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Alert: Nevada recommended big game hunt quotas for 2022

 

Photo credit: Dreamstime

It’s no secret that Nevada is experiencing many compounding factors impacting wildlife. Nevada has faced a multi-year drought, excess feral horse and burro competition, and some destruction of critical riparian/water sources. In my opinion, it is great to see a state try to get out ahead of this and be proactive with its tag allocations for the betterment of wildlife. It might be hard to look at specific units with tag cuts and not be discouraged, but at the same time, if those tag cuts are necessary, then I believe more hunters will be okay with them. One silver lining to this, if there are fewer people in the field, that does mean less competition for those lucky to pull a tag.

Check out the link below to see a snapshot of each species unit group recommended 2022 tag quota compared to the approved 2021 tag quota.

Read the full proposed tag quota report here

If you already have your application in place for Nevada, you might want to check out the recommended tag quotas before you finalize your plan. Note: You can still edit and/or add to your hunt choices until the deadline if you've already applied. Be sure to jump into Filtering 2.0, check your Draw Odds and read the Insider only Application Strategy articles to ensure you have all the information you need to make your best-laid plan. The application deadline for all Nevada species is May 10, 2022 by 11:00 p.m. PT. You can apply online here.

Public meeting for tag quotas

At 9:00 a.m on Saturday, May 7, 2022, the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners will hold a public hearing for recommended tag quotas. The public can submit comments on these proposed tag quotas. See the bottom of the article for information on how to submit your comments.

Note: The regulation dates and language are subject to change following the discussions and deliberations of the Commission.


Species by species tag quota breakdown

What follows is a species-by-species look at some of the recommended tag changes for both residents and nonresidents. What you’ll see is a 2022 vs. 2021 comparison, as well total tag changes and percent change.

Mule deer

The Department is recommending a total of 16,029 deer tags for the 2022 season, compared to 16,531 approved by the Commission in 2021. This total includes 11,811 antlered deer tags for the Restricted Nonresident Guided Hunts, and both resident and nonresident Any Legal Weapon, Muzzleloader, and Archery seasons compared to 12,346 approved by the Commission in 2021, which represents a 4.5% reduction. A total of 3,006 Junior deer tags are recommended, compared to 3,129 from the previous year. A total of 880 antlerless deer tags are recommended, compared to 715 approved by the Commission in 2021, which represents a 23.1% increase. The harvest guidelines used by the Game Division call for a management objective of 30 bucks per 100 does for standard hunt units and 35 bucks per 100 does in alternative hunt units. The management objectives refer to the number of bucks left on the landscape after all seasons have concluded. For Non-Standard hunts (areas which are not surveyed for mule deer due to lower densities), the objective is to see success rates at 45% or greater. The statewide average post-season observed buck: doe: fawn ratio for all surveyed areas in the fall of 2021 was 29 bucks: 100 does: 47 fawns. Most areas had spring aerial surveys completed with resulting ratios of 30 fawns: 100 adults. The 30 fawns per 100 adults is 3 points lower than what was observed during 2021 spring surveys, although some areas saw a substantial decrease in fawn:doe ratios well below the statewide average. The primary driver of mule deer populations is the numbers of fawns recruited into the population each year, in addition to the body condition and productivity of adult females. For the second year in a row the state of Nevada experienced below average precipitation throughout most regions and drought conditions persist throughout Nevada during late spring 2022. As of April 14, 2022, 100% of Nevada was in severe drought and over 50% of the state was in extreme or exceptional drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Mule deer - Antlered (any legal weapon)

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 7,766 8,043 -277 -3.44%
Nonresident 505 588 -83 -14.12%

 

Mule deer - Antlered (muzzleloader)

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 634 705 -71 -10.07%
Nonresident 99 108 -9 -8.33%

 

Mule deer - Antlered (archery)

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 2,511 2,606 -95 -3.65%
Nonresident 296 296 0 NA

Antelope

Harvest objectives for horns-longer-than-ears (buck) hunts are based on a post-season buck ratio objective of 25 bucks per 100 does (≥ 2 years old). Antelope populations continue to show declines in many areas across Nevada and are largely reflective of persistent drought conditions; however, some units that have received more precipitation are seeing increasing populations and quota recommendations are designed to manage those herds appropriately. The Department is recommending 3,278 antelope tags for the 2022 season. This includes 2,205 horns-longer-than-ears tags and 1,073 horns-shorter-than-ears tags. This represents a decrease of 286 buck tags compared to quotas approved by the Commission in 2022. The total of 1,073 horns-shorter-than-ears tags represents an increase of 158 tags from the total approved in 2022.

Antelope - Horns longer than ears (any legal weapon)

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 1,629 1,655 -26 -1.57%
Nonresident 176 193 -17 -8.8%

 

Antelope - Horns longer than ears (muzzleloader)

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 58 103 -45 -43.7%
Nonresident 9 9 0 NA

 

Antelope - Horns longer than ears (archery)

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 294 485 -191 -39.38%
Nonresident 39 55 -16 -29.09%

Elk

The Department is recommending 3,902 elk tags for 2022 compared to 4,724 tags approved by the Commission in 2021. The total of 1,763 antlered and spike elk tags represents a 16% reduction compared to the 2,093 approved by the Commission in 2021. Harvest objectives guiding bull quota recommendations advise 25 – 35% of harvested bulls should have a main beam of at least 50-inches in length. The total composition of 50-in. main beams in the 2021 harvest was 31%, which is equal to the 10-year average. The total of 2,139 recommended antlerless tags represents a 19% decrease compared to 2,631 approved by the Commission in 2021. Recommended spike tags decreased to 201 tags in 2022 compared to 297 approved in 2021. All elk quotas comply with the Nevada Elk Species Management Plan (1997), as well as elk subplans corresponding to various herds. Recommendations vary from year-to-year depending on population status with respect to population objective, as well as harvest metrics. Currently, over 90% of elk herds are at or below population objectives, which has resulted in significant decreases in antlerless elk tags in recent years.

Elk - Antlered (any legal weapon)

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 992 1,074 -82 -7.64%
Nonresident 111 119 -8 -6.72%

 

Elk - Antlered (muzzleloader)

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 93 167 -74 -44.31%
Nonresident 10 19 -9 -47.37%

 

Elk - Antlered (archery)

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 189 245 -56 -22.86%
Nonresident 20 27 -7 -25.93%

Desert bighorn sheep

The 2022 statewide desert bighorn population estimate has declined for the third consecutive year to 8,200, a 20% drop from its high of 10,300 in 2019. This serious decline is attributable to multi-year drought, excess free-roaming horse and burro competition, destruction of critical riparian/water sources, and continued high lamb mortality caused by pneumonia. The Department is recommending 292 desert bighorn ram tags for 2022 compared to 311 approved by the Commission in 2021. This includes 11 archery tags and 12 tags for the new one-horn management ram hunt. The Department is also recommending 90 desert bighorn ewe tags, a reduction from 118 approved in 2021. The Game Division is planning a bighorn capture in the Muddy Mountains in early summer 2022 for Utah Division of Wildlife Resources new nursery site that will help us reduce densities and pressure on already strained water sources in the Muddy Mountains.

Desert bighorn sheep - Any ram (any legal weapon)

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 242 272 -30 -11.03%
Nonresident 27 30 -3 -10.0%

 

Desert bighorn sheep - Any ram (archery) - Resident only

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 11 9 +2 +22.22%

 

Desert bighorn sheep - One horn ram (any legal weapon) - Resident only

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 12 NA* NA NA

* New hunt for 2022


California bighorn sheep

Nevada’s California bighorn sheep population saw a 14% contraction from 2021 to an estimated 1,800. The same factors impacting desert bighorn are also contributing to the decline in California bighorn including excessive mountain lion predation in already depressed herds. The Department is recommending 51 California bighorn ram tags in 2022, 4 less than approved in 2021.

California bighorn sheep - Any ram (any legal weapon) - Resident only

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 46 50 -4 -8.0%
Nonresident 5 5 0 NA

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

The 6 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herds in Nevada are estimated to have a total of 320 adults in 2022, similar to last year’s statewide population estimate. The Department is recommending only 4 ram tags in 3 units, compared to 5 in 2021. A bright spot is the reopening of the ram hunt in the Ruby Mountains after its devastating die-off in 2010. The population is estimated at 60 animals and has been steadily growing the last few years. The single tag recommended in Unit 102 is committed to a military deferment for a tagholder that was unable to hunt in the last open season in 2009 because of being deployed for military duty overseas and has been patiently awaiting the ram season to reopen.

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep - Any ram (any legal weapon) - Resident only

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 4 5 -1 -20.0%

Rocky Mountain goat

Nevada is extremely lucky to have the awe-inspiring and ultimate mountain ungulate inhabiting the higher elevations of the majestic and rugged Ruby Mountains and East Humboldt Range. Their combined population is estimated at 340 adults, with the largest herd in the Ruby Mountains. The January 2022 helicopter survey was one of the most successful surveys on record in terms of total animals classified and documented kid recruitment level. With mountain goat harvest guidelines set to allow for the take of 2 – 5% of the total population, the Department is recommending 14 mountain goat tags across the 3 herds for 2022. This is increase of 5 tags from 2021.

Rocky Mountain goat - Any goat (any legal weapon) - Resident only

Residency 2022
quota
2021
quota
Tag
change
Percent
change
Resident 14 9 +5 +55.56%

How to submit comments

Persons wishing to comment upon the proposed action of the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners may appear at the scheduled public hearing or submit their comments at the appropriate times to the following email address: wildlifecommission@ndow.org or in written form, to the Secretary of the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, 6980 Sierra Center Parkway, Suite 120, Reno, Nevada 89511.

Written submissions must be received at least five days before the scheduled public hearing on 9:00 a.m on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

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