Since the mid-1970's, when Nevada went to an all-draw system for both resident and non-resident deer tags, the quality (and in some areas, the quantity) of mule deer harvested has improved markedly. The downside of that positive development is the difficulty non-residents now have being drawn. Overall, only about 20 percent of the non-residents who apply receive a tag. There is a way to beat those odds, however, and I told you about it in a report last July (see July 1998 issue, pages 2-4) that focused on the Ruby Mountain area of Nevada. To review, the program that increases your odds of being drawn requires that you have a hunting budget big enough to pay an increased tag fee and book a guided hunt.
To participate in this program, hunters must enter (by early March of each year, with notification in April) the "Restricted Non-Resident Guided Drawing". Up to 16 percent, or 400 tags whichever is greater (based on the previous years statewide non-resident tag quota), are issued in this fashion. Each outfitter can be allotted up to 30 of these special tags. The guide you contract with must co-sign the application. If you are successful in drawing a guide tag, the fee is $300 plus $111 for a non-resident hunting license. This is in contrast to $150 for the "regular non-resident" (guided or unguided) tag plus $111 for the license. The payoff is in the odds of getting drawn, which jumps from the aforementioned 20 percent to anywhere from 30 to 90 percent. Last year about 1,400 non-residents applied for the 400 tags. The odds of drawing are dependent on how many tags are available in a particular area and how the outfitter handles co-signing. Some outfitters in areas with relatively high non-resident quotas limit the number of tags they co-sign, thereby increasing the odds of their clients being drawn. Other outfitters, especially those in areas with relatively low quotas, co-sign for anyone expressing an interest in a guided hunt. Obviously, it is important to discuss this with any outfitter you approach in Nevada. Importantly, applying for a guide tag does not........(continued)