It’s Time to Plan for the Hunting Season

by Dan Simmons

 Our recent experiences with Covid have caused many disruptions in public events and travel. Outdoor Conventions and banquets are no exception, but the conventions and banquets are back and scheduled for 2022. I look forward to visiting with old friends and making new ones this year.

As the COVID season is waning and we’re all ready to get back to normal let’s look forward to a new season of outdoor activity. For hunters it’s tag application time and getting ourselves and our gear in shape.

The time to apply for those coveted Nevada big game tags is approaching. The application period begins March 23rd.

The first step is to go online ( or pick up a copy of the Big Game Application book at your nearest sporting goods store. This will give you area maps and quotas for each unit.

There are also helpful sections on this website with suggested areas of greater game concentrations and hunter results from previous years.

Once you have an idea of regions with positive results and are familiar with the possible hunting units, talk with friends and fellow hunters. You may be impressed at their willingness to share information from previous hunts. If they have been successful in the past few years they may be out of the game for a particular species, as there may be a waiting period before they can apply again.

Other positive references are the local and regional hunting and conservation organizations such as Safari Club International, the Fraternity of the Desert Bighorns, Nevada Sportsmen Unlimited or Wildlife Habitat in Nevada (WHIN). All of these groups will have a great many like minded individuals anxious to help a fellow hunter.

If you’ve applied in previous years in a positive area, but were unsuccessful with the draw, check recent harvest statistics on the Hunt Nevada website and apply again. Remember, even if you are not successful with the draw you accumulate points that will give you a greater chance next year.

I always use my first choice in an area where I know the terrain, habitat and species habits. Big game is not evenly distributed throughout an area; they are in pockets. The key is to know the location of these pockets and that takes extensive scouting.

If you’re hunting in a new area or don’t have time to do extensive scouting hire a guide. You’ll need to research your guide from the same organizations mentioned above and then your guide will recommend positive areas to apply for your tags. Remember he wants you to be successful too, as his reputation is based on your success.

Another factor to consider when thinking of a guide is the value of his local knowledge as opposed to your expense of scouting time, transportation, fuel, lodging and equipment. We’ve all incurred these and I for one have returned unsuccessful more than once. I’m sure some of you have had the same experience. Can hiring a guide save you money and increase your success rate? For me the answer is yes.

On a recent elk hunt in the Pioche area I called an old friend who guides in this area. He keeps pretty busy during the hunting season, but had a short opening and thought he could help me find what I was looking for – and he did.

I supplied my own camp and food, and met him at a local campground.

Let’s call him “Pine Nuts”, a name he acquired on this hunt due to my lagging a bit behind on our hikes in high country. (No I’m not 30 anymore and have slowed down a bit as my hair has changed color).

He was, however, patient and helpful. As he occasionally waited for me to get my breath or catch up he occupied himself with collecting and sharing pine nuts along the trail. He always seemed to be consuming them from his deep coat pockets or from the ground, thus the name “Pine Nuts”.

We traveled and scouted places I could have never gone. His trail craft was excellent, as is mine after spending many years hunting the far north as a game warden and guide. After a couple of days seeing many elk, but not the one we were looking for, we moved to another secret location. “Pine Nuts” had been there many times before and felt good about the day’s possibilities. He described how we could drive to a secluded area, hike up a long ravine to timberline, belly-crawl through brush and cactus to some downed timber and have a chance to be in range of our animal.

We’ve all had that intuition when hunting in familiar territory; sometimes we’re right and other times we have to wait until the next day.

We didn’t have to wait this time, however, it happened just as “Pine Nuts” had predicted and we concluded another successful hunt.

So now it’s the start of another season; I’ve done my research, made my calls and will apply for my favorite species and areas and then wait for the postman to deliver the news. Then I’ll call “Pine Nuts” who is also known as Mark Holt, and Master Guide at Skull Valley Outfitters (775)726-3440

It’s also time to get your gear cleaned and organized. Are those boots ready for another season? Have those hunting shirts, jackets or pants ‘shrunk” a size? How about repairs and cleaning the tent and other gear? Now’s the time, a neglected small hole or tear in a tent screen will be an irresistible invitation to a horde of mosquitoes or black flies.

It’s time to sight in that rifle, too, and you may even be able to justify a new one (more research). Sharpening those marksmanship skills shouldn’t be left until the week before the hunt. It’s far better to shoot a few rounds at the range each month than a few boxes at the range to “find the target” just before the hunt.

Don’t forget the vehicle and RV if you’re going to use them. A breakdown on the other side of nowhere can make for a bad day and a carelessly drained RV tank or waterline can make a lousy tasting beverage mixed with last year’s antifreeze residue.

Did I forget to mention exercise? Ouch.

Not getting in shape before the trip has been the most common reason for unsuccessful trips. This is best done carrying your pack and rifle. This could be at the gym, but they usually discourage the pack and rifle on the elliptical or stair stepper. Try getting into the field and working those legs, back and lungs; you may even get to liking the outdoors and hiking scene.

Now all you need is being successful drawing a tag. Good luck on that. I’ve found it prudent to have a couple of backup plans just in case. Make plans for your second choice or a depredation tag.

Neighboring states often have over the counter tags. Don’t give up; finding the tag has become part of the modern hunt.

And finally, enjoy the process, it’s part of the adventure. Good luck, safe hunting and don’t forget there’s also some great fishing now and it’s time for the adventure to begin. More on that next time.
Upcoming events

WHIN is having their 2022 Banquet in Las Vegas March 12th. Call 702 496-5135 for tickets or information.

If you have a story or comment about this or other articles, please contact me at

Spicy Elk Roast

Elk is considered by many as the finest game meat and served at many of the finest restaurants and in fine hunting lodges. I acquired this recipe while visiting a famous hunting lodge in Germany.
I look forward to preparing this again in my own kitchen. It’s simple to make and your guests will enjoy whether use elk from your recent hunt or substitute beef.


  • 2-lb Red Stag roast
  • 5 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 lb mini-carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 14-oz can beef broth
  • 1 cup Burgundy wine


  • Place meat, potatoes, carrots, and onions in a suitable roasting pan.
  • Mix broth, wine, garlic, juniper berries and dry spices together and pour over meat and vegetables.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to two hours. Serve with fresh bread and a green salad.