This is the first time since the state of Utah took ownership of Antelope Island in 1981 that mule deer and bighorn sheep have been taken through a hunt. It was big news earlier this year at the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo when the high bid to hunt mule deer on the island went for a staggering $265,000. That winning bid went to WD Martin.
The evening of November 15th, WD Martin shot one of the super bucks located on the island with the help of Mossback Guide & Outfitters. This monster buck is 39-inches wide and scores 240 gross (if not broke). This 240-class mule deer was part of the reason this tag went for so much as speculation grew of just how big of a buck was going to surface when the hunt finally arrived. In addition to the auction tag, there was also a single draw tag hunter who would also get a chance to hunt. Brad Kendrick was the lucky hunter who drew the tag and followed it up with another spectacular 240 class non-typical mule deer (if not broken would have score 245 gross).
The hunts were approved last summer on a one-year trial basis, with the requirement that 90 percent of the money from the auctioned tags be used for wildlife habitat improvements on the island. Of course when you throw in the combination of auction tag, big money, big bucks, and an area not hunted in decades, you are going to have controversy.
Miles Moretti, president of the Mule Deer Foundation, which helped auction off the tag, clearly stated that the money raised will not be going to the infrastructure of the park but is to be truly used for on-the-ground projects to improve wildlife habitat.
In addition, there was also a bighorn sheep auction tag hunt that sold for $50,000 on the island as well.