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Reader Response: A Threat to Hunting we can Eliminate

Catch up on this issue here, and here.

Wow folks what a controversy issue! I have received many e-mail on this hunting tag letter of Mike Veile in the last issue of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal. It is a hot issue with information pro and con on the subject. You need to go to www.monstermuleys.com and you can see 150 post. I suggest read a few of them and your find that most are write by knowledgeable hunters. Then make your owen judgment on the issue of conservation money been raised by special hunting tags. Let me know what your views on it.


Mr. Eastman,
Thank you for publishing Mike’s article and bringing it to the reader’s attention. I know Mike well. He is a hard core hunter and very passionate about the future of hunting.

While Mike and I don’t agree on everythinng, I agree with him 100% that conservation tags (or anything similar) are nothing but poison for the future of hunting.

These tags take away opportunity from the hard working hunters and give opportunity to those with big, fat bank accounts. If we continue down this path, the first people that are going to lose interest are the blue collar folks that make up the solid hunting base and are the backbone of the Western culture. That is bad for hunting and bad for everyone involved.

In my 24 years of hunting, I have personally changed from a shoot anything with horns hunter to a hunter who will hold out for a respectable buck or bull. It is not because I want to be better than someone else or kill the biggest buck on the mountain, it is because I enjoy the challenge. On looking back at all of my harvests, the most memorable ones are not the one’s with the biggest antlers.

I see more people that think hunting is about killing a record book animal and not about the experience. What kind of an experience is it to pay to hunt an animal on winter range with a caderie of outfitters spotting and tracking the animal so someone can show up and pull the trigger?

I think as a hunting fratenity, we need to embrace those folks that are truly overjoyed at harvesting an animal regardless of the size of its antlers. That is where most of us started out and that is where our future is.

With all that being said, do I want some areas that are managed for quality animals, definitely, but we all need to have an equal chance of obtaining those premium tags regardless of our income or financial status.

Thanks for listening.
Chad Ericsson

Chad thanks for the kind words we here at Eastmans’ just think that all views should be put on the table. I wanted to hear from the hunters out there as to there views on this hunting trend.
Mike Eastman


Although I share Mr. Veile’s concerns about how expensive access to some quality hunting tags has become, it was apparent in reading his letter that his real intent was to attack the SFW organization and it was also clear he has personal issues with people within that organization. His attacking, insulting and negative comments went to far and such things are only bad for hunting interests. His letter was very baised, not objective, and did not correctly represent that group nor others involved in auctions tags efforts and achievements. I am disappointed that it was deemed so worthy of special attention in your magazine. Does Eastmans’ also have issues with the SFW organization? SFW was certainly not the first to start the trend of auction tags. It is interesting that he singled them out instead of FNAWS. I do not agree with everything about SFW, FNAWS, Muledeer Foundation, and the other groups like them and do not believe they are perfect, but they have done alot of good for hunting with the money they have raised. Mr. Veile left all that out of his letter and gave no credit where credit is deserved. The RMEF he belongs to is a good organization but is not as much different from SFW has he would like to think. RMEF did not lead the charge against the wolf issue that is causing major problems with elk in Wyoming. Instead it was the SFW organization. RMEF certainly has fund raisers, administrative costs, fancy offices, etc but he seems OK with them managing resources raised instead of only state agencies as he advocated in his last paragraph. The handful of tags that groups auction off to raise money to improve hunting is a very small percentage in the true picture of things. Yes, I am jealous like Mr. Veile that I can not afford to buy one of those tags but I am glad those dollars are helping hunting causes. If Veile wants to complain and have a discussion about restriction of access to tags the real issue that he only barely touched on is outfitter and landowner tag allocations. Weather these allocations are right or wrong the states that have those programs greatly reduce DIY hunters access to tags multiple fold over any auction tag allocations. Outfitter and landowner allocations can certainly be accused of special interests issues and have lead to higher overall cost of access to tags in those states. And how about the preference point systems that prevent young hunters from having access to quality tags in some cases until they are old, if ever. Not exactly a fair and equal chance at tags as Mr. Veile advocates.

I hope Eastmans’ will allow someone equal space for a fair discussion of the auction tag issue, use of the money raised and organizations like SFW than Mike Viele did.

Ken Brough

Thanks for your reply and interest in this subject. At the Eastmans’ Journal’s we feel that this issue has struck a nerve in the hunting community. If you go to www.monstermuleys.com you will see 150 post. Hunters are not only voicing their opinions but give will written views on the subject. Thanks again for your response to this controversy topic. I will post this on my blog. Also we are gathering other responses to this heated subject and will post some of them.
Mike Eastman



One thing I can agree on in Mike’s article is that hunting is gradually becoming a rich mans sport, but not necessarily for the reasons he has put forth.

First of all the conservation tags given to organizations are for the most part bringing huge sums of money into our Game Departments which have enabled them to do much work to improve wildlife and wildlife habitat to increase Joe Blow’s chance to hunt. Here in New Mexico a tremendous amount of money has been rasied by these organizations, most of it coming back to the State and is makaing a big difference in keeping and improving our wildlife’s well being. FNAWS, RMEF, SCI and many other organizations are for the most part totally committed to proliferating our wildlife. Mike needs to re-acess his thoughts on this front. His demeaning accusation that these “parasitic special interest groups advocating this type of tag distribution have become the most effective anti-hunting organizations in America.” To the contrary! These orgaizations depend mostly on donated hunts by outfitters, for the most of their dollar support and they for the most part are greatly enabling Mikes chance to hunt in the future. They do so much good such a fighting the real anti hunters, habitat improvement and etc. and etc.

Next, Mike needs to re-think his thoughts on landowner tags. These do split the pie smaller on allocating licenses but are a very helpfull and important segment of landowner’s managing to keep wildlife numbers at a much higher level than they would if they didn’t receive any compensation for providing much of the water and riparian areas on their private lands that our state’s wildlife so vitally depend. the NM Game Dept. has been very smart in recognizing this need and has provided more wildlife in the end and therefore more tags available to everyone.

Outfitter tags to my knowledge are only allocated in Montana and I know of none in New Mexico and Arizona where I outfit. Most of our hunters go into the non-resident drawings which are very tough.

Controlled tags to increase quality are first and foremost allocated by the great majority to residents with only a small percentage going to non-residents. As hunting becomes more popular it gets harder and harder to draw the quality tags, even for residents. Take Arizona for example, and as its population explodes so does the demand for the best tags.

I think Mike needs to step back and take a reality pill, as hunting is the great motivator for most of us and it is vitally necessary to get along and work with our organizations and game departments, and not fight amongst ourselves. I for one applaud most of these conservation organizations as our game department’s struggle to make ends meet and keep or wildlife healthy.

If Mike wants to help save our hunting, not only in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming but as well as here in the Gila in New Mexico and over in Arizona, he better be stumping for bringing some sense into the wolf situation. We are looking at maybe only two or three years of good hunting before the wolves take our wildlife numbers down, primarily our elk, here in the Gila. Our license allocation in unit 16B in the Gila Wilderness where I hunt has lost 100 rifle bull elk tags two years ago and 67 archery bull elk tags for the upcoming season. This is a significant decrease and the only reasonable explanation is due to the wolves, who are not only hammering our elk and few remaing deer but our ranchers cattle.

Yes Mr. Veile there are many more important things effecting your chance to get a good tag!

Thanks Mr. Eastman for airing this issue as there is alot of misconception and mis trust between the sportsmen for especially outfitters, the landowner tag system and a real hate for non- residents, whom by the way pay almost 50 % of our game department’s budgets.

I realize you cater mostly to the DIY hunter, but I feel my outfitting business provides a necessary and vital service to mostly non-resident hunters who don’t have the stock or aren’t young enough to extreme backpack hunt in the Wilderness areas I hunt. Besides that our industry brings in a tremendous amount of revenue to our local economy and our state, as well as mentioned above a tremendous amount of money into our game departments. I serve as the Southwest Director for our New Mexico Council of Outiftters and Guides, and we keep a close ear to the ground on all of these issues and we want to help protect everybody’s great right to hunt.

Tom Klumker

First thanks for the e-mail you bring up some good points. But I think Mike veile’s also brings up several points that go further then just about conservation. I think if you take and fill a room full of hunters. And then said we need more money for management of the big game in lets say XYZ. So we can either raffle off tags and have special conservation permits go to the highest bidder. Plus these tags can be used anytime during the year even on the winter ranges. Or we keep an level playing field with no special tags. But we will need to raise everyones tags and permit fees even maybe double. Which way would the hunters vote? I personnel think a majority of the group would elect the fee increase. And keep a level playing field no matter your financial statues. I think Mike wants a level playing field for hunting tags for all.

Tom I wonder how Ducks Unlimited raise so much money and they have no high dollar tags. It’s done with a grass roots movement. For years the RMEF raised money that is matched with federal money basically the same way. By dinners, raffles and bidding on art work, hunting items and outfitters donated hunts.

I agree with you on the wolf issues all hunters and stockmen are going to loss. I live in the wilderness up here in Wyoming and I have wolfs literally in my back yard. They have really taken the elk population down. But their is nothing we can do the federal government has control over the management. Thanks again for the input Tom and good luck on this years fall.
Mike Eastman

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  1. Thanks, For printing Mikes article, I agree with his view 100%. The hunting industry has changed over the last 15 years.Though I dont exactly know where all of these organizations money goes, I do know that With tags that auctioned off with a price that has been described in this article, they ought to be doing great things for the hunters out there. I am an avid whitetail hunter born and raised in se Iowa, and have seen that playing field go haywire,big business heading down a road to demise, that is unless You own your own farm, or have a large bank account.Luckily for me alot of my family are poor farmers, so I have ample land to hunt when I do. Over the years we have lost farm after farm to tv hunting shows.Farms are being bought up etc. I think that hunting should be an equal opportunity, if they have to raise tag prices to do it, than so be it. At least we will all have the same chance at harveting an animal. We need to step back and reassess what our purpose is, and that is to the american hunter. Thank You

  2. Although the conservation/governor’s tags are a good source of income for the game and fish departments, they leave out the majority of hunters who can’t afford one. Why don’t the states do the same thing for us common hunters? They could make a specified number of tags available for each species in each state and have a drawing early in the year so a person would know if they won before the normal application period. They could charge a non-refundable application fee of say 20 bucks or so . I would bet that the amout of money taken in would far surpass the amount made on the governor’s tags. The draw odds would be very high, but for me the chance to be able to hunt in every open area all season would be well worth.

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