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June 02, 2008

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Discussion Topic: Should Landowners Sell Hunting Tags?

A New Mexico Game and Fish Department plan to reduce antelope numbers near Roswell to mitigate crop damage is making ranchers happy. What’s making some hunters hot, however, is having to buy the newly available antelope tags from the landowners.

From the Albuquerque Journal:

Jeremy Vesbach, director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation . . . said dramatic population-reduction hunts like the kind planned for the Roswell area shouldn't be lining anyone's pockets.

"Profit motives should not be part of population reduction.... It's a twisted incentive," said Vesbach, whose group of about 7,000 members is made up mostly of sportsmen. "There should not be money changing hands."

But two Roswell-area ranchers said landowners have every right to collect something in return for the heavy toll the antelope are taking on their crops.

What do you think?


Blue Ox

The ranchers ARE getting something in return; they're not getting their crops eaten by antelope.


Landowners don't own the antelope. They own the land.

You want to make money off hunting on your land (and I don't blame landowners for wanting to)? It's called leasing (or you can charge a trespass fee)!



no, no, no. KS landowners were allowed to sell their tags and the price of a whitetail tag went into five figures. i agree with with Jim. the courts have repeatedly ruled that the game belongs to the state. if the landowners want to charge, and hunters want to pay a "gun" fee or trespass fee that's fine. if there are too many antelope the landowners should welcome hunters with open arms, like most land owners do for prairie dogs and other varmints.

Mike Diehl

Private land owners should not be allowed to sell tags for publically owned game.


I know this is going to raise hell but I have no problem with private land owners selling game tags to take animals on thier land. Its the same as a lease, or "trespass fee" except it takes the State out of the equation. BY buying one tag thats only good for that particular track of land, until the purchaser uses his/her tag(s). The same as someone buying tags from the State, then purchaseing the rights to hunt on private land. Theres no difference! I say end Socialist Game, there would be more and better tracts of land without all the beauracracy. Landowners would sell the permission to hunt or fish on thier land, supply and demand would take over. Five figure amounts would probably not be plausible because there would be a free and competeing market for it, not a few who are getting the benefit of the State, who by limiting who can charge and who can not lowers the supply for the increase in demand, therefore allowing the few benefiting from the State to rip us off in the process. And, yes game are free ranging and have free will so NO Entity or Body owns them, Land Owners only have the right to sell the use of thier land, they do not have the right to go onto other's properties to "claim" game, without of course the permission of the Landowner. On that note, I've suited up and am ready to take yalls shots

Walt Smith

No way- as stated above the landowners own what-- the land, not the animals. If the landowner is having such a problem with their crops then they should either allow hunters take animals off their property or maybe the state should step in seeings as they own the animals and access the damage. If the landowner will not allow hunters to shoot off the problem animals through block permits or shoot them theirselves then the state might want to deny any aid for crop damage. Sounds to me like they want the income of a high fence operation without having to pay for the fencing and receive crop damage money to boot!


What socialist game? The landowners can charge any price they want for people to hunt their ground and the market will bear what the market will bear, period. That's capitalism!

Selling a license to kill something you don't own reeks of poaching in my eyes.



Scott- the system you propose is staight from the 13th century European fuedal system. the King owned the land and the game and a peasant could be hung for taking one of the King's stags or boars. you talk about supply and demand. have you seen the prices being paid for Texas deer leases? the average "peasant" cannot afford some of the riduclous prices being paid for hunting ground today. we wonder why we are losing the younger hunting generation?? it is about $$$ and sense.


Well for once we all agree [with th exception of Scott] about this. I could see a class action lawsuit with some substance to it for private landowners selling tags for a state-owned resource. I for one would much rather buy a tag from the state where the money I presume will go straight back into funding conservation instead of some wealthy landowners pockets.


I can see both sides here; on the one game in this country historically belongs to "We the People" not the landowner. The prospect of landowners 'selling' us something we already own is not a good one.

On the other I do NOT presume that any of that money goes '... straight back into funding conservation...' any more than I assume that any money raised in a public endeavor gets past the politicians untouched. Politicians have a long history of attaching any money they get their grubby hands on! Nor do I assume that the landowners are all wealthy and greed driven; perhaps a fee for using their land is in order. Hunters in general have a good track record of being care takers on both public and private lands BUT there are a few slobs who ruin it for us all; use fees could help a landowner mitigate their damages, could help a not so wealthy landowner keep the land away from the blade of a developer's tractor and keep the land available to us.

What I would like to see is some discussion on what is reasonable. Landowners charging exhorbitant fees will end up running exclusive clubs for celebrities and wealthy people while the rest of us are kept out.


SilverArrow quote:Landowners charging exhorbitant fees will end up running exclusive clubs for celebrities and wealthy people while the rest of us are kept out.

That's happening more and more every year. The real question is how do you stop it?

Do you ban selling hunts on leased land or (if you continue to allow that) do you raise out of state fees to ridiculous levels?

How about taking license fees (from the higher out of state tags) and tax incentives, have the state lease land from farmers with the purpose of allowing in state residents hunting access or purchase land for the same purpose?

Do any of these ideas have a snowball's chance in hell of passage?

Having said that, buck hunting is a big money deal and getting larger every year. People are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a chance to kill a 140" (and above) whitetail. It's killing small game hunting, bird hunting and all other forms of hunting (except spring turkey hunting) simply because people are tying up huge tracts of land for pay to play deer hunting ONLY. There is an entire generation of hunters who have done very little (if any) small game and bird hunting.

As hunters, we need to decide what we want before it's out of reach to the average guy.

Because once it's gone, it's gone forever.



Interesting observations. I am not sure how universal they are though. Here in New Hampshire we will have a reduced number of days to hunt deer this year and fewer antlerless tags issued; all due to unusually poor wintering conditions this past winter. Other northeastern states are contemplating similar changes. meanwhile small game seasons are projected for their regular length.

One thing you mentioned which, in my opinion, will exacerbate the problem is the idea of jacking non-resident license and tag fees way up. For one that will impact a lot of smaller businesses in your state; the average hunter is only eating three meals a day whether he is a millionaire or pauper therefore Rosie's Diner is going to lose, one bed per hunter too so the motel's lose, the gun shops lose, the gas stations lose and etcetera. In the end the landowners will also lose; those celebrities and wealthy hunters will get bored of your neck of East Puckerbush and be off to new pastures next year.

Yeah, we do need to make our voices heard and we need to do it real soon!


First to Tom, my proposed ideal is the exact opposite of a 13th century European fuedal system where as you stated the king owned all the land and would punish the "peasant" for poaching game, sounds to me alot like the system we have now, the "king" is now known as the "state" and they use the same weapon, POWER, the Strong Arm of the Govt.
Also in what way can the State claim to "own" game? These are Wild and Free roaming creates, do you actually believe that the State owns you? Theses are not domesticated animals, if the State owned them then how come the state doesn't high fence all of the "public" property and put all the game onto tracts and then in the process make it illegal to hunt everywhere but designated State hunting lands? So everybody can be equal, if you saved up money to buy your own 20 acre lot, your S.O.L the State says you can't hunt game there, you must hunt the designated area, then you'd get poaching charges on your OWN land.
And one more, whats wrong with a land owner who doesn't want to TAKE your money to aid in his crop destruction that has happened he wants to prohibit. Whats the difference if someone buys the deer hunting rights from this guy through a lease(which prohibits all other hunting small game and fowl) which is legal and generally has a concencus on here, than if he just sold individual "tickets" or tags for one deer residing on his land. Honstly what is the difference???


Once again, we see ranchers demanding the rules be rewritten for their sake. Same as usual. Nothing new here.


And by take your money I mean through taxes and govt. intervention. A person is not "taking" your money if you volunteerd to hand him money in exchage of a good or service. The action of taking is only done by force, the only entity that can use force legally is the State. It is no different than a crook coming up to on the street and taking all your money, because he needs it for his percieved needs. Is it ok for the street criminal to steal from you using force and then give up the money to some charity of thier choosing? Is this not noble of the criminal because obviously we have SOOOO much money comparitivley that it was the criminals MORAL duty to...TAKE IT.


Being from Maine it is unheard of to lease land to hunt, let alone allow landowners to collect money for permits. This approach is dead wrong. Charging hunters to come in and shoot antelope that are damaging their crops...They should be paying the hunters to take care of their own problem!

Gary Tompkins

South Carolina used to allow people to "plant" a dove field 10 days prior to dove season. Opening day was awesome and taking their 12 bird limit was simply a matter of shooting enough. That changed about 15 years ago to fields that had to be planted in June and harvested according to commonly accepted agricultural practices. The result: Dove fields now "sell" for $200 to $500 per stand/per gun. Even the wildlife officers have noticed that there are very few young hunters on any dove field. We have effectively eliminated dove hunting for several generations and simultaneously limited to the upper echelon of the hunting community.

The interesting note was that even when we broadcast seed 10 days before the season, the effect on the overall dove population was only a few percent of birds being harvested while hunting.

The same goes for deer, quail and turkey hunting. Leases in South Carolina are now in the $700 to several thousand dollars per year.

I belive in Free Market Economics, but the state also has the responsibility to set laws that allow for the harvest of game and sensible managment of game populations and keep the opportunity available to the public at reasonable prices.

Also, the Free Market goes both ways. When there is no Younger Generation of hunters to take the place of the baby boomers with disposable income, the market rate for leases will fall dramatically. Basic supply and demand.


I live in Texas, and have no oppurtunity to hunt because I can't afford to pay landowners for even a small lease, and this is the biggest state in the cont. US. Mark my words, that's what happens when landowners get to set their prices and profit from public resources.


"no, no, no. KS landowners were allowed to sell their tags and the price of a whitetail tag went into five figures."
Kansas only allows residents a limited amount of tags for deer (depending on location and only one buck/year).If that person wishes to transfer a tag (which is the process)to another, isn't that just him giving up his own opportunity to harvest an animal to another?

Mike Diehl

I'm a displaced Yankee, born in Maine, and hunted there until I permanently left for work in the southwest, so I share Zac's pov. It's not just a public animals issue, leasing is downright unfriendly and unamerican.

Scott asked "Also in what way can the State claim to "own" game?"

Soctt, in most states it is a matter of law and there are a couple german USSJC rulings on the matter that clearly indicate that wild game are public property and as such cannot be managed to the exclusive benefit of private landowners by the state nor treated as private property by private landowners.


In Montana, Outfitters (that are Landowners) get an unlimitted number of tags. I agree with a lot of the comments about wild game not being property. I don't think that Outfitters and Rich Fat Cats should be able to pay for the right to hunt exclusive lands (Public in more cases than not). Every state resident should be allowed to have access to Public Lands to hunt, even if they have to cross Private Land to get to it. I think that the States FWP should pay Private Landowners and easement fee and help maintain the easement routes.


I am a landowner who guides for pheasants. The problem is the Game and Fish Dept. Here in SD the GF&P lease land from the farmers, I don't have a problem with that, but the GF&P should watch what they lease. A bare feild should not be leased, it is a waste of money. In SD you can road hunt, if a person shoots a pheasant over my land, which came from the right-of-way, they have the right to retrieve the bird unarmed. The GF&P gives a person the right to trespass on my land. No one with a warrant should be allowed on my land without my permission. Next case, you can shoot varmits from the right-of-way but not deer. When ask why, the GF&P said it was a safety reason. Bull****, this id why the GF&P are doing a poor job. There needs to be public land or leased land for hunting but GF&P needs to manage better.

Mike Diehl

"The GF&P gives a person the right to trespass on my land."

It seems reasonable to me, considering that the alternative is the bird is left to rot. Are you experiencing crop damage or other forms of vandalism from unarmed bird hunters who wreak havoc in pursuit of dead pheasant?


Yep, the state "owns" (manages, such as it is!) the asset (game). They are the one's(the state) that have been empowered by the Gov't (the people) to; control/enhance populations, set bag limits, gender (male/female) bag limits, seasons and shooting hours. Just to name a few of their duties!
If I have a problem with the land owner selling tags, it's with the price. I actually feel that the "State" should set "the" price (resident/non-resident) with the stipulation that the land owner receive only a percentage of each sale. The sale of the tag should also carry the stipulation that "trespass fees" are included! That is, if a tag sold for $100, the state gets a percentage for tags and to go back into the coffers and the landowner gets a percentage for the tag and for trespass fees! The State (people) AND the landowner are both compensated, fairly, for their time and expense! This takes the prices out of the (money grubbing) hands of the landowner and gives it back to the people (public). It also allows the landowner to sell/hold all, some, none of the tags, basically, controlling access to his/her property!
It also takes "trophy fees" off the table, as the tag should read buck/doe (circle one only), landowners choice. That way, the landowner has the right to maintain "trophy" heads that he may sell access to at market prices, IF he/she so choose! OR, leave that portion open to the hunter, allowing THEM to make the choice!
But, make no mistake, somebody will figure out a way to weasel the rules around to benefit themselves! Other than death, there are NO absolutes in life!



Mike Diehl,

If a person is hunting on adjoining property, I have no problem with them accessing my property to recover downed game.
EXCEPT: Leave your firearm/bow on "your" side of the fence. If the game is only wounded, contact me, (my property is small) I will assist you in recovering "your" game!


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