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It’s all about preparation when hunters get picked for tag

Though it is hard for some people to understand, failing to draw a tag in Nevada’s big-game tag draw can be quite disappointing for an avid outdoor enthusiast. It can leave them feeling rather empty and even mournful. Not simply because the hunter didn’t receive a piece of paper with his name on it, but because the hunter won’t have the opportunity that comes with it.

True, receiving a tag gives a hunter the chance to pursue one of the state’s big-game animals, but the hunting experience is much more than that. From the moment a hunter knows he has drawn a tag, the season of preparation begins. This season, in many ways, is just as important as the hunt itself. For some, maybe more so.

During the season of preparation, a hunter makes plans for the hunt that might be months away. Some aspects might be done on his own, but if he is really lucky, he will have good friends who join in the process.

There are trips to the range to sight-in and practice with the rifle or bow he intends to hunt with, and hours of looking through his favorite outdoor catalog and creating a wish list of items to purchase. Then again, maybe he just wishes. And if the hunter is like my nephews, he’ll spend time studying maps of the area he intends to hunt, talking to people who know that area and scouting in the field.

Of course, daydreaming about the hunt is part of the preparation process, too. During these daydreams, one envisions how the hunt might play out, and they can be vivid enough to make any self-help guru proud.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough game to provide every hunter with a tag every year, so some might find themselves missing those hunting daydreams now that results of the 2016 tag draw are available online (huntnevada.com). That also means there are some hunters who may be a little down at the moment, but there are chances remaining for them to share in the hunting experience.

After the first draw, there were 375 big-game tags left on the table. Of those, 84 are junior tags, 110 are archery deer tags, 157 are doe tags and 24 are archery tags for cow elk. While that is not a large number of tags, they still represent an opportunity. The second draw application period opens Friday, with a June 27 deadline. Results will be available by July 22.

Then there is the raffle for Dream Tags that will give hunters a shot to win a tag for one of five species — antelope, California bighorn sheep, Nelson (desert) bighorn sheep, mule deer or elk. Open to residents and nonresidents, this hunt is similar to a bid tag hunt but only cheaper. Raffle tickets are $5 and available until June 30 at NVDreamTag.org.

Another chance for participating in the hunting experience can be had by joining a friend on his hunt should he invite you. Naturally, it would be nice if he did.

I once went six years between deer tags, and that was followed by a three-year drought. During that time, I had one of my favorite hunting experiences. It was a 10-day hunt with three friends in Central Nevada. Two of them had tags, and two of us didn’t, but that didn’t seem to matter. We still had the opportunity to share in the hunting experience and to be outside in Nevada’s wild country.

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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