First-ever super raffle raises a half million for wildlife
PHOENIX – Nine lucky winners now have hunt-permit tags of a lifetime while Arizona’s first-ever big game super raffle raised more than a half million dollars for wildlife conservation in the state.
The nine winners of special, prized commissioner’s hunting tags with yearlong season dates were drawn from a drum on July 8, and almost immediately the goal for next year’s super raffle was set at raising a million dollars for wildlife.
The big game super raffle is a new concept, not just for Arizona, but for the nation. For years, two commissioner tags were set aside per big game species in Arizona, and they were auctioned off or raffled by individual sportsmen’s groups to raise money for wildlife. A third tag per species was created last year by the state Legislature. Several sportsmen’s groups then joined together in a unique collaborative effort to market these nine new commissioner tags via a super raffle.
These dedicated sportsman-conservation groups sold 42,606 raffle tickets for the nine available commissioner tags, a total raised of $514,055. Although 56 percent of the tickets were sold within Arizona, raffle tickets were actually sold in every state except Vermont, plus Canada. Every dollar raised goes directly to wildlife and wildlife management for the particular species.
In addition, 4,752 raffle tickets for a Swarovski optics package were sold, which raised more than $47,000 to cover the operating expenses of the raffle. Swarovski donated the optics package.
- The super raffle winners were:
- Antelope - Wallace Duncan, Flagstaff:
- Black Bear - Pete Demassari, Chandler:
- Buffalo - Andrew Pontious, Upland, Calif.:
- Coues Whitetail - Olga Boido, Tucson;
- Desert Bighorn Sheep - Gerald Carter, Caldwell, Texas:
- Elk - Gary Chiurazzi, Peoria:
- Javelina - John Dardis, Jamestown, N.D.:
- Mule Deer - Garel Westall Jr., Carlsbad, N.M.:
- Turkey – Harold Barton, Corbin, Ky.:
- Swarovski optics - Paul Lennon, Benson:
After each winner was drawn from the drum, he or she was immediately called and hooked into a speakerphone, often with the accompaniment of much appreciative applause from the assembled sportsmen.
The night’s humorous relief came from deep in the heart of Texas. “I’ll tell ya what now, this here is a pretty good present,” said Gerald Carter from Caldwell, Texas, after being told he had won the much-coveted bighorn sheep tag. Without skipping a beat, the Texan asked with a slight drawl, “Have you all drawn for elk yet? Hope ya’ll will be calling back in a few minutes.”
Following completion of the drawing, Pete Cimellaro, one of the organizers of the raffle, told the assembled representatives from the various organizations that everyone thought he was crazy when he set the super raffle goal this year of raising a half-million dollars for wildlife. “I’m going to tell you right now, this $500,000 is going to double next year.”
Cimellaro explained that with all the sportsmen’s groups working together on this project, “This thing is going to grow and grow, and raise millions for wildlife.”
For more information on the super raffle, visit arizonagiggamesuperraffle.com.