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The Glass Ceiling Has Been Broken read one headline of many articles last year, clamoring to tout and promote the “One Shot Hunt” in Lander, WY. Other headlines bragged about the first 2 women participants in the hunt. At its face value, this seems like a good thing, but there is much more wrong with this hunt than initially meets the eye. Organizers claim the hunt is a long standing tradition and they often brag about the “prestige” of the hunt participants: Governors, Politicians, Celebrities and more… They tout that the program provides scholarships and money to wildlife projects, specifically for the Water for Wildlife nonprofit. However, when a person really digs into the claims there is much to be desired for this “hunt.”
First of concern, this hunt carves out 80 premium antelope tags a year. 24 of those tags go to the 3-man teams (note it was a men’s only event until 2021) who compete in a chest-thumping/bragging rights competition with the goal to harvest antelope bucks as quickly as possible using only a single shot. The remaining 56 tags are given to the past shooters club. Through this club, some participants have received as many as 12 premium pronghorn tags in consecutive years. One example from the past shooters club is former Colorado Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, whose net worth is over $10,000,000. He has received a tag 6 times. Under current drawing odds, those 6 times represent over 60 years of building points for Nonresidents. In the area, current resident draw odds range approximately 20-30 percent. So figure one tag every 4 years (if you are lucky). Thus the 6 tags awarded to Hickenlooper represents around 24 years’ worth of tags for a resident hunter.
But the event raises major money… Not really. According to the records, in 2018 the one shot hunt raised just under $50,000 in total. It is not known how much of that went to actual conservation, but the money raised was used to pay for the event as well. Think about that 80 prime pronghorn tags, did not even generate over $50,000. For comparison, if the State of WY simply sold all those licenses to Nonresident preference point holders the math shakes out like this. Cost of the NR tag is $326. Now even if we went conservative and the one shot tags only took 8 points to draw, that would add another $248 per tag in revenue to the state. Thus all 80 tags, if sold to a NR in the preference point system, would have raised $574 x 80 = $45,920. Money that the state could use directly for wildlife conservation. Money that would 100% be spent on projects in WY. Not in Texas, Colorado, Africa etc.
No matter how you cut it, this hunt steals the opportunity of every sportsman and sportswoman. The tag allocation is especially disturbing when you consider that recently the availability of tags has been cut in the area due to lower herd numbers. Mainly driven by drought and winter kill. Area tag allocations were cut significantly in recent years and given the current harsh winter, they will be cut again. Yet despite tag allocations being cut the one shot hunt was still awarded the full 80 tags (which the organization can choose to use or they may cut the number to match reduction). Those 80 tags represent opportunities for your neighbors, your kids, and yourself.
According to the Boone and Crockett Club, the North American Wildlife Management Model ensures opportunity for all. It means that every citizen has the freedom to view, hunt, and fish, regardless of social or economic status. This hunt is a blatant violation of this idea. It limits the average citizen’s ability to access wildlife in favor of those with certain social/political status and/or influence. The model also suggests that all wildlife is held in trust for the benefit of all citizens, not a select few to use it as political favor.
Given the past issues with this hunt and the current outlook, it is time to end the One Shot Hunt. The numbers have not been shared yet, but there are areas looking at well over 50% mortality for all pronghorn. With the diminished herds, and the already low odds for residents, it is time to give these tags back to the public. Let these tags be allocated to the public hunters. We no longer need this hunt.
I encourage hunters to look into this issue and to speak out against this hunt. It is not in line with NAM and it steals opportunity from everyone not part of the “club”.