SHERIDAN — Ben Howard, a resident of Draper, Utah, figured the $30 would simply be a friendly contribution to Wyoming Game and Fish Department conservation efforts when he entered the Super Tag drawings for elk, moose and deer.
“I thought, ‘Well, I can’t really lose because if I buy some tickets, I’ll just look at it as a donation to the Game and Fish and I think they do a good job and I’ve never had any complaints at all,’” Howard said. “I believe that expectations are premeditated resentments, so I didn’t expect to win anything. I did it just with a clear, ‘Hey, take my money, if I win it, I win it, if not, who cares.’”
After entering, Howard forgot all about the drawing. Toward the end of July, though, Howard received a phone call and was notified that he, with his single purchased tag, won the moose drawing out of around 10,000 entries. He couldn’t believe it.
Hunting moose in Utah is highly unlikely in a lifetime. Likewise, Howard had a 0.3 percent chance to draw a random moose tag in Wyoming in 2018 — only seven of 1,863 out-of-state applicants were issued tags for moose.
With preference points, Howard’s chances would have increased slightly at 2.87 percent statewide, and that’s only if he would have had enough to even be in the running for a tag. Preference points can be purchased by resident and out-of-state hunters to help better their chances for certain tags, including antelope, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat, wild bison, grizzly bear, early crane, wild turkey, beaver and pheasant.
Howard was the lucky random recipient.
There are two types of raffle drawings, Super Tags and Super Tag Trifectas. Super Tags allow hunters to pay $10 per ticket per animal. For Super Tag Trifecta raffles, hunters pay $30 and choose three animals they would like to hunt in the course of a year.
Winners of the raffle still have to purchase a license, said Christina Schmidt, public information specialist for Wyoming Game and Fish Department — Sheridan Region.
“Winning the raffle guarantees you get a license, but you do have to pay for it,” Schmidt said in an email to The Sheridan Press.
For 2017 Super Tag Trifecta winner and Laramie local Zachery Deberard, the end cost was far greater than the $30 initial fee. After planning three hunting trips for his three tags won and purchased — moose, mountain goat and bighorn sheep — Deberard hired an outfitter for all but the moose trip, processed meat and paid for taxidermy for his three harvested animals and spent around $50,000 total. Even with spending that much on the experience, Deberard said he would do it all over again.
“It was all a wonderful delight,” Deberard said. “It’ll be something that will never happen again. What did they call it? A chance in three lifetimes. Just winning one tag is chance of a lifetime, but to do all three of them in the same year?”
Howard and Deberard appreciated the opportunity to fill their family’s freezers with quality, rare wild meat.
The Super Tag was created by the Wyoming Legislature in 2014. Since that time, it has raised more than $3.7 million toward conservation efforts and management programs in the state, according to Schmidt. In 2018, 70,145 Super Tag raffle tickets were sold for bighorn sheep, moose, elk, mountain goat, wild bison, deer, antelope, mountain lion, wolf and black bear.
Raffle winners can hunt any area open for the species except for moose and bison areas that have just 10 or fewer licenses offered and bighorn sheep areas with eight or fewer licenses available, Schmidt said. Winners retain all their preference points, and the once-in-a-lifetime restrictions for bison and mountain goat licenses are waived.
Tickets sales are open until July 1. For those fortunate enough to win the drawing, it was certainly worth the $10 or $30 payments for the chance of a lifetime.
“I think when you donate to these, you’re actually donating to opportunity,” Howard said.