Why it’s time to revamp Saskatchewan’s contentious big-game draw

Credit: SWF

Tag trouble

System can’t cope with increased tag requests, and many hunters miss out

The time has come to revamp Saskatchewan’s contentious big-game draw. That’s the word from the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation’s executive director, Darrell Crabbe, who says the current system simply can’t keep up with the meteoric rise in the number of applicants for big-game opportunities. In the last nine years, the number has increased by 242 per cent.

According to Crabbe, there were 51,900 applicants for just under 24,000 tags in the 2007 draw, but last year, there were 126,000 applications for only 17,000 available tags. The interest has been especially high for either-sex elk, moose, mule deer and pronghorn antelope licences.

Credit: SWF. Tags for antelope and other game are coveted.
Credit: SWF.
Tags for antelope and other game are coveted.

Crabbe says the problem with the current system, in which hunters enter at the lowest level “priority pool” and work their way up to the highest, is that it’s possible for someone to languish for a long time without getting selected. “It’s a chronic issue with our system,” he says, “It’s a random drawing of the individuals in the highest-level pool. There are some people who’ve been sitting in that pool for years and years and haven’t been drawn.”

The solution, Crabbe suggests, is to combine a first-come, first-serve list with a lottery. “You get into a queue, so you know when you’re going to get drawn,” he says. “But in order to entice people to stay in the process and keep applying, you have perhaps 10 or 15 percent that are a random lottery draw.”

The SWF is hoping the province looks at such different draw models and implements an improved one by the 2018 hunting season. Says Crabbe: “We’ve started on the journey and we’re going to try and make it happen within the next year or two.”

Learn more about the SWF’s programs and positions at

Bob Sexton

Bob Sexton

Growing up in Gander, Newfoundland, and Peterborough, Ontario, Outdoor Canada's managing editor Bob Sexton jumped at every chance to wet a line and head afield. After spending half of the 1990s working as a tour guide in Latin America, he completed a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University in 2001 and was hired on as Outdoor Canada's assistant editor. Since joining the magazine, he has won two Outdoor Writers of Canada awards, in 2008 and 2011, and contributed to numerous National Magazine Award winning or nominated stories. Sexton is the past president of the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors.

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