© 2009, 2010 Albert A Rasch™ and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
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
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.
Albert A Rasch™
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...
Though 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.