Historic Turkey Tag Sells for $17,500 at NWTF National Convention and Sport Show
A New Jersey man purchased the right to be the first hunter to pursue a Gould’s wild turkey in the U.S. in more than 60 years during an auction held as part of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Convention and Sport Show. Jim Hascup of Ringwood, N.J., was the high bidder for the historic Arizona hunt with a bid of $17,500. The auction was held during the NWTF’s Convention and Sport Show in Charlotte, N.C. Feb. 22-24.
Until this year, sportsmen looking to hunt the Gould’s subspecies of wild turkey had to travel to Mexico. Prior to restoration efforts that began in 1983, the last Gould’s populations in portions of New Mexico and Arizona were wiped out more than 60 years ago. In 1983, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Arizona Chapter of the NWTF, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Forest Service teamed up to help trap Gould’s in Mexico then release them in Arizona.
Last year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department announced it would allow two tom turkeys to be hunted from the restored population in the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona. One tag was made available through a random drawing open to the public and administered by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The other tag was auctioned and purchased by Hascup. Though the NWTF tag was the second one purchased, Hascup will be the first hunter to get a chance at an Arizona Gould’s.
“It has never been done before. I was very excited when I heard about it. I had already called the state, fish and game, the fort and (the NWTF) and researched the hunt, so I knew exactly what I was bidding on,” said Hascup.
The $17,500 bid price is believed to be the most money ever paid for a turkey hunt.
“I paid a little more than what I thought I would have to, but then some people feltit would go for $20,000,” Hascup, a member of the Highland NWTF Chapter, said. “I knew there was a lot of interest in it, so it wasn’t going to be cheap.”
“It seemed like everyone was bidding on it. The bidding went to $9,000 before I could even bid on it. I was very excited when I finally got it.”
As part of the bid package, Hascup will receive a Gould’s turkey tag valid on the U.S. Army’s Ft. Huachuca and Coronado National Forest in the Huachuca Mountains, one Merriam’s tag valid statewide in legal turkey hunting areas, lodging at the historic officer’s quarters at Ft. Huachuca, a professional guide and meals.
The $17,500 bid price is believed to be the most money ever paid for a turkey hunt, and proceeds from the purchase will go toward further Gould’s turkey conservation and research efforts.