Jake's Outdoors » Blog Archive » Hunting Success, or Failure?

Hunting Success, or Failure?

February 11th, 2009

OK, here is an issue that I am kind of torn on.  In some ways, it is obviously good, but in other ways, I am afraid that it sends the wrong message, and sets a unwise precedent.  In Utah, the state held an auction for statewide tags for several different species.  The one that drew the most attention was a Mule Deer tag, which would make it possible for the winner to hunt in a unit that is very restricted, and yet known for huge deer.  The winning bidder, Robert Kay, paid a whopping $205,000 for the tag.  Tags specific to the Henry Mountains sold for $90,000 and $87,000 respectively.  There were several other tags that were also sold, including Mountain Big Horn Sheep, and Moose.  Both went for an exorbitant amount of money!  To see more info, check out this article in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Here is what I see as the two sides of the issue.  First, the good side.  This money will be put to good use, invested in the wildlife of Utah.  This is indicative of how concerned (at leas I like to think so) hunters are for the wildlife that they hunt.  Consider what Mr. Kay had to say about purchasing his tag:

“I bid only because the mule deer need help and that is exactly what this permit does,” said Kay, 54, a lifelong Utah resident. “I hunt every year, but I haven’t shot a deer in five years. I love to see the animals; the record books don’t mean anything to me.”

Mr. Kay obviously wanted to give his money to help the mule deer population.  There are certainly not any anti-hunters lining up to donate over $200,000 of their own money to help the mule deer.  I am sure that the money will be put to good use for the state, and I hope that the state will make wise choices for the use of the money.  They have in fact raised some $17 million over the last 10 years, 90% of which has gone straight back into the wildlife program.   So, all of this points to this being a good program, raising a lot of money for conservation.

Now, the bad.  It seems to me that this type of practice is taking us down a path that we really don’t want to go down.  Hunting is becoming a sport of the rich world wide.  You have to be wealthy to hunt in many of the great places around the world.  That idea seems to be spreading through the US as well–primarily in western states.  Land for hunting is harder to find, and tags are becoming more expensive.  Many states already have implemented lottery systems where you have to hope that you get a tag.  Even “over the counter” tags are going up in price.  I know that our tags here in WV have doubled over the last 3 years.  Before long, it will be a sport of the rich right here in the USA.  It is no wonder that many young people are not choosing the hunting lifestyle–they can’t afford to get involved!  By the way, if our new president has his way, this will only get worse, as the price of guns, and ammunition will skyrocket.

If it catches on that the extremely rich will pay these huge prices for tags, then those of  us who simply do not have the funds will be “iced out” of the prime hunting locations.  Private ranches have already closed their borders, and charge a huge amount for the right to hunt on their land.  Combine these two elements, and most of us won’t be able to hunt.  So, from that standpoint, it bothers me that these tags are being auctioned at such high prices.

So, what do you think?  Is this a good idea, or will it cause greater problems for those of us who are “normal hunters” down the road?

3 Responses to “Hunting Success, or Failure?”

  1. you bring up some points that are thought provoking…it is sobering to think that Hunting could become only a rich mans pursuit… here in Idaho there are still many oppotunities for the ordinary person, but a few prime trophy elk and deer locations have been turned into a draw only tag… and the odds are pretty low for drawing those tags.Enjoyed looking around your site!

  2. While I definitely agree that there’s a trend toward our sport becoming a playground for the wealthy, I don’t think the “Governor’s tags” are going to be the culprit. Those will remain a small portion of the overall tags sold.

    In my own opinion, those tags are a valuable fund raiser for the states. That money goes a long ways, as long as it’s properly used.

    I think affordable public hunting opportunities face much larger issues from the loss of public hunting land and the commodification of wildlife. As more and more landowners find how profitable it can be to sell access to the wildlife on their land, the price of hunting will continue to rise. This isn’t an indictment of landowners, by the way. They have to make money in this world too, and farming isn’t gonna do it for them.

    Kind of a catch 22, right? How do we resolve it? I’m still working on that one, but I’m open to suggestions.

  3. Phillip, I agree with what you have said. I don’t think these auction tags, in and of themselves is the big problem. I am more concerned about the trend it may reflect. You are absolutely right that the bigger problem is the loss of good public hunting land. It may turn out that only those wealthy enough to buy their own land will have a good place to hunt…

    I’m open to those suggestions too. If you find the solutions, be sure to let us know!

Add a comment on "Hunting Success, or Failure?"