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Preview: Auction Tags…Friend or Foe?

In my mind auction tags have always been a potential liability to our sport. As of lately many others in the industry seem to have taken to my viewpoint on the subject. We here at Eastmans’ have been against these tags since their inception and our stance has never waivered. It looks like the general public is finally noticing that these “elite licenses” and their huge price tags may be more of a liability to the sport of hunting than they’re an asset to conservation. After all, that’s where the vast portion of that money is supposed to be going to, right? It’s quite possible that these huge sums of money end up creating more corruption, kickbacks, abuse and waste than they do habitat and conservation.

The ultimate question boils down to this- “Are these high dollar licenses worth the cost of the potential waste, fraud and abuse?” Everyone seems to be on the dole with these tags except the average hunter, like yourself, who actually owns the wildlife and public lands that make these tags even possible.

I will lay out my case to end these tags once and for all in a future edition of E-news. Stay tuned for the article, “10 Reasons Why Auction Tags Are Ruining Your Hunting Experience.”

Good luck this fall.

-Guy Eastman

About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. I couldnt agree more. The more they bring the more the corruption will be. When tags hit into hundreds of thousands it seemed like the beginning of the end to average draw DIY hunter.

  2. Gary Martinsen

    Guy I agree with you 100%. Living here in NV I get to see Governer tags and land owner tags go for tens of thousands of dollars every year to the same people while us middle classed have to wait sometimes over ten years for a quality tag. My family has been luckier than most on tags. I see hunting turning into a rich man sport.

  3. Dennis Morgan

    Even worse, as states put more tags into “auctions”, and states like Utah pull tags out of prime units to require attendance at a Utah convention to even enter a tag raffle (read that “only locals and rich people need apply”), the people who have piled up decades of preference points find that there are very few (and in some case NO) tags left for those that have spent decades building the highest number of points. Talk about pulling the rug out from someone…….

    if special tags are to remain, then they should be put into a drawing with ANYONE, ANTWHERE, able to participate. When RMEF and MDF play the “Auction” or “Convention” game, they are no longer looking after their members (or wildlife’s) best interests.

    I urge all hunters with any ethics whatsoever to BOYCOTT the auctions and conventions. Write negative letters to magazines which showcase trophys taken on auction tags or landowner tags, and complain when the “Rock stars” of hunting are showcased after paying huge $ for landowner tags and then taking a trophy.

  4. I agree with Gary. Put those tags in a drawing open to everyone. Put a price of say 50 or so dollars (non-refundable) on them. Here in Wyoming put say, 50 or so elk tags, 100 deer tags, and 150 antelope tags in the drawing. I think the number of applicants and the money they would realize from this would be much more than what they get in the “rich man’s draw”! The people with money already have a distinct advantage in that they can hunt on private ranches that have access control over vast amounts of public land that are inaccessible to the ordinary hunter.

  5. Thanks for shedding light on this activity. Gentlemen we have another situation here handled by folks in state government that stinks and whenever there are dollars in large quantity floating around there are normally always problems.
    The tags auctioned at the very least should be once in a lifetime tags. Tim’s suggestions are real good ideas. Giving everyone a shot at those tags by raffling them every year would generate tons of revenue. Convincing those who can make that happen won’t be easy.
    Would it be too far fetched to think that maybe there are funds flowing to other places that insure the perpetuation of this activity or am I too cynical?

  6. These “High Dollar Hunters” also get special consideration from DOW when they commit a violation or make a mistake. A few years ago a hunter with one of these tags was being guided by a Registered Colorado outfitter(TS). This hunter shot a Bighorn Ram inside the 1/2 mile closure around the road near Georgetown. The DOW confiscated the sheep, allowing the hunter to keep the tag, which he later filled. I do not believe there was a violation written to this hunter. The thing was hushed up very quickly and I still do not know the outcome. I hate these tags. These rich guys hire an army of spotters and outfitters and hunt like they are on military manuevers. When the spotters finally find the animal they want 😡 the rich guy is called in to shoot an animal he has put little or no effort into finding.
    Sickening!!! Let’s put a stop to this.Put ALL special or high quality tags on a straight draw or raffle. Do away with preference points too.
    Jim McGee

  7. Guy- dont get me wrong….Give equal access for these tags…..HOWEVER ISNT IT PART OF THE SAME PROBLEM FOR PEOPLE TO PAY THOUSANDS TO HUNT ON THE “HILL RANCH”….??!! What does this do for the publics access to both public and private lands……? Without access to land(public or private), you also lose hunting opportunities just as you do with the loss of tags, created by allocating governor, auction, and landowner tags…I do not understand how one can criticize the money problems for tags but not for land access like the huge costs payed to access the Hill ranch, the Cielo Vista ranch, the FlyingD ranch, the Tortelson wildlife center(run by rmef!)

    • I don’t know how the other states do it but here in nm the 2 gov elk tags are not a problem…1 tag is auctioned and 1 tag is raffled…these 2 tags have generated over 1.6 million which is spent on the benefit of all game in nm…I do understand the gripe about wyo where there are gov tags out the wazoo…its affected my pref points on moose…yall need to take care of wyo first and leave the rest of us to take care of ours…don’t paint with such a broad brush

  8. Couldn’t agree more! I just called to cancel my Ducks unlimited membership when I tried to buy the annual raffle tickets for the Colorado moose tag (open to every hunter in Colorado). I was told they were not doing the raffle tickets anymore that “Pete Coors” would be hosting an “auction” at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs now for the coveted Colorado moose tag. I believe on July 12th. Yeh right, like “Joe hunter” will be able to fairly compete in that with the wealthy crooks! So, here’s a prime example of what you’re discussing, the privileged wealthy taking “yet another way” away from “Joe hunter” that he would be able to possibly win a Colorado moose tag. The D.U. rep I spoke with stated that it was completely authorized by the C.D.O.W. So, let’s call a spade a spade here. Who’s the crook here! Who’s been bought?!!! Someone sold out the hunters of the state of Colorado! I will quit all and any of my affiliations and their support with any organization in any way which is involved in such vile, corrupt shinanigans. I’m also considering never hunting Colorado again, beginning with the 2013 season unless these practices are all ended and these crooks held accountable! There are other options besides Colorado for hunting and outdoor adventures. I strongly advise all other Coloradans who have had enough of this crap to withdraw any support of these organizations participating with any of these corrupt, low, scum sucking people (which now obviosly the C.D.O.W. is part of). P.S. Don’t drink that Coors swill anymore either! It’s pure trash!

  9. I just dropped my membership to the RMEF for the same reason. It was like kicking out your own kid who lays around all day and refuses to work…but I feel very strongly about these “auction tags”. As far as Colorado goes, I have strongly objected (by letters and surveys)to them selling or donating these tags in special units that a friend of mine here in Texas has applied for for over ten years. And, I might add, a Colorado resident friend of mine has over twelve years of applying.

    At the same time the state advertises nationally about how great the hunting is in Colorado. The problem with this is that units next to these “draw units” are overrun by hunters thereby causing those hunters to have a bad experience. It’s not the hunter’s fault this occurs.

    Now think about one draw unit having very few hunters…while the open unit next to it is smothered by hunters…who actually can’t hunt for falling over each other. This happens in many units in that state.

  10. Chris Daffinson

    I might be a little off topic but isn’t this the same crap as charging nonresidents 10 times as much for a license? Then following it up with a quota on some units which we have 1/10th the ability to draw? I am by the way talking about public lands and public wildlife after all. I ask you how is it that residents get preferential treatment on our public lands and wildlife? looks the same to me!

  11. I won’t belong to any organization that auctions tags to the highest bidder.I think its wrong and destroying our sport.I’d much rather see them in a raffle system like Montana has for super tags.this way, for a small fee,we all can have a chance.Landowner tags in states like NM are also a big joke,and a slap in the face to average Joe hunter.Unfortunately, once states see the big pay offs these tags bring its hard to impossible to get them taken away.No doubt it also feeds coruption too
    I would like to see you guys do a write up on your thoughts about Ranching For Wildlife.In my opinion,thats just as bad as the landowner and auction tags.I don’t know much about the Hill Ranch that you give away a hunt to each year,but I believe its in RFW.These places also take away huge tracts of publicland from us diy guys and put it in with their ranch and then sell high dollar hunts on them that only the super rich can afford.Some of these lands may not have had easy access,but there are pilots that will fly you into landlocked public ground.But, once they’re enrolled in RFW, they are off limits to us and still public ground
    Please do a write up on RFW.I’m very curious as to your companies views on this,and maybe you can clear up some misconceptions I may have about them

  12. I love this subject. There has been a HUGE debate on Monstermuleys.com about this subject. I think that they are wrong and it has been proven with MDF and SFW what has and has not been happening with this $$$. Take my tags away from me and let the rich and famous jump to the front of the lines year in and year out hunt where they want and when they want, and yet I wait yet ONE MORE YEAR for a tag in UTAH that I wont get. UTAH has a problem and its corruption, money, tags and politics.

    There is a fellow hunter on Monster Muleys.com known as Hawkeye. He is a lawyer and has been fighting this hard for a while and I suggest, EASTMANS, that you contact him and he will help fight this, not as your lawyer but as a concerned hunter. He will help with info and knowledge. I have his contact info, but my contact info is Landon, 801 360-8334.


  13. Rick Pewtress

    Guy, I met your grandpa Gordon a few times, and I met your dad a few times, I have met you a few times at shows. I like and respect all your family members I have met. that being said, I think you miss the point on these tags to a large degree. Without going into an all out discussion on the subject I would like to ask this. How about I do a quest column on the pro’s of this tag allocation. and it is included in the issue with your comments???
    Perhaps I will get hate mail, and perhaps I can shed some light on why these are good tags , and hunts. I understand you have the final say on whether it see’s the light of day in your magazine, but I truly believe these are not the demon you think.
    Rick Pewtress
    Morgan ,Utah

  14. tom zimmerman

    Guy,I would like to see Utah change the way theye prostitute there tags.Give the average Joe an even chance. Colorado’s landowner tags are just short of criminal in the way they are handed out

  15. Guy. Congrats for stepping up on this one, as these tags have gotten way out of control, not to mention so far from the average person’s means that it’s absurd. Next thing i’d like to see you address is the use of trailcams, as this is another thing i’d like to see eliminated from public lands. When you can put out a dozen cameras and monitor them from your pc to determine where you need to go, doesn’t that take most of the challenge of hunting away? Guess i’m just old school, but i’d like to get your take. thanx.

  16. I suppose it is absolutely obvious to you after hearing all these statements from hunters( not wealthy people making money off of hunters)that people who continue to think as Mr. Pewtress above here does, that their minds are among the walking dead. Obviously they too are part of this problem and are easily brainwashed. “Hey Rick, wake up. The wealthy don’t give a big rat’s ass about you.” They just enjoy continuing to blow smoke up your butt while taking your money! Hope you and all the other hunters wake up soon or whenever you do awaken one day, you won’t be able to even get a hunting license, let alone any type of game tag!

  17. To Chris Daffinson (#11 above).

    You are not correct about RFW properties being public land. They are strictly private ranches. The ranches have to allow a certain percentage of tags go to “public” hunters. In return, they get land owner tags that admittedly they can sell for big $$$. That is the free enterprise system that has made our country great. They also have to do habitat improvement projects which benefits all wildlife.

    I am not necessarily defending the auction tags, I don’t know enough facts about the issues. I would need to see some evidence about waste and corruption before I made up my mind. They do bring in a lot of money so if it is being put back into wildlife management and habitat improvement then maybe they are OK. I certainly could never afford one. I do apply sometimes for raffle tags. $25 per ticket is not too outrageous.

    I think everyone should be asking to see evidence about waste and corruption before jumping on the anti-government/wildlife agency bandwagon.

  18. BTW, there are few organizations who have done more for wildlife/habitat conservation than RMEF and DU. For those of you dropping out of those organizations or advocating boycotting them simply over this issue seems a bit short sighted and extreme to me.

    I understand the frustration of not being able to draw quality tags but these auction tags make up such a small number (at least in Colo) it is statistically insignificant and even if they put them in a draw the odds would be astronomically against you.

    I hope if Eastman’s publishes an article on this, they do the fair thing and give someone the ink to print the other side of the issue.

  19. Whatever small, extra amount auction tags contribute to Wildlife Dept budgets (<1?)could be realized by department scrutiny of internal programs. Agency financial benefits of selling public wildlife to highest bidder are more than offset by loss of both hunter and nonhunter support for sport hunting and wildlife agencies. Similarly, growing one 5 year old trophy auction buck takes as much habitat and winter feed as to grow and harvest 5 yearling bucks — that's lost hunting opportunity for the average guy and his kid.

  20. Big money has taken over the hunting industry, whatever happened to play the Wind while stalking,not buy $500 dollar scent free clothing.Outfitting companys are charging ridiculous amounts of money to hunt on their high fenced Zoo’s, just so some hunter that doesn’t want to put forth the effort to do their own research and scouting can take home a trophy animal,to teel their friends and keep the ball rolling in favor of rich hunters.i understand people need to make a living, and some outfitting is necessary,but really 18,000 to hunt a Moose or Brown Bear in Alaska,$8000 to hunt a Elk in the White mountains…Cmon.

  21. Anyone from RMEF or MDF or SFW care to comment? Many people wonder how right this is and where the money goes?

  22. It is one thing to knock the auction tag system but do you have a better one. Raising say 300k for an Antelope Island deer tag is hard to beat. Or the astronomical prices fetched from Montana sheep tags. Come up with a better way to raise money and I will listen.
    BTW I’m just an average Joe with average dough.

  23. I totally agree there are to many conservation tags out there. I beieve in one of your magazines you listed all the conservation tags for each state. there was some from every state but when you came to Utah there was like over two pages of conservation tags. another issue I have is at these banquets they auction off these tags and outfitters buy them up and resell them for profits. If I draw a tag and cannot go I can’t sell it but outfitters can? why? anyway back to the auction tags way to many. it is getting to be a rich mans sport at least for the quality areas. also if I draw an elk tag in utah i have to wait 5 years to reaply but if I was rich I could hunt that area every year!! I hope what ever you have in mind works Guy.

  24. I agree! I’m like you. Where doe’s this money go? It doe’s open a huge amphitheater for corruption!

  25. Guy, As you requested, I’ve “stayed tuned” to see “10 Reasons Why Auction Tags Are Ruining Your Hunting Experience.” Where is it?

    • Back to my reply three people ago look at who has killed the big buck on antelope island it’s the same person . He has his own game preserve. I am against them cause it’s only for rich people, I have no chance for one and they never have to wait. If I get lucky and draw I have to wait five years to Even put in again.

      • referring back to the article…Eastman spoke against all gov tags….we only have 2 elk and 2 deer…why be against all if u are unhappy with Utah? do like I did when I wrote the bill for our tags…write a bill what u think is right but remember the money is for the game first…go to a commissioners meeting and present it to them….if that doesn’t work go to your state senator and talk to him about it…our 2 elk tags have generated 1.6 million as of jan…we are proud of them in nm..and all of that money gets to the ground because volunteers handle it…if u don’t like it u gotta do more than complain….oh yeah I think we do a sheep too …I don’t have any info on that paul

  26. You would think it would be easy to track the money

    But then again it is the government

    Who’d a thought things could go wrong

    A tag here a tag there soon it’s two hundred plus in Utah

    WoW. And that money trail is murkier than a spring run off

    All the while another scheme for tag here and and tag there

    Avg joe hunter grab your ankles and take another one for the sport of it

  27. I am on overseas trophy hunter who applies every year in Utah for mule deer, elk and sheep. So far without success. I’m building towards a mule deer hunt in the Henry mountains before I am no longer capable but the odds are stacked against me. Being 73 years old I have very little chance of ever being drawn but I keep putting in.
    When finances permit I enter into one of the conservation auctions for a tag in a limited entry area.
    I have hunted Colorado twice for mule deer and elk purchasing ranch tags and paying a local hunting guide to arrange our hunt. Living overseas it is not possible to spend the time scouting and in some cases it is mandatory by law to have a local guide if a non resident. Hiring a guide also brings valuable funds into rural areas that benefit the local community.
    The rancher who we bought the tags from winters between 60 / 80 bull elk, anything up to 200 cow & calf elk and countless mule deer every year on his ranch. To see a herd of 100+ elk coming off his hay fields at daybreak every morning is a common sight. Without this wildlife living all winter on his ranch he could carry significantly more cattle. Most of these elk and mule deer move off his property into adjoining public land every day and return to feed on his hay fields at night.
    For this he gets an average of 3 elk tags and 2 mule deer tags each year as a rule (the numbers are varied each year to suit the winters etc). Those tags are only useable on his ranch so have no affect on public land animal numbers.
    The income from these tags does not reimburse his financial loss from increased cattle grazing but offers some thing to him for tolerating being eaten out of valuable winter feed.
    I might add he spend half his time running poachers off his property who have no hesitation in taking animals illegally, cutting of the heads and leaving the carcase to waste instead of hunting the adjoining public land.
    When the tags he is allotted are filled he lets selected private hunters with tags on the ranch to assist in limiting the damage caused by the numbers of both deer and elk to his winter feed.
    There are 2 sides too every story but i seem to see only 1 side being represented here?

    • If that rancher doesn’t want those elk & deer on his fields then he can fence them out.
      Ranchers don’t pay diddly-squat for grazing fees anyway…$3.50 for a cow & a calf for a month. Where can you graze that cheap on private ground. And, if he receives any compensation for his “losses” he should allow legally licensed hunters free access to remove excess animals. And don’t let him kid you, he makes more money selling “Publicly owned” elk than he would running a few more cattle. As you said, the animals travel from public (blm?) to private. These greedy bastards have been screwing the average hunter for years.


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