By Kelly Clark
|Changes to harvest return card deadlines, and additional new elk, antelope, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep hunts were adopted at a recent Board of Wildlife Commissioners meeting.
The Wildlife Commission met February 7-8 in Las Vegas to hear a number of reports and receive public input on the big game season setting for the next two years. Nevada Division of Wildlife (NDOW) big game biologists recommended adding several new hunt units for both elk and pronghorn antelope due to expanded populations and the success of NDOW's big game capture and transplant program. However, impacts from fire and drought are expected to continue to affect the state's mule deer herds this year, and many fewer antlerless mule deer hunts were recommended in response to concerns about the status of mule deer populations statewide.
In addition to big game season setting, the Commission established April 21, 2003 as the big game tag draw application deadline, and established June 20, as the tag draw result notification date. This year, like last year, big game tag draw applicants can apply on-line on the Internet using a credit card. The tag applications and regulations are scheduled to be posted at www.huntnevada.com on March 17 and will be mailed out mid-to-late March.
Another major change is that harvest questionnaires will be due back to NDOW much sooner. New regulation changes require that hunters return their harvest return cards within 15 days after the close of the season for which their tag was drawn. In past years, all harvest questionnaires were due in by January 31 of the following year. The change will allow big game harvest information to be compiled earlier so that biologists and sportsmen can better plan for the following year's big game season and quota setting processes. Harvest questionnaires can be reported in several ways, including phone, fax and mail, and via the Internet at www.huntnevada.com, but hunters will have to be timely with questionnaires or pay the price: the administrative fee for late or rejected harvest questionnaires is $50.
In addition, a few hunt unit boundaries have changed since 2002. Hunters are urged to read new boundary unit descriptions on the reverse of the Nevada Hunt Unit Reference Map, as many boundaries have been altered to use more identifiable markers, such as roads instead of county lines, and to accommodate bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope herd expansions.
The Junior Youth Hunt, first established in 1998, has become a popular hunt for young people ages 12-16. At the February meeting, the Wildlife Commission established a quota of 2,500 mule deer for this year's Youth Hunt. Last year 2,523 Nevada youth drew tags for mule deer.
About half of this year's buck deer rifle seasons will open October 4, with various ending dates. The separate muzzleloader hunt will run September 13-28 in nearly all areas of the state, with a few late-season hunts. A new, late mule deer archery hunt was created in unit 101-108 to provide additional hunting opportunities for primitive weapon hunters. A few buck archery seasons will open August 9, but most will open August 16.
Doe mule deer hunts were reduced from 34 hunts in 2002 to nine hunts in 2003. The Division recommended a conservative approach to doe hunts in response to concerns about the status of mule deer populations statewide.
The rifle buck antelope hunt will run August 23-September 1, except in two unit groups. Similarly, archery season is set for August 2-17, except for one unit group. Doe antelope hunts will be held in 10 unit groups in northern Nevada, with the first opening date August 9. Two new antelope hunt units were established for unit groupings 171-173 and 181-184, where antelope transplant efforts have proven successful.
Sixteen rifle bull elk hunts were established for the season, three more than last year. Two of the unit groups will open November 1, but most will open November 15 and run through November 30.
Likewise, two of the bull elk muzzleloader hunts will open September 20, with most others running November 1-14. The bull elk archery hunt will open August 30, with various closing dates.
A number of cow elk hunt season dates were shifted to reduce hunter congestion, and to increase cow harvest in key areas. Most cow elk seasons will run October 4-26, with a few early and late seasons. With a few exceptions, cow elk muzzleloader hunts will run November 1-14, and the archery cow elk hunt will extend from August 9-29.
Two California bighorn sheep seasons will run September 6-October 3, and the remainder will extend from August 9-31. Desert bighorn sheep hunts will extend from November 8-December 7 in most hunt unit groups. Recovery of a couple of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herds has allowed units 074 and 102 to be hunted again. A total of three Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep hunts will run from August 23-October 26. Three mountain goat hunts will open August 23 and run through October 26.
Mountain lion seasons were set for March 1, 2003-February 29, 2004, with a total harvest objective of 345 animals. The year-round mountain lion season was re-established this year to match the hunting license year, which runs March 1 to the last day of the following February.
For more information and a complete listing of all of the big game season dates, check the NDOW web site at www.ndow.org.
Copyright © 2003 J & D Outdoor Communications. All rights reserved.