Nevada unveils big changes for 2017 elk season

Velvet bull elk
Photo credit: Getty Images

Listen up, Nevada elk hunters: the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners (NBWC) announced the changes for the 2017-18 elk season during its February meeting, ignoring the recommendations of the Elko County Wildlife Advisory Board (ECWAB) for areas east and west of U.S. Highway 93. And Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) game biologists say that the new big game hunting seasons will most likely cause some confusion and anger for hunters this season.

According to the Elko Daily Free Press, the areas affected include Units 072, 073, 074 and 075, which will be on a different schedule for the upcoming elk season than Units 076, 077, 079 and 081. In fact, NDOW game biologist Kari Huebner admits that the changes are incredibly complex and “the seasons that are west of (U.S. Highway) 93 are treated one way and the seasons east of 93 are treated another way.”

Increased chance to hunt velvet bulls and more competition in 2017

The chance to hunt a 350" bull in velvet is really rare and this could drastically alter the hunt methods and draw odds for 072 to 075 as well as 061, 062, 064, 066, 067, 068, 071. A resident has a 43% chance to draw the archery tag at 4 points and nonresidents only have a 0.92% chance at 4 points. Residents who want to capitalize on this chance could be excited about the extrememly early archery hunt.

“They changed the Area 7 recommendations for hunting seasons on the commission level and it is a mess from what I can tell,” ECWAB Chairman Bert Gurr told the Elko Daily Free Press.

While the NBWC makes a point to gather information from the county advisory boards – for this issue, they received comments from 17 of them – ultimately it is up to the nine people who were appointed to the board by the governor to make the final decision on annual wildlife regulations. According to the Elko Daily Free Press, here are some of the details on the approved changes:

  • Units 072, 073, 074, 075 — cow elk archery season — Aug. 1-15; bull elk archery season — Aug. 16-31; cow and bull elk muzzleloader — Sept. 1-16; cow and spike rifle early hunt — Sept. 17 to Oct. 4;
  • Units 072, 073, 074, 075, 076, 077 and 079, archery antlerless management will overlap some of these because it runs from Aug. 10 to Sept. 9; muzzleloader antlerless management — Sept. 10 through Oct. 4; and rifle antlerless management — Oct. 5 through Nov. 5.
  • Unit 072 — the cow elk wilderness hunt — Oct. 1-20 and “that means it’s going to be on top of a rifle antlerless management hunt and a spike hunt concurrent from Oct. 5 to Oct. 20,” Huebner said. “We originally had that wilderness hunt being concurrent with the regular early season,” she said. “The whole idea of that wilderness hunt is pressure outside the wilderness and pressure inside the wilderness, and so unfortunately you’re going to have all this pressure outside.”
  • Units 076, 077, 079 and 081, the cow elk archery — Aug. 1-15
  • Unit 081 — there is a nine-day gap from the cow elk archery until the bull elk archery — Aug. 25 until Sept. 16.
  • Units 061, 062, 064, 066, 067, 068, 071 — Aug. 16 to Aug. 31 season dates.
  • Unit 081 a rifle cow elk hunt overlaps the bull elk season from Sept. 1-16. “This is one of the more problematic ones. I think they forgot to change the 081 depredation seasons.” says Huebner, who adds that the season changes put more hunters out at the same time due to the season overlap. More hunters in the field is going to make hunters upset who have waited a long time to draw these tags.
  • The bull rifle seasons are the same as last year – Nov. 6 to Dec. 4. Another area she called “problematic” was the cow late season from Nov. 21 to Jan. 31, 2018. The bull rifle season will overlap with the late cow season for two weeks. The late spike hunt only runs — Dec. 5 to 15.

Huebner said she is worried that there may be too many people out hunting at the same time.

While the seasons are set for 2017-18, Heubner says that NDOW plans to recommend the seasons be re-evaluated next year because of the issues that are already clear in the current regulations for the upcoming season. She says that most hunters will be surprised at the changes and elk season overlap when they sign up for tags this year.

“They’re not going to realize this until they’re out there hunting and then they’re going to be pissed,” says Heubner.





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