An ever-greater share of the really good hunting out West is available to non-residents only through special drawings, outfitter-sponsored tags and through the various landowner-permit programs that have been created. Problem is, good draw permits are hard to get and both outfitter-sponsored tags and landowners tags tend to be expensive. So, what can you do besides wait for your number to be pulled and/or save as much money as you can to pay for increasingly expensive hunts? One thing you can do is look into the growing number of "special permits" being issued by the states. Most of these permits wind up being offered in special auctions or raffles that go unheeded by sportsmen. So many special permits are being offered these days across the West they defy easy summary.
So, let me acquaint you with the general subject by telling you what is available in my home state of Oregon. Perhaps you will want to take a deeper look on your own at what's available in other states that interest you. Some history of special permits is in order first. Over a decade ago, several states initiated programs to auction sheep permits at sportsmen's conventions. These permits became known as "Governor Permits" because they often had preferential seasons and regulations designed with one objective - to attract the highest bids possible. States used funds generated from these auctions to supplement big game programs and shore up sagging budgets. I was personally involved in behind-the-scenes work leading to the first auctioned sheep permit in Oregon. In those days, the state was issuing 58 sheep permits annually in drawings that generated around $1,500 each year. One fact was painfully obvious - the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife didn't have funds for sheep studies, let alone extensive transplants and habitat improvements. Enter Oregon's first sheep permit in 1987. That first permit generated $56,000, which was more money than had been raised by all the permit drawings prior to 1987. To date, almost $642,000 has been raised in these auctions - a tremendous windfall that has allowed Oregon to put a lot of new sheep on........(continued)