It’s no secret: The Lone Star State is the world leader in high fence hunting. Since the 1930’s, Texas ranches have stocked exotic animals for hunters who couldn’t or wouldn’t make the trip to Africa and other distant climes to claim their prize. While that controversial practice continues to this day, deer are now the Texas high fence hunting industry’s mainstay. That’s been controversial too, stretching back to 1985.

That’s when the Texas legislature decreed that landowners could set aside up to 320 acres to improve deer breeds with stud stock. Unlike wild whitetails, the resulting offspring are the breeder’s property. The animals aren’t regulated by state law. They can be bred for size and taste. And fenced. And shot by paying customers.

“Deer ranching” is now a multi-million dollar business. Back in 2002, Texas Monthly reported that “at least 3 million of the 16 million acres of deer habitat in South Texas are now high-fenced.” As the article pointed out, high fence deer hunting raises concerns about the spread of infectious diseases and the privatization of a natural resource. But the main objection remains cultural.

Many hunters (and non-hunters) object to the idea that high fence deer can’t escape predation. They claim these “canned hunts” don’t allow “fair chase,” their ultimate definition of “real hunting.” Despite the enormous size of many high fence ranches — there are ten thousand acre-plus examples — Boone & Crockett will not record scores of deer harvested within high fences.

At the same time, many hunters are deeply offended that the most primal activity known to man is being practiced by millennials who expect — and receive — instant gratification. Wearing designer gear, camo-clad hipsters walk fifty yards to a wooden blind to shoot a monster buck lingering by an automatic feeder. The ranch transports, cleans and dresses the dead deer, then presents the meat to customers in freezer-friendly packaging. 

Texas ranches catering to this demographic make serious money; Texas Hunt Lodge charges $12k to take the largest Whitetail buck, plus $250 per day per hunter. As you’d expect, the upscale ranches roll out the red carpet for the high-rollers. They’re five-star luxury all the way, from air conditioned bedrooms to a personal chef and (or course) a fully-stocked bar. 

I recently had the opportunity to hunt with Patrick Tarlton from the Texas Deer Association, a non-profit advocate for high fencing, on Nooner Ranch (video above). During our trip Patrick educated me on the benefits of high fencing deer.

Tarlton said high fences aren’t migration-stopping impenetrable barriers. Even so, they help reduce the invasion of pest species (e.g., wild hogs). Equally important, high fence hunting provides a financial incentive to keep land intact and limit agricultural use, which destroys native plants, drains local aquifers and adds pesticides to the environment. In fact, high fence hunting ranches restore the land to its original state.

Yes but it isn’t fair! It’s “drive-thru” hunting!

I believe that there’s nothing wrong with people wanting to hunt in a three-day span with a guarantee they’ll leave with a trophy. A lot of people don’t have the time, money or skill to hunt in the wild for days at a time; those of us who do often walk away empty-handed. High fence deer hunting satisfies a demand in the marketplace, like it or not.

But you should like it. High fence deer hunting improves the deer’s quality of life, protects and preserves the natural environment, introduces consumers to the joys of hunting (such as it is) and gives ranchers the extra income they need to keep their land.

104 Responses to The Truth About High Fence Hunting

  1. I’m in favor of anything involving responsible firearm use that makes for successful entrepreneurs, happy customers, and exploding heads in PETA circles!

      • Well, I’ve been a real hunter all my life and calling the shooting of “caged” animals as hunting degrades the sport.

        I see the benefit for those who are souvenir collectors or disabled, but a Disneyland experienced with a guaranteed set of antlers is not hunting anymore than shooting fish in a barrel.

        So be honest and call it a business. I’ve noticed that the mountains where I hunt don’t have a Yelp rating. Does your hunting area? Can you check the online reviews? Can you shop for locations? If so, you might want to rethink just how much hunting there is in your “hunting.”

  2. For those against this high fence hunting are they against raising cows and pigs and chickens in fences? The only difference between this and that is the deer have more space (better living conditions) and people pay a lot of money to shoot them.

    • Yeah, but it’s not hunting. It’s farming. Which is A OK, too. But look, I am a farmer. But I don’t go out and harvest my field and call it “gathering.” I call it what it is. Farming. I’ll give the owners credit, Infact. If I could get a bunch of young kids to pay boo koo dollars to come work for me, I sure as hell would too.

    • If you’re going to “farm” the deer, then you may as well harvest them like cattle on the open range. Round them up, load them into a trailer and haul them to a slaughterhouse where they can be humanely and efficiently killed without damage to the meat.

      The allure of hunting fenced-in, farm-raised animals is lost on me. It’s a darned inefficient way to put meat in the freezer.

      • And why on earth would the farmer/rancher do this??? If he can get someone to come in, and PAY him for the pleasure of replicating all this work for him, and in the process there is LESS stress to the animal… isn;t that a win-win situation for all involved?

    • Cole, I agree!

      Curtis, the process of taking animals to industrialized slaughter can be stressful for the animals and some of those places have horrendous records in terms of cleanliness and ethics for both their workers and the animals.

  3. I think the issue is that these canned hunts are being passed off as if they are the real thing. It’s one thing to go to a dude ranch for a weekend knowing you’re buying into a fantasy. It is quite another to go to one of these places and come out thinking “Wow I’m a real hunter now!” As long as the customers understand that this is no more of a real experience than the jaws ride at Universal Studios, then that’s fine, but when these douchebags start up with the ‘yeah I hunt too’ crap that’s when a lot of real hunters draw the line.

    Here’s an example: Lets say you’ve been training to climb a certain mountain for years. You buy the right gear, practice regularly, work your way up, and after several failed attempts you finally make it to the top. As you’re sitting there, admiring the view and your hard fought achievement, a helicopter suddenly lands 50 feet away from your spot. A bunch of rich assholes in designer parkas jump out, pop some champagne, and start taking selfies. Then one of them walks over to you with a big grin on his face and says “Oh you’re a mountain climber too? AWESOME!”

    That’s what a canned hunter looks like to a real one. That would piss me right off too, and I don’t even hunt.

    • That’s fair enough Heck, I’d love to get a chopper ride to the top of Everest just to be there. I just wouldn’t pretend to be a mountain climber.

    • Yeah pisses me off kinda too but I like to think of them more as recruits… They boost the industry and as long as WE can continue to be legit and the examples there is hope for the future of hunting

    • I think you cover SOME of it.

      Yes its a “canned hunt”. but the trigger is pulled. Rifle skills are required. Did you stalk? no. Did I stalk in a stand above an old corn field in Wisconsin? no.

      I grew up going to Wisconsin to a family friends farm that would leave a few rows of corn up at the end of the season. Then we setup in stands above that corn.

      Having moved to texas, and hunted in stands with a feeder a feed plot… didnt seem all that different to me. Of course I had to field dress my own deer, but I could have tossed the land owner 25 bucks and had him put the field dressed deer in the back of my truck.

      Lets not be so quick to write these off as so different from hunting a lot of folks have done for 50 years.

    • +100
      The canned guide trips up Everest are another fine example. Guiding has been a reputable trade for decades, but the clients generally had to know something about the sport before a guide would take them up the Matterhorn.

      Not saying that Himalayan guided trips are easy – you do have to be in physical shape – but reading accounts of how clients don’t know how to tie basic knots, put on a harness or crampons, or any of dozens of other very basic mountaineering skills makes me barf when I see yet another doofus bragging about his “Seven Summits” epic vacation.

      I did one high-fence pig hunt, once. Never again. Sat in blind. Pigs come to feeder. Shoot pig. It falls over. Not even remotely related to hiking for miles in the rimrock country of the Deschutes River in Oregon to locate, stalk, and shoot a nice little buck.

    • Does the fact that the other fellow used a chopper to get there lessen the achievement of the man that did it the hard way?

      Is there a regulation or law that says it has to be done this way or that or you can’t call yourself this or that?

      Or is the offended mountain climber simply pissed cause he’s afraid his “bragging rights” are going to be lessened?

      Remember, regardless if you got to the mountain top the easy or hard way, the people you are bragging too are bored of your story and will forget it 30 seconds after you stop talking. Like showing photos of the family vacation to Hawaii.

  4. It’s been said before and ill repeat it here: for a state that takes such pride in hunting as Texas does, it’s a very unfriendly state as far as hunting opportunities go. Nearly all of the state is privately owned, meaning that unless you want to take your chances with tiny plots of public land that are too few and far between; hunting in Texas means either owning land, being pals with someone who does, or being wealthy enough to afford even a cheap lease.
    I have no idea what the solution could be as I can’t think of one that won’t run contrary to my conservative beliefs.

    • Interesting you write this. I lived in New Mexico when I first found out about the Texas feral hog problem, and thought that hog hunting would be an excellent way to get into the sport. Then I tried to find a place to go hog hunting. Plenty of places would charge me thousands of dollars for the privilege of ridding their farm of invasive pests, but I never could find a straight answer to ‘where can I go to shoot some pigs?’. I gave up looking eventually, but I have come to more or less the same conclusion you have: Hunting in Texas is a good ol boys club, and a wealthy one at that.

      • Welcome to my south Florida experience.
        Some public land but not enough for everyone who wants to hunt and most of it is leased to cattle ranchers. And if you don’t know sone one with land it’s 250 per pug at the pay to play place. Also for deer pooh public land you usually need to pull a quota permit.

      • You just have to know people in farming communities (or people in the good ol’ boys network). I went with a law school friend one weekend to his dad’s goat ranch (more of a hobby ranch than a commercial endeavor; his dad was an insurance agent).

        Everyone around him was also in agriculture. Most of them would let you go on there land if you were going to shoot hogs. They did; we did.

      • Farmers and ranchers don’t like people they don’t know roaming around their property shooting (or more often shooting at) animals. They lose a lot of cows that way. I’m not kidding. The prices are used to pay for bait, fencing, and guides to make sure that amateurs don’t endanger other people or livestock.

      • This. I moved to Texas in 2006 and quickly discovered most of this huge state is privately owned. There is also a huge feral hog problem and one would think it would be easy to go out and harvest some wild hog meat, but no. You would think farmers losing $2500 (probably more) worth of corn in a single night to a herd of feral hogs that just uprooted and trampled an acre or more of corn would welcome a responsible hunter or two to harvest some feral swine, but no.

        I refuse to pay anyone a dime to kill something that equates to a giant rat and is just as numerous, which unfortunately means I am not killing any hogs, and the feral hog problem continues unabated. There are a few million acres across the state of public land, but the rules in place on that land prohibit hunting after dark and place further limits on what animals can be harvested, so not really an option either.

        Regarding high fence hunting, if the folks who do it can afford it the good for them, but there is a possibility they or their kids may one day want to move on to more of a challenge and become ‘actual’ hunters who stalk game. Unfortunately in Texas, that just isn’t really a thing.

    • When I bought my first Sportsman License in 1997 I was told that less than 2% of the land in Texas is open hunting land. Tried to hunt the Johnson Grasslands up by Denton a couple of times. Had my blind setup in what I thought was pretty secluded area. About 2 hours later some bozoid teenager came stomping up, stuck his head in the window and asked if I’d seen anything. I said only you, broke down my blind and packed out. Never went back.

    • Well, that is one bonus that comes with all the federally owned land in most of the western US. A *lot* of publicly available hunting land out in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada & Arizona. Washington and Oregon, too.

    • If you ask nicely, JWT will give you a Master’s class in Texas history regarding private property, land, water, minerals, and all that goes along with it. Really interesting how your accurate assessment of things came to be.

      • There are a lot of other interesting issues, adverted to in the article. In short, one cannot own the wildlife in the state, the state owns it until it has been taken pursuant to a permit. Yet these ranchers are charging a large fee to permit you access to land to hunt, in the case of hogs, an invasive species that they should want removed, as if they owned it and you were buying the pigs from them. The article suggested too that even the deer were largely local species, and in most states, the offspring of wild life is also owned by the state, not the rancher who bred it to studs to get a better “crop.”

        • Pigs are not game animals. Farmers and ranchers do want them removed. They just don’t want their family, friends, property, and livestock removed as well.
          Do you allow random people into your home to shoot mice or other vermin?

  5. That is very interesting. Perhaps that’s why the feral hog population in Texas is so bad? I’ve never been hunting out there, but I’ve done it in other states where access to land is much easier, and I expected to be overrun by hogs, but found them to be as elusive as any other animal I’ve ever hunted. Perhaps it’s because in those states, the hogs are more easily hunted by us commoners? Just a thought.

  6. At $13000 for a hunt (including day fees and travel costs), that is some pretty expensive venison. Pass. Hunt Arkansas instead. Or Ohio. Or Pennsylvania. California has lots of public land, but the deer hunting mostly sucks.

  7. Yeah, I’m not buying any of that.

    This feels like a paid PR piece more then anything.

    “I believe that there’s nothing wrong with people wanting to hunt in a three-day span with a guarantee they’ll leave with a trophy.” Its not a god damned trophy if you bought it.

    “Even so, they help reduce the invasion of pest species (e.g., wild hogs)”. Short of a solid wall buried at least 3 feet into the ground and/or electrified and salted with landmines I’m giving much credence to a highfence stopping feral hogs.

    “But you should like it.” No I sure as hell shouldn’t

    “High fence deer hunting improves the deer’s quality of life…” It basically turns them into cattle.

    “protects and preserves the natural environment…” It fragments habitats in its own right.

    “introduces consumers to the joys of hunting (such as it is)…” Its not hunting if there’s a goddamned guarantee.
    “and gives ranchers the extra income” Alright, thats true.

    • I am a hardcore hunter, I am not against high fence shooting for others, but I don’t love it. It has a lot of negatives. Call it what it is shooting not hunting. I grew up not far from a high fence outfit in Michigan. The fences were set up so that each one only covered about 10 acres. They take the shooter in to a blind let them sit for half an hour to an hour and then turn on the feader, and the deer come running. I am very glad the B and C, and P and Y do not allow these hormone injected things in. These outfits also take away real hunting land from hunters. Just look at the where Europe is with hunting access. You have to pay to play and a lot, just like Texas. I don’t want other states to go down that path.

    • ” Its not a god damned trophy if you bought it.” – big thumbs up.

      Buying a big salmon at the market on the way home from a skunked (but real) fishing trip is more authentic than this.

  8. Okay, so say you’re a lot like me: not rich, well-connected or have a supermodel’s good looks. Your hunt in Texas may look something like this.
    You’ll spend most of your tax return (if you get one) on a cheap lease good for one year. By “cheap”, I mean zero amenities. There will be no cabin – you bring your own tent or trailer. There will be no utilities, either you rough it totally or you bring a generator that will make enough racket to spook the deer. Your restroom is a hole in the ground or a bucket or a trip in town to the closest Dairy Queen. There will be no guide other than the landowner who showed you around a bit before the season started and pointed out the trails that lead to dilapidated box blinds full of wasp’s nests and raccoon poop. The property won’t have a High Fence, but it might have an antique barbed wire one delineating the property line. Watch out for horses and cattle – they will be ranging freely around the property and if you pop one, you just bought (at minimum) $1500 worth of unprocessed beef. You clean your own kill. You cook your own meals. You maintain your own feeder or game cameras and the landowner won’t be responsible if his teenage kid and his pals steal either. At most. you’ll be able to say that you have some land you can (more or less) safely park your truck on and hunt for a few weekends a year with absolutely no guarantee of success – meaning you saw a deer.
    Or, as I mentioned earlier, you can go really cheap and take your chances on public land. That would mean no game cameras or box blinds. No truly safe place to park. Stay away from the beaten trails if you want to avoid idiots.
    Wear orange. And you had better have done your scouting well in advance of the season and set the waypoints in your GPS. Oh… and the public land is several hours drive away and might be too small to use a rifle safely for fear of hitting a house through those trees.
    A rich man’s sport? Darn right it is, in Texas anyway.
    Still no answer going forward of how we can fix it without stepping on a lot of toes and private property rights.

    • Another option, at least for some: work your ass off and save for 30 years, look for just the right piece of property, convince your wife to move the f**k out there, work year-round to make it prime whitetail habitat, hunt judiciously, and grow your own “trophies” while keeping the freezer full. As a wise man once said, if you don’t own your hunting property it’s just a matter of time until you lose it.

  9. This isn’t hunting any more than shooting fish in a barrel makes one a “sportsman.” And for the cost involved, one could get a nice charter (plane), fly to Pennsylvania, hire a local, and still have a better than even chance of actually hunting an actual deer in actual nature in her unfenced glory. This canned crap is for poseurs.

    I wasn’t going to quite say “infomercial for the firms involved’, but that was before TTAG cranked the clickbait machine up to 12 and “SEOd the controls for the heart of the sun….”

  10. [High fences] help reduce the invasion of pest species (e.g., wild hogs).

    Sorry sweetie. If you think hogs are stopped by woven wire fences, then you don’t know much about hogs. They’re quite adept at digging under fences.

  11. I haven’t had the opportunity to hunt in years but I don’t think I would call this hunting any more that I would call a cattle ranch at slaughter time hunting, it’s harvesting an animal. When I hunt I want the challenge of finding the game, stalking the game and putting my skill against the animal. I also want to process my own kills, I owe it to the animal to deal with the gutting and bleeding and hauling the carcass out of the bush. If I come home with no meat then the animal won that round, my family is not starving so it’s disappointing but you don’t always win in life anyway.

    I don’t begrudge anyone who fills their freezer this way, it’s just not for me. So long as it’s legal and the animal is not being wasted I’m cool with it and who knows maybe someone will get hooked on this and then want to try to actually test themselves against an animal in a less controlled environment.

  12. I’m all for breading meat for taste. I would jump at a chance to go harvest some melt in your mouth venison. I don’t care if the rack looks like crazy straws.

    Think they can toss in some dove the size of a red tailed?

  13. It’s not hunting, it’s shooting cattle.

    I thought the author was better then this. To see through the bullcrap she was sold.
    This reads like a paid advert.

      • Cleavage shots? You’re in the wrong article. That was her other one about “gun bunnies”. And don’t pretend you didn’t enjoy it too – my phone now has a new background picture.

      • Henry Kaiser said during the construction of the Shasta Dam in Norcal- “find a need and fill it.” Think long on disparaging the marriage of capitalism and the rewards of hunting ? It is a self sustaining cycle. Just sayin’

  14. Now, now, let’s not blow this completely out of proportion…
    As much as I might knock Liberte’s writeup on the wooded Hilton she hunted on, it’sborne of a bit of jealousy. She’s more of a hunter than I could ever afford to be and I’ll never tell her she can’t avail herself of the opportunity to hunt such a spread – I’d do it in a heartbeat ( if someone else footed the bill).
    But Liberte, if you’re still reading this: I know you’d have plenty of experience hunting Texas on the cheap the way most of us have to by necessity. So how about giving the po’folk here some pointers on how thats done? Lord knows I could use all the money-saving advice I can get.

    • I definitely know how to hunt on the cheap and most of the deer I’ve taken were sadly nothing near trophy status… but that’s not why I do it and although this rack was great it didn’t bring me any additional happiness than a smaller deer I hunted harder.. thank you though for admitting what many
      Won’t… that they wouldn’t hesitate to take a deer off a luxury ranch if given the opportunity.. when you love hunting you just want to be around it

      • How about the suggested article about hunting as cheaply as possible? If I could afford $12,750 for a three day hunting trip, I would buy enough land to fence in (not that I would fence it in).

        • If I had $12,750 to spend on a weekend, I’d have enough money to buy enough land within reasonable distance to the part of Texas I live in to hunt on. I’m not saying $12,750 is enough to do that. I’m saying if I had enough money where I could justify spending that on a weekend, I’d have enough money to buy at least half a section of land suitable for hunting in my part of Texas.

          $12,750 would probably cover 4-6 acres of rural, undeveloped land within easy driving distance of my home. Not that 4-6 acres would be that useful or available. It could be, I used to hunt on some land that size which backed up to a state park and had a creek which allowed for the hunting of gators, deer, hogs, big old swamp rabbits that I’m told are delicious, and coyotes. The owner said we could shot any animal on the land except gators and rabbits, and it would be between us and the game wardens.

      • I sense another article being written!
        Hunting cheap is a daunting task that takes lots of prep work… probably best to give it to us in small doses over the course of several articles. That should keep you typing for a while.
        And thank you in advance!

      • Couldn’t afford it, have been offered to go with someone else paying, declined. Fine for others, not for me. I had to hunt nearly 40 years before I tapped my first B&C, with a bow.

  15. Great article. What abunch of whining complainers. At my familys ranch north of lampassas we got a big house sat tv, interweb ect. When people whine and say that aint hunting you gotta rough it, i inform them there are several old cabins you could sleep in, or u can always pitch a tent and camp out if u like. Gotten zero takers on that.
    Things worth mentioning, you can lease a decent place for the whole deer season for 2 to 5k a person, in central texas, and you can usually shoot all the hogs u want as well, maybe even ducks , turkeys and a little fitchin. Its also great to hunt next to or near a high fence ranch for the spillover. I shot my first fallow dat way, and we have axis deer on the property too, outa knowhere. Most ranches that are high fenced are at least several hundred acres, so the belief that since the high fence its a canned hunt is a little over the top. A 600 acre place is a square mile, sure its not hunting in west texas where you drive in a jeep glass for mule deer and spend all day sneaking in range, but it sure aint a sure thing.

  16. Lol. This is just butchering. There is such thing as trophy shooting (so called “trophy hunting”) where shooter, which is payed 1-100 grands, is grabbed by hand as little kid and placed in front of his living target by real hunter (his guide, which is payed 100$). And this is just next step in this idiocy.

    Trophy shooting is killed hunting physically in many countries (all public lands was just grabbed by so-called “new landowners”, usually via threats, corruption and very brutal “M&A”). There are some places in this world where you can ride 200-300+ miles in any direction from city (1m+ pop) and there is not any public lands at all! But this “farming” is killing hunting both physically AND mentally! People are totalitary brainwashed to think that is it “OK” to “hunt” on someones fenced backyard farm, it is “OK” to turn public land and private land, with some access to hunting, into gated “slaughtering communities” where you will bravely “hunt” petted human-friendly milk cows. =)

    Of course, someone can say that this stuff is good, and it has some pros… But listen, this is not good and doesnt helps to people outside this “farms” and whole communities because this is closed cycle business, where all business-procedures (from transportation to taxidermy) are held inside gated land. And in facts this is very bad and dangerous from people and communities itself, because this “farms” had special interests, regulary supported by rich lobby and corruption, to expand and capture more lands, to kill public lands and real hunting, and even kill guided tours from local native experienced hunters which just want to make some additional money and survive hard times.

    So i think this is not good in general terms.

    • You make a good point, and it brings up the bigger argument of public vs. private lands. While my knee-jerk response to the Malheur militia occupation was “good for them,” and I’m still glad it happened in general terms just to raise militia awareness and show the fedgov that militia need to be part of their planning considerations, I have since developed an internal conflict re: public lands. On the one hand, I don’t like the idea of the government, federal or state, owning massive tracts of land (or owning much of anything really). But at the same time, I’ve hunted on public lands in PA, and while I prefer hunting on private land I realize not everyone has a brother-in-law who’s part of a good ol’ boys network with a combined 1000+ acres up near the New York border. So for those less fortunate hunters, the public lands are often the only option. For states like PA, it’s no problem because of the availability of said public land. But apparently (never knew much about it before reading some comments here), it’s not like that in TX, so what’s a hunter without money or connections to do? It’s kind of a tough situation and it’s hard to know the best solution.

  17. Bloving, that’s pretty much how we all hunt in my part of Western NY ….. Although it’s pretty easy to fill one freezer each year.

    2.5 to 5 k per person per year to lease a hunting spot ! That’s nuts . Very very few guys here pay anything to hunt a farm.

  18. I didn’t really care until you pointed out the conservation aspect. I really believe anything that helps us have land worth passing on to our kids is good.

  19. Do I consider the high-fenced gig a hunt? No. That doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. I enthusiastically support the people who own those “ranches” as well as their customers. Whatever floats your boat, as long as they are not harming anyone else.

  20. I grew up in the Great lakes state where deer hunting is nearly a right of passage and religion. However, hunting here is no longer what it once was. The major gene-pool of quality deer has been shoot off in my area and the “Let them go let them grow only works if you let the right ones go. now we have these deer with decent bodies but they still sport tiny little baskets on their heads. As a kid I had several square miles of private farm land to hunt on it was as hometown America was supposed to be. However with the increase of property damage and disrespect to the property owner in various manners, cut fences shot cattle ect.. you get the point. This type of thing has changed hunting to where most property owners have become shanty deer snipers, not many people still have the skill to still hunt anymore, is sickening to hear someone boast of their fairly impressive take for the season just to find out they shot it standing over a pile of sugarbeats. I personally had quit hunting when I no longer had a place to still-hunt/ stalk the woods! 2 years ago a young friend wanted to hunt Camp Grayling, I agreed to give it a chance because Camp Grayling covers 5 counties and I aught to be able to stalk some. I am open to hunting public land where few other will tread. I will not hunt where every swinging-dick from the big cities flock too, not getting shot by some “ass-clown” want to be great white hunter. When a local conservation officer spoke to my conservation class years ago, I was appalled to hear how the city dump fills with deer shot just to be praised around their neighborhood for a week and then thrown in the dump. These type should be fined at the dump and lose their hunting rights, but that has been man’s legacy, just kill it; you don’t need a rational position to justify killing, your gun is your justification!

    So in turn I can see little to no difference between the person paying a guided game assassination on game ranch, than the boob on his own private property doing the same practice over a pile of beets or corn or apples or what ever else you chose to domesticate and change its eating habits so you know exactly the time and place according to your trail camera showed you on the SD card. You’re “NOT” a hunter!! You Are an Assassin!!!

  21. We all discussed something similar to this a while back when another writer here shot a deer by a feeder in Texas. Most hunting isn’t, and in my mind shouldn’t be, about “sport” and “fair chase.” Its rarely a fair chase. We are using firearms for Pete’s sake. Few are advocating we arm the wildlife to make the fight me equal. We are taking the lives of other animals for the purpose of feeding ourselves just like other predators. The goal is for should be for that animal to have a quick death after a decent life and then provide us some tasty and generally healthy food. Seems like these “canned” hunts can provide all those things and get more people involved in hunting and thus eating cleaner, more ethical meat. I’m all for it generally unless they are doing stupid things like tying deer up or trapping them in small enclosures for people to shoot. That really takes any aspect of hunting out of the equation. At that point you might as well harvest the deer like we would a cow.

    • I’m certainly not knocking those talented hunters who can stalk deer and other animals and efficiently harvest them out in the wild. That is a true sport, but the actually killing isn’t really the sport nor is it “fair.”

    • Hello, it’s embarrassingly obvious you haven’t a clue WTF you’re talking about on the topic of high fence deer killing operations. That “cleaner, more ethical meat” will wind up costing you at least $100 a pound for high fence venison, and many of the high rollers doling out big money for a sure thing trophy buck don’t want or like venison and either donate it or leave it in the freezer for months or years until they get around to throwing it out.

  22. Very polarizing issue. I went on a high fence hunt once a long time ago. A group of us went and shot hogs. That’s when I learned about trophy boars vs. fit to eat sows. We did not know until we go there that the place stocked exotics and white tails. I saw some of those animals. Lost my taste for wild boar and canned hunts on that venture. Won’t say never but I would not pay for a hunt like that ever again. Now if someone else paid my way that would be different…

  23. Three weeks ago I hunted on very nice hunting ranch with 3 other veterans. High fenced ranch. All 16,000 acres of it. Read that again. 16,000 acres of high fence. There are lots of deer and other game on that property that have never seen the fence, and will never in their entire lifetime. It took four very experienced hunters 3 days to find and kill one single Corsican ram, on a property that had hundreds.

    And yet, the Midwest deer hunter who sits in the woods over the same food plot, who’s watched the same deer come to the same plot every day of the season for 5 years, the same hunter that has hunted on a total of 20 acres his whole life, wants to tell me that high-fence hunting isn’t hunting.

    • Good point JWT. I picture something on a smaller scale, not 16,000 acres. That is quite the challenge. I thinking of the 3-4 acre plot of land where the owner drops you off and say “that’s where the deer usually hang out”. I have seen these and didn’t think they were that appealing, maybe to someone wanting a weekend adventure.

    • *snicker* Yes, well that’s Texas! Many of the ranches here have more acreage than a lot of east coast towns. But while Texas may be large enough to accommodate such spreads, the land is not infinite. And far too little of it is available at a price the common man with no family property or landowning friends can easily afford.

    • Bull$#it. Anyone familiar with high fence game operations knows trophy deer, elk, or any other native game species aren’t pen raised then released to roam 16,000 acres, doesn’t happen. A big time game rancher might have 16K acres under high fence, but the really valuable trophy game animals will be released into a smaller cross fenced enclosures, or released shortly before sale near a food source they were habituated to while pen raised. And I hate to break the news to you J Dub, but a Corsican Ram is a genetically engineered domestic/wild sheep hybrid that’s a low cost high return money maker for ranchers selling hunts that give the illusion of a Dall or Big Horn sheep hunt. So how does that “Corsican Ram” taste? Too funny!

      • The loins taste great Ted, way better than your bullshit. Many ranches may keep those few 200+ class super trophy white tail sectioned off, but those does, cull bucks, some all the way up to 160″ inches are usually left to roam free.

        • Wow J Dub, sounds like you’ve found the commercial deer killing utopia. 160 class whitetail bucks so plentiful that the rancher just turns them out to free range inside a 16K acre enclosure with the does and cull bucks, now how cool is that? So why didn’t you go for a 160 class buck instead of a stinking old sheep?

  24. Hunting is going to look like this more often into the future. There are seven billion of us on earth. Wide open spaces on the planet will become increasingly rare. Those that will exist, you probably won’t be allowed to hunt on

  25. I am not a hunter and have no plans to…but damn! 12000bucks to shoot a buck! Good for them if they make that kind of dough?

  26. Its a lazy adventure at best. For people who have done any hunting, there is work involved. Meaning, you will hump miles and miles to prime hunting grounds, sit for hours & hours in heat/cold and could potentially come home empty handed. High Fence hunting is like a ‘tourist” kind of thing to me and a slap into the face to real hunters, which I am not, causal hunter at best. But I do know people who take the art very serious. I don’t know, I get it business sense of it but sport, I don’t know.

  27. The market for these canned hunts will always be there as long as there are people who are willing to pay the money. It’s sad really. Take 13K and save your money for your own piece of land. Plant food plots, scout, and have years where you don’t take a deer because they aren’t mature enough. Unfortunately, people rather hit the easy button and spend 13K to kill a (to me) meaningless trophy rather than put in the work to actually hunt a deer.

    • I agree with your sentiments. I also am completely fine with “high fence” hunting. The fact I may not like it or choose to participate most certainly doesn’t preclude others from doing it. There are an infinite number of things I can’t or choose not to do. Doesn’t make them wrong.

  28. Sounds like Utah. Big money ranches buy big influence at the DWR and state capitol, who then bend the rules and flex the regs to make life easier for the cash cow.

    Meanwhile the regular Joe and actual wild animals get locked out in the cold.

    Regular Joes started complaining about the lack of public hunting areas. So The DWR came out CWMUs, (cooperative wildlife units) instead of expanding public hunting/fishing areas, private landowners (read; game ranches mostly) get paid to allow a few Joes in once in a blue moon. Those Joes are either given the time-share sales pitch rub-around, get used as genetic garbage men to clear out “subpar” animals, or are just treated like crap by operators who’ve already got paid by the state and now want the broke bums off his property.

    Individually, I have no problem with the business model. But these outfits will always team up, always go to the capitol, and always get what they want.

  29. The high fence model is used in South Africa where I’ve hunted twice. By allowing the landowners to make revenue from the animals on their property it has turned South Africa into one of the best hunting destinations for numbers and types of game. Obviously, the landowners have a vested interest in keeping the game plentiful and health.The false impression given is that high fence properties/hunts are limited to a handful of acres and make the hunt easy. In RSA, we did the spot and stalk on properties with a minimum of 5000 acres on up to 100K acres. While it’s true that the quarry can’t run “indefinitely” to evade the hunter, if one hunts on foot, 5000 acres is huge and can wear your rear out especially on hilly terrain such as that found the in the Eastern Cape of RSA.

    All in all, I don’t have a problem with high fenced hunts though I probably wouldn’t do it in TX to hunt whitetail by sitting in a box next to a feeder. That part just doesn’t appeal to me.

  30. “Hunting” requires skill, planning, and at least a little luck on the “hunters” part. High fence Safaris involve none of that, all that’s required is a fat bank account or max limit credit card and the ability to kill habituated livestock with a rifle at 50yds.

    Knowing your chances for success in harvesting a trophy buck are 99.9% isn’t hunting by any stretch. So just call it what it is, deer killing, of course there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it’s no different than killing a ranch raised goat or steer, but there’s no “hunt” involved whatsoever.

    Most of the high fence deer killing ranches here in Texas pen raise the trophy bucks and release them into a larger high fenced compound when the animal has matured into the desired trophy class, which is how the bucks are priced. For example, a 140 class buck might go from $10K to $15K, while a 180 class or higher buck might go for $25K to $50K.

    High fence deer killing venues along with a combination of comparatively little public land and deer hunting lease prices ranging from $2K to $10K per gun is why most Texans who’ve hunted all their lives find it difficult to pass that tradition on to their children and grandchildren.

    • The high fence places have grown to fill the void left by lack of public hunting land in TX. If you don’t own land, your options range from a public land crap shoot, to spending a large amount of money to hunt. Finding places to hunt here can be a frustrating experience here. Here are your options:

      1. Hunt the 1MM or so acres of designated public hunting lands. That sounds great, except that most of it is in the middle of nowhere. I can drive 8 hours from Dallas and still be in TX, middle of nowhere can be a very long way from home here. A large percentage of that 1MM acres is farmland available ONLY for dove season. Did I mention you will be sharing these lands with every other shmuck that has no alternative? The pressure on these public land animals is enormous and since “most” public hunting areas are not vast tracts of land, the animals can and do just move off to adjacent private land that is safer. Also, add in arbitrary and changing rules about what, when and how you can harvest animals on each individual unit. One I used to frequent allowed coyote hunting at night, year round. This year, they’ve implemented a short season, for coyotes??, and you can’t hunt coyotes at night, but you CAN hunt raccoons at night. When I called the game warden he was just as baffled as me and said they hadn’t asked his opinion on that one…

      2. Get a lease. I almost pulled the trigger on a $1700/year lease this year. 2+ hour drive, 600 acres shared with 6 other hunters, no amenities like power or water, nada. Landowners know the situation in TX and know they have you by the balls. I know people that pay $2K a year for a lease that lets them shoot one buck and one doe on the property ALL season long.

      3. Buy some land. I won’t go into why this is an awesome idea, but largely impractical for many people. I will say that it’s not just about money. There are plenty of people in TX that could afford to buy land, but don’t want the work it takes to make it a good place to hunt.

      4. Know someone with land. This is the golden ticket in TX. Know a landowner, get your foot in the door and meet other landowners, expand your places to hunt over time. Too bad it’s a hell of a lot harder than that in practice. Again, landowners with property suitable for hunting know the money they can make from it. This good old boy network also has a lot of influence on your ability to use option 2. Good luck coming out of the blue and getting a spot on a lease. Especially if you’ve never leased hunting property before.

      Personally, I got lucky on option 4 this year, which saved me from option 2 and another year of frustration with option 1. It’s a 3 hour drive and only a couple hundred acres, but it has plentiful game and I’m the only hunter on it. I’m not sure I’d have continued hunting much longer if I hadn’t gotten lucky.

      Anyway, these large high fence operations are satisfying a demand for a semi-private place to hunt, with a moderate to high chance of success for people that can afford it. If some guy with excess cash wants to blow it on one of these places for an on demand hunt, good for him. It’s probably one less person competing for public land or available leases.

      • “Also, add in arbitrary and changing rules about what, when and how you can harvest animals on each individual unit.” That’s probably the worst part of it around where I live.

        I don’t really care about what medium sized (and up) animal I hunt. There is actually a lot of public land around my part of Texas. (Within two hours, some less than an hour). The problem is that some of this land has restricted when you can hunt hogs. WTF? They’re not even considered game animals. They have no legal protection. If you do it right, you don’t even have to have a license to hunt hogs. (Get a license anyway. There are a lot of misconceptions about what the right way is).

      • Nice try Larry, but it became obvious you’re just making up bull$#it with that “moderate to high chance of success” nonsense. High fence operations are a business, so there’s nothing “moderate” about the chance for success, they make their $10K to $25K only after the paying customer pulls the trigger and kills the pen raised trophy buck turned out a short time before the kill. The sure thing success rate is why high fence trophy deer killing is not hunting. Skill, effort, planning, and a little luck have absolutely nothing to do with the success rate, if you can pay the $12K or more to shoot a 140 class whitetail buck, the high fence operator is gonna make damn sure it happens. Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with paying big money to kill a trophy buck, and even though the high fence industry gives their customers the illusion of an actual trophy deer hunt, truth is the shooter is paying that big money to shoot ranch raised livestock.

        • For someone who has no problem with it, you seem to be awful angry about it. Not all of these high fence operations are “trophy only”. Like JWT I fail to see the difference between a guide putting you on the animals and some guy that sits on the same stand on 20 baited acres year after year. It always seems like the problem people have with it is that some guy paid a bunch of money for the hunt. I don’t understand why some folks seem to think that their own accomplishments are lessened because someone else took an easier route.

        • The difference Larry, as true hunters know, whether they’re sitting in a tree stand overlooking a feed plot in an East Texas creek bottom or glassing from high ground in the Nebraska Sand Hills before stalking that monster buck to hopefully close within 300 yds for a shot, real hunting requires work, skill, preparation, a little luck, and still there’s no guarantee of success, that’s what makes it hunting. Real hunters enjoy everything leading up to and during the hunt, sometimes the work and preparation pays off, sometimes it doesn’t; sometimes the hunter is lucky and fortunate enough to get a shot at that monster buck, sometimes he’s not. If you’re that clueless and obstinate to acknowledge the glaring differences between real life deer hunts and high fence commercial deer kills that simply provide the illusion of a hunt, you just confirm why there is a lucrative business model to extract substantial sums of money from clueless customers incapable of grasping the concept or satisfaction of a true hunt.

  31. racks like that were twelve grand back in the late eighties.
    and the maintenance costs add up as well.

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