Silver State tags offer new opportunities

We’ve heard them called by many names, but perhaps the most common monikers are “governor’s tag” and “bid tag.”

They sell at auctions sponsored by conservation organizations such as Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, National Wild Turkey Federation and Safari Club International, but the prices these big-game tags command put the unique hunting opportunity they provide well beyond the reach of average sportsman.

But that’s about to change — sort of.

In Nevada the bid tag’s official name is heritage tag. Money raised through the sale of these tags is used to fund wildlife conservation projects in the state, which makes them worthwhile. But what makes them so valuable? The answer is found in the basic business principle of supply and demand. In 2010, only nine heritage tags were available for five big-game species: two for mule deer, two for pronghorn antelope, two for Rocky Mountain elk, two for desert bighorn sheep and a single for California bighorn sheep.

The unique hunting opportunities the heritage tags offer generate the demand for them. Tag holders may hunt statewide except in those areas specifically designated in the Nevada Administrative Code (504.340) as being closed to hunting. In addition, heritage tag holders get an extended hunting season. For example, the 2010 heritage mule deer season began July 31 and ended Dec. 31.

Now a similar hunting opportunity is available to the average sportsmen at a far lesser price. All you have to do to get that opportunity is draw one of the new Silver State tags through the annual tag application process, with no bidding required. Available this year are one tag each for mule deer, pronghorn antelope and Rocky Mountain elk.

The brainchild of the Eureka County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife, Silver State tags will permit their owners to hunt statewide in those areas where seasons are established for the species specified on the tags. In addition, the extended seasons are similar to those enjoyed by heritage tag holders. In 2011, for example, season dates for the Silver State mule deer hunt are Aug. 6 through Dec. 31. To top things off, Silver State tag holders will be able to hunt the entire season with their choice of legal firearms.

Residents and nonresidents can apply for Silver State tags, even those who are fulfilling the waiting period requirements for the particular species for which they would like to obtain Silver State tags. If you are not in a waiting period, you can apply for the Silver State tag and a regular tag and choose to participate in the Partnership in Wildlife drawing. This gives the average sportsmen a variety of tag opportunities. And if this isn’t enough to get you thinking, the Silver State tag will not affect your bonus points, nor will those points be considered in the draw.

As with heritage tags, state law requires that money generated by the Silver State tag draw be placed in the Wildlife Heritage Trust account for use in projects to benefit Nevada’s wildlife. The big-game tag application process gets under way Friday with a submission deadline of April 18. Applications can be submitted online at www.huntnevada.com.

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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