Understanding The Nevada Big Game Draw

The Nevada Draw

While many think of Nevada for gambling and shows in Sin City, they should be thinking about glassing up high mountain mule deer and Boone and Crockett antelope. Although many tags in Nevada can be particuarly difficult for nonresidents to draw, resident odds are really not too bad. The great thing about gambling in the big game odds is when the house wins, wildlife wins! If you have ever watched Tim Burnett chase monster Nevada mule deer then you've probably thought about giving it a go yourself. Below we'll break down tag allocations, hunt choices, how bonus points work, why draw sequence matters and how hunt choices influence a hunters overall odds.


 

Hunt Types

In Nevada a hunter can apply for multiple hunt types if he or she chooses to. Each hunt type is essentially a seperate drawing pool. That is to say, applicants putting in for antlered mule deer are assigned random numbers and drawn  separately from those applying for other hunt types. So if a hunter chooses to apply for 4 different hunt types, they would receive a separate random number for each of the 4 hunt types they applied for.

Each species or subspecies has multiple hunt types a hunter can apply for. A hunter can apply for 16 tags in one year! For sheep and mountian goat hunts, not all hunts maybe available to nonresidents and/or residents in a given year. Here is a breakdown of Nevada's big game hunt types:

Mule Deer

    • Antlered Mule Deer
    • Antlerless Mule Deer
    • Junior Either Sex Mule Deer (must be under the age of x)

Antelope


    • Pronghorn Antelope where horns are longer than ears
    • Pronghorn Antelope where horns are shorter than ears

Antlered Elk

    • Antlered Elk
    • Antlered Depredation Elk
    • Spike Elk

Antlerless Elk

    • Antlerless Elk
    • Antlerless Depredation Elk

Nelson Desert Bighorn Sheep

    • Ram 
    • Ewe

California Desert Bighorn Sheep


    • Ram
    • Ewe

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

    • Ram
    • Ewe

Mountain Goat

    • Any Goat

Black Bear

    • Any Bear

 

Draw Order

While a hunter may apply for most of these hunt types they may only draw 1 tag per species for deer, antelope, elk and goat and 1 tag per subspecies of sheep. So even though there are 16 different hunt types to apply for, a hunter may not draw more than 7 tags for the aforementioned species. This quirk makes it important to understand which order each hunt type is drawn. Prior to 2021, there was no order. In 2021, the following order was instituted. The order is as follows:


Draw 1

  • PIW/Silver State/Junior

Draw 2

  • Antlered Mule Deer
  • Pronghorn Antelope where horns are longer than ears
  • Antlered and Antlered Depredation Elk
  • Nelson, California and Rocky Mountain Sheep Ram

Draw 3

  • Antlerless Mule Deer
  • Pronghorn Antelope where horns are shorter than ears
  • Antlerless and Antlerless Depredation Elk
  • Nelson, California and Rocky Mountain Sheep Ewe

Draw 4


  • Spike Elk

Draw 5

  • Mountain Goat
  • Bear

For each hunt type within a draw, applicants are assigned random numbers. The random numbers are ranked in ascending order and the application with the lowest random number is evaluated first. The application is evaluted first choice through fifth choice. If the quota hasn't been reached yet for a hunt choice, the applicant will be awarded a tag for that hunt choice. If the quota has been reached on for all the applicants hunt choices then the applicant will not draw a tag, 

 

Hunt Choice

A hunter may select up to 5 hunt choices for each hunt type. Hunt choices identify an applicants preference. For example, when applying for Antlered Mule Deer, a hunter may prefer to hunt Unit 031 Archery  over Unit 031 Any Legal Weapon. In this case the applicant would select Unit 031 Archery as their first choice and Unit 031 Any Legal Weapon as their second choice. When the application is drawn, the system will first look to see if there are still tags available for the archery hunt. If no tags are available, it will then look to see if tags are available for the Any Legal Weapon hunt. If the applicant selects a third choice hunt, the system would then evaluate that choice and so on.

 


Bonus Points

In Nevada, hunters can earn bonus points when they apply and are unsuccessful in a drawing or they can purchase bonus points without applying to hunt. Bonus points can increase a hunters odds but are not guaranteed. Since every application receives a random number, bonus points increase the odds that an application will receive a low random number. Nevada takes the number of bonus points an applicant has and squares them then adds the one for the current year application to come up with the number of random numbers generated for an application. The lowest random number is then selected for the application.

Suppose Katy has 3 bonus points going into the Pronghorn Antelope where horns are longer than ears drawing. Katy would receive 9 (3*3) random numbers for her bonus points and 1 random number for her current year application. Her lowest random number is bolded in the table below. That number would be used for her application going into the draw. If she zero bonus points and had only received the first random number (31,001,332) her order would have been significantly higher!

31,001,332 62,403,996 5,848,429 14,104,655
49,747,183 45,663,781 16,483,221 2,231,110
61,919,029 27,878,745    

 

Waiting Periods

Once a hunter draws a limited entry tag in Nevada, they will be subject to a waiting period. During the waiting period, a hunter cannot apply for the same hunt type which they drew. Also, the hunter is ineligbile to build bonus points during the waiting period. 

 


Species IF HARVESTED... IF NOT HARVESTED...
Bear May not apply the next 5 open seasons May apply the next open season
Bighorn Ram  May not apply the next 10 open seasons. May not apply the next 10 open seasons.
Bighorn Ewe May not apply the next 2 open seasons. May not apply the next 2 open seasons.
Bull Elk May not apply the next 7 open seasons. May not apply the next 7 open seasons.
Elk Depredation May apply the next open season May apply the next open season
Antlerless Elk May apply the next open season May apply the next open season
Antelope - Horns longer than ears May not apply the next 3 open seasons May not apply the next 3 open seasons
Antelope - Horns shorter than ears May apply the next open season May apply the next open season
Mountain Goat May not apply the next 10 open seasons May not apply the next 10 open seasons
Silver State Tags May apply the next open season May apply the next open season
Dream Tags May apply the next open season May apply the next open season

 

Party Applications

When applying as a party in Nevada there are two main things to remember:

  1. Bonus points are averaged across party members and rounded down to nearest whole number
  2. When a party application is evaluated, if issuing tags to the party would cause the quota to be exceeded, the party will not be issued tags.

This last point is important. Party's should generally apply for hunts which have significantly more tags available than the number of hunters in the party. 

 


 

Posted: November 30, 2021

Written By: Matt Habiger

About: Matt grew up running around the oaks, pines and birches in central Minnesota. He spent his youth hunting, fishing and riding bmx. For better or worse he's a restless hunter, prone to wandering the reaches of public land. Many youthful days were spent dreaming about chasing elk, deer and bear across mountain sides with a butterscotch maple Interarms 300 Weatherby from his father. 25 years later he still has the same dreams they just happen to come true every Fall and Spring.

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