If you could give deer herds a boost by skipping your hunt, would you? One Wyoming hunter proposed just that with his “Let a Deer Walk” raffle. It was an idea born from high mortality rates due to an incredibly harsh winter where wildlife across the state suffered severe cold, too much snow and little food.
For Zachary Key, the hunter in Lincoln County behind the raffle, there’s a noticeable difference in the number of deer on the landscape because of this. In fact, recent data found that mortality rates could be even higher than the already counted 70% of collared adult deer and 100% of the 2022 collared fawns.
“It's a night and day difference,” said Key. “I mean, I'm used to seeing, you know, 50-60-80 deer on an outing. And you know, I've seen six.”
The raffle allowed hunters to turn in their Wyoming deer tags for a chance to win one of 22 prizes, which were donated by local and regional businesses. They included everything from an eight-day wolf hunt in Canada to a new four-wheeler, according to Wyoming Public Media.
However, turning in your tag didn’t mean that Key wanted hunters to stop buying them. Tag sales are a large part of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s (WGFD) annual revenue. While the agency didn’t participate in Key’s raffle, they did cut tags for both mule deer and antelope in parts of the state to help populations rebound.
“There was a lot of thought and science that went into producing these seasons this year, and so we do appreciate the thought behind it and the passion,” said Breanna Ball, WGFD public information officer, “but we still want to offer that hunting opportunity to folks in our state that will still allow for the facilitation and rebound of future populations.”
Key received about 800 licenses. The deadline to submit ended on Aug. 25.
Would you submit your tag and skip the hunt this year? Let us know in the comments.