By Logan Hedges
As 2016 is now upon us, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I hope everyone has had an enjoyable and successful hunting season. This is the time of year when I like to start planning and dreaming about the upcoming fall. I have been talking with several members, and the most common question I am asked is, "What exactly are landowner tags, and how can they benefit me as a hunter?" Landowner tags are hunting vouchers given to private landowners by state wildlife agencies for elk, deer, or antelope. These programs are in place to compensate landowners for state-regulated wildlife on privatelyowned land. Depending on the state, landowners are given or have to draw a certain number of tags, depending on property size or number of animals that are counted on that property. There are several ways landowner tags can benefit you as a hunter. If you were unable to draw a tag or didn’t have enough points to draw the unit you wanted, you can purchase a landowner tag for that unit. Some hunters like to buy a landowner tag and go scout an area before they burn all their points to draw that unit. Other hunters simply buy a landowner tag every year so they can hunt their favorite areas. Whatever the reason may be, landowner tags are a great way to bypass the draw and get you out hunting.
Colorado and New Mexico are the most popular states that offer landowner tags and have a large number of tags available. Colorado recently changed their landowner tag program, so brokering of landowner tags is no longer allowed. In order to comply with this new rule, we made our website available to Colorado landowners to list their tags and contact information so members could see what tags were available and reach out to those landowners directly. Landowner tags in Colorado are season specific and only allow hunters to hunt during the season dates found within their hunting regulations.
New Mexico also has many options for hunters when it comes to landowner tags. If you want to hunt elk or antelope, New Mexico is a great place to go. The landowner elk tags are designated as either "Ranch Only" or "Unit Wide," but the antelope tags are all ranch specific. There are three types of elk landowner tags in New Mexico – either sex archery, antlerless, or mature bull. Huntin’ Fool deals mainly with the Unit Wide landowner tags. These tags are good for the entire game management unit, all public lands, and any participating ranch located within that unit. Once a hunter purchases a landowner tag in New Mexico, they are given an authorization number and ranch identification number. The hunter then needs to go to the New Mexico Game and Fish website and select the season they want to hunt.
Nevada's landowner tag system is unique from other states and gives hunters more privileges than drawing a tag through the regular draw. Landowner elk tags require the hunter to select one of the available seasons in that unit. Landowner deer tags allow the hunter to hunt all the seasons within the unit until they harvest an animal. Nevada typically offers three seasons – archery, muzzleloader, and rifle. Each unit offers different season dates, so the number of hunting days is different depending on the unit you purchase a landowner tag in. Nevada has, by far, the highest priced landowner tags due to a very limited number of tags, but if you consider the number of days you can hunt and trophy quality animals, the prices are reasonable.
Utah also has a limited number of landowner tags available for purchase. They have two landowner tag systems. One system is the Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit (CWMU) where landowners are given tags only for their property. Landowners have liberal seasons and can transfer these tags as desired. In exchange for these tags, landowners must let a certain number of resident hunters hunt their land. The second landowner tag system is more like the other states where landowners are issued tags for a specific unit. These tags may be transferred to anyone, and the hunter can hunt the entire unit during the entire season.
After you have purchased a landowner tag, there is still another step before you go hunting. Depending on the state, you may need to purchase your actual tag, license, and stamps. This can be done online or through a department office for that state.
For the upcoming 2016 hunting season, we will be listing all of our tags on our website as they become available. I encourage anyone who is interested in landowner tags to sign up for our notifications so you know when a new tag is posted. Please email or call me to let me know what tags you may be looking for so we can get you out hunting.