APPLICATION STRATEGY 2021: Nevada Elk & Antelope
NEVADA'S 2021 ELK & ANTELOPE APPLICATION OVERVIEW
When it comes to hunting big elk, there are maybe three or four states that come to mind rather quickly: Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. These four states have incredible track records for producing giant bulls year in and year out and Nevada absolutely deserves to be on this shortlist. For what the state lacks in an overall elk population, it makes up with a strict management agenda that focuses on a high bull to cow ratio and an above average age class objective. What all of this means is that if you are lucky enough to find the end of the rainbow in the Silver State and have a mature bull elk tag of any kind in your pocket no matter where it is, it’s likely to be the best — if not one of the best elk hunts — you will ever have in your life. The odds are rough and without a maximum point pool, there is no clear finish line; however, if you are looking for a next level elk hunt, you need to get started in Nevada.
Antelope in Nevada are an excellent example of the North American conservation model. The overall population of antelope has been growing by leaps and bounds for decades and has resulted in not only more opportunities to hunt, but also some excellent bucks being taken across many units in the state. Although the wait is a little longer than some other notable antelope destinations, if you are going to purchase a hunting license in Nevada for any other reason, it would be a shame not to apply for antelope, too, since it’s only $14.
Note: The application deadline for all species in Nevada is May 10, 2021 at 11 p.m. PST for online applications. PAPER APPLICATIONS ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTED IN NEVADA. You can apply online here.
New for 2021
Enhanced First-Come First-Served queue
- First-Come-First-Served (FCFS) queue that will be accessible in the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s (NDOW) licensing system. This queue offers NDOW customers the ability to purchase any tags remaining after the second draw or any returned tags without an eligible alternate. Just for the FCFS, the residency eligibility will not be restricted to tags within the queue. So, a nonresident can purchase a resident tag at the nonresident price and vice versa. The only exception is for the junior mule deer/antlerless mule deer tags, which will only be available to eligible resident juniors.
Tag transfer and deference
- You now have the choice to defer a tag or restore your bonus points if you experience an extenuating circumstance between the 14-day window of the tag return deadline and the start of the hunt. A tag holder can transfer their tag to another eligible person if the tag holder is diagnosed as terminally ill after drawing the tag. Both the tag holder and the transferee would be subject to all eligibility restrictions. An extenuating circumstance is defined in NAC502.422 and must be accompanied with documentation evidence and verified by NDOW before approval.
- An 11-year-old junior who will turn 12 before the beginning of the last season on their application is eligible to apply for a bonus point.
- Active members in the Armed Forces who are stationed outside of the US and lose their bonus points due to a lapse in applying may now be refunded their lost points after they return to the country.
- Party hunt members are able to return their party tag to the agency, but will not receive a refund in bonus points unless all members of that party also return their tags to NDOW.
- NDOW has added several new hunts for the upcoming season, including 20 new resident muzzleloader antelope horns longer than ears seasons, nine new nonresident muzzleloader antelope horns longer than ears seasons and one new resident antelope horns shorter than ears season in Unit 043-046.
Female/antlerless draw odds
Remember, goHUNT has Draw Odds for female species. In Nevada, there are many opportunities for elk and antelope in the way of antlerless licenses for residents and nonresidents.
Note: Doe antelope tags are for residents only. When selecting your units to hunt be sure to also check out our standalone Draw Odds details page to see if opportunities exist that can be added to your hunt.
Antlerless elk draw odds
Doe antelope draw odds
State quotas will not be set until the May 2021 commission meeting. This is done to ensure that the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has the latest and most current data on big game herds.
To view important information and an overview of Nevada's rules/regulations, the draw system, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map, check out our State Profile. You can also view the Nevada Elk Profile as well as Nevada Antelope Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.
Important dates and information
- The deadline to apply is May 10, 2021 at 11 p.m. PST.
- You can apply online here.
- Bonus point only applications will be accepted until May 17, 2021 at 11 p.m. PST.
- You can apply for a bonus point only here. You will still need to purchase a hunting license.
- Results will be made available on or before May 26, 2021.
- Second draw deadline for leftover tags is June 14, 2021 at 11 p.m. PST.
- Second draw results will be available on or before July 9, 2021.
Applying for a state you've never hunted before can be daunting but we are here to make it easy. In the video above, Trail goes over some of the most commonly asked questions when applying in Nevada.
Drought and snowpack in Nevada
Like many western states, the majority of Nevada is under extreme drought conditions. The northern portion of the state is faring better than the rest of the state, but is still in rough shape. The good thing is over the last few weeks, it seems that things are headed in a better direction, but we will need more of what we have seen during the last couple of weeks to really turn things around.
2020 versus 2021 snow depth analysis
This comparison below shows more clearly the incredible amount of moisture that the Silver State is receiving this year in all of its highest elevations compared to last year.
Compared to 2020, snowpack is down and many of the different smaller mountain ranges in the center of the state are lacking in snow and moisture overall and are a reflection of the current drought conditions.
The draw system
Understanding the draw
For all species in Nevada, there are five hunt choices. When drawn, all five choices are considered prior to drawing the next application. If any selection is still available you will be awarded the permit.
Bonus point only application after the main draw
If you missed the application deadline to apply for a tag or you just want to apply for bonus points, then you may submit an application for a bonus point during the main big game application or within seven days after the application deadline. Application fees will still be charged. It is highly recommended that you print a copy of your application confirmation page for your records after applying. The last day to apply for a bonus point only is May 26, 2021 at 11 p.m. PST.
You can apply for a bonus point here.
Unlocking Nevada’s system
As mentioned before Nevada should be considered a long-term goal and the key to success in this state like others is to keep applying and to only apply “point only” when you absolutely cannot pull off a hunt that fall. You never know when it’s going to be your year and to miss out on a year of having your name in the hat is a mistake that should be avoided whenever possible. If you are looking for a hunt sooner rather than later, Nevada makes it possible to chase the odds while still applying for a top-shelf hunt by allowing the applicant to select five choices each year.
Nevada's draw order and why it matters
With five choices available, the first two selections on your application should always be for the best units in the state or the hunt you desire the most. The last three selections can be a continuation of this strategy to allow the applicant to aggressively chase the odds and, often, draw in many fewer years. The applicant will lose all his/her points on any successful application regardless of which choice so be realistic in what kind of hunt you are looking for and always swing for the fence on your first two selections. Remember that your bonus points are squared each year plus one additional point for that year's application.
See the Nevada State Profile for more information.
Nevada's 2021 elk breakdown
Currently, Nevada has about 13,000 elk. When compared to the rest of the western states, this is a dramatically smaller population. This is likely to be due to the fact that, as a general rule, Nevada does not, in fact, have all that much prime elk habitat. However, the management strategy in Nevada is based around quality experience versus managing for an opportunity to go hunting as a general rule. What this means is two things: First, it is very hard to draw an elk tag in the Silver State, especially for a nonresident. The second is that if you happen to luck into an elk hunt for a mature bull tag, there is a chance it will be one of the best elk tags you ever draw and the odds of something truly incredible happening are as good as they could be on any hunt in any state in the West.
Current elk herd condition
With approximately 13,000+ elk in Nevada reported in 2020, the herd is up slightly compared to the 2019 counts. Hunter success on bull elk was 45% while 32% of those hunters were successful in taking a bull that had at least 6 points on one side. In the post hunt survey in 2019, the state studied 8,867 elk. In this study, they were able to come to the ratio of 46:100 bulls to cows with 32 calves. This means that the state's goal of reducing the elk population has been met and we are likely to see permit numbers reduce and normalize over the coming years across the state and especially in the northeast corner where the herd has been over objective for a number of years.
Top hit list units to consider for 360" or better elk
|Unit||Trophy potential||Bull:cow ratio||Bulls 6 point+||Public land %|
Managing points and expectations
2021 maximum bonus points for elk: 28
I have 0 elk bonus points. What can I expect?
The archery hunt in Unit 072-074 is the only viable application choice that you currently have with a semi-realistic chance of drawing this year. The odds last year were 19% for applicants with zero points. The success rate on this hunt was only 13% so plan on spending a serious amount of time up there prior to the hunt and during the hunt to up your odds of success if you choose to apply for this hunt as one of your selections. For the most part, don’t get your hopes too high in this first year as it will almost take a lightning strike to luck into an elk bull hunt in your first year of applying. Yet, within a few years, the options with decent odds will be more productive.
Quick tip: Study our standalone Draw Odds here and adjust your individual point value to see your best odds for drawing a tag or planning for a future hunt.
Currently, there are no selections you could pick that would have even a 1% chance of drawing for a nonresident with zero points. However, you have to start somewhere and if you are looking to hunt some of the best locations in the West for elk, then the sooner you get started the better. ho knows? Maybe you will find the end of the rainbow your first year. Crazier things have happened in the Silver State. Apply for what you believe to be the best hunts in the state based upon your goals.
Quick tip: Study our standalone Draw Odds here and adjust your individual point value to see your best odds for drawing a tag or planning for a future hunt.
What can I do with 9 or 10 elk bonus points?
There are now multiple options to consider and some of them are in some seriously great areas to hunt whether it’s in the northeastern corner of the state in Unit 072-074 and Unit 061 and 071. Closer to the center of the state (Unit 171 - 173) have a 50%+ odds of drawing at your current point status for all weapons. If you are set on hunting some of the more notable areas of the state, keep applying for them and keep your fingers crossed. At this point, it would be a shame to burn your points on a hunt you had buyers remorse over after waiting this long.
Nothing has really changed for you in Nevada after 10 years. With such a low number of nonresident permits available each year, the demand is much higher than the supply and this is a goal that will need some luck associated with in order to come out of the hat at this time. Swing for the fence and keep applying for what you believe to be the best hunt in the state based upon your goals.
What can I expect with 15 or more elk bonus points?
Well, this is unfortunate that you have not found some luck at this point as most all the hunts in the state are going to have as good as 1:3 or even 1:2 chance of drawing. At this point, you need to be careful in applying for all five available choices as there is a chance that there are not five hunts in the state that will live up to what your goals are. Only apply for what you believe to be the very best hunts in the state and hold your breath. Your wait should be over sooner rather than later.
Last year's odds for a nonresident with 15 points were 39% in Unit 072 through 074 on the archery hunt. Odds were 26% for the late rifle hunt and were the best odds in the state for a hunter with this number of points. If you choose to burn your points, then consider applying for your dream hunt as the first few selections before locking in with this pick. Drawing an elk hunt in Nevada is very difficult but at this point, if it’s not the hunt you have been dreaming of, then what was the point in applying all these years?
Nevada's 2021 antelope breakdown
Like elk, drawing an antelope permit in Nevada for a nonresident can be a difficult task. However, the number of out-of-state applicants that are applying for antelope is much less than elk. Even so, it is still a rather difficult tag to draw as there are many more applicants each year than permits available. The overall population of animals in the state has been steadily increasing for many years and, in recent years, the number of big bucks coming out of the state continues to increase. It was not long ago that Nevada was just another chance to hunt antelope and, yet, now, the odds of taking an 80”+ goat are not out of the question in any number of units. This should be considered a long-term goal type of application, but if you are purchasing a hunting license in Nevada, it would be a shame to not spend the extra $14 to apply for antelope if there is any interest in hunting them at all.
Current antelope herd condition
The last statewide count in 2019 concluded with a total population of just over 30,000 animals across the state. The buck to doe objective for the state is 25:100 and, after these counts, the state published a count of 35:100 bucks to does and 28:100 fawns. This includes any bucks that were over two years old. Overall, Nevada’s antelope herd is in great shape and seems to be doing better all the time. With a 73% harvest rate on all hunts last season, it may not be your first choice when it comes to locking in on a speedgoat hunt, but it’s not a bad choice and it definitely gets you a little more value for the hunting license you are required to purchase before applying for any species.
Top hit list units to consider for 80" or better antelope
The points system
The bonus point race
2021 maximum bonus points for antelope: 26
Managing points and expectations
I have 0 antelope bonus points. What can I expect?
If you are looking to hunt sooner rather than later, you will currently find your best odds in the archery hunts in Unit 067-068 and 141. Both of these are at or close to an 8% chance of drawing even the first year you apply. The success rates were 20% and 32% this past year, which isn’t bad for an archery antelope hunt. However, if you do choose to use either or both of these in your five selections, you should at least swing for the fence on some of the more notable hunts in the state. Who knows? Maybe you will be the lighting strike this year and will go from a better than nothing type of hunt to a top-shelf experience.
There are many different archery hunts in the state that have less than 20 applicants in the nonresident pool. If you are interested in hunting as soon as possible, then consider applying for one of these options. If you are looking for a rifle hunt, plan on this taking some real time because there are very few nonresident permits and, even with the limited number of nonresident applicants, there are not enough, especially when it comes to the rifle hunts, which will likely take a long time or a lot of luck — and probably both.
What can I do with 9 or 10 antelope bonus points?
With 10 or more points, there are many units and hunts to consider that will have at or over a 50% chance of drawing. Choose carefully at this point as your odds of drawing are quite high and, depending on the style of hunt you are interested in hunting and what caliber of buck you would be happy in taking, you may not want to use all five of your available selections.
Quick tip: Study the standalone Draw Odds here and adjust your individual point value to see your best odds.
The best rifle odds in the state last year for nonresidents with 10 points was Unit 043 and success rates were 90% on this hunt last year. If you are simply looking for a chance to cash in on your points in Nevada, but don’t care much about the caliber of buck you take, this is an option worth considering. There are a number of other hunts that have over a 10% chance of drawing and, if you are willing to hunt with your bow, then you could even have a decent chance at drawing a more top end unit. Use all five choices at this point if you can as it will still take a considerable amount of luck to draw a permit, but you are not completely out of the mix any longer.
It will be best to study the standalone Draw Odds here and adjust your individual point value to see your best odds.
What can I expect with 15 or more antelope bonus points?
If you have been waiting on a chance to hunt 80”+ antelope, then, currently, your best odds of doing this are in Unit 251 with a 40% chance of drawing for applicants with 15 points or more. Be wary of applying for all five choices at this point. If you cannot find five hunts you would be excited to draw, do not apply for them. It would be unfortunate to draw a less than excellent hunt at this point.
With 15 points, if you are looking for a chance to hunt 80”+ antelope, there are a number of options to consider for an archery or muzzleloader hunt. However, if you are looking for a chance to hunt with your rifle in a unit that has a track record for goats of this caliber, you will need to apply for Unit 145. The odds of drawing this hunt were 25% last year for applicants with this number of points and, considering what your odds have been for a number of years, there is a lot to be excited and optimistic about. There are plenty of options to consider at this point so don’t get tunnel vision on this unit and use all five choices when applying. With a little luck, a speedgoat hunt in the Silver State won’t be that far off.
ADDITIONAL APPLICATION OPPORTUNITIES
Nevada Silver State tag
For an additional $25 you can select to be included in the Silver State tag drawings, which would make you eligible for the one permit per species drawing each year that allows the recipient the opportunity to hunt any public land across the state from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31—just like the governor’s tag. This, along with thousands of dollars in free gear, is just too good to pass. Make sure you click the box while applying and get your name in the hat for this amazing opportunity.
Nevada Dream Tags
Nevada Dream Tags are another shot at drawing the hunt of a lifetime for mule deer, antelope, desert bighorn sheep, California bighorn sheep, elk and black bear in Nevada. Dream Tags are similar to SuperTags and Super Raffles in other western states. This drawing is open to both residents and nonresidents. After purchasing a $11.75 Resource Enhancement Stamp, you can then buy an unlimited number of raffle tickets for $5.75 each for as many species as you want. You can enter the Dream Tag raffle here.