PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — There’s an added perk for the 2020 winner of the auction for a South Dakota bighorn sheep license.
The sportsman may attend Governor Kristi Noem’s invitational pheasant hunt this fall as a special guest, a state Game, Fish and Parks Department official said Monday.
Meeting by teleconference, the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission chose the Midwest chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation to receive the privilege to offer the 2020 tag.
It will mark the eighth consecutive year for the foundation.
The foundation raised $89,000 from its 2019 auction of the tag. The prior two seasons, auctions raised $89,000 and $71,000.
Being able to attend the governor’s hunt the fourth weekend of October –Saturday, October 26, is the actual hunt — could help attract more interest in the sheep-tag auction.
It also could spread the word about the auction among the scores of business executives invited to the annual hunt.
There’s another bonus for the 2020 sheep hunt itself. The commission expanded where the auction-tag sheep may be hunted next year, to include part of eastern Pennington County, where a trophy ram might call home.
Tom Kirschenmann, an official for the state Wildlife Division, told commissioners Monday that several conservation groups were invited last month to apply for the auction privilege. Only the Midwest chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation did.
Kirschenmann said the first $85,000 from the auction of the 2020 tag will be used for the bighorn sheep program. Additional proceeds will be used for habitat projects on public and private lands, he said.
“We will be accepting bids via phone, internet and in person. This will allow us to give everyone the opportunity to bid and bring the most for the tag,” Nick Negrini, president of the Midwest chapter, based in Northfield, Minnesota, wrote in a July 19 letter to the department.
The 2019 season opens September 1. Two hunters received licenses from 3,357 South Dakota applicants in GFP’s drawing.