A Long Beach, Calif., man with business interests in Caldwell, Idaho, has purchased Idaho's prize bighorn sheep tag for about half the amount it fetched in 1988.

Dan Pocapalia, owner of Kit Manufacturing Inc., which has a plant in Caldwell, bought the state's tag for $36,000 at the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep auction Saturday in Reno, Nev.Last year, Idaho sold its first tag at the auction for $68,000 to Bob Senter of Plainstow, N.H. He killed an 81/2-year-old, 350-pound sheep near Borah Peak that had a set of horns that rated 170 points.

Pocapalia, who has shot five rams in the last six years, hopes to find a crown jewel in the Gem State.

"Somebody told me there's a needle in the haystack out there in Idaho's hills somewhere," he said.

Nine Western states and Mexico offered bighorn tags for auction. They sold for a combined total of about $2 million, said Robert Digrazia, a Boise dentist and foundation board member.