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May 2024
Author: Stanton Upson

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the anti-hunting community is trying to take away our rights as hunters, residents and state agencies are having a hard time allowing non-residents opportunities to hunt. State game agencies are taking away opportunities for a few who provide for many.

Currently in Wyoming, if all goes as planned, there mathematically will not be an option for a non-resident who is not in the preference pass to draw a random sheep or moose license. In 2023, Wyoming switched to a 90% resident, 10% non-resident split for moose and sheep. Furthermore, 75% of the permits will be issued to those with the most preference points, and the other 25% will be allocated randomly. Simply put, there will need to be 40 permits issued for a given unit to allow a single non-resident permit to be issued randomly in the draw. Under current permit proposals, our famed unit 5 for sheep, as well as units 25 and 26 for moose, will no longer have enough permits to allow for a random. Area 5 has three non-resident permits, down from four. Area 25, type 1 has three non-resident permits, down from five, and area 26, type 1 has three non-resident permits, down from five.

On top of that, changes to the Super Tag license will furthermore send it into a tailspin. If a non-resident applicant wins a Super Tag license raffle for a bighorn sheep or moose, the applicant will be required to purchase the Super Tag license by March 15th, so that license may be counted against the non-resident quota for both species specific licenses and the trifecta license raffle tags. Hopefully, for our sake, voices will be heard or at the very least Wyoming will realize all the non-resident funding they are missing out on and increase the permits to have at least one random chance.

It’s not just Wyoming as we are still getting hammered on all fronts from the anti-hunting community. Look at what just happened in California if you think predators don’t need to be kept in check.

A young man lost his life to a mountain lion while his brother is fighting for his life. They already outlawed mountain lions in California and continue to come after California’s bears, Arizona’s mountain lions, and as of late, they are successfully taking away opportunities to hunt in Washington, heading towards their ultimate goal of diminishing hunting completely.

Unfortunately, it’s not just anti-hunters trying to rob us. This topic is fairly controversial, and I can see both sides, to a point. Arizona is currently wanting to remove their auction permits, claiming they want to find other ways to get people involved and not cater to those who spend a lot of money. The hardest part for me is that Arizona’s program for auction permits is set up great. The way statute is written, organizations with species specific intentions will receive permits over other random 501c3’s. An easy example is that Arizona Elk Society will have preference over the Mule Deer Foundation for an elk permit. In my opinion, even though I’m sure operating expenses are being paid with the $501,000 raised this year for the elk permit, a lot of it is headed back into conservation improvements that ultimately help all outdoor recreators in the long run. Where on the other hand, these other options they are looking into are ones like the “money grab” hunts that you can apply for throughout the year, or big game hero options that at the end of the day turn into popularity contests or become a political venture with bought votes for the winner, but where is all that money going? Conservation or the Department?

It may seem like I’m picking on Arizona and Wyoming, but my encouragement is for you to get involved in your local Fish and Game decision making as well as other states that have publicly submitted comments, like Utah, Arizona, Colorado, etc. Even if it doesn’t affect you, it does. Just because you’re not bidding on an auction tag or you don’t hunt chukars, the decisions made now will affect all of us in the long run. Even if you don’t hunt in California, you should have a vested interest in what the anti-hunting community is pushing. There is something you hold near and dear to you that might be next. If you are a chucker hunter or a slam chaser, all hunters and outdoor enthusiasts need to stick together and be the loud majority that is heard over the current loud minority.