The reason for all this noise about reducing tags, you'll recall, is a recent slip in the quality of desert bighorn sheep being taken in some areas. Hunting for these animals in Sonora reopened in 1995 and in Baja California in 1997. Since then, between 12 and 80 permits have been issued annually, and hunter success has been virtually 100 percent. Nearly 60 percent of the animals harvested have made the Boone & Crockett minimum of 168. Recently, though, rams in the 150s and low 160s have begun to show up in the harvest, and that has led a number of outfitters to complain that too many permits are being issued. They have been actively campaigning to have the number of permits reduced. Up to now, however, the economic reality of having to cut hunts worth upwards of $35,000 to $60,000 has made it impossible to implement any reductions.
This year, the inside word is, things could be different. And the problem with that is, the final decision on the number of permits that will be issued won't be finalized until October, right before the season opens. Currently, most outfitters and landowners are selling tags based simply on what they think they will get this year, not necessarily what they have in their possession at the moment. If you are a booked client, you need to be aware of that. It's not a bad idea to get in contact with your outfitter now and inquire about his contingency........(continued)