Relentless winter storms across the landscape in Wyoming have taken a devastating toll on deer and antelope numbers across the state. The end result has been 10s of thousands of animals dead following wave after wave of snow storms throughout the first half of the spring season.
It’s loss on a level many hunters have never seen before. Hunters and outfitters face growing concerns as to whether or not there will even be a huntable population of animals for the fall season. However, amidst all the devastation, one Wyoming hunter has offered a solution to help the herd this fall. He’s encouraging hunters to sacrifice their deer and antelope tags in hopes of helping the herd bounce back over the next year.
Zachary Key is an avid hunter from LaBarge, Wyoming. He came up with a plan to give hunters an incentive to forfeit their tags this season to give the devasted herd a break this fall.
What’s his plan? Key suggests that rather than putting their tag on an animal this fall, hunters could use them as a “raffle ticket” in a statewide drawing for all kinds of prizes, cash and hunting gear.
“I’ve probably talked to more than 200 people already,” says Key. “Everybody’s saying, ‘I’m not even going to buy a deer tag, I’m just not going to buy one,’”
“And I’m saying, go ahead and still buy one to keep funding Wyoming Game and Fish Department conservation projects,” he said. “I’m calling it, #LetaDeerWalk.”
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has already decided to cut more than 10,000 antelope tags this year, and deer tags are being dramatically cut in many hunt areas across the state as well.
And while many hunters have already decided to sit out for the 2023 hunting season, Key encourages them to still buy their tag for the fall, even though they don’t plan to use it. “Game and Fish uses those license sales for conservation, and they need that money,” says Key.
To ensure that happens, Key and many others have been rounding up a number of prizes and incentives for anyone turning in their hunting license as a raffle ticket to be eligible for a number of prizes and cash.
Key anticipates there will be over $50,000 in prizes, including guns, ATV’s, gear, cash and more.
Even better, taxidermist, Rusty Bell, of the Game and Fish Commission, also agreed to put up his 2024 commissioner’s hunting tag for the drawing.
“Making sure of stable wildlife populations into the future for Wyoming is a priority,” says Bell. “Who better to work with than our resident hunters?”
Commissioner’s tags can be put up for charitable auctions and have brought as much as $30,000 over the years.
Details are being worked out for the process of submitting tags, but the plans are in place to have a deadline of August 1st, with a drawing taking place on August 15th.
“Any Wyoming deer tag, general season, or special draw mule deer or whitetail will be valid for entry,” says Key.
Take a look at a clip from Episode 11 of The Pinch Point as Justin lays everything out regarding this idea, and gives his opinion on it.