Among Nevada’s overlooked treasures are the open spaces that often stretch from one horizon to the other, most of which still belongs to the American people. To the casual observer, Nevada might seem like little more than a desert wasteland. But to those who take the time to experience her backcountry, it’s much more.
During a recent hunting trip, while looking out over the central Nevada landscape, a friend told me how much he loved the country that stretched before us.
He talked about its vastness and the smell of sagebrush. He spoke about the buckbrush, junipers and pinyon pine trees that cover its mountain slopes and valley floors, and of mahogany-covered ridges where bucks and bulls seek cover in the fall. He recalled outdoor experiences with family and friends. We wondered together about miners who came to Nevada’s arid landscape and why they chose a particular spot high on a steep mountainside to sink a shaft with only a pick and shovel.
My friend’s family began making its annual hunting pilgrimage to central Nevada years before big-game tags were distributed through the drawing process. There it found a valley that became its annual home away from home, a home my friend shared with his children and continues to seek out each fall.
Given his love for Nevada’s wildlands and the valley, there is no doubt my friend’s grandchildren will soon put their footprints on the land, too. There my friend will teach them about the land and its resources, how to use them wisely to ensure they are there for future generations, and to respect other folks who enjoy the outdoors. That is the way it should be.
Unfortunately, some people sometimes do things that make a public land visit less than it could be for our fellow outdoor enthusiasts.
During the past two years, for example, I have talked with hunters who shared similar stories of what one might describe as outdoor rudeness. These hunters reported incidents in which people had used homemade signage and even vehicles to block roads that provide the only access point to large amounts of public land.
A hunter once found copies of the same sign placed on several access roads. The signs read something like this. “Hunter on a stand up ahead. Please show respect.” This was followed by dates representing a rather lengthy time table. One such request I can understand, so long as the hunter is in the stand that day. Otherwise, the sign should come down so others feel free to hunt their public lands.
While doing some preseason scouting a few weeks ago, my friends and I found an access road that leads into a wilderness area where we planned to hunt when the season opened. We fully expected to have the company of other camps, but were surprised to find the road completely blocked by a single camp when we arrived. Just inside the gate leading from the highway, someone had parked his motorhome on one side of the access road and placed a pickup truck on the other. In between were their tables and chairs, right on the road.
Behind the camp was enough country to provide opportunity for several hunters, and there was room enough nearby for more than one camp. I suppose we could have made an issue of the situation, but instead we moved to our second option. In the end, we still hunted where we had planned, but the impromptu roadblock did add extra mileage to our cross-country foot commute.
We were lucky, in a way, but generally such roadblocks unfairly limit the opportunity of fellow hunters. In the end, it’s all about showing respect for one another. True, another outdoor enthusiast might bugger up our stalk, but that comes with the territory on public land. Perhaps we should simply take the time to be aware of those around us and give one another a little space.
There is plenty of open space to go around.
The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners will meet at 10:30 a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday in Carson City. The meeting can be joined in Las Vegas by video conference at the Grant Sawyer Building, 555 E. Washington Ave., Suite 5100.
UTAH TURKEY PERMITS
The application period for Utah’s limited-entry turkey permit begins Nov. 30, with the deadline Dec. 27. For details, visit wildlife.utah.gov/utah-upland-game-and-turkey-guidebook.
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.