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Outlawed: Big Game GPS Coordinate Sales

It is still unpopular to scout a mature mule deer in a unit you don’t have a tag for and then sell those coordinates to someone who has the tag. Last year this concept was made known to the hunting world on a mule deer hunting focused forum. It didn’t take long for detractors to show up, in a big way!

A bill in the Wyoming House has now been proposed that would make this activity illegal in the Cowboy State. The loophole is that licensed outfitters can still send coordinates to their guides and essentially, their clients.

This bill has also made it illegal to send pictures that identify locations of big game or trophy animals for money. The Wyoming Legislature is closing as many potential loopholes as possible for the rules to be bent on this law.

Personally, I believe these types of bills are going to become necessary as technology improves and the desire to add a little extra income from hobbies grows. Not crossing ethical lines as we move forward is going to be a constant talking point, which really isn’t anything new. However, as technology accelerates so will our conversations about ethics.

Which also begs the question, how long has this been going on under the radar? Did going public with this business venture simply expose something that has been going on for a while? My gut says yes, which means that the dude who may have never killed a mule deer suddenly stumbling on a 220” buck might not have been a coincidence.

What say you, is this proposal a good one? Will this law actually prevent the selling of GPS coordinates?

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  1. I think its great to outlaw this shady activity at it takes some of the “fair” out or fair chase. No one should be able to capitalize on so called locations of big game animals for profit unless you have an outfitters or guide license for the unit your supplying the info for. They can move miles in a day anyway so what does banning the practice have to do with it? Again, fair chase is fair chase. Whats next tranqin’ them and hobbling them to make sure they dont go anywhere and sell the gps coords to some dude in (Name a state).

  2. I thought the record books top entries was basically filled with animals that were scouted by large groups of people looking for the big ones, and calling the hunters that could afford the hunt to come and take the animal while charging a premium because it was a record book animal.
    I personally wouldn’t do this for ethics but also money. As an out-of-state hunter I try to watch what I am spending. However, I doubt this law in the books will thwart anyone from do this if they are so inclined because the people doing it has a different set of ethics than I do.

  3. Kevin Schwinkendorf

    I admit this is a tricky issue. My first impulse is to say, “Hell yes, selling of GPS coordinates to a trophy should be illegal! Why do they call it ‘hunting’ after all?” But then again, technology does move forward. I’m not into “long-range hunting” if that means 1,000-yard “sniper” kills – it’s called “hunting” for a reason. Then again, you could also label use of scope optics as unethical – why not use open, iron sights the way they used to in the 1800s? Going further, you could have told Daniel Boone to put away his Kentucky long rifle, that bows and arrows (not modern archery equipment) are the only “ethical” way to hunt. Well, I like using a Model 70 with a 2.5-7x variable scope, and I don’t feel like I’m using “too much” high-tech. Theodore Roosevelt once refused to shoot a bear that was tied up to a tree – and went on to co-found the Boone & Crockett Club, which advocates for “Fair Chase” hunting. I like technology as much as anyone else, but it seems to me that selling GPS coordinates for money is going too far.

  4. Good that the state of WY is trying to curb unethical behavior, but I imagine extremely tough to enforce. Its sad that the motivation and value of hunting has been reduced to inches of horn.

  5. Totally agree it should be illegal
    Completely unetichical
    Thanks Wyoming trying to get it outlawed

  6. Why are outfitters exempt come on this part is crap nobody should be allowed to do it.

  7. So, it is completely ethical to pay a guide or outfitter a few $thousand for him to take you to the scouted animals, but is somehow unethical to pay someone money for the locations?

  8. The reason outfitters are exempt is because the legislator that introduced it is an outfitter. He is protecting his own interests. This particular legislator has introduced other wildlife management legislation as he apparently believes he knows more the Wyoming Game and Fish about wildlife management.

  9. What they should also outlaw is the non-resident law requiring a guide

  10. At first glance outlawing that practice sounds like a great idea. But after more consideration I’m thinking along the same lines as “Dan” above. What’s the difference between paying for coordinates vs. Daddy Warbucks buying the most expensive tag in the country then hiring a posse of scouts to find him the biggest animal so he can swoop in to make the kill? It seems about the same to me; the major difference being how many people would be affected and how affluent they are. Does anyone have a link to info saying the bill was introduced by a legislator who is also an outfitter? That sounds like his motivation is protecting his financial interests by forcing those who might pay for coordinates to go to an outfitter and buy a guided hunt, which is just another kind of paying for information or access to get an animal.

  11. Well done Wyoming. I think this is a great law. I also think that the protection of the outfitters makes sense. Now I have never hired an outfitter or guide for any hunt and I don’t know if I ever will , but I can see their point. They have to pay a fee to be liscensed, have insurance, have the equipment for the hunt and put up with all sorts of clients ( yes there are bad clients among us) and pay guides out of their fees as well a locate animals . It is their living . Obviously the fellow who went public was trying to make a buisness out of his selling of coordinates and he should at least be required to play on the same field and buy an outfitters liscense to do it

  12. I am against this type of craziness. Glad to see states trying to curb this behavior. But I don’t see much difference between this and hiring Mossback to hire 10 guys to chase one buck or bull around all year. Then have the rich guy fly in and shoot that animal. I would say Mossback and others are most against this because it is cutting into their business.

  13. I think the outfitters should not be exempt from the law. They chose that profession and they can leave it anytime they want. If they are exempt, it still limits us common folk that can’t afford a guide to lead us to the animal. If I had the money for a guide, I would not waste it on one anyway. It is a challenge that I enjoy to get a critter on my own.Great personal satisfaction. It has become a rich mans sport.

  14. For the Record,

    I am 100% against someone selling out coordinates of big bucks.

    I am 100% against guiding on public land too. (Sick and tired of outfitters putting TENT camps right where the elk want to live, causing them to run into the next unit, then making a profit from it)

    I am 100% against the BS rule of guides having full access to MY AND YOUR public land in Wyoming while I am kept out of the “Guides Sanctuary” wilderness areas.

    Its should be 100% on your own and free chase.

    If you dont posses the skills to kill an animal on your own then you dont deserve to shoot it.

    If you want a canned hunt where you get to ride around in a SXS and shoot the animal of your choosing go to a private ranch and pop one.

    You say as hunters we must stick together. I’m on board 100%. But when I say hunters I dont include people who sell coordinates and make a profit by guiding people to animals. Those are businessmen plain and simple.

  15. I feel that outfits and guides shouldn’t be able to do it for their clients either. Their profiting from the same use . I thing it’s trying to be a one sided deal for the outfitters.They have made it hard for the real dedicated hunters by leasing up all this good hunting land from ranchers that apparently can’t make a livening ranching even with the high prices they have received for their calves . Their subsidizing their ranching by leaseing their ranch to outfitters.then turning a loss claim in in the spring for damages deer and elk did to their fences and eating their hay. That bill is too one sided I think. All in favor of outfitters that only big money clients can afford ! These ranchers and outfitters have also lessond the chances for the young Sportsmans to hunt too . I think it all falls back to to much greed .

  16. It does take the fair chase out of hunting. A lot like finding trophy bucks with airplanes and then having your guides pattern them for clients.

  17. When will you ALL wake up! PLEASE wake up!

    The more federal government involvement you have making laws telling someone they can’t give out cooridnants for an animal, yet a loop hole will allow others (Outfitters) to do such a thing. This is absolutely the stupidest potential bill from big brother I have heard of. Guys and Gals listen closely, government is NOT in your favor not is your friend, PERIOD. Government is a BLOB that wastes more time and money than any private sector company would even dream of. KEEP government OUT of this and deal with it like big boys and girls. We all say how ethical we are, for some it’s very true, for others not so much. We need to hunt and fish as much as we can before government screws it ip for good! Believe me when I tell you, government will screw it up, and screw it up for good they will.

    • Nothing unites the masses like someone yelling at them to wake up, then poorly writing their brilliant insights with bad grammar.

  18. I think that it’s no different than paying 5 or 6 people to scout all over to help a hunter get an animal he would probably not find otherwise. They are all doing it for the dollar.

  19. I don’t have all the answers on the ethical questions. I can only answer on what I personally consider acceptable. If it’s legal I won’t argue with anyone on where they draw their own line. If it’s legal I won’t argue against it, if it isn’t legal I will. As a supporter of states rights on most issues I can’t fight to hard against what a state’s legislators agree to. Residents of that state decide who gets voted in to that legislature. Our country was built on the idea of an informed electorate who held politicians accountable. I still hold hope that that system can work especially in more rural states with more common sense among voters.

    I would not personally buy coordinates to a big buck. I don’t like the idea of species that can’t be hunted without a guide, or public land that’s wilderness designated that can’t be hunted without a guide. I also don’t know that I’m right enough on any of those beliefs that I’d fight someone who believed different that was operating under the law. I think Hunters are a minority already and I don’t want to diminish that population by limiting a legal pursuit option. I draw my own line but don’t judge others or compare myself to them. I think competition on the results of a hunt instead of the experience of a hunt is an example of what modern hunting makes tough. I didn’t understand this when I was young, but at 38 I now value the experience of a hunt as much as the result. I will always do everything I can think to do legally and ethically to fill my tag, but I also won’t look at a hunt where I failed to do that as a failure if I learned something. The experience and adventure is an accomplishment in itself. I can learn as much at times from failure as I can from success.

    Anyway, I know for myself what harvest methods I can be proud of taking an animal with, and what methods I couldn’t. I figure that’s a decision everyone makes for themselves. I have no interest in judging others, I just want to be able to look at my own record and recognize my mistakes while taking pride in my accomplishments. That and always look to improve on my skills.

  20. I agree with most of the above well informed statements. The fact that a US citizen is forced to purchase a product “guided hunts” to use federal lands is the same as being forced to purchase the governments health insurance. Which both should be against the commerce clause. I also agree with the fact that hiring an outfitter to pay 10 scouters is ganging up on an animal. And not fair chase. I would go so far as to say 1 hunter paying $100 for scouting info then Hunting that area alone is following fair chase rules much much closer than 12 people hunting one specific animal With a bounty on its head for who ever finds and keeps tabs on it until the “hunter” can be walked to the animal.

  21. “The loophole is that licensed outfitters can still send coordinates to their guides and essentially, their clients”.

    It’s easy to see where the backing for this bill came from. I’m opposed to the idea of making it illegal, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I’m tired of WYOGA getting to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us.

  22. Everyone has their own belief about ethics and hunting. But this is not an issue of ethics. It is an issue of the freedoms we have as Americans. Federal and state governments have long overreached into our lives. This is a legislation specifically designed to limit the opportunities for someone to make a profit.

    All you that are crying about making a profit off our wildlife are hypocritical. This very forum is sponsored by Eastman’s magazine. They have been making money off selling information about big game for years. The trail camera manufacturers have been making money for years from the technology that identify’s wildlife as trophies. All the equipment manufacturers have made money and are still making money from all the gear that finds and kills big game.

    We respect wildlife because they are majestic, beautiful, they live in wild places. We want to hunt them because we want to experience all that is involved with pursuing them. In order to do that people/companies have made huge profits off our demand for better technology to help us.

    Why aren’t you criticizing the optic manufacturers for making it easier to find wildlife. We welcome GPS as a way to make locations of camps, kill sites, fishing holes, all kinds of waypoints. These assist us in killing wildlife.

    Government has no Business controlling business. But we have lost that perspective and we’ve become so government dependent that we’ve given all control to them.

    I for one would love to see the non-residents that contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to the state of Wyoming in tourism money to push back and fight a legislation of this kind. Because we are letting the representative that introduced the law gain greater control over how we recreate in the cowboy state.

    This has nothing to do with ethics and everything to do with control. I for one refuse to be controlled.

    • govt has NO business controlling business? thats crazy someone has to oversee businesses or they would be monopolies that would charge you anything they wanted and you couldnt do a thing about,there are too many unscrupulous people in the world that would do anything for a buck like selling coordinates for big game animals.And maybe Eastmans is making money off of animals but they are giving you general locations not down to the exact square foot where someone saw a trophy animal,as far as optic and trail camera companies,a hunter still has to go out and make an effort to use them,selling coordinates takes all the effort out of it,Also govt has to control how many animals that can be taken or you wouldnt have any to hunt

      • Buck

        You don’t understand how the open market works, how compatition works. I am not going to pay for something if I don’t think it is worth what you are asking. I don’t need gonvernment to regulate that for me. Also I am not talking about managing animals, that’s off topic. I’m talking about a business to sell something be it a camera to take a picture of a buck over water or a GPS coordinate of where a buck was seen feeding. It’s capitalism, and government has stuck its head to far in our business.

        If I gave you GPS coordinates, could you kill a buck from your couch? Of course not, you would have to hike, glass, relocate the buck and then make a stock, shoot and actually kill it. Looks like you had to “make an effort” on that one too.

        • Chris and all of you who are saying the govt is over reaching their bounds. They are not saying you can’t give the coordinates you just can’t sell them for profit. If you buy a trail camera you are not profiting from the picture. Outfitters and guides are LICENSED professionals in the state of wyoming just like doctors, lawyer, veterinarians, restaurant owners ect. Who sell services to people in the state of Wyoming and thus entitled. Just like you can’t just open a restaurant and not be inspected or licensed.

          • Jeff

            I own a Landscaping business here in Utah. I know all about professional licensing. But here is one for you, I believe that government ie: departments of professional licensing regulate business just to make money and not to protect commerce. Did you know that DOPL claims or uses the reason of “public safety” to justify the regulation of commerce?

            Here in Utah a guy or young kid can start a lawn mowing business and he doesn’t have to be licensed. DOPL doesn’t regulate lawn care. Yet I have to be regulated to plant a trees, and install sod. If we both have a client that wants us to rake up leaves for them in the fall as part of our services we are actually competing for the same “type” of service. Raking leaves doesn’t take a medical degree, or a law degree to do. But yet here you have a scenario in where I as a Landscape contractor licensed under Utah DOPL, am competing with a non regulated profession “lawn care” for the same business.

            Follow me here; Dopl regulates Wyoming’s outfitting business (Landscaping) however, in this debate you have a business that is selling GPS locations as a service (lawn care guy) both businesses can sell GPS coordinates and make a profit. One is regulated the other is not. The one that is regulated thinks that’s not fair, so rather than government unregulating outfitters (landscapers) they make it against the law for anyone (the lawn mowing guy) that is not an outfitter to profit from the sell of GPS. Should a guy that is not a licensed landscape contractors under DOPL be restricted from mowing lawns? Or raking leaves?

            I had to appeal a citation some years back because I had a client not want to pay me and she complained to DOPL because I had hired a guy to come and install a concrete curbing as a boarder for the grass. She got a lawyer and found that my license didn’t authorize me to “sub contract” and so I was finded a $1,000.

            I argued that a concrete curbing guy wasn’t even required to be licensed by DOPL. That my client wasn’t harmed by me doing that, I said that she wasn’t mislead and ripped off financially because I had hired him. But they stuck to their stupid government policy that I had operated outside the scope of my license. I paid the Damn ticket, it’s rubbed me for years.

            But then I go out and I have this elk tag, a specia tag. It’s limited and I paid the state money for it. They control the elk. They have right to profit from the sell of the tag. And lo and behold I see A bunch of guys in mossback guides and outfitter hats trying to find the same bull that I’ve been getting “pictures” of on my trail camera. How did they know this bull was here? Humm. Ok so you remember DOPL? Here in Utah like Wyoming, outfitting is regulated by DOPL. I’m a member of the public, I actually am a client of the state because I bought a product from them. Do I have the same argument that my client made in regards to working outside the scope of my license? Under the law a guide has to be licensed as well, but they need to work under the umbrella of an outfitter. The guide can’t charge a customer a fee but can be sub contracted by an outfitter to accompany a tag holder on a hunt. But what we see is all these guys who line the ridge tops looking for this elk on behalf of an outfitters client working within a regulated business and they do not all have separate licenses. They’re just guys like you and me who are getting paid as “spotters”.

            Honestly, why should the states dopl regulate any business if not all business? And why should a kid mowing lawns be regulated, required to buy insurance, required to pass test, and be required to take 6 hours of continuing education? They shouldn’t be because it’s ridiculous and over reaching. Regulating lawn mowing is about as ridiculous as regulating a guy selling GPS coordinates. They both make a profit, they both sell a service, they both get paid because of their efforts. Government needs to just be smaller and stay out of business!! Period.

  23. Jeff, On the subject of fair commerce. Doctors, Lawyers, Veterinarians and restaurant owners are not given domain over a federal property which we all are mandated to pay for, but unless we purchase their product “Guided hunts on WY (wilderness)”. We are not allowed to use. There are actually some of us that are perfectly competent and able to go into a wilderness without someone holding our hand. If someone chooses to hire a guide great. But it should not be forced as a hunting monopoly held by guides using our wilderness because they can hunt near Grizzlies and we would be eaten. If we are that incompetent charge a rescue and disposal fee to get rid our carcass when the bears eat us all. Again, I agree it is pushing the bounds of ethics to sell coordinates of where an animal is thought to live. But isn’t that exactly what we pay for on guided hunts. It’s access to land, private and government land with pre scouted animals. In my opinion paying for the location of where someone says they saw an animal is a ridiculous way to waste your money. But that person would still have to (get themselves) to the location, find the animal then successfully hunt it (by themselves) How is this worse than paying someone thousands more to do all of that, (guided hunt) And if the client has enough money or the animal is very large they have 4-12 people “hunting” one animal. Is paying a few hundred dollars for a location worse than paying Thousands to be taken to THAT location. It would be nice if legislators would worry about the gangs of people assisting hunters and flooding an area with machines to assist tag holders, decreasing the quality of others with that tag. A limit on how many can assist in any hunt would be a great place to start.
    I think this type of hunting is far worse and is moving us away from the American hunting model and towards the European model.

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