Valles Caldera Elk Raffles Draw 4,700+ Applicants

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More than 4,700 applicants purchased raffle tickets for the 2002 bull elk hunts on the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The hunt is the first since the federal government purchased the former Baca Ranch two years ago.

"The last two weeks were a madhouse," said Stephen Maurer, Special Projects Manager for the non-profit Public Lands Interpretive Association, which administered the raffle. "Newspaper articles in Nebraska, North Carolina and Albuquerque opened the floodgates. Our phones rang nonstop, mail poured in, online purchases came in by the hundreds. One outfitter plopped down a huge box of applications and our entire office was taken over by elk hunters."

Raffle tickets sold for $25 each with no limit on the number of tickets each applicant could purchase. Tickets went on sale April 1, 2002 and the deadline for entries was June 29. Antlerless permits for the Valles Caldera were issued through the Department of Game and Fish public draw.

"Many people waited for the results of the Game and Fish draw on June 19 before buying raffle tickets," said Maurer. "People were calling from every state. We even had one person from Spain buy four tickets and one from Indonesia bought $500 worth."

The second rifle hunt was the most popular with 3,505 tickets sold, followed by archery with 3,308 tickets.

The raffle drawing was held July 15 in Las Cruces and the results are posted at Applicants will be notified of the results by E-mail or postcards.

The Valles Caldera Trust also had five bull elk access permits available for auction. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Safari Club International auctioned two each, with two permits going for $12,000 and two for $15,000 apiece. The fifth permit is being auctioned on e-bay through August, with a minimum bid of $10,000.

Lucky hunters are assigned to a sub-unit of 5,000 acres within the preserve, with two hunters per sub-unit. They will attend an orientation two days prior to their hunts and scout the area the following day, said Maurer.

The 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve opens to public hunting for the first time this fall, two years after its purchase by Congress in July, 2000. Once privately held, the area offers high-elevation forests and grasslands habitat for a herd of more than 4,000 elk. A board of trustees called the Valles Caldera Trust manages the preserve and all proceeds from the raffle and the auctions go to the trust for management costs.

"All the hunters will have a wonderful time," said Maurer.