Application Strategy 2022: Nevada Elk and Antelope
NEVADA'S 2022 ELK & ANTELOPE APPLICATION OVERVIEW
Nevada is an incredible state to hunt elk. The populations are limited somewhat by the amount of quality habitat, but arguably it provides the best opportunity at a trophy caliber bull out of any western state. The lucky applicants who successfully draw a tag will enjoy an amazing hunt. That’s the bright side. The bad news is that the odds of drawing a tag in Nevada are poor at best. Nonresident odds are almost all less than 5% — even with more than a decade of bonus points. Nevada’s draw is random, though, so applicants always have a chance even if they are applying for the first time. The cost to apply for hunts in Nevada and gain bonus points is also quite expensive. The decision to apply for elk in Nevada really boils down to a cost/value judgment. Each applicant will have to decide if the possibility of not drawing over decades is worth the cost.
Nevada is almost 88% public lands with decent antelope populations in most areas of the state. Trophy potential is good and a decent number of 80”+ bucks are taken annually. Nevada offers archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts that coincide with the best part of the rut. Applying for Nevada antelope on its own may or may not be worth it, depending on how deep your passion for antelope hunting runs;however, if you apply for other species in Nevada you should also apply for and build points for antelope.
Note: The application deadline for all Nevada species is May 10, 2022 by 11:00 p.m. PT. You can apply online here.
New for 2022
- There’s a new order to the draw: eligible people may apply for both antlered and antlerless elk. The antlered application will be evaluated and awarded before the antlerless application. A person may only obtain one elk tag per year.
- New to this year is an enhanced first come, first served queue that will be accessible at NDOWlicensing.com. This queue offers customers the ability to purchase any tags remaining after the second draw or any returned tags without an eligible alternate. Customers will be limited to adding one first come, first served tag to their cart in a seven-day period
- The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has added or changed dates for several hunts for the upcoming season. Within the 2022 rules and regulations booklet those hunts will be highlighted in bold blue.
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 Species Profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy units.
Nevada is a fairly easy state to apply in. You will have to create an online account if you have not previously done so. That can be done by going here.
IMPORTANT DATES AND INFORMATION
- The deadline to apply is May 10, 2022 at 11 p.m. PT.
- Applicants can only apply online. You can apply online here.
- Applicants can apply without buying a hunting license; however, they will not receive a bonus point if unsuccessful in the draw.
- You can apply for a bonus point only here. You will still need to purchase a hunting license.
- Applicants who wish to apply for points can only do so up to one week after the deadline has passed.
- Results will be made available on or before May 27, 2022.
- Second draw deadline for leftover tags is June 13, 2022 at 11 p.m. PT.
- Second draw results will be available on or before June 24, 2022.
- Applicants may withdraw or change their application online before the application deadline.
- Youth must turn 12 years old prior to the opening of any hunt choice to be eligible to apply.
- Applicants must have completed a hunter education course if they were born after January 1, 1960.
- It is illegal to place, maintain or use a trail camera on public land from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31 of each year.
- If a hunter draws an antlered elk tag and hunts, they may not apply for the next seven open seasons.
- If a hunter draws an antelope (horn longer than ears) tag and hunts, they may not apply again the next three open seasons.
- If you fail to apply for two consecutive years, bonus points will be purged.
Nevada elk and antelope cost to apply
|Item||Resident cost||Nonresident cost|
|Hunt/fish combo license*||$75||$155|
|Hunt/fish combo license(12 to 17)*||$15||$15|
|Elk application fee(s)||$19||$19|
|Antelope application fee||$14||$14|
|Antlerless elk tag||$120||$500|
*Applicants who want to build bonus points if they are unsuccessful in the draw will need to purchase a hunting license or hunt/fish combo license. If they do not, they will not be given a bonus point. Tag fees will only be charged if you are successful in the draw. You do not have to front tag fees when you apply.
2021 versus 2022 drought analysis
Nevada has been and will probably always be the driest state in the US. The past two years have been extremely dry and several species are experiencing declining populations. Antler growth has also definitely been negatively impacted. Antelope and mule deer are among the hardest hit. Elk have fared better, but even those populations are stressed by the consecutive years of poor moisture. 2022 has been better than the previous two years, which is good news, but the entire state is still experiencing severe drought conditions and the southern third of the state is in extreme and exceptional drought conditions. The outlook is better than it was in 2020-2021, but we would anticipate it being a below average year for horn and antler growth.
The draw system
UNDERSTANDING THE DRAW
For all species, Nevada has a random bonus point system. The draw is random and every applicant who applies has a chance to draw; however, bonus points increase your chances over time of being successful. Nevada tag quota is approximately a 90/10 split for residents and nonresidents.
Applicants can apply for up to five choices when they apply. When an application is considered in the draw, NDOW will attempt to allocate the first choice. If all permits are gone for that hunt, they will attempt to allocate the second choice. If all tags are gone for your second choice, they will attempt to award you a tag for your third choice. They continue through all five hunt choices before moving to the next applicant. Thus, applicants could draw any of their five hunt choices. Due to this process, applicants should include hunts for all five choices to increase their chances of drawing a tag. Also, applicants should stagger their hunt choices from best hunt (worst odds) to better odds (decent hunt). If you were to apply inversely (best odds to worst odds), you are essentially wasting your latter hunt choices.
Nevada has a bonus point system where applicants will receive one bonus point for each year they apply and are unsuccessful in the draw. You must opt in and buy a hunting license when you apply if you wish to receive a bonus point after the draw. Applicants who do not opt in and buy the hunting license will not receive a bonus point. Bonus points are species specific. For example, you cannot apply bonus points you have accrued for mule deer towards an elk application. Applicants can apply for bonus points only if they do not want to select hunts. We recommend that applicants apply for hunts and not points only. Remember that the draw is random and odds are low and you will receive a point if you are unsuccessful in the draw. The only reason not to apply for hunts is if you cannot afford the cost of the tag should you draw it or the time off of work.
Bonus points are squared in the draw. For example, if you have five bonus points, you will have 26 chances in the draw (5x5+1 (this year’s application) = 26) If an applicant draws a tag, or fails to apply for two consecutive years, the bonus points will be purged.
Nevada allows hunters to apply on a group application for deer, antlerless elk and antelope (horns shorter than ears). Residents and nonresidents can apply together on a group application. Doing so does not increase odds for a nonresident; the nonresident tags will still come from the nonresident quota. Applying as a group does have the potential to negatively impact odds slightly as Nevada will not over-allocate tags to cover a group application if there are not enough tags to satisfy the size of the group. Bonus points for a group application are averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number.
If a group application has been drawn and the group wants to return their tags to have bonus points reinstated, every member of the group must return their tag.
Within seven days of the results of the draw, applicants who successfully drew a tag can choose to electronically return their tag. Hunters who drew an elk or antelope tag can turn them back in up to one day prior to the start of the season. In this case, they will retain their bonus points and gain one for this year’s application.
Any remaining tags remaining after the main draw become available in a second drawing to both residents and nonresidents. If you apply and draw a tag in the second drawing, your bonus points will be purged. Online applications for the second draw are due by June 13, 2022.
Leftover and returned tag process
Any leftover tags or tags that have been returned and were not claimed by an alternate will be listed and sold on a first come, first served basis on the NDOW licensing system site.The first come, first served program generally opens in early July. Bonus points will be purged if you purchase a leftover or returned tag.
Applicants who drew a tag can return their tags up until one day prior to their hunt starting. If the tag is not accepted by an alternate, it will be listed randomly on the first come, first served list and can be added to your cart and purchased. More information can be found in the link here. Note: we will have an updated Nevada first come, first served article later this summer when that tag system opens.
UNLOCKING NEVADA’S SYSTEM
Nevada should be considered a long-term goal for drawing tags, especially for elk. Antelope tags have better odds, but it should still be considered as a long process in comparison to some other states like Wyoming or Colorado. As previously stated, Nevada offers incredible hunting opportunities for the lucky hunters who draw and the key to drawing a tag is to continue to apply. Applying in Nevada is a cost/value analysis. It is expensive for a nonresident to buy the license, apply and build points year after year. To suggest that the odds of drawing an elk tag are poor is an understatement. A nonresident who is relatively new to the system may apply for several decades and not draw, so is it worth it? If you are applying for a single species (elk, bighorn sheep) it may not be unless you have expendable income. If you apply for all species and are willing to apply for primitive weapons or less than prime season hunts that have better odds, it likely is worth it. I personally look at Nevada as a state where I can hunt deer and possibly antelope with my bow every three to 10 years and that keeps me applying in hopes that I will also get lucky and draw an elk and/or bighorn sheep tag along the way.
A few application tips for Nevada. 1) Always apply for hunts and never points only. The draw is random; as long as you apply you have some chance. 2) Always include five choices for each hunt when you apply. NDOW considers all five of your choices and your odds of drawing any tag are slightly better if you include all five choices. 3) With five choices available, the first hunt selections on your application should be for great hunts or the hunt(s) you desire most. The last three selections can be a continuation of moving toward hunts that have progressively better odds. The reason for this method is that you never know when you will be one of the first applications considered and you want to draw the best possible hunt on your application.
Nevada's 2022 elk breakdown
Nevada is a dry state and does not have nearly the amount of quality elk habitat that several other western states have. It also has a much smaller elk population, largely due to habitat constraints. NDOW manages their herds by offering fewer bull tags and managing populations through cow harvest. This management strategy has resulted in a relatively high bull to cow ratios, good age class structure and excellent trophy quality throughout most of the state. Nevada bull elk tags are extremely hard to draw, especially for a nonresident, but the applicants who are successful in obtaining a tag are likely going to experience one of the best hunts in their life. For this reason, we highly recommend that you apply for elk in Nevada if you can afford to.
CURRENT ELK HERD CONDITION
Nevada’s elk population peaked in 2015 at 18,500 elk estimated statewide. Since then, the population has declined somewhat and, in 2021, the estimate was approximately 13,000 elk. The good news is that populations seem to be stable even with the severe drought conditions of the past few years.
Nevada elk population estimates 2021
|Unit group||Population estimate|
|062, 064, 066 - 068||400|
|072 - 075||1,100|
|076, 077, 079, 081||1,100|
|078, 105 - 107, 109||600|
|104, 108, 121||900|
|108, 131, 132||230|
|111 - 115||2,700|
|221 - 223||1,800|
|161 - 164||750|
|171 - 173||100|
Top hit list units to consider for 360" or better elk
|Harvest success||Bulls 6 point+||Bull:cow|
Late rifle-New hunt
Managing points and expectations
2022 maximum bonus points for elk: 29
What can applicants expect with no bonus points?
With no bonus points, the best odds for a resident branch-antlered bull hunt are for the archery hunts in Units 072-074 and 061/071 at 5.5% and 4.6%. There are some late rifle spike only hunts that have odds of 2% to 8%. For nonresidents, no hunts have odds that are greater than .1%. If you are just starting to apply, you might consider applying for the best hunts in the state. If you do get lucky and draw a tag, it might as well be one of the best and the odds for all hunts are very low.
Study our standalone Draw Odds here and adjust your individual point value to see your best odds for drawing a tag or planning for a future hunt. The odds of drawing get better with the more points you have.
What can applicants expect with 5 to 10 points?
It’s good to be a resident and, as applicants get into this range of bonus points, they have good odds of drawing some great tags. The best odds are for the same hunts listed above: archery hunts in Units 072-074 and 061/071. Those hunts have odds of 77% and 70% at five points. If those hunts meet your objectives, those should be near your fourth and fifth choices. Other noteworthy archery hunts are Units 075 with 37% odds and 076/077/079/081 with 25% odds.
Unfortunately, for nonresidents with five points, there are no hunts that have odds higher than 2%. Archery hunts in 061/071, 072/073/074 and the late rifle hunt in 072/073/074 had the best odds at 1.7%, 1.8% and 1.4%. Those same hunts offer the best odds as you move up in the number of points, but even at 10 points, the odds are still less than 4%. The trophy units have odds of less than 1% throughout this point range. The best odds for a hit list hunt are the late rifle hunts in 161-164/171/172/173 and 108/131/132. Those hunts have odds of just over 1%. The 161-164/171/172/173 muzzleloader hunt has 2.3% odds and would be a great fifth choice hunt on your application.
What can applicants expect with 15 plus points?
Residents who have built 15+ bonus points should really focus on the highest quality hunts. The archery hunts in 076/077/079/081, 104/108/121, 111/112/113/114/115, 062/064/066/067/068 and 108/131/132 all had harvest success rates of greater than 35% and trophy potential of 350”+. You may also consider 231 although the harvest success is historically lower. Check the odds and stagger your choices one through five appropriately.
Many of the muzzleloader hunts occur in October and early November and those hunts generally have better odds than the rifle hunts. Out of the muzzleloader hunts, 104/108/121, 111/112/113/114/115 and 221/222/223 are quality trophy options with good odds. Most hunts have odds in the 30% to 70% range.
Late rifle hunts in Units 076/077/079/081, 161/162/163/164/171/172/173 and 108/131/132 have close to 50% odds. The early rifle hunts in the better units mostly have odds in the 10% to 30% range. The early September rifle hunts make good options for first and second choices. Those can be good rut rifle hunts when the bulls are fired up.
Nonresidents with this many bonus points have a decision to make. Nevada has great trophy potential in many units, but those areas still offer odds that are less than 1%. The hunts and areas noted in the previous point range sections have much better odds; however, if you draw one of those areas, will it provide the type of hunt you are looking for? Nonresident applicants with 15+ points should decide if Nevada is purely a trophy state for elk or if they want to try to apply for one of the mid tier units and just go hunting. Review the draw odds, Filtering 2.0 and the unit profiles to make the best selection for you.
Nevada's 2022 antelope breakdown
Antelope are much more susceptible to prolonged drought and, as such, the populations statewide have declined along with the range conditions over the past two years. The largest populations occur in the northwest corner of the state in Units 012-014, 031, 032-035 and 041-046. Those areas have historically had good populations and good trophy potential, but have seen some decline in both. The central Units 141, 143, 151-156 also have a large population and seem to be faring better. There are also good populations in Units 061-064 and 071-073 and 067-068. Lastly, Units 072, 074 and 075 still have healthy herds and decent trophy potential.
Overall, the population is down from previous years as is trophy potential, but there will always be 80”+ potential in many units. Nevada is a good antelope state and, as long as you are applying for other species, you should definitely be applying for antelope as well.
CURRENT ANTELOPE HERD CONDITION
Nevada antelope population estimates 2021
|012 - 014||1,900|
|032, 034, 035||1,650|
|043 - 046||1,400|
|061, 062, 064, 071, 073||1,500|
|065, 142, 144||700|
|072, 074, 075||1,100|
|076, 077, 079, 081, 091||600|
|078, 105 - 107, 121||700|
|101 - 104, 108, 109, 144||900|
|111 - 114||1,100|
|115, 231, 242||500|
|131, 145, 163, 164||600|
|132 - 134, 245||450|
|141, 143, 151 - 156||3900|
|171 - 173||380|
|181 - 184||800|
|205 - 208||300|
|211 - 213||110|
|221 - 223, 241||400|
Top hit list to consider for 80" or better antelope
Managing points and expectations
2022 maximum bonus points for antelope: 27
What can applicants expect with no bonus points?
Residents who are willing to bowhunt have some really good odds even with no bonus points. Archery hunts in Units 043/044/045/046 had 22% odds. Unit 051 had 20% odds and 072/074/075 had 18% odds. Units 031 and 067/068 both had 16% archery hunt odds with no points. Out of those, 043/044/045/046 had the highest harvest success at 36% and almost 64% public lands.
Rifle hunters do not have any hunts that have odds greater than 1%. If you are hoping to hunt with a firearm, the muzzleloader hunts have better odds, but even those are significantly lower than the archery odds. Unit 205/206/207/208 has the best odds at 8.1%. Units 171/172/173 had 7.7% odds. Another two worth noting are 066 with 6.5% odds and 032/034 with 5.3% odds.
For nonresidents, there are many different archery hunts in the state that have very few applicants. The odds are still low given the fact that Nevada does not issue many nonresident tags. The archery hunt odds are better, but not by much. Most are still less than 1%. The best odds were for the archery hunt in Units 043/044/045/046 with 4.9%. The rifle and muzzleloader hunts all have less than 1% odds except for the muzzleloader hunt in Units 111/112/113/114 at 1.7%. Applying for a muzzleloader or rifle hunt should be considered a long term application strategy.
What can applicants expect with 5 to 10 points?
Within the five to 10-point range, almost every archery hunt has very good odds. Many hunts have better than 50% harvest success and 80”+, including 041/042, 161/162, 171/172/173 and 251. There are many more with 75”+ trophy potential. Explore the odds and use the filters in your INSIDER account to explore those options.
Rifle and muzzleloader hunters also have great odds of drawing a hunt within this point range. Some of the most noteworthy options include 067/068, 251, 171/172/173, 041/042, 012/013/014 and 011. Once again, explore the odds and stagger your choices from the best hunt (worst odds) to good hunt (better odds) with your one through five hunt choices.
The best odds for a nonresident were for the archery hunts in Units 043/044/045/046, 051 and 141/143/151/152/153/154/155/156. All of those have odds greater than 70% and good harvest success rates for a bowhunter. Those are not trophy units per say, but still good opportunities. The areas with trophy potential have archery odds typically in the 1% to 5% range. Unit 067/068 does have 17% odds with 10 points for bowhunters.
Nonresident firearm hunters should strongly consider the muzzleloader hunts. The odds are much better than the rifle hunts. Review the odds and harvest success from the goHUNT hit list above and make sure that you apply for a hunt at all five choices.
ADDITIONAL APPLICATION OPPORTUNITIES
NEVADA SILVER STATE TAG
For an additional $25, you can select to be included in the Silver State tag drawings, which would make you eligible for the one permit per species drawing each year that allows the recipient the opportunity to hunt any public land across the state from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31—just like the governor’s tag.
NEVADA DREAM TAGS
Nevada Dream Tags are another shot at drawing the hunt of a lifetime for mule deer, antelope, desert bighorn sheep, California bighorn sheep, elk and black bear in Nevada. Dream Tags are similar to SuperTags and Super Raffles in other western states. This drawing is open to both residents and nonresidents. After purchasing a $11.75 Resource Enhancement Stamp, you can then buy an unlimited number of raffle tickets for $5.75 each for as many species as you want. You can enter the Dream Tag raffle here.