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Records Set in Utah Tag Auction

February 12, 2009.

This past saturday at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City, conservation tags for a variety of Utah's big game species went up for auction. Several records were set for high bids, and $1.5 million was raised for conservation work.

The Expo is a joint convention of 3 conservation organizations — Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, The Mule Deer Foundation, and the Wild Sheep Foundation.

"Considering the economy, we had an unbelievable show," said Don Peay, founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.

Leading the pack of record tag prices, Utah resident Robert Kay spent $205,000 on the statewide mule deer tag, which allows him to hunt anywhere in Utah, including Utah's famed Henry Mountains. The $205K bid is a record amount for any statewide big game permit.

Records were also set for Utha's Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep ($110,000) and moose ($27,000) statewide permits.

The statewide conservation permits are auctioned annually and allow the winning bidder to hunt any open unit in Utah for that species. The program has raised more than $17 million in the past 10 years, 90 percent of which goes back to the state's wildlife agency for future conservation efforts.

Dennis Austad's world record Utah elk.

That focus was partly prompted by Dennis Austad, of Idaho, who made a winning bid of $150,000 on the statewide Rocky Mountain elk tag last year and then took the new Boone and Crockett world record last fall with his giant "spider elk." (See our January 7th coverage.) Despite his success, the statewide conservation elk tag for 2009 went for $110,000.

Saturday's auction capped what organizers are calling a wildly successful show that saw more than 30,000 people file through the doors to visit with exhibitors and attend seminars. More than 10,000 people applied for 200 hunting permits ranging from bison and black bear to wild turkey. Results of the drawing for those permits will be posted later this week at

Some of the winning bids for Utah's 2009 conservation hunting permits were:

  Mule deer
  Rocky Mountain bighorn
  Desert bighorn
  Henry Mountain deer
  Henry Mountain deer No. 2

For more info, see the Salt Lake Tribune.

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