Welcome to the 2020 – 2021 Small Game Guide. For various reasons, when the expression “small game” is used, it automatically conjures images of something smaller or somehow less spectacular than the more celebrated “big game.” Whether due to the simple misapplication of the word “small” placed before “game” or whether due to the relatively small quantity of table fare usually contained in a single specimen, subconsciously or otherwise, the unfair comparison exists. Whether you fancy yourself as a waterfowler, upland hunter, rabbit or squirrel specialist, rest assured, “small game” in Nevada are every bit as important and spectacular as the “big game” that call Nevada home.
I recall the stories my Great Uncle Gus used to tell me about growing up in extreme poverty. He shared with me how, as a child, he was required to pursue small game to help feed his family. Small game in his situation, didn’t necessarily have seasons, limits, or even species restrictions. Although those things certainly existed, when your family is hungry, an American robin in July is every bit as good as a mourning dove in early September. Food security and hunger remain some of the biggest threats to effective species conservation in certain parts of the world. Concerns regarding our own country’s food security, meat in particular, became a reality in the ongoing pandemic.
The plentiful small game hunting opportunities in Nevada today are not by accident and provide for both food security via healthy lean and organic protein and also provide for an incredible diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities. The table fare rewards as well as the adventures shared, are the result of planned and active conservation efforts. The Department of Wildlife uses revenues from your license purchases combined with federal excise taxes collected from the sale of guns and ammunition to fund projects like water developments, post-fire habitat revegetation, survey activities, habitat enhancement, species reintroductions, transplanting, and research efforts.
Often, the recreational enjoyment derived by small game hunting obscures our ability to recognize the bigger success story that it is and benefits it provides to both species’ conservation and food security. Having that indelible image of the perfect point, incredulous retrieve, or amazing shot fuels our desire for more memories of those likes. We share our bounty and share the tales of that amazing sky-busted drake mallard on the most improbable of shots or the sailing chukar hitting the ground stone dead after placing a bead at an unimaginable lead. The camaraderie with friends, four-legged and otherwise, great outdoor adventures, and bountiful harvests dominate our memories and our conversations. Let us also take time to acknowledge that it is you, the sportsmen and women, who have made these memories possible by your contributions to conservation and also acknowledge their benefits to both our food security as well as our food quality. Thank you!
Director, Nevada Department of Wildlife