While many are still adjusting to the new temporary normal, important parts of an outdoor life continue as they always have, or at least as they have for decades. And those things can give us something to hang on to as we look forward and encourage those around us.
One of those is Nevada’s annual big-game tag draw. That’s the process through which tags for hunting big-game animals are awarded. Those tags are limited, so they are distributed through a drawing. Those hoping to hunt come the fall must submit an application and then wait to see if they are one of the lucky ones who drew or were awarded a tag.
For those who look forward to participating in that tradition each spring, the draw is something that can help them move forward in a positive way. And that little bit of normalcy may be just what some people need today, tomorrow or the next.
As it has for as long as I can remember, the 2020 application process opened for business in mid-March. The 16th day of March to be exact. But rather than having the traditional mid-April application deadline, this year you and your hunting buddies have until May 4 to throw your names in the hat. So, that time you thought you may have lost while searching for a package of toilet paper hasn’t really been lost. It has just been shifted to the back end of the application time frame.
Extra time to research
That extended deadline means you still have time to do your research or get together with those you normally hunt with and discuss your tag application options. True, “getting together” in the traditional sense doesn’t fit in with the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there are options available that make getting together a digital reality.
First, there is your cell phone. Whether we care to admit it, most of us are hooked on cell phone technology today. These minicomputers allow callers to connect with at least a small handful of people at one time. So, if your group members have enough patience with each other, you can discuss your plans over the cell ways.
Second, there are multiple video chat programs available that will allow you to look your friends in the eye while discussing your plans and still maintain social distancing. Among them are Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype,and FaceTime. This is by no means a complete list, and I am by no means an expert. But these and other similar programs are available in both free and paid versions. Paid subscriptions usually come with more chat time and other features.
Some members of your group may need a little technological assistance with these programs. But it may be worth the investment if you want to spend quality hunt planning time with your friends and loved ones.
Boots on the ground
Lastly, putting boots on the ground may be out of the question for most of us. But you can still get a look at the terrain by using mapping software like Google Earth and the onX Hunt App.
Viewing the terrain in a possible hunt area through a digital interface will never be the same as seeing it live, but it sure won’t hurt either. In the end, a little digital creativity can go a long way.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at email@example.com.