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GF&P error thrills, then disappoints S. Dakota hunters

RAPID CITY (AP) -- Chuck Clayton erupted in such excitement Wednesday that his wife thought he was nuts, only to realize a half-hour later that he'd fallen victim to a computer glitch that got his hunter hopes up high.

Clayton, of Huron, was one of about 2,000 hunters notified by the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department that he'd drawn one of two once-in-a-lifetime hunting permits for bighorn sheep in the Black Hills.

"I sent out a bunch of emails and started to plan my hunt, only to have the second email about 30 minutes later saying I hadn't drawn the tag," Clayton told the Rapid City Journal.

The permits are so coveted that one was auctioned off for $102,000 this year to Watertown-area businessman Jon Dagel. Thousands of hunters enter the drawing. Just two names were chosen this year. The GF&P did not release their names Thursday.

Here's what the GF&P said happened: An "incorrect computer file" was accidentally downloaded, prompting hunting applicants who had provided email addresses to be notified that their names had been drawn for the sought-after license. The error was discovered when the system was about halfway through the notification process, meaning that about 2,000 people were incorrectly told that their names had been drawn.

"GF&P usually does a very good job," Clayton said Thursday. "But to take an old guy like me up the mountain and then push me off a cliff seems a bit cruel, even if it was a mistake."

Shon Eide, license office supervisor for GF&P in Pierre, apologized for the error.

"We know the high regard that hunters hold these licenses, and we apologize for the erroneous notification that was sent," said Eide, adding that the mistake "was not a security breach within the license system."