Saturday, March 28, 2009

Game Reserves, Preserve Hunting, High Fence Hunting, What are the Facts?

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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I've been looking into the High-Fence Hunting, Preserve Hunting, Game Reserves, and Game Ranches issue for some time. What I have seen and heard are a substantial number of opinions, but very little in terms of critical analysis. Wild game management, fair chase, disease, and access are controversial issues that need reasoned and careful deliberation. This is going to be an ongoing project, subject to revision and correction as we explore the concept and separate fact from fiction, opinion from substance, and try to resolve one of the most contentious issues among us.
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Rick at Whitetail Woods set off a series of comments in his post This Should Not be Allowed to Happen. I took exception to both Rick's assertions and the source of his information. In my opinion, the source material was first and foremost biased, and without merit due to its authorship. Secondly the source material lacked any substantiation, any facts.

(Rick and I are very good friends, and both of us can discuss these kind of matters without taking offense at the other.)

An even greater issue in my opinion, is that Whitetail Woods is a valuable resource. When I was researching the origins of the issue, Whitetail Woods came up as the fourth reference on Google. If you know anything about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), first page is great, first five is awesome! What this means, is that as a source Whitetail Woods is an authority on the subject. I don't think that Rick was working SEO magic, he just writes great content.

Unwittingly, he was drawn into the web of one of the most notorious anti-hunting organizations that exists today, the Humane Society of United States. And his hard work on Whitetail Woods, would ultimately be used against him and the sport he enjoys. Imagine if you will, Rick sitting behind his desk, and finding his name and a quote from his blog being used in some anti-hunting website.

Holly A. Heyser of NorCal Cazadora puts it succinctly, "Hunters who pile on in this debate will be gleefully quoted by the antis. I monitor anti activity pretty closely, and they are at their most effective when they say "ethical hunters agree with us." Non-hunters who are pretty reasonable will say, "Oh, well if even the good hunters agree, it must be a bad thing."

This is something that all of us have to be aware of. I saw many comments to the post. I would be furious if I was quoted and misrepresented by any organization that I was against.

I think it is very important that we look at the issue of High-Fence Game Ranch, and Preserve hunting objectively.

The majority of us if asked, would respond that killing, for the sake of killing, is inappropriate, except in the case of cockroaches in the cupboard. Yet, it happens more often than we would care to admit. We read about it all the time. I get the reports from many State Fish and Wildlife Divisions, and plenty of folks get arrested for doing things they shouldn't. Kids getting wild and shooting anything that moves, grown men who break laws just to shoot something, even fishermen filling their coolers and letting it go to waste. These folks are lawbreakers.

People that hunt in game preserves or behind fences are not lawbreakers. The law is very explicit on what may or may not be done. That much is indisputable. That laws may be broken is also indisputable. But that one can legally hunt in a preserve or behind high fence is a fact.

Before we go off on a tangent of what defines hunting, let me preempt that by saying: Hunting is what you make of it. If we, the hunting population, start to define what hunting is, where will it stop? Will rifle use be more hunt worthy than bows, self bows more worthy than laminates, minie ball appropriate and sabots not? Harris hawks ok, but Merrils out of the question? Why shouldn't I, a well trained soldier, be allowed to risk my neck and receive the charge from a boar at the end of a spear, or better yet a sword and buckler? Is the European model any less hunting than sitting in a blind at the edge of a food plot? Is flyfishing the only way to fish?

Bitter of Bitchin in the Kitchen says, "In PA, the latest debate was over expanding crossbow use. I kid you not, I met several guys who were more outraged over that decision, than they would have been if the had cut all hunting seasons in half. Sebastian was talking to one outdoor writer here who was just laughing about the entire thing. He pointed out that these very same people and groups screamed as loudly about compound bows years ago - and now they would scream bloody murder if you tried to restrict compound bows. Meanwhile, as non-hunters who care about the issue, Sebastian & I are wondering why, if it has the possibility of opening up hunting to a slightly broader audience, bow hunters are seeking to shut it down."

How ridiculous is that.

Othmar Vohringer in his post "A Muzzleloader by any Name is Still a Muzzleloader" puts it very succinctly. "This is the 21st century and we’re faced with huge problems that could end the hunting and shooting tradition for the next generation if we do not wake up to the challenges we face." He goes on to relate, "I am also pleased to see that the guy realized that we’re faced with more important issues then who shoots what. It is my hope that in the future we can concentrate more on what unites us all, and less on what divides us."

If someone has an argument that defeats the statement, "Hunting is what you make of it", I'll be willing to listen to it.


I want everyone to think deeply on this for a moment. Does property ownership and access have anything to do with or influence how you define hunting?


Let's explore why Game Ranches, Hunting Preserves and High Fence Ranches operations exist.

One of the laws of capitalism is that things exist because there is a market for it. Obviously there must be a market for it. Otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Someone works hard, works smart, or just gets plain lucky and buys some premium elk habitat. He takes his hard earned money and invests it in impenetrable fences that elk, deer, and bears can't get through. He puts in watering stations, feeders filled with hi-protein feed, and plants shelterbelts and food plots. So far you probably don't have an issue with it. It is his property after all, and who are you to say anything, right? Well, he decides to charge a trespass fee to hunters that are willing to pay for it. He's got some good sized elk in there, and a couple are even royals! A great bull is pulled from there and all of a sudden he is in the enviable position that he can pretty much charge whatever the market will bear for access to his property.

What are the moral or ethical considerations? Are any laws of the nation being subverted? I can't find any that will stand the light of investigation. There are some arguments based on preferences that border on ethics, but none that are incontrovertibly on immoral or unethical. (Based on the land owner's actions.)

OK, do we criticize the hunter who uses the Game Ranch or Preserve? What are his or her motivations? And... by the way, why would we care what the motivations are? (Unless they are illegal of course.) I don't believe that we can criticize another's motives. Is there some moral imperative that makes a trophy hunter an immoral hunter? I would disagree. The person who hunts trophies for the sake of a trophy, is no different than the person that hunts meat for the sake of meat. Or truffles for the sake of truffles. A trophy hunter is not motivated by hunger or need, but by a desire for pleasure. It pleases him to pursue and collect. I don't know about you, but I pursue and collect stamps. I am having a hard time differentiating any moral or ethical issues between them. We could argue whether the animal is used properly, but that would be a question about a person's behavior or character, not about whether it is moral or not to hunt for trophies.

I have heard the comment "Fair Chase" bandied about quite a bit. What exactly does fair chase entail? The Boone and Crockett Club have a definition, but lo and behold, it relates directly to trophies. I would present to you, that again, fair chase is what you make of it. I've killed hogs mere yards from my back door, and miles away. Each one was different.

I've had hard hunts, exciting hunts, dangerous, easy, filthy and sweaty, hungry and tired, wet, cold, hot, you name it I've had one. Some are memorable, some are nightmarish, all of them were fair chase as far as I am concerned. I have not had one hunt where I am ashamed to retell it. Embarrassed, maybe, but never ashamed. So what is the concept applied to and how so?

Gary of Base Camp Legends has this to add, "Pulling up to a ranch house and saying, "I'm ready," isn't my idea of a hunt, but maybe there is a reason it fits another's bill. I think when it comes down to it, I'm sure many of the same hunt tactics are used that are acceptable in 'fair chase'. Sitting over water, over food plots, over bait, or even on trails."

Real quick, Let's just see how big things really are. We will make it flat and square for the sake of perspective, but you will get an idea of what we are talking about.

100 acres would be 10 acres by 10 acres or 2,100 feet per side or a little less than four tenth of a mile

500 acres would be 22 acres by 22 acres or 4,695 feet per side or a little less than nine tenth of a mile

1000 acres would be 31 acres by 31 acres or 6640 feet per side or a little more than one and a quarter miles square.

5000 acres would be 70 acres by 70 acres or 14,850 feet per side or two and eight tenths of a mile... that's a hell of a long way.


In 90% of my reading on the subject, if you dig deep enough, the issue revolves around access.

People are just plain annoyed with the perception that Joe Silk Shirt can afford to pay $30,000.00 to shoot a 350 elk at a High Fence operation. Notice I say shoot, not hunt. And it annoys them even more that Joe got out of an Eddie Baur Edition Crew Cab pick-up truck that costs more than they earn in a year, wearing the latest from Cabelas, toting a new Winchester Model 70 in .338WM, with a Leupold on it that costs more than I earn in two weeks. And as if that isn't enough, Joe only fired a half dozen rounds through it because he was too busy getting bonuses from the bail out money! Now to top it all off he walked 250 yards, fired his shot, got a back-up shot from rancher's guide, and the 350 hangs in his living room. And every time you go to the local gun shop Joe's picture is there, making a mockery of all those hard earned spikes and forkhorns most everybody else got.

Just chafes your jaw, doesn't it.

Not mine. Quite frankly I don't care. What he does is his business. Joe Silk Shirt never leaped over an enraged wild boar and shot it at point blank range. He's never been charged by a feral bull. He's never held a rattler or cottonmouth. He's never sat in a treestand seven or eight hours straight with nothing but his thoughts and nature to keep him company.

I have.


The issue about access though is a serious one. I will not argue that private property owners are at fault. No sir. I am a proponent of property rights with the caveat that property should not be substantially changed in such a way that it is detrimental to the health and well being of an ecosystem. (I would rather not delve into housing and population growth...) In other words, you want to put a fence around your property I'm OK with that so long as you don't block the water.

There is the issue of free movement of game animals, but I would argue that given a large enough property, most of the animals we consider game, will never venture near the "edges" anyway. Their territory just isn't large enough. So if the land was not fenced and we could trust that the majority of people would respect posted property, then the whole fencing issue would go away. But we all know that we can't. I personally know people who have had deer shot in their own front yard, exotic animals shot from off their property, hunters trespassing on their property, people setting up stands well within a posted area.

We need to clean up our own house.


I have yet to hear an argument against High Fencing that was based on sound science. Diseases and CWD in particular is a red herring thrown out by opponents of Preserve and High Fence operations. To quote Mike Riddle of Native Hunt,

"The real fact of the matter is that "all" legitimate and licensed preserves must have a veterinarian validation of the herd before transport, and also another veterinarian validation before introduction of the herd into the preserve.
State and Federal laws require this to be done.
Also, most preserves utilize "double fencing" to prevent contact with an outside animal.
This helps to further insulate the preserve animals from any disease or contagion."

And it strikes me as duplicitous to throw that type of accusation at "game ranching." We have seen massive cases of hoof and mouth disease, and other highly contagious diseases, and no one has called for the end of cattle and sheep ranching because they can potentially spread hoof and mouth.

So if Mike was fortuitous enough, skilled enough, smart enough to create the means and opportunity for himself to buy property, what exactly is the issue that so infuriates other hunters, if not petty jealousy?

Well, we have all seen the rouge operator that blackens every hunter's eye. The circumstances surrounding the Spider Bull comes to mind. Not the hunter, but the outfitters and guides that were involved, even on the periphery. Guilty or not, those guides and outfitters were irresponsible and uncaring, forgetting everything important, except for the thought of money in the bank. Again whether true or not, the impression given was that some operators will stop at nothing, including breaking the law, to get theirs.

The brush paints broad, and the legitimate businessman gets soaked.

But that doesn't have anything to do with access does it? That's business ethics.

Over at Hodgemans's Thoughts, Mike brings this to the table, "As access to hunting lands diminish many fear that hunting will devolve into a "pay for play" exercise where only the wealthy can afford to hunt (ie. the European model). Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen but hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness are being purchased and locked off from public use and made available for a "fee" that exceeds what the average hunter will pay."

And Tom of Boomers and BS also adds, "Having lived all over the US and currently back in Texas, where I've spent most of my life, it makes a tremendous difference if there is minimal public land to hunt!" "Many places I have lived have had extensive huntable public lands. Texas has almost none. The deer lease prices are often ridiculous."

Now we are getting to the meat and potatoes of the issue. As the urban population continues to expand, and rural areas are slowly being covered in asphalt, the remaining land becomes more valuable, regardless of use. The problem as I see it, is ours (The sporting population). We are complacent, we do not demand that the State and Federal governments purchase lands for the use of outdoor enthusiasts. And then there is the issue of geography. The blue states and the red states.

As it is, we have a difficult time getting folks to write to their congressmen with a prepared form. How many of you actually followed up on the DoD Brass Destruction ruling? Did you write your congressmen and Senators? Luckily enough of us did, to stop it. How about next time? Will you take the seven minutes to fill out the few blanks, and send your voice to Washington?

Here are a couple more examples. The federal government is going through the motions of purchasing several million acres of land. Do you happen to know what the stipulations are? I don't and I should know better! Here is one closer to home. The Florida State Legislature has approved the purchase of Big Sugar's land for eventual restoration of the Everglades, again I am clueless as to the stipulations involved with respect to access. Shame on me! We all have to try harder.

Let us recall that Theodore Roosevelt himself, wanted all Americans to have access to the natural resources of the Nation. We have allowed the system to fail us. Not because property owners are exercising their rights, but because all the citizens of the Nation aren't exercising theirs. There is more than enough room in this Great Land of Ours for all to do as their conscience dictates. We do not need the constant internecine combat that is currently plaguing our sport. Shun those that break the law. Shun those that are vile and despicable. But leave unto others the right to practice our sport as they see fit.

As Issac of Another Falconry Blog put it:

"Claim the privilege of hunting according to the dictates of your own conscience, and allow all hunters the same privilege; let them practice how, where, or what they may."

We will continue this exploration at greater length. Keep on checking back for updates and more commentaries.

This is an important topic. I want everyone to treat this as an intellectual exercise. Think hard before you write, or write then think before you click the button!!! We may begin to get to the bottom of this before it is all done.

Best Regards To All!

Related Posts

The Ethical Question, Hunting or Shooting
The High Fence Discussion Continues
The Hog Blog: Hunting Ethics Vs. Logical Debate

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

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

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.


Anonymous said...

If we, the hunting population start to define what hunting is, where will it stop?

In the spirit of Fark, THIS!

This right here, in my opinion is the biggest threat to hunting. Yes, there are huge legal and cultural threats, too. But, ultimately, when I see the community dividing over really stupid issues (the most divisive and common I see is related to access), that's where I see the downfall of hunting.

Yes, I recognize that my use of the term "stupid issues" isn't making the conversation any easier. I realize there are valuable opinions on many sides of any given issue. On the other hand, I want to grab many I have had to deal with by the shoulders and shake them violently while screaming, "Do you want your sport to die, you freakin' idiot?" But, if it helps, I think the same thing about many sport shooters I encounter, too. :)

In PA, the latest debate was over expanding crossbow use. I kid you not, I met several guys who were more outraged over that decision than they would have been if the had cut all hunting seasons in half. Sebastian was talking to one outdoor writer here who was just laughing about the entire thing. He pointed out that these very same people and groups screamed as loudly about compound bows years ago - and now they would scream bloody murder if you tried to restrict compound bows. Meanwhile, as non-hunters who care about the issue, Sebastian & I are wondering why, if it has the possibility of opening up hunting to a slightly broader audience, bow hunters are seeking to shut it down.

Hunters have got to start getting on the same page if they hope to keep the sport alive for their kids and grandkids. That doesn't mean that every hunter has to agree on every issue. It means that the first question asked should be whether the subject at hand (property access, apprentice hunting, license changes, rifle/bow/whathever use, preserves, etc.) has an opportunity to open up the sport to new or no longer active participants. If the answer is yes (and it will be most of the time), then the discussion should really just be a matter of weighing the costs and benefits. I think even changing how those issues are debated will get more hunters closer to the same page.

Sorry for such a long comment that doesn't directly address the issue at hand. But, I think the point you made is particularly relevant to many of the debates in the community.

Albert A Rasch said...


You hit it right on the head! It addresses the issue, because as you say,

"That doesn't mean that every hunter has to agree on every issue. It means that the first question asked should be whether the subject at hand (property access, apprentice hunting, license changes, rifle/bow/whathever use, preserves, etc.) has an opportunity to open up the sport to new or no longer active participants."

Well said sir!


Native said...

Can we say it all together now! 1-2-3-4-

I pay an exorbitant amount of property taxes each and every April. (California, highest in the nation)
I bought my properties with my very own "hard labor earned money".
I put in hundreds of thousands of HOURS and DOLLARS each and every year into "My" properties to keep them in the proper shape to sustain hunt-able herds of animals which I purchased, and then placed within my 1000 acre enclosed property.

I will be Damned if I will allow any government entity to tell me how and what to do with "my" property.

I think that I want to dig a moat like Albert said and put some 10 foot Crocks and Gators in it and shut the whole world out.
Except, the paying customers, they do help pay the taxes on my places you know!

T. Michael Riddle

gary said...


I read through your thoughts looking for a hole and if there is one I missed it. Hunting is a many faceted endeavor, and often we are faced with a facet we don't understand so immediately it becomes wrong. I like that phrase 'hunting is what you make of it.' I have had close friends and even reletives I no longer hunt with because we hunt for different reasons, yet we get together and enjoy the telling of what great times we had. Its a respect we need to have towards each other and our reasons to hunt and what we make of a hunt.

Theres even some aspects of others hunts I find distastful, but its legal and they are part of the hunting community. Its kind of like when I got married, loved the little lady but some of the in-laws that came along?(questionable)But if I wanted to have a little unity around the thanksgiving table I best keep my mouth shut and maybe I'll understand where they are coming from in time.

Your most important advise was to 'Think Deep' - we need to think deep and understand before we dictate.

Appreciated your thought process, have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Albert as usual I do appreciate your friendship and your support.
I feel very strongly about certain things and for that I tend to over look a lot of pieces to the puzzle, a fault of mine that I can only admit to.

"Zack" said...

Most of my hunting is in my dreams, from my arm chair; places to hunt are getting very hard to find today. A rich friend of mine can afford the thousands of dollars for an elk hunt; I can't. My instincts say that hunting is fair-chase ... hunting means sometimes you come home empty handed. Do I fault those who manage their land so they can fill tags? No.

If ever I am fortunate enough to afford my own land, I will probably high-fence it ... only to keep out uninvited hunters. Would I bait and feed to put hunting in my favor? No ... but that would be my choice to make, and not a judgement on others.

Some people will only get one chance to go on the "hunt of a lifetime." If they feel the need to put the odds in their favor, that is their choice. Would it bother me to come home empty handed on my "hunt of a lifetime?" Yes, but I think I can live with coming up short on an expensive "once in a lifetime" fair chase, while others may not feel that way.

There are many physical ailments that limit some hunters from true fair chase.

Good topic. I have no answers, just idle chatter.

Doug said...


I agree with almost all of what you have written. I agree that to quibble over this particular issue is silly, but I also have to admit that i hate to call it hunting. There really is not "hunt" involved. It is more "shooting". Now, I find no fault with the land owner - he is the one who actually put some sweat equity into this endeavor - I appreciate that.

Is the shooter in the same category as many of hunters that read this blog? I don't think so. Do I fault him for it. No. to each his own, but I'm also not going to invite him to eat at my dinner table.

Harris' Hawk Blog

R. Gabe Davis said...

Well said Albert. I have always thought hunting was about freedom. I am the type that kills to put food on the table (meat hunter) but I will never judge a trophy hunter. I may need that trophy hunter one day to help defend me from PETA when they come for my dinner.

hodgeman said...

I'm sure there's room for a lot of argument in this issue like a lot of them but in the end we all have to sleep with the deeds we've done that day.

If a man can shoot an elk in a fence and can sleep at night who am I to quibble. I'm confident that I couldn't so it's not for me.

I think one of the issues that raises the hackles are access to wilderness habitat. As access to hunting lands diminish many fear that hunting will devolve into a "pay for play" exercise where only the wealthy can afford to hunt (ie. the European model). Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen but hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness are being purchased and locked off from public use and made available for a "fee" that exceeds what the average hunter will pay. Only one more angle to consider.

tom said...

My Two Pence:

Having lived all over the US and currently back in Texas, where I've spent most of my life, it makes a difference if there's minimal public land to hunt rather tremendously.

Many places I have lived have had extensive huntable public lands. Texas has almost none. The deer lease prices are often ridiculous and then they give you rules that basically say "unless you have the luck to win the powerball lotto, there will be nothing we will let you shot and if you shoot one of the smaller ones we will fine you."

There's not much recourse unless you want to cross state lines, have friends with ranches where you get in on the culls, or jump the border to Mexico.

I'm averse to paying $5,000 per fall to MAYBE be allowed to take a buck or doe, depending on property owner rules as to size and points, on a high fenced property when I paid $64 for my "super-combo" hunting license that entitles me to many deer. Had a guy where you couldn't take less than a 6 point one year and I saw lots of 4s and 5s and nobody ever saw a six and he'd fine you a couple grand if you didn't shoot a six or bigger...

I'm resigned to hunting my smaller property and smaller deer because I don't have Dallas and NYC banker money to spend.

Whatever you make of it, it separates the rich from the middle and working class pretty heavily as far as what animals they have access to hunt.

I feed deer on my land and it is 3 strand bob-wire and not "fenced". I also don't hunt over feeders because I don't have the personality that suits me to blind hunting. I get bored and either talk to people and screw things up or read a book and miss animals.

People can do whatever they want with their own land if we remove the fiction that the game belong to the state and do it the way people run game farms in Africa. As long as there is a legal fiction that game belong to the state, I have a problem with high fences. High fences are for if you keep exotics, not whitetail.


Pardon me for being long winded but that's exactly how I feel.

Addendum: As an oddball middle class person, I like to hunt the Euro-African model in person not riding around in trucks or in blinds, beating my feet instead, and might take 5-7 weeks to get the animal I want because it's more interesting and I can't see spending 4 days on airplanes to hunt a week.

Paul Steeve said...

It is hard to post a comment that isn't the size of a term paper, but this is one thing that directly entered my mind after reading.
I believe fully that if you purchase an animal, it is your right to do with it what you will. If that means putting it in a cage and letting someone shoot if for a price, so be it. It is certainly not my cup of tea, but I shouldn't stop the transaction from taking place. While pressure exists to put an end to "high-fence" hunts, the same pressure has been put on cattle farmers throughout the country for years. Animal protests about raising animals for slaughter occur on a daily basis, but I don't see McDonald's suffering any loss of Big Mac business. With the link between cattle and other "purchased" animals, should we really be concerned with losing rights to a high-fence hunt? As long as the cattle still retain property value, why shouldn't the animals in the hunting industry?

Native said...

Lots of really good comments on this one Albert!

Although Gary, wrote in with the most matter of fact observations of anyone which I have ever seen in Whitetail Woods and here.
He reminded me much of Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) when the beaver would get into trouble and would get a kindly lecture.

The main theme here is (from what I could gather) that everyone who responded seems to respect property rights, and that is a very healthy outlook.
I would have liked to see everyone acknowledge the facts which Gary pointed out.
The number one threat to our hunting heritage is: Division!
These Animal Rights Groups are currently making a huge power grab by following the lead of our current President and his cronies.

The number one tactic being used by both are: Division of the ranks!
Class division being enacted by our Presidency and division of the hunting community by stirring the emotional embers of differing "Opinions" and "Philosophies".

If I have to endure the term "Faire Chaise" B&C P&Y terminology,one more time, I just might offer up to the hunting god's the most hideous" Primal Man Scream" (from here on out referred to as P.M.S.) that anyone on earth has ever heard.

Fair Chase should be a personal choice and a personal philosophy.
Fair Chase to the handicapped individual most assuredly is entirely different than it would be to the average, and healthy person with two good legs and two good eyes and arms accompanied by hands and fingers.
We could even go further into detail than that by asking the individual: Can you see clearly out to a several hundred yards or does your vision get blurry at about 30 yards?
One of the above persons is obviously quite handicapped while the other can operate in the field unencumbered, and most likely will go home with meat for the table.
There might be a person with a slight mental handicap, ex:(dyslexia) Who would love to go hunting and achieve the satisfaction of "self reliance" knowing that he/she could put food upon the table if they really had to.
Our current laws really do not address such an issue and that person (due to us imposing our set of ethics upon them) will never realize their yearning to go out and hunt.

Should we impose our philosophies of Fair Chase upon the individual whose eyesight is not up to par, by "not" allowing him/her to pour out a bag of corn upon the ground, and sit 30 yards away from it to try and harvest "His Meat"?
Of course not, and I believe that everyone is in agreement with that above scenario because to be in disagreement , would mean that you would be "Imposing" our set of ethics and philosophies upon a handicapped individual who cannot possibly adhere to and follow our, physically un-challenged set of ethics and rules.

The point is that everyone has certain limitations which are not readily apparent to the naked eye.
And everyone, short of causing undue suffering and encroaching upon another's liberty's, should be left alone to their own Philosophies and set of Ethics.

The A.R.G.s do not follow such philosophies and would impose theirs upon a whole nation of people by law, if they can get away with it!
And they are getting away with it each and every day.
And the number one tactic again, is division of our ranks over "Ethics and Philosophies"

Anther issue which I do not see being addressed is: State and Federal land closures.
So much of it has happened that public land hunting is being taken away from the people at an alarming rate.
I have seen here in California thousands upon thousands of acres being closed to the public for one reason or another.
The "Lead Bullet Ban" "Eradication Of Non Indigenous Animals" "Habitat Re-Construction" the list goes on and on, and the main culprits are: Animal Rights Groups and the Environmental Protection Agencies" notice the mentions in plural?
That is because there are so many different branches of each that it is mind numbing and they all have a single minded agenda, CONTROL!

This also being accomplished again by: DIVISION!
First divide the people with Emotion while omitting the Facts.
Then when they have gained control along comes the imposing of "their" philosophies.
Look at how Nancy "stretch" Pelosie got her way with the: Salt Water Harvest Mouse Bill.
She now has the POWER to take California's much needed money (about 50 million dollars) and devote it to a freakin' mouse!

All because of division amongst the people of California on a hot button topic created by the A.R.G.s and E.P.A.s in the first place.

I think that Gary said it best when he stated that: "You can't cut another persons throat without getting some blood on yourself"

I implore all of you out there reading this to "Stop" "Think" "Do your research" and "follow the "Money Trail" before you make an emotional, snap decision about such topics as "High Fence Preserves"

The opposition are masters at divide and conquer and have no real "Values nor Morals" except, pushing their own agenda in order to obtain the Government Grants, which we the people are footing the bill for.

I feel a big P.M.S. coming on so I will have to bury my face into a pillow so I don't wake up the wife and kid's.

Holly Heyser said...

Great post, Albert.

The point that resonates with me the most is about the silk shirt guy. I really think that is at the root of intra-hunter fighting on this issue. The people who hunt under the most challenging circumstances resent the hell out of guys who can basically pay for an easy shot at a big buck, and they're so blinded by that hatred that they completely miss the fact that challenge is a spectrum, not black and white with a sharp line in between.

I'm also glad you pointed out that hunters who pile on in this debate will be gleefully quoted by the antis. I monitor anti activity pretty closely, and they are at their most effective when they say "ethical hunters agree with us." Non-hunters who are pretty reasonable will say, "Oh, well if even the good hunters agree, it must be a bad thing." The antis love pouncing on our divide. And they don't give a crap about us - their goal is to eradicate what we do.

Eric Nuse said...

Several months ago I had the pleasure of spending a long weekend with a group of committed hunters from academia, government and conservation/hunting NGOs. Below is a snap shot of some of our thinking on the high fence / hunter preference issue:

Definition of Hunting

Sunday morning we came back to the definition of hunting. On Saturday, we were divided on whether we should try to draw a line in the sand – on this side was hunting; on that side was shooting or killing or something else. Was high-fence hunting doing us harm or was it offensive? (It was noted that reasons to oppose high fence operations-such as denial of wildlife as a public resource; thus the denial of several components of the North American Model, such as “public resource”, “democracy of allocation” and allocation by law, among others-are the best arguments against captive shooting operations.)
How about preserve bird hunting such as is practiced on the grounds where we were meeting? Again, evaluation of the circumstances is important, in this case looking at it from topography or location. The McGraw Center is an island of opportunity set in a sea of concrete/suburbia 40 minutes from downtown Chicago. It is as good as could be done in this place and time. Whereas, a western wilderness of millions of acres of public lands is as good as could be done in that place and time- both the product of the conservation ethic of hunters.
Conversely, a high fence operation out on the vast open spaces of
Texas represents a denial of the North American Model and a retreat to the fortress that is not necessary for any real conservation purpose.
Consensus began to emerge that most of these practices did not rise to the level of harm, from the hunter ethic view. Most of us felt that they and some other hunting methods did serve as an entry point for new hunters and opened the possibility for them to gain more skill, so they too could eventually enjoy a wilder and more challenging hunting experience in the future.
Harm vs. Offense

This concept can be summed up as follows: “Your freedom to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.” Swinging a fist may be offensive but it is tolerated up to the point of doing harm. The American form of democracy allows for offensive people to do what they want as long as they do no harm.
This question gets tricky when you try to look at hunting practices through the eyes of non-hunters and when you project into the future. How much political consideration should be included in our decision making on practices that may hurt the future of hunting?

A major philosophical book is in the works dealing with these type issues in a holistic and defensible manner.

Albert A Rasch said...

Mr Nuse,

Put me on the list for one, please!


Native said...

Although Mr. Nuse did not say the term outright, he described it very well.
"Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose"
That term would be: "The Blessings Of Liberty"!

Some people may find pornography offensive, but there is obviously a market for it or the companies which produce it would be out of business in no time flat.
Besides, the blessings of liberty and free speech are at play in such matters, and if you don't like it, do not offer up your patronage to that particular literature.

Notice the place which Mr. Nuse stated that he and his friends were at the time of the discussion, they were hunting at: "A Bird Farm"!

If you have no aversion to hunting: "Planted Pheasants" or "Chuckar" for your shooting pleasure.
And you have Attended a: "Duck Fly".
Or maybe you have Fished in a Captive Raised and Released into Fish Pond otherwise known as: "Sure Catch Ponds".
And if you have ever Hunted Game upon an: "Island" where the animals can't escape you without making a swim for it, out and into the Ocean!

Then you should have no complaints about a persons "Choice" to hunt a "High Fenced Game Preserve"!

I believe that inherently, people feel that it is their "God Given Right" to hunt!
Unfortunately, our modern times have diminished hunting into a "Privilege" and we must pay for that privilege.
Some people would argue that their "Tax" dollars go towards that privilege to hunt the animals which they would like to go out and harvest.

The reality is that it takes about $700.00 to $1,000.00 in feed, to raise a single Deer up to a harvestable size and age.
The average public land hunter pays only about $150.00 in Licensing and tag fees, along with bullet taxes etc. etc. for the privilege of harvesting 2 deer per year.

Remember, if "you" are not personally feeding that animal out for harvest, someone else is.
#1 Be it the Department of Fish and Games winter time feeding to help the herds survive!

#2 The farmer with his fields of corn,wheat and barley!

Or, #3 The little old lady up the hill who just hates to see those cute little critters go hungry in the winter time.

And, #4 Habitat enrichment and restoration for food supply!
....."Someone is feeding them out at all times!".....

The amount of money which we (a single hunter) puts into the system as opposed to the amount of money it takes to place that animal into a harvestable age category, is currently out of balance.

With current "public land closures", "encroachment of civilization" and "Poaching" I do not foresee a sustainable future in public land hunting for too many more generations.

I believe that the future of hunting, like it or not, will ultimately be held in the hands of the individuals who had the foresight and wherewithal to set aside some of their "private land" just for the purpose of: "Land Conservation" along with "Animal Conservation".
And the best way to accomplish this is through: "Fencing out the people who feel it is their God given right to hunt". (poachers in most cases).

This is the only (somewhat guaranteed) method of properly managing a piece of land, so that our posterity may enjoy some true wilderness experience in their lifetimes.

Just like a National Park, only it is "your" personal and private National Park with a fence.

I too will be awaiting that book which Mr. Nuse has mentioned.
Best to you all,
T. Michael Riddle

Ryan said...

Not all high fence areas are the same there are several here in utah that are 5000 to 8000 acres. By these standards it not like shooting fish in a barrell.

Deer Passion said...

Let me say outright that I completely agree with the statement that "Hunting is what you make of it." And, while our diversity completes us as a whole, this is a critical time when people involved in the hunting community need to stand together. With that said, I'm also going to mention that I'm extremely opinionated, especially when it comes to issues close to my heart, and I feel this is one of those issues.

I do consider high-fenced preserves necessary for the protection and continuation of some animals in several parts of the world. And, I don't have a problem with those elk farms, or similar operations, where animals are raised strictly for the purpose of providing meat for a retail market (this is a whole other issue.) My biggest beef is when animals are caged for 'sport' purposes.

So far I've read alot about property rights, and regulations by the state and local governments. For me, that's not the issue at hand. I don't really feel that this argument depends on how many veterinarians look at the animals or how much money someone pays to hunt these so called "hunting reserves." Has everyone in this discussion forgotten that the earth is not a commodity for us to descrate and exploit for our own means?

Aldo Leopold once wrote: "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

Our land is a community - and that community includes the deer, elk, ducks, geese and all the other animals that we hunt or we don't hunt. The thing that tears most at my heart is that we, as humans, think we have the right to put up a fence and claim these wild animals as ours. Mine, mine, mine. These animals are not yours. These animals are not mine. Those who create these so called "hunting reserves".. when are you planning to place nets in the rivers and streams and all the way to outerspace to keep the fish and the birds all yours, and yours alone? I can tell you right now you would never do that. Birds and fish are supposed to move, and fly, and migrate, they aren't to be penned and caged. The same rules apply to the elk and deer and the other animals in these "reserves."

When I hunt, I become a member of this so called community of the land. A "hunting reserve" is not a part of the natural community. It is a backdrop, a theater, for a play where you have already staged the outcome and written the entire script. And the so called "hunters" are just the actors. You can talk about property rights and legality until you are blue in the face. However, the issue about hunting on "reserves" doesn't have a darn thing to do with property rights, it is about the animals and the land. Just because something is legal, doesn't make it right.

Without trying to sound childish, I am begging each and every one of you to stop and remember why you truly love hunting. If all you can come up with has something to do with holding a trophy then back out of this conversation, because that is not hunting. Hunting is about falling in love with the natural world around you. It's about beautiful sunsets, crisp cold mornings watching the world come alive, and being so close to an animal you can smell it. True hunting affects the heart and soul. It creates understanding, respect, admiration and love. When you take away the natural home of the animals and disrespect the land that they live on, you strip away the soul of hunting.

Albert A Rasch said...


In name and being. You bring up the philosophical essence of why you, I, and countless others hunt.

Unfortunately, that connection has been all but severed. At one time we didn't have that particular connection, as it was kill to survive. Then with the advent of prosperity and leisure, our attitude changed. Now it was no longer a commodity to be used for survival or exploited for profit, it became an object d' art, to be appreciated as such. The art of hunting if you will.

The pendulum has swung back. Now we have a utilitarian formula, where if it won't pay its way it gets swept away. There's your African and European model for you.

I commend you on your passion and convictions.


tom said...

As for the silk shirts vs people like me and exorbitant lease fees:

I would like to thank them for that, actually.

I started looking at costs rather a number of years ago and I can spend a month to month and a half in Africa hunting plains game all inclusive (that means air tickets there and back, too), including trophy fees if you don't shoot anything higher fee than a zebra/impala/wildebeest class animal, for what it costs to get on many Texas deer leases. If it weren't for ridiculous (to me) deer leases, I probably never would have started going to Africa to hunt and fish.

$6000 US for 3-6 weeks beating my feet under the African sky on 80-100,000 acres hunting beats paying 6k to hunt 600-2000 acres of a land I already know just because huntable land is scarce and they can charge a lot.

Now, because of the economic collapses, a lot of very good outfits are practically giving hunts away. Take care of everything from when you land at the airport to when you get on your plane to go home and you can stalk or blind hunt with any kind of firearm or bow that's reasonable and take what animals you wish (and can afford to pay for).

As an interesting aside, most African game farmers I've dealt with Don't High Fence even though they are the lawful owners of all game animals on their property as their properties are large enough they can generally keep an eye on where things are and they have reciprocal arrangements with their neighbor's farms as far as trophy fees for animals taken on each other's land. High Fence don't mean much to a Cape, Rhino, Hippo, or Ele and Impala and their cousins can jump surprisingly high. Only High Fences of significant obstruction to animal movement I've seen have been on the literal Zimbabwe border for reasons other than keeping game in, i.e. keeping people out.

Deer Passion: Not about the trophies to me. Meat hunting my unfenced "back yard" is a job related to food collection.

Going on a hunt for non-freezer reasons: It's about getting up at 4am, sorting your clothes, gear, and rifle, and stalking all day and all the interesting things you see on the way. It's called "hunting" not "getting". People sometimes confuse those things.

Native said...

Deer Passion,
I couldn't agree with you more!
I would love to be included into this utopian world of which you speak of and be able to wander for days upon end and live completely off of the land.

The reality of it all is as I have stated above, the have's are very quickly tightening the noose around the have not's so much so, that we are quickly losing "all" of our public land to the A.R.G.s and E.P.A.s hard core agenda's.

Here in California we have witnessed so many Public Land Closures that it is mind boggling.
Then came the: Eradication Of Non-Indigenous Species.
After that was the closure of more areas for: Habitat Concern and Observation (because some Tax Payer Funded egghead decided that there might be a certain Newt or Salamander living there , though not one, was ever seen!)
Then came More Restrictive Laws concerning: Method Of Take, Shorter Seasons and Bag Limits.
Then came the Lead Bullet Ban.

I could go on and on......... but you get the picture by now I would hope.

We are losing our access to public land's at an alarming rate!

From personal experience I can tell you that Private Land Holders are the "last bastion" for keeping our hunting heritage alive.
Also, the land must be maintained in a pristine condition so that the animals live healthy and herds are kept sustainable.

Also for your information, only 3% of the High Fence Outfitters in the whole nation have Indigenous Elk or Deer upon them.
The other 97% contain only Exotic's.
And they "all" breed and multiply within the enclosed areas which can be from the legal minimum of: 350 acres to several thousand acres.

None of the legitimate and licensed outfits allow the initial (ear tagged) stock to be hunted, sometimes culled, but not hunted, because that is their breeding stock.
The resulting offspring from these ear tagged animals are the truly wild and free ranging animals which are hunted.

This (lie) which is perpetrated by the H.S.U.S. and P.e.T.A. which tells about all high fence outfits buying surplus zoo animals or someone's pet and then placing them into a preserve to be hunted, is just that, a fabrication.
There may be some outfits which practice this sort of illegal activity, but they are doing it on the covert.
That is because there are State and Federal transport laws which are set into place specifically to prevent just that type of thing from happening.

Also, most all States require that you do a final "clean Sweep" of your fenced in area before, the final run of fencing is put into place. This is to make sure that you have not enclosed any indigenous Deer or Elk within your fence "before" you can place your Veterinarian Validated Herd of Exotic's within.

As someone else has pointed out, this is the most highly regulated industry in the U.S. and over seas, and before any one jumps to any conclusions, I suggest that they read "all" of the laws concerning a Legal High Fenced Operation.

Do not let P.e.T.A. and the H.S.U.S. do your research for you because it will be a guaranteed biased, and propaganda laden report.

T. Michael Riddle

Deer Passion said...

I love this post, Albert. Thank you for starting it.

First off let me point out that the HSUS or PETA-lovers do not do my research. Nor do I live in a utopian world, if you read my blog or had any personal sense of who I am, you would know that. Furthermore, no one ever said anything about surplus zoo animals or someone's pet. Think before you choose to stereotype others who are passionate and involved in the hunting community.

Albert pointed out that our society is now back to a utilitarian formula - I agree. And, I think this post exemplifies that formula - by showing human greed and our need for power.

I do agree that I am biased on this topic, and a large part of that comes from the fact that I still live in a rural area, largely untouched by leases or game reserves. In fact, I've only hunted public land once in my lifetime.. blessed by good fortune to have acres of my own- none of which are fenced, or ever will be. And, I honestly don't disagree with the laws nor do I disrespect anyone else's choice to hunt as they so choose - whether on a reserve or not.

While everyone has been so caught up in the legality of this, I wanted to offer a different perspective - which I did. I will support continued access to public land and quality management practices of the animals in those lands. The initial issue, if I read correctly, dealt specifically with high-fenced game reserves and my only and biggest issue is caging animals for sport purposes. Anyone can hit a target - that's shooting. When animals are used as props - that's shooting.

I think if someone wants to further debate quality management of public land, or hunting on preserves (different from money grubbing hunting reserves) then I suggest that Albert start a couple new posts.

Albert A Rasch said...


Just to get us moving in the same direction again.

The question at hand is whether High Fence operations or game ranches are immoral or unethical. Is it right or wrong to own, operate, or patronize a high fence/game reserve?

If it is, I want to know why. If it isn't wrong, why is there such an antipathy to it, or is it just hearsay?

By the way this is awesome! Thank you Deer Passion for great insight and Mike for his inside perspective. And thank you to everyone for adding to the understanding!

And let's all thank Rick for lighting the match!!!

Y'alls friend!

tom said...

If the state claims ownership of the game and you have to buy a STATE license to hunt the indigenous game, it's not correct to High Fence to keep indigenous game on your property.

Most Texas exotic ranches that High Fence also have whitetail and other indigenous species on the property and close their exotic concession during whitetail seasons except to whitetail lease holders, etc. During the time they close the exotic hunting off to anybody but members of the lease, they do not open up the fences so in my personal opinion, they are claiming ownership of indigenous species owned by the State of Texas.

If it was African/European game rules and all game belongs to the property holder, I wouldn't have a legal issue with it.

As it is, they are fencing in game and intentionally breeding trophy specimens with their requirements as to what you can and can't shoot and their feeding when the management of those species of wildlife is under the ownership of the STATE and the PEOPLE. They have no legal right to do so. Of course, a large number of their "silk shirted clients" are prominent businessmen and politicians/lobbyists, so nobody ever calls them on it. It's still illegal. If I started "farming" huntable whitetail for rich hunters on my middle class smaller plot of Texas the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife would be all over me and threatening to asset forfeiture my little ranch and take my pickup truck. If the Y.O. Ranch does it, it's business as usual.

tom said...

I'd like to add:

I have friends that work on some of these ranches from Junction to Alpine to Del Rio. I've seen it from the inside. If the "richie rich" can't shoot, the guy who drove him up to where he can shoot his deer out of the truck window by a feeder will shoot the deer for him for a minor "tip".

I once was offered a shot at a buck in an acre "corral".

That isn't hunting.

tom said...

One final thing related to "asphalt meets hunters":

A lady friend of mine lives about an hour to the east in Austin, Texas and she gets some tremendous well fed whitetail, and they are many in number, terrorizing her gardening. Not even allowed to bowhunt them. She asked me to look into it and I got a big fat NO from all authorities.

Google "Murchison Middle School Austin" as that's her area. Bigger deer, on average, than you can find on a 6k a year lease but not huntable.

It's an odd world.

I guess cities are "High Fenced Areas" too?

Albert A Rasch said...


Conundrum: But if the game happens to be inside the confines of my fence, and I don't shoot them illegally, what exactly am I doing wrong? If I spend my money feeding them, where is the harm? If I make my money charging you a fee for trespassing on my property, albeit with the intention of taking buck "a," what is the problem?

I see the issue, I just don't see any, and I mean any, way out of the conundrum, short of the state buying up the land and making it public. Legislating access would only destroy the resource. I'm old enough to remember the Kaibab Range debacle, and the time when Texas deer were smaller than Florida deer.

If we take exotics/ non-natives off the table, we start to get deeper into the emotional heart of the matter.


hodgeman said...

Albert, Thanks for starting this wonderful post. To add further comment I'll indirectly answer your last question- "The question at hand is whether High Fence operations or game ranches are immoral or unethical. Is it right or wrong to own, operate, or patronize a high fence/game reserve?"

In short let me preface this by saying that property rights say you can raise animals (ie. livestock) on your property and those animals can be more or less dispositioned by you in relativly any manner you see fit. If you fence your land and raise elk for slaughter I could care less.

Where I find a hiccup is when you provide those animals (which you regard as "property", hence the fee) to others for the purpose of shooting. It may not be illegal, or even immoral- but its not hunting. To me (I can only speak for myself on this matter) the essence of hunting requires that I restrain myself so as to not have undue advantage over the animal. Given our technology and reason we can devise some rather ingenious methods to find and kill game not the least of which is a high fence to ensure the quarry is within huntable distance. An animals first and best method of defense is to not be where you are. Scarcity of game is one of the fundamentals of hunting.

So to me the operation and patronage of a high fence operation is first and foremost "not hunting" so the question of its ethics or morality is pretty moot. Calling it hunting is (again speaking only for myself) immoral because it is fundametally in my opinion- a lie.

Hoping to not light another fuse....

tom said...

I'm with Hodgeman.

When fenced animals are shot for whatever purpose, I consider it CULLING not HUNTING. Same with helicopters and road hunting.

Hunting don't mean getting any more than fishing means catching fish.

Go to "exotic meats dot com" and buy dry iced venison and a nice taxidermied buck wall mount off ebay and make up a story to tell people about it.

I'll make a caveat here as I remarked on Africa. In Africa there is only their model for hunting and on 100,000 acres when I'm on foot, there's plenty of chances for the animals to get away and they aren't fenced. I've heard a lot more thundering of hooves getting away from me than the crack of my shots over there, so it's kinda in a weird middle area, maybe?

In Texas it's illegal to keep indigenous game for profit. People do anyway. So it's both morally wrong and illegal in the case of where I currently reside.

Makes me against it.

Caleb Pearce said...

I agree it is their land they should be abel to do whatever they want to do with it. But I do think that there are some laws that should be put in place about privet hunting preserves. Like they should have the to register all the animals killed by their clients, because there are people when it is hunting season go and kill an animal and register it as a wiled animal they have killed. This is a problem in an area where I hunt for deer in Crivitz Wisconsin,there is a several hundred acer hunting preserve maybe 20 miles away, and people go kill a trophy deer from there managed heard, and they take it it to town and register it as a wiled deer they killed. But than they take the deer and enter them into big buck competitions and win, because the deer heard is in such bad shape you allot of the time have to sit the hole 9 day gun deer season to get a 4 pointer.

Native said...

A couple more things which I would like to add here Albert if I may.

The clients which give patronage to the High Fence places are not all "Silk Shirt Guys".
As a matter of fact I (and you) have a very good friend of ours who is currently at one right now as we speak.
Phillip Loughlin of the Hog Blog is hunting at one in Texas and he is just an average joe like all of the rest of us.
Just happens to be something which he enjoys doing once a year with family and friends.

And another way to see it from the perspective of the operators as well as their clients is that:

#1 Not all of the clients shoot trophy's in these places and most people actually come for the meat. And more importantly, the camaraderie of good friends, and a relaxed atmosphere of having the whole place to themselves, and not having to endure the hazards of a crowded public land hunting area.

#2 All, of the clients fully understand where they are, and that this is simply just another venue where they can enjoy nature and observe animals in a natural setting.
Animals which are not pressured so much that they turn nocturnal, like most all of the public lands have become.

#3 The animals which are taken inside these areas are "not" part of the public land ecosystem and there fore patrons of the High Fence Preserves are not "Taking" from the public land ecosystem although, these very same patrons (and the operation itself) contribute to the "Public Land" ecosystem the same as everyone else does,
This being through Hunting License's, Ammo Taxes, Fire arms taxes, property taxes,donations etc. etc. etc.

#4 These places offer the elderly,handicapped and first time hunters a venue where they can truly enjoy their outdoor passions, without the frustrations of their limitations causing their outing to be painful for them.

#5 The animals which are inside these places are way more familiar with the area than any of the humans which work there.
It is surprisingly amazing how, when the animals feel the need to disappear, even a pack of dogs cannot find them.

It really seems to me by way of some of the commentary here, that most people truly do not know anything more about the High Fence Operations, than what they have read or heard from an obviously biased source.

Every thing which is done inside of the "Legitimate" places is exactly the same as a public land hunt would be.

Lots of scouting for a particular animal including hours of tracking and locating.
Sitting in a stand or a blind upon an animal watering or feed trail.
Not over the actual food plot because then those animals will go nocturnal after being shot at, and we here in California can neither hunt over bait nor shoot at night.

A non fatal wound also requires sometimes, many hours or even days of tracking to locate that animal for final dispatch.
(remember what I said about them knowing the land better than us and evading us quite well)

The final thing which I would like to say is the fact that the last time I looked at the T.V. we are still a capitalistic society, Obama has not claimed total socialism yet, and every one is entitled to make a living the entrepreneurial way.
Even the High Fence Hunting Outfits!

tom said...

I've got nothing against people having hunting reserves and people who enjoy hunting them and never said I did. The issue is the FENCING OF ANIMALS AND CALLING THEM WILDLIFE WHEN THEY ARE LIVESTOCK. If you want to be a "deer farmer" be honest about it and don't kid yourself.

The Reserves/Ranches: They're entitled to make a living at it if they don't break state game laws. I have friends that "cowboy" on some of these ranches which are also working livestock ranches and some have exotics too. I'm not naive. Most people who frequent these ranches "hunt over bait" in Texas, timed feeders and the animals know what time the feeder wheels spin every day. It's true, they aren't always there if they smell a human after being shot at a few times that season but usually are easy enough to be found. Hell, I've yet to meet a bow hunter on one of these sorts of properties that stalked one bit. They've all sat in a tree stand 10-25 yards from a feeder.

I know many a place where I can drive you up to within 200 yards of deer, whitetail and exotic, sometimes closer than that. Just have your rifle ready and be a fair shot and you have your deer. If you think my friends that work and "guide" on ranches that they know every square foot of because they drive and ride around them every day of the week, fixing fences and filling feeders/water tanks and checking game trails, don't know where the game are, you're a lunatic. Might be the third or fifth spot they look on any given day or it might be the first, but they've got a damn good idea where the animals are.

On one of these ranches a "silk shirter" banker's kid whiffed his shot on a nice buck but wounded him. Was eventually found dead a number of days later as he'd not bled much and got pretty damn far away. The "hunter" was notified and what did he ask? It wasn't "Can I have meat that will taste like 2 day old roadkill?" it was "Make sure when you dress him you cape him properly so I can have him mounted for my office. I'll give you a good tip for it." And I'm sure he has a noble hunting story to tell people that come in his office and ask about it.

You can call that whatever you want but it ain't hunting. My friends and I call it culling. If I need to go fill my freezer I'll cull a deer. Culling is necessary because most "silk shirts" won't shoot does. They spent their money for a trophy. If I feel like hunting, I hunt, and might not get anything. They aren't the same thing.

SECONDLY: If you make me pay for permission from the STATE to hunt what amount to be private owned animals, what in the hell form of capitalism or socialism it that?

If they're privately held animals being bred by the ranchers/farmers, treat them as such. If they are game that belong to the people/state, treat them as such. They can't be both.

If you've got a captive heard of whitetail, why should I pay the state for a license to shoot one and why should you even have to let game wardens on the land and abide by any of the state hunting regulations? Texas not being California, we don't have "firearms and ammo taxes", we just pay sales tax like on any other items you might buy at a store, but you have to have a license from the state even to hunt on exotic ranches.

Anybody got an answer for that one since this whole argument/thread is basically about what constitutes property rights?

True story from 20 years ago: Rancher I knew from working on his trucks and I were BSing over a cup of coffee and he told me how a game warden had come around his ranch (multiple thousand acres) and asked him if he or his hands might be taking antelope out of season and beyond limits as to numbers. He told the warden, "If we were, and I'm not saying it's so that any such thing has ever happened like that, as far as I can tell I am the one feeding them not you." Game warden shook his head, mumbled a bit, and left as he realized that for all practical purposes the rancher owned those antelope and the property was only cattle fenced. I didn't have any ethical problems with the concept that he was feeding them and they were his. Hell I doubt he ever bought a hunting license and that doesn't bother me either.

But you've got to pick one: Are wild "type" game animals that are owned by property owners any business of the state at all? Most especially if selective breeding and auctioning of animals is involved?

hodgeman said...

Tom you made some good points. I don't want to sound like I'm against the idea of raising game animals as livestock for slaughter. In my town an outfit raises bison and elk and they even sell "hunts" for the animals on respectable size properties. They also slaughter some of those animals for sale as commercial game meat. If you go there to harvest an animal you don't need a license and there is no season- because they are livestock and laws regarding livestock apply. I'd have no compunction about culling out a bison (and even paying his price) to put meat in the freezer. Its a heck of a lot better than store beef and treated a lot more humanely. But I wouldn't call it hunting any more than slaughtering a steer and driving it to the processor would be hunting. (Again, just my opinion...)

The rancher works very hard to keep indigenous moose and the free ranging bison herd off his land because if one of those gets shot it will be a legal nightmare because state game laws apply.

Native said...

I will try and address a few of the issues here without offending anyone, as it was never my intentions to offend anyone in the first place, just to state the facts.

First thing, is that the terrain here in California is entirely different than in Texas.
1000 acres of mountainous CA. terrain is about equal to 6,000 to 8,000 acres of TX. flatland.
Lots of deep canyons and heavy 8' to 10' high brush in CA. for those animals to hide in.

We are restricted by law on methods of take and hours of hunting, even in a high fence location.
For instance, we cannot hunt over a baited area, and we must be at least 350 yards away from a food source area to take a Deer, and 500 yards away from an obvious food source to take a Bear.

When the sun goes down the hunting must stop!

The only exceptions to this rule are Varmint Hunting, and you must be in possession of a rim-fire rifle or Archery Tackle "only" when hunting at night for these varmints.

A person whom takes to the field (any field) for the purpose of taking a: Mammal, Bird, Reptile or Amphibian must have in his/her possession a California Hunters Safety Certificate and a current and valid California Hunting License along with, appropriate tags.

The "legal" definition of a wild animal (livestock or otherwise) is an animal which has had no human intervention on its behalf for a period of at least 3
The planted grain and mast crops will sustain a herd of approximately 350 animals on 1000 acres, for about 6 months out of the year.
No human intervention is needed (feeders turned back on) until about August through January.

Although, it is correct that the State has no legal authority to impose a "State Tag Use" for animals harvested within a game preserve, some, like ourselves, will sell State tags to the out of state hunters.
Over half of the proceeds go to the State for distribution amongst the many and varied animal and habitat programs.
The little which is then left goes to administrative fees thus leaving no profit for the venue.

As I have stated before, a High Fence Game Ranch is most certainly "Not" operating and harvesting within "any" public land/animal forum.

But, they most certainly pay their fair share of the Money used to keep the Public Land and Animals to sustainable levels, so that each year the public land hunters can take to a clean and well managed field and enjoy a happy wilderness hunting experience.

Best to you,
T. Michael Riddle

tom said...

We have mountains and canyons too in Texas. That's why it took forever to find the buck bankerboy hit with a lesser gut shot.

Not supposed to shoot before dawn or after dusk here in Texas either, not supposed to hunt from vehicles etc. Must have a hunting license to be afield with a firearm during game seasons. These laws are followed to greater or lesser degrees, depending on ranch owners. Seems the only difference between California and Texas is it's legal to hunt over feeders in Texas, although very boring if one were to ask me. Oh, I'd guess Cali probably has magazine restrictions on centerfires too, or is that just your state AWB? You didn't offend me.

I still think farming animals is farming animals and one shouldn't pretend otherwise and if an animal is being farmed, then the state shouldn't have anything to do with what the owner allows or doesn't allow on his property unless it's an endangered species, but even that gets sticky. A while back here in Texas the state got involved in harassing people for developing land around Austin that had some sort of rare bird, can't remember what breed of non-game bird it was. Solution of property owners that wanted to do what they wanted with their property was to shoot the endangered birds on sight and not tell anybody about it, so as not to subject their land to more government interference. Probably did more harm than good when the state started bugging people about an endangered species on their land for that species.

Regards back at you,

Albert A Rasch said...


This a fantastic and amicable discussion. Passions run deep, and we can all come out of this with a better understanding of what is transpiring, and what the different "interests" are.

I assure all of you that we are going to continue this discussion and pick it apart, section by section, and we will come up with, what do they call it in business?, ah yes, a Memorandum of Understanding.

I can't thank all of you enough for contributing, speaking your minds, and I am sure learning along with me!


Caleb Pearce said...

Tom I couldn't agree with you more.

Caleb Pearce said...

What I meant before when I said that I think that the animals killed should be registered is, that when the season is open for that animal and It should be illegal to register an animal killed in a private reserve as a wiled animal.

I thought that I should clear that up because, I looked at my last comment and it looked like I thought anyone who wanted to hunt on a private hunting reserve should have to get a tag from the state. And the state should have no right to tell the land owner what they should do with their land.I feel that it is private land and they should be able to do anything with it they wish.

Albert A Rasch said...


If I understand you correctly, I think that what you propose is that anyone that takes a native animal in an operation that breeds them for and supplements their diet to maximize trophy quality, should not be allowed to enter it in ANY, record book, contest, or sanctioned organizations books.

I agree with that with the caveat that an organization devoted to "Human Intervention" game animals be allowed to do their own thing if they desire.

As it is, none of the established record keeping organizations allow records from any high fenced or game preserve in their books.


Native said...

With the exception of one Albert,
Safari Club International has a High Fence Trophy Category.

Also, when an animal is taken from a preserve there must be a Tag, Tattoo or Electronic Sub-Cutineous Device which display's the Preserves "Premises Permit Number".

Ours here at Native Hunt is: 00EMF2K for those who wish to check our California Department Of Agriculture Premises Permit status.

We couldn't agree more with Caleb's statement, the people who try and register their Preserve Trophy with B&C or P&Y are doing so "Illegally" and some do get caught.
Unfortunately some also slip through the crack's.

Great discussion,
Now everyone seems to be asking the right questions without having so much emotion infused within their statements.
This, as you have said Albert is the way to understanding and a mutual meeting of the minds.

Whether a person agrees with,condones,patronizes or just simply finds the High Fence Outfitters distasteful.
The proper way to make "any" objective opinion about anything we are unsure of, is to ask honest questions, and expect to get an honest reply.

My very best to you all,
T. Michael Riddle

tom said...

Phone convo with a friend of mine on one of the Texas ranches just ended.

Best buck taken on the boss ranch this season was a 28 point with minimal brow tines. Dressed it weighed 195lbs. They've been feeding protein about 10 years now. Hunter took it honestly with my friend's borrowed .204 as he had a malf with his .300 UltraMag but for that part of Texas, you don't see that weight or points on a whiteboy deer. It was a farmed and engineered buck.

Still having a problem as to does there and bad spikes as the paying customers don't like to shoot them so they get culled, one way or another. That's what me and my pals are for. You can't eat antlers, I don't care how good your choppers are. I can cook the heck out of the stuff other people don't want cos they just want horns.

Real time real life reflections on a HIGH FENCE operation.

No punches pulled.

Was good to catch up with an old buddy anyway and for Albert, we just found a new hog spot!!!!

How many of you have ever even seen a 28 point at the game check station, being tagged? Not particularly natural for this part of the world. How many have ever even seen a 28 point buck, much less one that likely was under 4 years old?

Farm or not. Pick one.
I'll judge nobody for their choice on that though I might not hunt with them.


Gun Slinger said...

If people would just leave the judging at their doorsteps, as in when they leave, we would be a lot better off.

Shoot Straight,
Reviewing the Reviews

native said...

Well said Gunslinger,
I will start trying a little harder to practice that philosophy.

Tom Sorenson said...

Not much to add here - I'd just like to reiterate basically what my pops had to say on the subject...I think you nailed it, Albert with the simple phrase Hunting is what YOU make it. To each their own...maybe it's my own indrawn nature that believes I shouldn't be concerned with what other folks get their thrills on. If it is within the legal realms, I'm not going to concern myself with it. I can see where Deer Passion comes from - I grew up and still live in very rural America where I love what it means to be able to step out the back door into paradise hardly touched by mankind. However, I just don't see how it's any of my business if someone wants to pay for a high fenced hunt.

I'll let my favorite part of this blog (with a few modifications) be my closing statements, Albert:

Quite frankly I don't care. What he does is his business. Joe Silk Shirt never stood toe to toe with a slobbering bull elk. He's never packed in 12 miles and overlooked the deepest canyon in North America - and hunted it to the bottom. He's never shared a cup of coffee with family in a wall tent deep in the Idaho wilderness. He's never packed an elk out on his back.

I have.

Anonymous said...

well im handicaped and i worked hard to get my goat and pig even though it was a high fence hunt we arwe talking acres of land one animal for me too shoot so i had to find the perfect goat and pig and i did i took them both down the boar was an easy 25 yard shot the goat took a lot of work 4 shots from a 300 at 350 yards and 15 shots from a 45 at 25 yards

Anonymous said...

A few points: High fences are to keep other deer out. Once the owner has the population down to or below the carrying capacity of improved, attractive range, he doesn't want an influx of deer from neighborning lands.

A whitetail deer's usual range is roughly a section or so--640 acres or thereabouts. A high-fenced pasture of several thousand acres is in no way a "cage".

Vegetation makes a big difference. I've hunted Texas brush country and in the river bottoms along the Appalachicola below Blountstown, Florida: "Free range" could include ten or twenty acres inside a high fence, insofar as ever finding an uncooperative buck. You can't shoot what you can't see.

Then there are those folks who've let themselves get trapped by life itsownself: Office job in a city, few days per year for any sort of hunting opportunity away from Momma and the kids--that solo time that guys need. Even paying a bunch of $$$ to sit in a stand and get an easy shot beats sitting home, wishing, while watching the Outdoor Channel.

Art Eatman
Terlingua, Texas

Anonymous said...

A few points: High fences are to keep other deer out. Once the owner has the population down to or below the carrying capacity of improved, attractive range, he doesn't want an influx of deer from neighborning lands.

A whitetail deer's usual range is roughly a section or so--640 acres or thereabouts. A high-fenced pasture of several thousand acres is in no way a "cage".

Vegetation makes a big difference. I've hunted Texas brush country and in the river bottoms along the Appalachicola below Blountstown, Florida: "Free range" could include ten or twenty acres inside a high fence, insofar as ever finding an uncooperative buck. You can't shoot what you can't see.

Then there are those folks who've let themselves get trapped by life itsownself: Office job in a city, few days per year for any sort of hunting opportunity away from Momma and the kids--that solo time that guys need. Even paying a bunch of $$$ to sit in a stand and get an easy shot beats sitting home, wishing, while watching the Outdoor Channel.

Art Eatman
Terlingua, Texas