A lot of big bucks have been taken in Arizona over the years with the help of the Arizona Special Commissioner Tags. These tags have raised over 1.7 million dollars since their inception. This money is dispersed amongst various habitat improvement projects for Arizona's fleeting antelope. The question is, do these tags impact the average trophy hunters odds of having a chance at hunting one of the biggest bucks in his chosen unit? Here's what my research shows...
Since 1990 there have been 55 Special Commissioner Tags. Of those tags 5 of the hunters either didn't kill or are still hunting as I type this. Of the 50 tags that remain I can verify the unit where 44 of the bucks were taken. Here is the breakdown by unit.
A few observations about the data:
If we look at the data on a year by year basis we can see if at least one buck is killed in a particular unit in a given year.
What this chart explains works like this, since it isn't as straight forward as the other: We can see that there have been 10 bucks taken in 19A of the 44 tags in question, but those 10 bucks were taken on only 7 different years. This is because on a few occasions multiple bucks were taken in the same unit on the same year. Only 4 times has there been more than one buck taken in a certain unit on the same year so the two charts look pretty similar.
The practical application from the data on this chart indicates this:
And notice that I said "one of the biggest bucks". This is because, on several occasions, the biggest buck doesn't get taken on the Special Tag for a given unit. This can be because certain guides and outfitters are better than others or because certain bucks are simply more elusive than others or because certain hunters are after a certain look and not necessarily absolute B&C score. In any case, if you apply for 19A, 18A, or 10, then there's a slight percentage of a chance** you have something to worry about, but if you apply for any other unit, the odds are in your favor.
So, do these tags impact your chance at a dream buck? Not really. In fact, if you were to add up all the big bucks that grew up and bred that were a result of the AAF Projects based on the funds garnered from the tags, then these tags probably help your odds of finding that dream buck.
**The percentage is far lower than indicated because first you have to draw the tag, then you have to locate the biggest buck, then the Special Tag hunter has to find the same buck and think that it's the best one he's seen, and then kill it. If you combine them all you can see how unlikely it truly is.