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Once in a lifetime

By TOM MCCOURT
Guest Contributor

"Hunting season is here again," I reminded Uncle Spud. "Are you ready to pursue wild beasts in the forest?"

"I didn't draw out again this year," Spud said with a sour face.

"What happened?"

"I've been putting in for limited entry elk for 18 years," he said. "All I've got to show for it is 18 bonus points and 18 more candles on my birthday cake. If I don't draw soon, I'll be to old to hunt elk."

"That's too bad," I said. "Why don't you hunt trophy deer while you wait for the elk permit?"

"All of the good deer units are limited entry and I can't apply for a tag," he said.

"Why not?"

"If you apply for a limited entry elk permit in Utah, you can't apply for limited entry deer or antelope," he said. "One application for one species per year is the rule."

"But people from out of state can apply in for deer, elk, and antelope all in the same year and draw a bonus point for each if they fail to draw," I reminded him.

"I know," he said. "The Utah DWR caters to out-of-state people. They pay more money, I guess. We locals must endure different rules."

"That's not fair."

"I agree," Spud said. "Take my situation for example. When they started this bonus point stuff and made us all begin to draw for a hunt, I wanted to hunt trophy elk. For 18 years I've been unsuccessful.

"If I'm lucky enough to draw limited entry elk next year on my 19th try, I can then begin to apply for limited entry deer. That too, takes a long time. My brother has been applying for a premium limited entry deer tag for 18 years without success.

"If it takes me 19 years to draw for elk, then 19 years to draw for deer, like my brother, I'll have 38 years invested before I can begin to put in for an antelope hunt. I expect it might take six to eight years to draw for antelope.

"So, with my luck and no inside connections at the DWR, I expect it might take me 45 years to get to hunt all three species. I was 47 years old when this system was first implemented. That means I might draw limited entry elk, deer, and antelope, once each, by the time I'm 92.

"Utah limited entry permits really are once in a lifetime permits, aren't they?"

"Yes," Uncle Spud agreed. "But on the hunting proclamations, only buffalo, big horn sheep, mountain goat and moose are listed as once in a lifetime permits. I think that's false advertising."

"The system doesn't work much better for young people," Spud said. "A 12-year old first starting the application process might draw all three species by the time he reaches his mid-50s. With luck, he might draw a second permit for the same species before he starts social security."

"There are still general season permits," I reminded him. "Your odds of getting a good deer or elk aren't nearly as good, but a person can draw one of those permits every year."

"A lucky person might," Spud agreed. "But the odds are against drawing a general season tag every year. Last year was the second time in four years that I haven't drawn a general deer tag. So I bought a permit in another state. Wyoming was happy to take my money.

"So what do you suggest the DWR do to fix the problem?" I asked.

"Lets go back to allowing residents to apply for multi-species permits every year, the way the out-of-state people can," Spud said. "Then, if a person has applied for the same permit for more than 15 years, let's sell them the darn permit. Screw the draw. They've paid for the privilege in application fees and longsuffering."

"Sounds reasonable to me."

"Get the DWR on the phone," Spud growled. "This should be an easy fix."




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