Big-game tag draw becomes ritual

In case you missed it, results of Nevada’s big-game tag draw are available at HuntNevada.com. They were posted May 27, less than 48 hours after the draw was completed and with no official fanfare. I suppose the tag celebration, like Christmas and birthdays, is best shared with friends and family.

It is fun to watch what some people do when they know the draw results have been posted. Most make a mad dash for their computer or smart phone in a desperate attempt to learn the results before some unforeseen twist of fate has the chance to somehow alter the results. Others fire up cell phones and talk to family members in almost frantic tones.

Still others refuse to check on the draw until they complete some ritual that has evolved over time, such as gathering members of a hunting party together in one place before going online. One of my friends refused to check on the draw results until he was in the company of his better half. And, of course, there are those who enjoy disrupting such rituals, especially when we know there are no tags heading our way.

“How much vacation time do you have Tom?” I asked. He looked up from his computer with a quizzical look and replied, “Quite a bit actually — why do you ask?”

“I was just wondering. Wondering if you had enough time to hunt if you were to draw a tag? By the way, have you checked the Internet yet?” I asked while knowing full well that Tom had been successful in the draw.

That was enough to jump-start Tom’s curiosity. He knew that I knew. He wanted me to tell him, but he also wanted to wait.

I pressed a little harder. “Tom, I think you’re going to need a lot of vacation time.” I could see the anxiety building on his face. He desperately wanted to know and started to waiver in his resolve. Tom was going to break, going to ask me what he drew. The satisfaction would be mine. Then, suddenly, Tom grabbed his personal effects and ran out the back door.

I followed him outside, but he wouldn’t hear me and jumped into his truck and headed for home. Thinking Tom had defeated my attempt to disrupt his Nevada big-game tag draw notification ritual, I headed back inside and rounded up my belongings. But the next morning, I learned that Red, another friend, called Tom while he was still on his way home. Before Tom could hang up, Red told him what he had drawn; the ritual was disrupted after all.

Nothing changed. I still don’t have a tag coming, but at least there was some sense of satisfaction. At least as long as you don’t figure in the bull elk tag drawn by Tom’s better half.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.

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