Wildlife Commission Sets 2014 Big Game Seasons

When the Nevada State Board of Wildlife Commissioners met recently in Las Vegas, its members tackled an agenda that included the establishment of big game hunting seasons for 2014 into 2015, including several "antlerless elk management" hunts that allow for combination deer and cow elk tags, combination bull elk and cow elk tags, spike elk hunts and Nevada's fourth bear hunt. Also on the agenda was the removal of fishing tackle restrictions on certain spans of the Truckee River.

The commission approved many of the big game season dates as recommended by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and its members also opted to create the state's first bighorn sheep ewe hunts as a tool to assist in disease and density management of this burgeoning species. In the past, sheep hunts have been limited to rams.

"NDOW has done a remarkable job in establishing, maintaining and growing bighorn sheep populations," said Mike Cox, NDOW big game biologist. "We have done so much work managing sheep populations through trap and transplant projects, including moving hundreds of sheep within Nevada, to other states like Utah and even other countries such as Canada."

Since bighorn sheep are extremely vulnerable to disease outbreaks, it is essential for NDOW to manage herds to reduce risks. The ewe hunts were established as an additional means to achieve population objectives. Some significant changes in elk management due to thriving elk populations created new options for Nevada resident hunters that offer combination tags. These tags include a combination antlered deer and cow elk tags, and combination bull elk and cow elk tags in certain hunt units only.

"Residents applying for antlered deer tags in certain units or bull elk tags in certain units will have the opportunity to purchase an additional cow elk tag if they are drawn for either," said NDOW Game Chief Larry Gilbertson. "These combination tags were added to help manage elk populations that are above objectives in particular areas."

Paired hunts include; Antlerless Elk Management Any Legal Weapon Hunt (4481) is paired with Antlered Mule Deer Any Legal Weapon (1331) in certain units. Antlerless Elk Management Muzzleloader Hunt (4476) is paired with Antlered Mule Deer Muzzleloader (1371) in certain units. Antlerless Elk Management Longbow Archery Hunt (4411) is paired with Antlered Mule Deer Longbow Archery (1341) in certain units. Antlerless Elk Management Any Legal Weapon Hunt (4481) is paired with Antlered Elk Any Legal Weapon (4151) in certain units. Antlerless Elk Management Muzzleloader Hunt (4476) is paired with Antlered Elk Muzzleloader (4156) in certain units. Antlerless Elk Management Longbow Archery Hunt (4411) is paired with Antlered Elk Longbow Archery (4161) in certain units.

"The goal with adding these hunts as combination tags is to increase elk harvest without increasing hunter congestion," said Gilbertson.

Applicants for these combination tags must opt for both tags during their big game tag application process. The combination tags are only open to Nevada residents. Full details on these hunts and how to apply will be provided in NDOW's Big Game Seasons and Application Regulations guide published in early March.

To further aid in dealing with the increasing elk population and expansion of the elk herds that has occurred over the last few years, the Commission added spike elk hunts including Spike Any Legal Weapon Hunt (4651) and Spike Longbow Archery Hunt (4641). These spike hunts allow for additional elk management without targeting the older age classes of bull elk.

In addition to other big game season dates, the Wildlife Commission approved those for Nevada's fourth black bear hunt.

The Commission also took action to remove fishing tackle restrictions from certain parts of the Truckee River. Previously, the Truckee River and diversion ditches and tributaries above the I-80 bridge which is upstream from the Crystal Peak Park to the California state line were restricted to only artificial lures with single barbless hooks.

The removal of these restrictions allows for those areas of the Truckee River to fall under bait and tackle regulations pertaining to most of the Truckee River. This will become effective after approval by the Legislative Commission.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW's wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen's license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at www.ndow.org.