Big Game Tag Application Process
Hunting Big Game in Nevada
Hunters need a tag to hunt Nevada's big game populations like mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk, mountain goats or pronghorn antelope.
In Nevada, big game tags are distributed through a random, computerized draw process, handled by a private company, System Consultants, Wildlife Administrative Services Office (WASO).
Mountain lions are also a big game species. Mountain lion tags are readily available online at Hunt Nevada, or over the counter at local license agents. Call 1-800-800-1667 to identify open hunt units.
When Do I Apply?
Applications for the Nonresident Guided Hunt, (submitted by guides), are generally due around mid-March, with results available by late-March.
The application deadline for the Main Big Game Draw is generally in mid-April, and applications are generally available one month prior to that date. Results from this draw are usually available approximately two months after the submittal deadline.
Following the main draw, there is a second drawing for any remaining tags. Any tags remaining after the second draw may be applied for on a first-come-first-served basis. Applications for remaining tags are available online at Hunt Nevada or on the NDOW application page.
Can I Hunt Big Game Anywhere in the State?
Nevada is broken down into nearly 100 hunt units. Seasons and quotas are set for unit groups, and when applying for a big game tag, hunters specify their top five choices among those unit groups.
Hunters should be sure to reference the Nevada Hunting Seasons and Regulations for more hunting regulations.
How the Big Game Draw is Conducted
By law, the draw is conducted through a computerized random draw program developed and administered by a private entity. System Consultants, Wildlife Administrative Services Office (WASO) administers Nevada's hunt application program through their office in Fallon.
How and When Seasons are Set
The Nevada Wildlife Commission establishes hunting season dates for all big game species each year in mid-to-late February. Quotas are set at by the Nevada Wildlife Commission at its May meeting.
Anyone born after January 1, 1960 is required to provide proof of Hunter Education, in order to purchase a Nevada hunting license. Proof of Hunter Education is an official Hunter Education card or certificate, from any state or province, with the Hunter Education number and state or provincial logo or seal, OR a previous year’s hunting license with the Hunter Education number or mark. First time nonresident applicants born after 01/01/1960 will need to submit a paper application in the mail with proof of hunter education or preregister their hunter education certificate up to seven days prior to the deadline. Residents that may have obtained their hunter education in and other state may also want to pre-register their hunter education certificate. You can preregister at Hunt Nevada.
Application regulations are available at NDOW regional offices, license agents and on the NDOW web site.
Deadline generally mid-April
Hunters must complete the applications(s) and make sure they are mailed in time, or completed online, so that they arrive at the Wildlife Administrative Services Office in Fallon by the deadline. The deadline is generally around mid-April for the main big game draw. Guided applications (submitted by guides) are generally due in mid-March. Current year's deadlines will be posted on our Applications page.
Party applications are only accepted for mule deer, cow elk, and antelope (shorter than ears) hunts.
For paper applications, nonresidents must submit all application, bonus point, license and tag fees with the paper application. Nonresidents must submit a cashier's check or money order; no out of state personal checks will be accepted.
For paper applications, residents must first purchase their hunting license and then submit all application, bonus point, license and tag fees with the application.
For online applications, both residents and nonresidents need only to submit the the nonrefundable fees and the license fee (if purchasing the license to acquire a bonus point).
If you purchase a hunting license and do not draw a tag, you have the option to be refunded the license fee if you designate this option on the application. However, if you choose to receive a license refund you will not gain a bonus point for the hunts applied for that season.
Non refundable Applications Fees
- $15 for elk
- $10 for all other big game species or bonus point only
- $2 resident online convenience fee
- $3.50 nonresident online convenience fee
- $3 predator control fee / application
- Designated donations
- When applying online, provide a phone number and an email address in order to receive an application confirmation notice, and to communicate with you if there is a problem with your credit card.
- Read and follow all tag application directions
- Complete your application and have your hunting partner proof your work. There are multiple opportunities to review hunt and hunter choice selections prior to submission of the payment. Once payment is submitted, there is no opportunity for correction.
- Send in your application as early as possible
What Happens After You Send in Your Application?
Review of Applications
Once applications are sent, Wildlife Administrative Services Office begins processing applications. Once received, the mail is opened and applications are batched into groups. The information on each application is entered into the computer exactly as submitted by the applicant.
Exactly when the application is received has no effect on the applicant's chance of drawing a tag (as long as it is received before the deadline).
However, there is an advantage to getting the application in as early as possible. If a paper application is received in adequate time and if a correctable error is found, applicants are given a chance to fix the error and resubmit the application. HOWEVER, there must be sufficient time to mail the correction form to the applicant and then have it returned to Wildlife Administrative Services before the deadline.
For those submitting applications online, the online process will alert you of any errors found before the final submittal. Please take care to enter your desired hunter choice numbers correctly, though, because once submitted, hunters cannot change inputted information or designated choices.
First, all applications submitted receive a random draw number assigned by the computer. Each draw number consists of the same number of digits. Each person receives a different draw number for each hunt applied for on the application (for example one number for deer, one number for elk). In the case of deer, party applications will only receive one number.
After all draw numbers are assigned, the computer puts them into numerical order, the lowest number being the first application to be reviewed, and the highest number the last to be reviewed.
The computer then begins processing the application by reviewing each hunter choice number that has been included on the application.
For example, if a hunter applies for an elk tag, the computer evaluates each hunter choice number, one at a time and in the order listed, and either awards a tag in the first choice where at least one tag remains, or designates the application as unsuccessful if all tags have been issued for those hunter choices listed. The computer then moves on to the next application (the next highest application number). This procedure is repeated for each application (deer rifle, deer archery, cow elk, antelope, etc.) until all applications have been reviewed.
The bonus point system gives tag applicants a better chance at drawing a tag by simply awarding them an additional draw number each time they apply for a type of hunt, are unsuccessful, and have purchased a hunting license.
Hunters now have the opportunity to purchase a bonus point without applying for a tag, allowing hunters to accrue bonus points without necessarily drawing a tag, or hunting. Learn more about the bonus point system.
How Are Big Game Quotas Set?
Nevada hunters may wonder how NDOW determines the quotas of tags available from year to year. Just how does NDOW go from a "x" amount of animals out in the wilderness to "x" many tags available for the draw?
First, biologists collect and analyze the various data that affects that health and status of Nevada's wildlife populations. Biologists consider the following before recommending quotas: weather, disease, predation, and harvest statistics. Biologists survey populations in the spring of every year to find out the ratios of young versus adult and male versus female, determine the relative age of males, herd distribution, habitat conditions, animal condition and response. Climate data like precipitation, periods of cold temperatures, snow depths, drought periods and severity are also evaluated. Also considered is harvest data like hunter success, point class, age structure, and harvest distribution by unit and hunter reports – animal numbers and quality, effort expended, long-term trends from long-term hunters, new sightings, etc. After evaluating all available information, biologists then come up with recommended quotas.
County Advisory Boards
The data and recommended quotas from biologists is then presented to the County Advisory Boards (CABs) to Manage Wildlife in April. Members of these boards look at this information, and also consider public input and special circumstances in each individual county. The CABs then make their recommendations to the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners.
Nevada Wildlife Commission
The Commission then reviews the recommendations of the CABs, the biologists, and further considers public comment and various interests before determining final quotas at the end of May. The approved quotas are then passed on to Wildlife Administrative Services so the draw can be completed, and successful applicants are awarded with their tags in June.
The public is encouraged to participate in this process by submitting comments to board members or attending County Advisory Board or Wildlife Commission meetings.
There are guidelines in place the partially direct the decisions to be made, which include Nevada Board of Wildlife Commission policies, any developed species management plans, NDOW's program and procedures, and the State of Nevada Nonresident Guided Hunt law.
Big Game Seasons & Dates
At the same time that biologists are considering the above factors, a public process is occurring. Big game seasons dates are set in February and March, and quotas are set in April and May by County Wildlife Advisory Boards and Board of Wildlife Commissioners.