Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

Local Sportsmen's Group Makes
A Major Difference In Utah

By Troy Justensen (aka "X-treme" here at

The Utah Governor's Tag benefits ALL Utah sportsmen!
This buck was taken by Dan Smith last year in Utah. It is 37" wide and scores over 243 gross points on the Boone & Crockett scale. He was guided by Troy Justensen (aka "X-treme" here at, owner of Xtreme Outfitters.
The buck in the picture to the right is the result of the 2000 Utah Governor's permit hunt last year. This is a tag for sale to the highest bidder. Many sportsmen believe the hunting industry is heading toward programs that only benefit the rich. Comments such as, "If I had money, I could kill a buck like that" are often heard. Do these programs only benefit the wealthy? I don't think so. The proof is in the pudding.

The Utah Conservation Permit Program is now generating about $700,000 a year. In general, the money goes into species specific projects from the species the tag was sold for. However, if both the DWR and conservation group raising the money agree on a major project, the money can be comingled. Also, many projects help multiple species. For example: The Utah Chapter of FNAWS recently put in some water catchment ponds. These will also benefit mule deer, antelope, bighorn, and chukar. No money goes into a "general fund" and sportsmen groups track every dollar, ensuring the funds have been well spent to maintain or increase current hunting opportunities.

So far the program is covering the costs of 120 Bighorn sheep being transplanted, the majority of the costs of turkey transplants, the buffalo transplant, the cost of a mountain goat transplant to the Uintas, guzzler installations, mule deer habitat reseeding projects, securing critical deer winter range, elk migration studies, and much more.

The most recent project took place in the Henry Mountains, just north of Bullfrog Bay at Lake Powell. The area is home to one of the only free ranging wild buffalo herds in North America. Approximately 400 bison roam the rugged 10,000 foot mountains that drop to the desert floor toward Lake Powell.

For several years, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources believed it was in the best interests of the range and bison herd to acquire additional forage for the buffalo, if the opportunity arose. DWR Biologist, Ron Hodson, developed a close working relationship with one of the long-time ranchers in the area, Mr. Bliss Brinkerhoff. Mr. Brinkerhoff and his family were trying to re-arrange their cattle operation and wanted to sell some of their grazing permits on the Henry Mountains. The Brinkerhoffs were willing sellers, and Sportsmen for Habitat were willing buyers.

On January 3rd, in Richfield, Utah a joint agreement was signed by Mr. Brinkerhoff, Mr. Dave Henderson, area Manager for the BLM, and Don Peay, President of Sportsmen for habitat (the 501C3 Charitable arm of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife). This will allocate an additional 505 AUMs (forage on BLM lands) for the free ranging bison herd on the Henry Mountains. A first right of refusal was also agreed to if the Brinkerhoff Family decides to sell any additional AUMs.

The transaction involved more than $80,000 of private money provided by Sportsmen for Habitat members and their conservation permit buyers. This is yet another example of sportsmen working with ranchers in a win/win fashion, in partnership with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the BLM to provide habitat and forage for Utah's wildlife species.

A day later, Sportsmen for Habitat provided $3,000 toward a water development "guzzler" that will provide a critical water source for mule deer and other wildlife species on the Pahcoon Flats west of St. George, Utah. The total project cost is $17,500.

Some of the money raised from the sell of last years Governor's tag is going toward acquiring critical mule deer winter range near Beaver, Utah. This area is home to one of the largest deer herds in the state. This is a place where a lot of average hunters can hunt big bucks. Without money from guys like Dan Smith, the Beaver deer herd gets wiped out and thousands of hunters have lost a place to hunt.
Authors' Note: The Utah Conservation Permit Program was developed by Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife (SFW) and the Utah chapter of FNAWS. Don Peay and Lee Howard worked nearly two months, traveling thousands of miles, and attending lots of meetings to establish this program. SFW is a "state run" organization where all the sportsman dollars stay here, in Utah. For more information on SFH projects, check their website at: Thanks for all your help and financial support.

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

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