Friday, January 30, 2009

Fact or Fiction: When Speculation is Taken as Proof

© 2009, 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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This is the first in a series of commentaries on game ranching, hi-fencing, property rights, and hunter rights that I will be exploring. I encourage frank discussion, thoughtful responses, and lively debates. Those on the opposite sides of the aisle who don't usually visit here, are reminded that I only accept civil behavior, if you don't have the guts to post without being anonymous, please don't post. You will notice that I sign my name to everything I write both here and elsewhere. I believe in what I say, and I am not afraid to say it. Show me the same courtesy.

Albert A Rasch
Chief Chronicler

If you were to read the Humane Society of the United States' description of game ranch hunting, you might be led to the conclusion that ranchers are an evil lot, hunters are immoral and unethical, and if you are a careful reader, that animals are equal to humans.

After reading their web page titled, “Facts About Canned Hunting,” I was so disturbed by the faulty logic, misdirection, implications, and unsubstantiated statements, that I thought to dissect the statements made by the HSUS and perhaps dispel some of the propaganda that they are espousing. I would like to point out that the HSUS states, both in their url, and the title: “Facts About Canned Hunting.”

HSUS: “Canned hunts are private trophy hunting ranches, also referred to as "shooting preserves" or "game ranches." Canned hunts offer their customers an opportunity to kill confined exotic and/or native species for a price. Though not all canned hunt facilities are the same, here are a few things they all have in common:”

The term “Canned Hunt” is a phrase coined by the animal welfare proponents; it does not appear in the hunting community’s lexicon. There is no legal definition of Canned Hunt. It was created to explicitly imply that there is absolutely no such thing as “Fair Chase,” that the animal is in some way constrained or held unable to escape its fate.

HSUS: "Animals cannot escape. Canned hunts may range from a few to thousands of acres, but there is always a fence. On large ranches, guides drive hunters out to feed plots or bait stations that the animals are known to visit at certain times of the day. Small ranches offer animals in fenced areas where the hunter may approach the animals on foot, pick his target up close, take aim, and shoot."

As a matter of fact, the HSUS does not supply one single factual and documented example of this practice, on their page.

That animals cannot escape, is true. That they occasional do is also true. Just as any livestock rancher tries to avoid the loss of his herd, so does the game rancher. But, the implication of the preceding paragraph is that the animals cannot escape the hunter. This is only partially true. Any rancher worth his salt knows every square foot of his property. Naturally, he will know were his livestock will be at any given time. The difficulty is actually finding them. There are ten acre lots that a person can get lost in. To equate large enclosures of thousands of acres to one of twenty acres is disingenuous at best and a lie meant to incite at worse. Remember the HSUS states: “things they all have in common.

HSUS: "Canned hunting often means a slow death. Because the object of the hunt is a trophy, hunters generally aim at an animal's non-vital organs in order to leave the head and chest unscathed. This makes for a more attractive trophy but condemns the animal to a slow and painful death."

Vital organ location has no impact on the capeing of a trophy. Any taxidermist can stitch bullet or arrow holes and you would never find it. Since the HSUS uses the phrase hunting and hunter throughout the page, then they are obviously uninformed, for the vast majority of hunters will always opt for the quickest, cleanest kill possible. Sure sometimes a shot is botched, but that is by no means a common, everyday occurrence.

HSUS: The animals are often semi-tame. Because the animals are often bred on site or purchased from game farms, animal dealers—perhaps even zoos—they have been habituated to humans. Animals who've lost their fear of humans are easy targets, which makes it easy for canned hunt operators to offer a "no kill—no pay" guarantee.

That the animals are “often” semi tame is an unsubstantiated claim. Might there be some unscrupulous individuals that have semi-tame animals? Undoubtedly. Animals do breed on site that is true, that they have lost their fear of humans is again unsubstantiated. The use of the word “often” implies that game ranches have tame, hand fed animals that walk up to humans. This again, is untrue and meant to be disingenuous.

HSUS: Exotic and native animals are bred for canned hunts. The exotic species bred to be killed in canned hunts include many varieties of goats and sheep, several species of deer and antelope, Russian boar, and zebra. The native species include deer, elk, bison, and bear.
Hunting groups that subscribe to the concept of "fair chase" oppose canned hunts. Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, the Orion Institute, and the Izaak Walton League all denounce canned hunting. Many individual hunters also scorn canned hunting as unsportsmanlike.

“FAIR CHASE, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.”

To be accurate, the Boone and Crockett Club position on “canned shooting” is: “The Boone and Crockett Club condemns the pursuit and killing of any big game animal kept in or released from captivity to be killed in an artificial or bogus “hunting” situation where the game lacks the equivalent chance to escape afforded free-ranging animals, virtually assuring the shooter a certain or unrealistically favorable chance of a kill.” Emphasis mine.

The Pope and Young Club however, does not allow any animal taken from any enclosure whatsoever regardless of size, to be included in their record books. Their definition of Fair Chase is directly related to the taking of game to be included in their record books. In speaking to their representative, I was told that the spirit of the "Fair Chase Doctrine" was: "The taking of any animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals is fair chase." So the rule is not to condemn the practice of game ranching, but forbid those animals taken at hunting ranches as being admited into the books.

Nowhere on either of the preceding sites does it "denounce" game ranching, shooting preserves, or hunting preserves. You will find that many hunters do "scorn" "canned hunting," but appreciate preserve hunting or game ranching as a viable alternative to public land.

After careful research of both the Orion Institute and the Izaak Walton League websites, I could find no reference to canned hunting, canned shooting, or fair chase. (As I write this I have not been in touch with either group. As soon as I do, I will ascertain their positions.)

HSUS: Canned hunts carry the risk of spreading disease. Canned hunts can be directly related to the spread of serious wildlife diseases, most notably chronic wasting disease. When animals are concentrated in numbers, share food plots, or congregate at bait stands, the likelihood of disease transmission increases. Disease transmission is not only a risk to captive animals but also a potential threat to free-roaming wildlife. Many states have banned canned hunts because of the seriousness of this threat.

To use the words "risk", "can be", "likelihood", or "potential", implies a possibility not certainty. The title word of the HSUS page was “Facts” not possibilities. Once again, their use is meant to instill fear and concern. There are risks inherent with everyday activity. We use common sense, intellect and our wits to avoid the pitfalls that abound. Ranchers and game managers have their personal and financial well being tied up with their stock. They don't make foolish mistakes often.

HSUS: Canned hunts are legal in most of the United States. Most states allow canned hunting. At this time, no federal law governs canned hunting. The Animal Welfare Act does not regulate game preserves, hunting preserves, or canned hunts. Although the Endangered Species Act protects species of animals listed as endangered or threatened, it does not prohibit private ownership of endangered animals and may even allow the hunting of endangered species.

Again with the vague terminology; "Most states allow canned hunting." "Many states have banned canned hunting..." Which is it?

Of course "Canned Hunts" are legal in all states, as there is no legal definition for canned hunts. As to the legality of game ranches, there are some states that regulate them. And until the Constitution of the United States of America prohibits the ownership of property, owners may dispose of their property, including livestock, in whatever manner they choose.

Be honest HSUS. Your objection is not to any of the above mentioned activities, your objection is to the killing of animals. A little more honesty, and a lot less hypocrisy on your part would go a long way.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.


barnislavia said...

Brother, they just don,t get it and never will. 90% of the hunt is the hunt, not killing. In IA you could kill deer every night from you vehicle, but hunters don't. It is just another smear tactic.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

A great debate in the making Albert, I hope all your guests as a gracious, as you are a host.

As I'm the first to comment here's my 10c

The trouble with language (all languages and representational systems) is that they both inform and mislead.

If some people want to believe that they are doing animals a favor by taking a non interventionist stance towards them, that's their belief and, although I disagree with them, I respect their right to that belief. What i cannot respect is 'the fudge factor and finagle phenomena' being pedaled as the 'truth'.

If we don't like something it would be more honest to SAY SO, if someone is unable to support their personal preferences with facts, and they just say 'these are my preferences' - personally I think more of them for their honesty. I have close friends (my godson's mum for one) who vehemently appose the taking of any animal life, what we do agree on is that freedom is only freedom if everyone has it.

Here's one for the debate:
I live on a small island, smaller than many US states, the island has been inhabited for a very longtime. There are herds and flocks that are owned, there are herds and flocks that are wild. Sharing the same space. There are indigenous species and introduced species. Sharing the same space.
Where do you draw a line? Personally I wish to hunt in a pristine wilderness, but their isn't any.

As usual The Chronicles are home to thought provking prose, and I hope livley yet good natured debate


NorCal Cazadora said...

I think what bothers people about high-fence hunting is the notion of some slob who pays big money for a guaranteed kill, takes his trophy home and brags about it like he went on a dangerous 10-day safari to get it. He pretends it was a challenge when it wasn't. Agreed: That is irritating as hell.

But here's the reality: Hunting comes in myriad levels of challenge in America, and I'm not willing to let anyone dictate what level of challenge is the threshold for "acceptable," and I'm certainly not willing to let the HSUS decide what's "ethical" hunting when it in fact believes that hunting itself is unethical.

Is it ethical to plant unnatural food plots that attract and fatten deer? To put out cameras that do your scouting for you? To use bait like C'Mere Deer? To hide in a tree where it's unlikely a deer will see you? To hide your scent with treated cloth and sprays? To hunt one mile from a road? Five miles? Ten miles? In a 10 acre enclosure? 1,000 acres? 30,000 acres? An island? To kill with a rifle instead of a a bow? To kill with a bow instead of your bare hands? Should we all hunt as our ancestors did, with spears and longbows and atlatls and nets, clad in nothing but loincloths? That'd be challenging, wouldn't it? Someone please draw a line for me: In which of these scenarios is taking an animal's life morally wrong? And in which of these scenarios is it sacrosanct? Explain. No, really, explain why the method of the hunt makes killing good or bad.

The fact that one person chooses more challenging hunts than another is fine and dandy. I'm glad we all have that right. But make no mistake, folks: The level of challenge is something homo sapiens like to talk about to make themselves feel good about what they do, or to criticize others, or to defend their actions. It matters not one bit to the animal that dies. "Oh, thank you, Great White Hunter, for shooting me in a field where I had a chance to get away! My death is so much more meaningful now! Gasp! Gurgle! (Clunk.)"

So is it right or not right that humans kill animals and eat them? I believe it is right, and consciously or not, so does the 96.8 percent of the American adult population that eats animal flesh.

I may go on some hunts where success is virtually assured, and others where failure is just as likely. I love a good challenge, but if we're going to talk about ethics, what matters most to me is making the cleanest kill possible to minimize suffering.

It troubles me that we have a self-annointed hunting priesthood that spends its time in mountain cabins talking about how the only real and true and worthwhile hunting is their kind of hunting, that you have to leave the suburbs, ditch your rifle and join the priesthood if you want to be a member of the religion we call hunting.

If they want to hunt that way, fine. Honestly, I'd love to be able to do that myself. But stop pissing all over everyone else. Because if the only people who are allowed to hunt are the ones who hunt like you, then you've lost your political clout, and you won't be able to hunt anymore at all.

Who cares if some guy gets his deer in 90 minutes at a ranch instead of enduring three weeks in the woods? Really. Get over it. So he doesn't hunt like you. So what.

OK, I'm done now. Thanks, Albert.

Native said...

Wow Holly!
You have said a real mouthful and I agree with every bit of it.
Albert has really nailed it as well and hats off to you both.
In this ever increasing socialist encroachment which all of us are experiencing right now,the one thing which I hold very dearly is my "bought and paid for" private property rights.

The amount of taxes which I pay each year for my pieces of dirt entitles me to do as I please with my pieces of dirt like fencing it with an 8' game fence.
It is my property and my right, just so long as I do not encumber the blessings of liberty of other individuals in so doing.

I do believe that "control" is the primary motive behind this current "anti" movement and if you do the research you will find that certain entity's are heavily into a "land grabbing" mode.
This is facilitated by terms like Imminent Domain, Court Seizure etc. etc.

I made this statement over 15 years ago when the antis were pushing legislation to outlaw big game hunting using dogs.
The hound people would say that the antis were not after them, because they were not guilty of any inhumane treatment of the pursued animal. This was because the hounds only barked at, and did not grab hold like the bull dogs do.

I countered and said that the A.R.G.s are after "All" forms of hunting and that the bull dogs are the largest and easiest target to hit right now,and that we hunters had better "all" stick together and fight this overreaching legislation.
We all know what happened after that, because of the apathy and division of the ranks, the antis successfully outlawed big game hunting with dogs in several states.

I am saying this right now as I warned about the A.R.G.s several years ago, that it is all about land grabbing.
Make up a law which someone who was once a law abiding citizen, and by creating this law which makes him now a criminal, and will invariably get convicted for, and then watch how fast the courts scramble to try and take away your home and your land which it sits upon.
This, my friends, is the new U.S.S.A.

T. Michael Riddle:

NorCal Cazadora said...

So I woke up this morning and realized I'd gone fairly far afield of what Albert wrote. By way of explanation, I was addressing what I've been reading in books lately as much as anything. It's been on my mind...

Albert A Rasch said...

Hey Holly,

What's your book list of required reading? Maybe you can do a post.


This is just the first shot across the bow. I am going to break it up into small pieces and work it over. There is so much out there to dispute, that just the information gathering phase is lengthy.

I've got an idea, one which springs from a comment you made to me in Orlando, of what you expect in five years. I think this is the first step.


NorCal Cazadora said...

Albert, that is exactly the post I'm hoping to do this weekend!

Phillip said...

Great post, Albert. Sorry not to have replied sooner, but I've been up to my ass in alligators trying to get everything else done that I'm supposed to be doing and not doing it very well.

I don't have a lot to add that I haven't said before, but it's good to challenge the B.S. that groups like HSUS are trying to shove down the public's throat. Just keep in mind that this medium is largely preaching to the choir... which is valuable, but take any opportunity to take that message to the folks who need to hear it.

The only other thing is to watch out for the trap of fighting hyperbole with hyperbole. Maintain your credibility at all costs.

Albert A Rasch said...


Thanks for the advice I will definitely keep it in mind. I've been looking at several animal rights sites and looking for a proper opening.

More importantly I've been also making inroads with friends, neighbors and those pesky little kids that are continuously under foot by my shop!