming season. Because there was a ram taken in Nevada as well as a ram harvested in Utah last season, there simply isn’t enough bighorn sheep for the herd to sustain hunting year over year at this time.

Total number of Nevada Rocky Mountain bighorn tags per year - 2020 app strategy

Top hit list hunt units to consider for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy potential Ram:ewe ratio
Unit 115 170"+ 27:100
Unit 114 170"+ 37:100
Unit 074 NA NA

B&C entry trends for Nevada Rocky and California bighorn sheep

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. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Nevada's top Boone & Crockett producing counties
since 2010 for Rocky Mountain and California bighorn sheep

County No. of
entries
Units found
within county
Elko 3 074
Humboldt* 1 012, 031, 032, 033, 034, 035, 051, 066
White Pine 1 114, 115

*This county holds California bighorn sheep.

Map of Nevada's Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep B&C all time entries 2020

TOP B&C ROCKY BIGHORN SHEEP LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2020 Nevada


The points system

The bonus point race

Only residents are allowed to apply for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Nevada.

2020 maximum bonus points for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep: 27

Managing points and expectations

Residents

I have 0 to 27 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep bonus points. What can I expect?

In today’s world, bighorn sheep odds are rarely over 1% even for the most devoted application warriors and we can expect the same when it comes to Rockies in Nevada. Whether you are just starting out or you have the maximum number of points, you will not have even a half a percent odds of drawing one of these permits. This begs the questions, why apply then? The answer is simple: equal odds are the best odds no matter the number and, while you do not truly have equal odds in Nevada’s bonus point system, if all applicants have a less than 1% chance of drawing, that is close enough in my book and absolutely warrants submitting an application, especially because it is your home state and its simply too affordable to pass up. 

As of right now, your odds of drawing with the most number of points possible are this:

FIND YOUR RESIDENT ROCKY BIGHORN SHEEP DRAW ODDS


Nevada's 2020 California bighorn sheep breakdown

There is not much change in the population size across the state, which is estimated at approximately 2,000 bighorn sheep. In 2020, there will be 50 resident ram permits and another six permits set aside for nonresident hunters. There are 12 total hunt areas in the state and eight of these hunt areas had 100% success rates last season. Unit 021, 022 had a 67% success rate while Unit 034 was at 88% and Unit 35 at 89%. Unit 51 had one resident and nonresident permit and neither of those hunters were successful in 2019. The odds of drawing are unlikely to increase much if any as, historically, these hunts have been at or less than 1% even for top point holders. However, given the expensive hunting license required prior to applying, it would be a mistake not to throw your name in this hat. If every applicant has a less than 1% chance, regardless of points, then that is equal odds in my book and, well, equal odds are good odds especially for a bighorn sheep.

Current California bighorn sheep herd condition

The last count occurred in 2017 and found that there were an additional 100 bighorn sheep in the state, bringing the total count to just shy of 2,000. The largest population is located in Unit 032 where there are a total of 11 ram permits available this year. Last year, all 11 hunters were successful. The California bighorn sheep population is in great shape in Nevada and seems to be headed in the right direction. It is not an application that I would typically say is strong enough to apply for on its own, but if you are going to be purchasing the state hunting license for any other species, it would be a mistake to not include California bighorn sheep in your application spreadsheet. 

Total number of Nevada California bighorn tags per year - 2020 app strategy

Top hit list units to consider for 160" or better California bighorn sheep
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Average age
of harvest rams
Ram:ewe ratio Harvest
success 2019
Unit 032* 170"+ 6.6 53:100 100%
Unit 051* 165"+ 6.5 45:100 67%
Unit 041 165"+ 10 88:100 100%
Unit 033 160"+ 7 94:100 100%
Unit 034* 160"+ 6.4 30:100 88%
Unit 035* 160"+ 6.4 55:100 71%
Unit 066 160"+ NA 88:100 0%
Unit 031 170"+ 6.6 97:100 83%
*Units that have nonresident permits

B&C entry trends for Nevada California bighorns

B&C classifies California bighorn sheep in the same records as the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and, as we have stated previously, these smaller subspecies rarely make the grade for the B&C minimum. The few that have over the years would be listed as bighorn sheep that have come out of Humboldt County. 


The points system

The bonus point race

2020 maximum bonus points for California bighorn sheep: 27

Managing points and expectations

I have 0 California bighorn sheep bonus points. What can I expect?

Residents:

Drawing a California bighorn sheep permit is one of the harder bighorn sheep hunts to draw in the country. Even for residents with maximum points, your odds are barely over 1% on a couple of the hunt areas and less than 1% in the rest. Drawing the first year you apply will take a modern day miracle, but you do have a chance and not applying for a bighorn sheep hunt in your home state would be an absolute tragedy. Don’t get your hopes too high, but get started today and don’t miss a year.

Find your resident California bighorn sheep draw odds with 0 points here

Nonresidents:

Chances are that you are not getting started in Nevada because they have California bighorn sheep; however, it would be a mistake to not throw your name in the hat for an additional $14. Your odds on year one are going to be less than .01% and will not get much better than this if the math stays consistent. You should expect that you will never have over a 1% chance to draw this permit, but it's another chance to draw a bighorn sheep and it's a rather cheap chance to have your name in another hat for a bighorn sheep hunt. With the odds so low and the fact that you have five selections to choose, you might as well list what you believe to be the best hunt in the state as your first choice and so on down the list because, if you draw, it will be a full on lighting strike so you might as well have the hunt you wanted if successful. 

Find your nonresident California bighorn sheep draw odds with 0 points here

What can I expect with 15 or more California bighorn sheep bonus points?

Resident:

Don’t lose faith now — you're still purchasing your hunting license and it's still one of the most affordable chances to draw a bighorn sheep hunt in the country. Throw your name in the hat and, like you did year one, dream big dreams as someone has to win and if everyone applying has at or less than a 1% chance of drawing, well, that's equal odds in my book and who knows? Anything is possible. 

Find your resident California bighorn sheep draw odds with 15 points here

Nonresident:

Don’t lose faith now — you're still purchasing your hunting license and it's still one of the most affordable chances to draw a bighorn sheep hunt in the country. Throw your name in the hat and, like you did year one, dream big dreams as someone has to win and if everyone applying has at or less than a 1% chance of drawing, well, that's equal odds in my book and who knows? Anything is possible. 

Find your nonresident California bighorn sheep draw odds with 15 points here


Nevada's 2020 Rocky Mountain goat breakdown

Once again, there will not be a nonresident mountain goat permit offered in Nevada. There is no change in the number of permits offered in each of the three units. Both Unit 101 and Unit 103 will have one permit available and Unit 102. This herd located in the Ruby Mountains has been struggling since 2009 when many of the mountain goats were victims of pneumonia. This continues to be an issue and the herd has decreased every year since. While the herd was originally estimated at 470 mountain goats, the state's aerial survey last year only counted 165 mountain goats across the three units with 92 of those counted found in Unit 102. Unit 1 showed a slight increase in the kid recruitment this past year, but, overall, this herd continues to be well below objective. The state has purchased 12 collars this past year; however, due to environmental issues, biologists were only able to collar one nanny. The goal is to identify mountain goats in the herd that are known to be early shedders, which creates an opportunity for the mountain goat to more likely come down with pneumonia. 

Rocky Mountain goat 2020 applicants and harvest summary

Unit No. of tags Applications Success
Unit 101 1 633 100%
Unit 102 6 739 83%
Unit 103 1 616 0%

Current mountain goat herd condition

The long story short with Nevada mountain goats is that this herd is in rough shape. As recently as 2009, there were close to 500 mountain goats in Nevada; however, after an outbreak of pathogens that has led to a large number of pneumonia-related mortalities, this herd continues to decline. With very poor recruitment happening each year, it is hard to say when this epidemic is going to stop. Based upon a declining success rate, it is possible that conditions are in worse shape than they were in 2016 when these numbers were compiled.

TOTAL NUMBER OF NEVADA MOUNTAIN GOAT TAGS PER YEAR - 2020 app strategy

Mountain goat draw and harvest summary

Year No. tags
issued
Percent
success
Harvest No. of
billies
No. of
nannies
%
nannies
2009 28 96% 27 19 8 30%
2010 20 100% 20 12 8 40%
2011 11 100% 11 8 3 27%
2012 6 100% 6 4 2 33%
2013 7 86% 6 4 2 33%
2014 12 100% 12 11 1 25%
2015 12 100% 12 11 1 8%
2016 13 85% 11 8 3 27%
2017 9 78% 7 4 3 43%
2018 8 75% 6 4 2 33%
2019 8 75% 6 5 1 17%


Note: Nanny harvest continues to be a concern for NDOW as they try to manage through an already tough situation. 

The seasons

Even though the total populations are rough in Unit 101 and 103, with a two-month season, there is enough time for a hunter to take his/her time to locate a good billy that they are happy to take. Hunts are scheduled to happen from Sept. 1 through the end of October, so if the length of the hair is a more important part of the trophy for you, then you will have late into the fall to make it happen and, hopefully, harvest the mountain goat of your dreams.


B&C entry trends for Nevada mountain goat

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. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

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

County No. of
entries
Units found
within county
Elko 6 101, 102, 103

Map of Nevada's Mountain goat B&C all time entries 2020

TOP B&C MOUNTAIN GOAT LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2020 Nevada


The points system

The bonus point race

2020 maximum bonus points for mountain goat: 27

No nonresident permit available in 2020.

Managing points and expectations

I have 0 to 25+ mountain goat bonus points. What can I expect?

Residents:

As a resident of Nevada, the additional cost to apply for mountain goat is only another $14. With a rate this low, it would be very unfortunate to not have your name in the hat. However, the odds are horrible when you get started — typically at or less than .01% — and, if you happen to be one of the few folks who got started almost three decades ago, then your current odds will have increased just a little, but are still less than 1%. In my opinion, if all applicants have a less than 1% chance at drawing, then everyone essentially has the same chance at drawing. Don’t miss another year. 

If you have less than 27 points, then your odds are less than this. 

Find your resident mountain goat draw odds with 0 points here

FIND YOUR RESIDENT MOUNTAIN GOAT DRAW ODDS WITH 25 POINTS HERE

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