Welcome to 2021-22 Nevada Big Game Hunting
Hope springs eternal! If there ever was an expression to accurately capture the emotions and sentiments surrounding Nevada’s big game tag application process, that is it. Hope springs eternal! Although I’ve had some intermittent successes through the years drawing pronghorn antelope tags, deer tags, a few cow elk tags, and even a bull elk tag, when I drew my fifth and last choice with nine bonus points, I still haven’t drawn any sheep tags or a mountain goat tag. Every year at this time I begin to contemplate the units in which I will apply, the increasing likelihood that I might draw, and experiences and adventures that would result if I did draw. Hope springs eternal!!
For well over two decades now, I receive my draw results and I am confronted with the reality of not drawing a sheep tag yet again and I am left to consider the possibilities. Possibly a good friend or family member will draw, and I can accompany them on their hunt. A couple years ago, my son drew the same unit in which I applied. He drew with half the number bonus points that I had. Other possibilities I consider include the possibility of never drawing certain tags, drawing at an age when my increasingly worn knees won’t get me to the places inhabited by the quarry I seek, or possibly finding a way to alter the tag draw system to show a more pronounced advantage to those like me with decades of bonus points and not much more to show for it than a continued support for the agency through my tireless and steadfast pursuit for the opportunity to hunt.
After contemplating the possibilities, as my way of processing and dealing with my disappointment of not drawing, I reach the same conclusion every time, that Nevada’s big game tag draw system works. The reality is that there will be people like me who, despite applying for decades, simply may never draw for certain species. Others with far fewer bonus points, like my son, will draw. Wildlife conservation relies heavily on hunter-based funding. The more people we have buying hunting licenses, applying for tags, and willing to pay for the opportunity to pursue big game in Nevada, means more resources to meet the needs of the species and their habitats. The demand for Nevada’s premier hunting opportunities by far outpaces the supply. It would be wonderful to be able to meet the demand each year. Since we have more demand than we do a supply, we need to find ways to balance tag allocations to the long-time contributors while also still providing a chance to draw for the younger and newer hunting public. Without making some opportunity available to newcomers, there would not be any incentive for new hunters to apply and as such, Nevada would lose both funding and the opportunity to recruit new hunters.
I truly hope that each one of us receives good news when the draw results are emailed. However, if once again I am faced with the word “unsuccessful” relative to my bighorn sheep tag application, I will rest easy in knowing that the lack of draw success is partly due to a growing demand for the opportunity which bodes well for the future of hunting and species conservation. I also know that even if I do not draw a tag, there is a high likelihood that a good friend or family member will draw and that if they do, I can still experience Nevada’s wildlife through a special and shared experience with someone I care about. Hope springs eternal!
Tony Wasley – Director, Nevada Department of Wildlife