Alert: Proposed 2019-2020 Nevada Big Game Tag Quotas

Nevada proposed 2019 big game hunting quotas

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Sometimes procrastination is a good thing. And if you’re like me, I always tend to apply for tags the last several days before an application deadline. This ensures I am able to gather all the latest intel about a state (winterkill, drought, spring precipitation, etc.) before I leave it up to the fate of getting lucky in the draw. Full disclosure: as of Sunday morning, I have yet to apply.

Nevada recently released an interesting dataset on their proposed Commission Regulation 19-14, which is big game quotas for the 2019-2020 season. The full dataset could be something you might want to check out to see if the unit you're applying for is drastically reducing tags (greatly impacting your draw odds), or even increasing tags. Note: If you’ve already applied, you can still edit and/or add to your hunt choices until the deadline.

A quick look at the proposed changes

  • Antelope: increase of 50 tags
  • Desert bighorn: decrease of 7 ram tags and 12 ewe tags
  • California bighorn: decrease of 3 ram tags and an increase of 3 ewe tags
  • Rocky bighorn: increase of two tags
  • Mountain goat: no change
  • Black bear: no change
  • Elk: decrease of 285 bull elk tags and a reduction in antlerless and spike tags (see details below)
  • Mule deer: decrease of 551 tags

If you haven’t applied yet, you need to hurry. The deadline to apply for all species is tonight April 29 at 11:00 p.m.

Apply for Nevada Tags here

Summary of the 2019 quota as presented by the Nevada Department of Wildlife

At the bottom of the article, you will find a link to download and view the entire PDF document that provides a species and unit by unit breakdown.


The Department is recommending 4,500 antelope tags for the 2019 hunting season (3,215 horns-longer-than-ears, 1,285 horns-shorter-than-ears). This represents a slight increase of 50 tags when compared to the quota approved by the Commission for the 2018-2019 hunting season. The Department uses an internal management objective of 20-30 bucks per 100 does (including only bucks 2-years-of-age or greater) to guide quota recommendations. For the horns-shorter-than-ears hunt, the Department is recommending 1,285 tags for the 2019 hunting season, which is a slight decrease from 1,329 approved by the Commission last year.

Statewide buck to doe ratios from surveys last fall averaged 42:100, but excluding yearlings bucks for post-hunt estimates placed the estimated objective ratio closer to 30–35:100. Fawn to doe ratios averaged 30:100 statewide. Antelope are faring favorably, and quotas are recommended conservatively.

Desert bighorn sheep

The Department's 2019 quota recommendations for desert bighorn sheep represent a 2% reduction overall, with 305 ram tags (-7) and 122 ewe tags (-12) from 2018. The Commission approved the Department's recommendation to close 2 ewe seasons at their meeting in January.

California bighorn sheep

The Department's 2019 quota recommendations for California bighorn sheep is 56 ram tags (3 tag reduction) and 5 ewe tags (3 tag increase) over 2018 quotas.

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

The Department's 2019 quota recommendations for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep is for 7 ram tags, 2 more than in 2018.

Mountain goat

No change in tag numbers is recommended for mountain goats for 2019 hunting seasons.

Black bear

The 2019 quota recommendations for black bear have remained unchanged since 2017 at 45 resident and 5 nonresident tags. The Department recommends a total harvest limit of 20 bears with the same harvest limits of 2018: combined total of 6 bears from Units 192, 194, 195 and 196 and also a combined total of 6 bears from Units 201, 202, 204 and 206. The total harvest limit recommendation also includes a combined total of 8 bears from Units 291 and 203. The Department recommends female harvest limits the same as in 2018; 3 females combined from Units 192, 194, 195 and 196 with 2 combined from Units 201, 202, 204 and 206, and 3 combined from Units 291 and 203.

The Department estimates the statewide bear population at 600–700 animals (above 18 months of age). The population in Units 192, 194, 195, 196 and 291 combined was calculated once again using population estimation procedures in Program MARK. Currently, the population is estimated at 431 (±33; 95% confidence interval) and λ (finite rate of growth) has slowed to 1.03. According to this analysis, the population of bears in Nevada has remained static since the model was last run in 2014. The Nevada population is contiguous and integral with the bear population in California, which now estimates their hunted black bear population at 35,500.


The Department is recommending 6,594 total elk tags for fall 2019, which is a reduction from the 9,160 approved by the Commission for fall 2018. Quota recommendations are developed to attain 25–35% bull harvest with at least 50 inch main beam length. Quotas are also guided by the Nevada Elk Species Management Plan (1997) and sub-plans corresponding to individual herds. The Department will recommend varying intensities of antlerless elk harvest depending on population status with respect to population objectives identified in the sub-plans. Currently, virtually all modeled elk herds are at or below population objectives resulting in a 34% reduction in quota recommendations for antlerless elk (4,181 total antlerless tags are recommended for fall 2019). Statewide elk calf to cow ratios averaged 40:100, whereas bull to cow ratios modeled at 41:100.

Data collected from hunt questionnaires and age analysis of tooth submissions from hunter harvest indicates a significant relationship between antler or main beam length and age. This strong relationship provides valuable information to the Department about age structure in the harvest without collecting additional teeth from hunter-harvested bulls. A historical dataset of antler length and known age of elk in Nevada indicates most harvested bulls aged 7 or older will have a main beam of 50 inches or greater. Over the last 10 years, the statewide proportion of harvested bulls having a main beam of 50 inches or greater has ranged from 25–35%. For fall 2019, bull elk quotas are recommended at 2,133 tags, a reduction of 285 tags from last year. Spike tags are also recommended to be reduced from 384 in 2018 to 280 in 2019.

Mule deer

The Department is recommending 16,515 total deer tags statewide for the 2019 hunting season. This represents a decrease of 551 tags compared to mule deer quotas approved by the Commission for the 2018 hunting season. The Department uses a statewide management objective of 30 bucks per 100 does to help guide quota recommendations for mule deer in standard hunt units throughout the state, and the statewide estimated ratio is about 33:100 after the hunts last fall. For alternative hunt units that are managed for older-age-class bucks and higher buck to doe ratios, the Department uses a management objective of 30–40 bucks per 100 does to adjust quota recommendations.

Fawn to doe ratios during fall surveys approached 50:100, however, overwinter mortality on fawns seemed greater than normal through the winter. Populations are stable, and buck to doe ratios indicate substantive numbers of bucks are available.

Tags for junior's seasons are recommended to decrease by 100, from 3,233 in 2018 to 3,133 in 2019. Antlered tag quotas are recommended at 12,347 (a reduction of 451 tags from that approved by the Commission in 2018), whereas antlerless quotas are recommended at 1,035 (unchanged from that approved by the Commission in 2018).

Read the full report below

  • Nevada Proposed Big Game Quotas for 2019-2020 can be found here.

For even more information, be sure to check out our 2019 Nevada Application Strategy Articles, Draw Odds, and Filtering 2.0.

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