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B&C Position Statement - Governor's Tags

First Adopted May 7, 2015 – Revised and Approved October 15, 2021

Situational Overview

Conservation funding is a considerable challenge for the 21st century, especially for wildlife agencies. For these agencies, services and responsibilities have expanded, but operating budgets have not kept pace with these changes. Wildlife agencies now must do more with less. This has forced agencies to seek alternative and creative funding to supplement revenue from sources such as annual license sales and excise tax distributions. One of these alternatives is the auctioning of so-called Governor's Tags, sometimes known as Commissioner's Tags, Minister's Tags, Premier's Tags, Chairman's Tags, or Conservation Tags, depending on the jurisdiction (collectively referred to as "tags" in this position statement).

State, provincial, tribal, and First Nations governmental authorities issue tags for a particular big game species to raise revenue for future management of that species or for conservation in general. Agencies usually do not sell these tags themselves, preferring to allocate them to national, state, and local conservation organizations to be auctioned at their conventions, banquets, and fundraisers. Agencies typically receive a large percentage (some receive 100%) of any monies raised from the sale of a tag. Depending on the species and trophy potential, a single tag at auction can bring from less than $10,000 to more than $400,000. Most of the western states, provinces, tribes, and First Nations in the U.S. and Canada offer these kinds of tags, which differ in name, number issued, legal species , season dates, and methods of take.

The purchaser of a tag is exempt from any application, drawing process, or waiting period to secure the chance to hunt a limited-opportunity species in a premier area with little competition from other hunters. Some tags come with additional privileges such as being able to hunt in any game management unit, hunt before and after general hunting seasons, or hunt with a variety of hunting methods. Another attraction is the purchaser can contribute directly to a species they care about, or to an organization or agency they wish to support. These special privileges and attributes are what make these tags so valuable.

Despite their great success, tag programs and some of the resulting hunts have come under criticism in recent years. The objections are frequently based on concerns over fairness (to all sportsmen regardless of economic ability), Fair Chase, and the use of funds. The benefits these tags provide to conservation can be tarnished by criticism, some of which is justified and some unjustified.

Benefits of tags include:

  • Generating significant additional funding for wildlife management, either specifically for that species or other game species. This includes maintaining sustainable populations, expanding existing populations, re-establishing a species to historical ranges, predation management, enhanced surveys, disease detection and management, securing or enhancing habitat, and funding vital new research.
  • Additional funding helps maintain or expand hunting opportunities for a particular species or other wildlife, and can help avoid price increases to hunting licenses and tags for resident and non-resident hunters.
  • In many cases, the additional monies raised make possible necessary management programs that would otherwise not be possible.

Criticisms of tags and the associated hunts include:

  • Even though intensive scouting techniques are not unique to tag holders, they tend to be associated with hunts that are highly coveted. Intensive scouting techniques that are considered unethical include paying someone (finder’s fees) to locate a special trophy and then guiding the tag holder to that trophy, and/or having them on call until the right animal is found and then the tag holder is brought in (sometimes referred to as "spot-and-call"). Also at issue are the ethics of guides sitting on or hazing an animal away from other hunters until the tag holder arrives, which is illegal in many states. 
  • Sometimes funds from tags are not used specifically as advertised or are being diverted to non-wildlife or non-game uses.
  • Tag holders, who usually harvest the largest animals, unfairly reduce opportunities for other sportsmen who have waited years to draw a tag for the same chance.
  • The privilege of year-round or liberal hunting seasons, and/or being allowed to hunt with a firearm during archery season.


As the leading conservation organization and promoter of Fair Chase in North America, the Boone and Crockett Club is concerned about the disregard for ethical conduct and Fair Chase standards that sometimes occur with tag hunts. The Club recognizes that the value of tags is driven by the opportunity to pursue a world-class trophy, but maintains that most individuals who purchase them also want to better a particular game species or support wildlife management in general. 

Tag holders and their guides and outfitters need to acknowledge they are representing all hunters who care about wildlife stewardship and the ethical hunting of big game species. The Club therefore encourages scouting, guiding, and the hunt itself to be conducted under conditions of Fair Chase and fairness to other hunters. While most forms of intensive scouting to locate an animal before the hunter arrives are not illegal, they can challenge ethical principles. 

The Club finds that trophies harvested with these tags add to the complete picture of successful species management and the inclusion of these data into its Records of North American Big Game program is useful for future wildlife management decisions. Consequently, the Club accepts trophies taken with these special tags into its big game records program if tag holders meet all eligibility requirements of the Club’s records program, which are based primarily on principles of Fair Chase and wildlife conservation.  These rules have not and will not be altered for a trophy taken with a tag.  

Although the Boone and Crockett Club does not typically engage in auctioning tags, it supports other conservation organizations raffling and auctioning special hunting opportunities because this form of funding is a critical element for wildlife agencies to keep pace with current challenges and demands. The Club has long supported state, provincial, tribal, and First Nations wildlife agency management authority. This includes allowing them to decide what is necessary to fully fund wildlife programs, including the issuance of tags.

The perception that tag programs are unfair to the average hunter or create a double standard for the wealthy could be alleviated through better communication and transparency. Agencies that issue these tags should provide valid reasons why they have adopted certain rules and processes for them, including communicating how these monies are being used and what types of benefits and successes are being achieved with these funds. If a portion of tag revenues are intended for non-wildlife purposes, this fact should be disclosed to potential advertisers and buyers. Offering raffle tags to hunters at a nominal fee, as some states do, could be another way of making special hunting opportunities available to everyone.   

Click here for the Position Statement on Big Game Records Eligibility. 


The Boone and Crockett Club publishes position statements to inform and educate people about conservation and hunting issues. Thus, there is no charge for personal and non-commercial use of its position statements, but reprinting or re-use of any portions of a position statement shall credit the Boone and Crockett Club as the source. Any such use shall remain subject to all rights of the Boone and Crockett Club.

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-Theodore Roosevelt