Nevada is an amazing state. Though we are biased since we live here, it really does offer a lot. We have 48 million acres of public land that allows optimal (and free) access to hunters. We have miles and miles of high-elevation mountains and valleys, swaths of high and low desert plains, and plenty of lakes and rivers. The sheer amount of public BLM land and the perfect environment for elk to thrive in make Nevada an outdoorsman’s dream.
But don’t kid yourself. You won’t be able to just walk out onto BLM land, run into a massive bull elk, take it down, and call it a day. No, filling an elk tag takes time, luck, super hard work, and did we mention luck?
Nevada Elk Tags
Everyone who hunts Nevada, resident or not, needs to buy a hunting license and be at least 12 years old. Once you buy the appropriate license, you can select the type of hunt and area you want to try to go for. This means you need to do your research beforehand to decide what unit you want to explore, what type of weapon you will use, and what time of season you want to hunt.
The next step is to apply for a tag. Nevada draws tags on a lottery basis, however, you get a bonus point each time you enter the draw and don’t win a tag. Therefore, your odds increase every year you try!
You can apply for an antlered or antlerless tag during the same draw period, which means you double your chances of drawing at least one elk tag. You can also apply for a spiked elk (antlered elk with less than two points above each ear on each antler) tag but you will only receive one tag if you are chosen in both categories. You are also able to apply for different elk tags such as the depredation hunt which is meant to control the elk population in certain units, or the combination antlered deer and elk tag, but you must pay a fee for each application.
Applying for multiple tags can get pricey and certain tags have lower draw odds, so choose wisely! Also, note that you’re only allowed a single antlerless tag if you are drawn for multiple tags and if you apply for a bull elk tag and get drawn, you must wait another seven years before applying again.
Deciding what application to go for is a game of strategy!
The application period for the main big game draw opens in March every year with a deadline in April. The second draw opens in early June with an application deadline in late June. The initial draw results for the main draw are announced in late May and then again in July for the second draw, respectively.
Any remaining tags will be available to eligible resident and non-resident hunters through a first-come, first-served application process. These applications open after the rest of the draws are complete and will stay open until the seventh weekday before the last day of the hunting season for the tag, according to Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW).
Certain landowners in Nevada are given tags and have the option to sell them, which can also be a way of getting a coveted tag, albeit, a pricey way. Landowners know the value of an elk tag and don’t take it lightly.
If you draw a tag for each (lucky you!), you can try for one antlered elk or a spiked elk and one antlerless tag as your limit. That is obviously the best-case scenario… getting two elk in a season is like winning the lottery. But if you’ve already drawn two elk tags, then you technically have already won; might as well try your hand to bring down two elk!
NDOW has a special phone line for anyone who needs help or direction with the licensing system: 1-855-542-6369. Plus, the Department holds application seminars in Las Vegas and Reno in March every year which are great resources.
Nevada Elk Hunting Seasons
Elk hunting season for the state of Nevada generally takes place in the fall from August to January depending on a lot of different factors. Each hunting unit has its own dates and can be found each year in The Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Regulations. Residents hunt earlier than non-residents from August to November, with a late season that runs from December to early January. Hunting season for non-residents typically starts in October and also ends in early January.
Furthermore, elk hunting seasons are different depending on if you’re hunting antlered, non-antlered, spiked elk, or on a depredation hunt, and what weapon you are using. For instance, archery season takes place primarily in August while the muzzleloader hunting season is typically in September.
Hunters are allowed to hunt elk with a bow, crossbow, muzzleloading rifles, and centerfire firearms (rifles and handguns) in Nevada.
Specific dates obviously depend on the year and the quota the Nevada Department of Wildlife sets according to elk population surveys from the previous year.
Check out big game hunting seasons, info on applications, and more for 2019/2020 here.
Nevada Elk Hunting
There’s nothing like elk hunting. Waking up to a crisp fall day to the sound of bugling is something that every outdoorsman should experience. Peering through your binoculars or scope at a big bull with a 350-point rack resting on a patch of snow or trotting through the desert sand will get anyone’s heart pumping. Depending on the time of year you decide to hunt, and which tag you draw, you may be chasing young, wild elk during the rut or tracking solitary bulls for miles. Whatever your choice of quarry, you will need to prepare, big-time.
Hunting Public Land
If you are hunting public land, be prepared to do a ton of research. That means checking out online resources including blogs and forums. But remember that everyone has access to info published on the internet. Be prepared for some competition if you go to a popular spot.
You should also consider spending some time in your hunt unit before the season opens. This gives you the opportunity to talk to locals about surrounding herds; that is if they share their secrets with you. Hunting is a competitive sport and local Battle Born pride is a real thing. Be respectful, and they should be too. After all, we own public land together.
You should get to know your hunt unit like the back of your hand. Where are the best water sources? Are there areas with high brush cover that would make good bedding? Where is the herd traveling to graze? Anticipating where elk may be when hunting season opens is half, well, maybe a quarter of the battle. Setting up trail cameras in your unit can help you prepare by watching where the elk travel.
Hunting with an Outfitter
Another option is to go with a local hunting outfitter. Outfitters have experience and success on their side and could mean the difference between you fulfilling a tag or not. If you don’t have months to prepare for your hunt, using an outfitter is probably a better way to go. They’ll know the area and can even glass and scout for you if you have limited time and are coming from out of state.
Some outfitters also have access to landowner tags which can help if you didn’t get drawn. While this can be an expensive route, it is a good option to guarantee an elk hunt in Nevada. Finally, the benefits of using an outfitter is that they will likely include tents, meals, and help with field dressing if you are successful. If you are a non-resident elk hunter with a tag, this may be a better option, especially if you aren’t coming from nearby (driveable) states.
Whichever route you choose, either solo, with friends, or through an outfitter, be prepared to do a lot of tracking, glassing, and stalking. And then doing it again. And again for as long as your trip allows. It takes time to pick the right elk to chase!
Nevada is home to a good number of trophy elk which is why the tags are so coveted. But once you get a tag, and are successful, there is nothing quite like bringing one down. Hunting the West is a special experience. Now all you need to do is draw a tag and get your boots on the ground! Good luck!
Hunting for Meat
Another benefit to a successful elk hunt is the meat! Elk is some of the best wild game to eat; it is not as gamey as some other animals and can be cooked much the same way as beef. This is a personal favorite of ours and there is nothing as satisfying as pulling out a big roast from your freezer and feeding the family!
Here at Prime Revolution, we love hunting our state and love sharing it with outdoorsmen everywhere. We are proud of our surroundings and the trophy elk our land fosters. What elk wouldn’t feel at home in our golden, snow-capped hills, high and low-lying deserts, with abundant food and water sources?