Since I don't have any high-fence pictures, here I am during a mountain lion hunt in the Sierra Nevadas.
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Hunting is defined as the determined search for or pursuit of wild animals, so it’s logical that Merriam-Webster defines a hunter as “one that searches for something.” In fact, that phrase resonates for many hunters. We search for our game, we rattle, we call, we wait, and still we often trudge home empty-handed.

Hunting takes work. It’s an investment of time, effort, and money – because guns don’t feed themselves – and a lifestyle I’m proud to be a part of, even when I’m skunked.

Then there’s high-fenced hunting.

Saving the hunt – and the spirit of hunting – is something I fully support.

Here’s the thing. In many states, high-fenced hunting is legal. Since it isn’t tightly regulated we don’t know exactly how many high-fence properties are currently operating but we do know they number in the thousands. Many high-fence owners and managers admit their clientele aren’t there for “the hunt” so much as they are the experience of the fun of their hot tubs, bars, and world-class chefs.

Sure, the amenities vary by property, but they are usually geared towards well-to-do businessmen looking to drink and relax with a side trip of shooting a monster buck. Because it will be a monster buck, crazy-big bull, or an exotic such as a zebra or an oryx; it’s a high-fence, so it’s going to be someone’s idea of a trophy.

Although such trophies are scored, Boone and Crockett doesn’t and won’t include them in their record books. When someone shoots a buck with an enormous rack on a high-fence property and takes to social media to show off its “score” they rarely mention that it was a high fence hunt or that it won’t be touched by B and C. They tend to launch straight into bragging rights, becoming incensed when the inevitable commenter appears asking if it was high fence. (Let’s face it, you can usually tell.)

Savoring the moments of a hunt: a gorgeous Arkansas sunset during a duck hunt.

For the Boone and Crockett Club, fair chase has been a topic of discussion since their founding meeting in 1887. Today they define fair chase as “the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging, wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.” They also say “something illegal can never be fair chase…just because something is legal does not make it fair chase. This is because fair chase extends beyond written laws.”

Fair chase is a relatively simple concept. Hunting deer and ducks that are wild and not confined by barriers is fair chase. It requires wide open spaces and a sense of fair play.

If you find it odd I included ducks in my example, here’s why: there are businesses where ducks are released for you to shoot. No worries about calling or waiting, just wait for them to be released and boom, birds down (assuming you can aim). High-fence isn’t limited to ungulates. It’s all-inclusive. A high-fence property owner once bragged to me that if a client wants something, he could get it for them, no matter what. Money talks.

So, is high-fence hunting legal? Yes. Is it ethical? You might not like my answer there, so let’s try a different angle. Is it sportsmanlike? No. Sportsmanlike behavior requires you act with fairness, respect, and good temper. Shooting animals in an enclosure doesn’t fit those parameters.

In Idaho there are quite a few high-fence properties for elk that are 10 to 60 acres; in Texas some are over 1,000 acres with a smaller percentage being thousands of acres. Those bigger properties are sectioned into parcels, though, and some parcels are quite small.

Fellow outdoor writer Hal Herring spoke to Doug Schleis, publisher of Wild Idaho News, about this very issue a few years ago. As an outdoor enthusiast and Idaho resident, Schleis has understandably strong opinions on the matter: “The essence of elk hunting in our state is the experience of wild country and the effort it takes to hunt an elk. We have [shooter bull operations] as small as 10 acres, one at 25 acres, one at 60 acres. The hunting public here doesn’t want this place to become like Texas.”

Is a 1,500-acre enclosure better than 10 acres? Of course. Are the animals confined to a space where they know meals come like clockwork and they think humans are friends, not foes? Yes.

With a peak elevation of 14,505 feet and 24,370 square miles, the Sierra Nevadas make a formidable yet beautiful landscape for hunting.

The word count is rising, so let’s get to it. Fasten your seat belts, boys and the few girls here, because this is how interweb brawls begin.

I neither like nor support high-fence hunting. It is not sportsmanlike and falls under the heading of “shooting” not hunting. My heart breaks when I see farm-raised bucks weighed down by misshapen, abnormal antlers, heads askew and necks bowed. I despise the thought of shooting a placid animal who thinks I’m their buddy there to feed them treats. I cringe at the idea of piling up ducks that were sitting in cages mere moments before.

But wait, there’s more.

I also have little patience for those presenting themselves as hunters when they are nothing of the sort. This morning I scrolled through an Instagram feed of one such person, taking the time to check out the websites of outfitters listed under their photos. It was a smorgasbord of high-fence spots, right down to the hogs. It’s a theme repeated on countless social media feeds and pages and yeah, it’s often women. Guess what? It’s dishonest.

Be honest about your hunts. If you shoot high-fence animals, admit it. Don’t try to pass yourself off as a hard-core hunter.

Hunting involves many time-consuming factors. Before seasons begin there’s scouting to be done both on foot and through trail cameras, food plots to be planted, blinds to be maintained, and gear to be prepared and trained with. Once the season hits you have hours of waiting ahead of you whether you’re hunting your own property, a lease, or public land. Hurry up and wait. Glass. Call. Rattle. Listen. Wait.

Hunters know they might go home empty-handed. They know that buck they’ve spent years waiting patiently to grow into a monster might not show up (might not appear all season). They know that sounder of hogs may or may not hit the corn; they just know those hogs need to go because they’re damaging the land and running off wildlife. In hunting, there are no guarantees. There’s just you, the land and hard work. And when it pays off it’s awesome to the extreme.

Let’s call it what it is: high-fence shooting. As an outdoor writer and a longtime hunter, it is not for me. It may be legal but I prefer the thrill of the hunt, and I don’t mean a guide who purposefully drives in areas he knows the animals don’t hang out to give the shooter the false appearance of work (yeah, some guides at high-fence properties say they do that). I want to hunt. I want to get tired from lack of sleep, dirty from stalking and sitting on the ground, and ecstatic when – if – I finally connect.

I’ve seen the arguments: it protects the environment, they say, and improves the animals’ quality of life (you can’t be serious). Proponents argue it reduces the invasion of pests on the property, brings new hunters into the fold, and that if deer really wanted to escape, they could. The latter statement is outright ludicrous and usually accompanied by the belief Whitetails routinely jump 15-foot fences, just for funsies. They don’t. High-fence properties are designed to keep the money-makers inside, not to give them the option of leaving.

High-fence shooting is the participation trophy of the industry. For enough cash you, too, can have a gargantuan buck, all without even mussing your hair. Boone and Crockett won’t accept it, but you can still measure it and post about it on social media as though they will.

According to Jose Ortega y Gasset, hunters pay homage to the beauty and mystery of nature. (Pictured: Jeff Axelson, founder of Axelson Tactical, during a bear hunt.)

The late philosopher Jose Ortego y Gasset said it well: “One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted. If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift, he would refuse it.

Life is a terrible conflict, a grandiose and atrocious confluence. Hunting submerges man deliberately in that formidable mystery and therefore contains something of religious rite and emotion in which homage is paid to what is divine, transcendent, in the laws of nature.” (From “Meditations on Hunting”, 1972, published by Scribner after Gasset’s death in 1955.)

Be Gasset’s ethical sportsman. Be a hunter.

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  1. From one hunter to another, well said. Perhaps if this doesn’t turn into just another flame war, I may come back and share a couple thoughts as one who lives in the midst of a high fence Mecca.

    • I guess I am the world’s most unluckiest hunter. My life these past 6 years have been really dynamic. College, graduating, new job, moving, etc. So I have only been able to get out once or twice a season. In these last 6 years I haven’t shot a deer. I have seen a few but had poor shots, didn’t have a doe tag, or the deer didn’t come any closer for a good shot. This, to me, is all part of it. If I was guaranteed to get a deer every time I went out I would quickly lose the thrill of it. It’s like anything that’s involved with being an outdoorsman. Nature happens. You can fish a hole one day and pull nothing and the next week be reeling in with each cast. That camping trip under the sun can quickly turn into a cold and wet experience that challenges you to not only overcome the issues but continue to have a good time. Hunting is that time you took to hike all the way up the mountain to just place a trail camera only to retrieve it again during the summers season. It’s finding the natural patterns of the deer in your area. It’s letting the doe go because you see 2 small fawns that would likely suffer without their mother. It’s doing all this work and then hiking in during the season only to get nothing. But the best reward is when it all comes together for you.

      I think high fence hunting goes against what being a outdoorsman is all about. It’s the instant gratification without putting in the work. It’s wanting something that takes work but paying for the shortcut.

  2. I agree with you 100%. I wish they could outlaw these so called hunts. Most of the people that participate in this are not really hunters but people that just want to kill something. How they can have pride in it is beyond me. The rancher that raise the damn thing should get a blue ribbon or something but it isn’t hunting. B&C got that right way back in in the 19th century. Now there is a new class of people that came to guns through video games and movies and think shooting an elk in an enclosure is hunting. Any effort to stop these places and the owners and outfitters cry that it is anti-hunting which it is not. Some of the oldest hunting organizations are adamantly opposed to these operations.

    There is an exception. That is southern Africa where some of the enclosures are 30,000 acres or more and they support animals that would have been extirpated otherwise. In South Africa animals have been brought back from the brink of extinction because of these places. However, even here there are plenty of abuses as I am sure everyone knows. On glaring example are the infamous canned lion hunts. Anyone that gets a lion in the Kalahari almost certainly has shot a “circus lion” as some PHs refer to raised lions as.

    • Outlaw them?
      Might be a tough sell in Texas. Here’s why:
      Some of our high fence game ranches have more acreage than a lot of state counties. There are pieces of land here where the deer may live most of their lives having never seen the fence. I find it hard to consider that anything but free-ranging. That said – those deer do become acclimated to seeing people and that could arguably give the Hunter an unfair advantage. Big property or not, I do agree no deer taken from such a ranch should count in the record books. They are fed, cared for and looked after by professional specialists specifically to appeal to wealthy clients.
      Which brings me to my major gripe with them:
      I’m not rich. I will likely never have the means to hunt some of the legendary game ranches if Texas. I’ll have a hard enough time finding even a cheap lease I can afford to hunt since the so-called Public Land in Texas is so far and few between that hunting for “free” is just not feasible for most hunters. And let’s dispel one of those high fence myths right now – high-fences do NOT encourage younger hunters, they only encourage younger RICH hunters.
      Want to keep your high fence? Suit yourself. I don’t consider it any more immoral than grabbing a chicken out of the yard and eating it, it’s still an animal – so long as it doesn’t suffer needlessly I’m fine with it. But it sure would be nice to see some REAL, feasible opportunities for actual beginner hunters (ie: broke and without “connections”) to have better places to start a new lifestyle.

      • Yea, I understand Texas is like 95% private lands. So what’s a Texan gonna do? I’m sure there are ranches with only barbed wire fences and my guess some of these ranchers let folks hunt on their ranches, maybe for a small fee. This, I see no problem with. Since I don’t live there, I have no first hand knowledge. Been there twice and neither time to hunt. I’d hope it wouldn’t be necessary for Texans to have to do all their hunting out of state. Talk about expensive, yikes.

        • Small fee? You’re hilarious. A crappy deer lease here is going to run you at least $1000 a year. That crappy one is probably poorly managed, and despite leasing for a “year” you probably get access and hunting rights only during deer season. Yes there are exceptions to this. Better leases can easily spiral into thousands of dollars.

          Venison is tasty, but a $1000 premium, plus expenses takes some of the flavor away.

          • If that’s the case, and I have no reason to doubt you, it doesn’t leave much choices. If it were me, I’d be going to neighboring states. I know out of state tags are hugely expensive, but not as bad as you mention. I know there is great hunting in Colorado (Deer, Elk, Buffalo), but I guess that’s the price of living in the great state of Texas.

    • I did some high-fence hunting in southern Africa a few years ago. The property was 45,000 acres. I had to track one Oryx for nearly 10 miles before I could get close enough for a reliable shot. That sure didn’t feel like “shooting rather than hunting.” The owner certainly raised trophy animals but he also did a lot of great work for conservation. There was even a family of bushmen that lived on the property. (Note : The bushmen were not for hunting. This was not a bad ’90’s action movie).

      • Why would you shoot an Oryx?

        Because some of you guys love the killing part. You know, the going over to Africa to kill the trophy animal thing.

        • Oh please. You don’t really believe that do you? Killing off an animal conserves the animal? Subtraction is actually addition? Try money. Capitalism.

    • Unless they are actively torturing the animals, no, I see no reason to ban it. High fence shooting isn’t for me, but a lot of people get their jollies that way. I don’t see it as any worse than many livestock are treated. Their end might not be quiet as swift, but their lives were probably nicer leading up the end.

      If someone wants to go and do that, have fun. I won’t be coming.

      There are plenty of places that do not do high fences, but are effectively similar operations. Yes, a fence constrains the animals, but bigger properties with feeders, herd management, etc. aren’t radically different other than no exotics. There is slightly lower odds, but face it, 1000 acres, feeders and active management is not going to all that dramatically different than 1000 acre high fenced property

  3. ” “One does not hunt in order to kill”

    Clearly Jose Ortego y Gasset never dealt with wild boar.

    • Since someone mentioned the Spaniard’s name, if you identify him by one surname it should be “Ortega” (his father’s name), not “Gasset” (his mother’s name).

    • “Real” hunters spot and stalk. If you are a camper, I mean blind sqauter, you’re not a “real” hunter. If you sit in a tree stand and hunt food plots or bait has been used, you’re not a real hunter.

      Chase that deer through the woods and let’s see what you come home with. Don’t hunt in the open plains, that’s not hunting, come to my area and hunt in woods where if you get a 50 yard shot it’s considered a long range.

      If you use a scope, you’re not a real hunter. Real hunters use iron sights.

      If you use a silencer, you’re not a real hunter.

      If you use a gas gun, you’re not a real hunter. If you use anything other than a single shot rifled musket, oh hell let’s make it unrifled, you’re not a real hunter.

      If you cover yourself in deer piss, you’re not a real hunter.

      If you rattle, you’re not a real hunter.

      If you use a laser range finder, you’re not a real hunter.

      If you don’t cast your own bullets, you’re not a real hunter.

      I can play this game all night. What I love about “hunters” is that it’s a cliquish club of self righteous brats who think if you don’t do things EXACTLY like they do, you’re not a real hunter.

      How about you shut your self righteous mouth and go about hunting the way you want and worry less about how others choose to enjoy themselves.

      Now write an article about how crossbows aren’t real primitive hunting (despite dating back to the 4th Centuey BC) and have the cover photo be of you holding a modern compound bow with all the modern amenities and spout off about how crossbow hunters ruin your “primitive” hunting experience.

      • Yes, this guy has the right idea. Hunt how you want to hunt; as long as you aren’t doing anything illegal, just be happy with what you’re doing. Some holier than thou pricks will say the only real hunting is how they do it, but screw ’em. Do what makes you happy.

        And as for Boone & Crockett… Who cares?

      • Don’t lump all hunters into the “self-righteous brat” category!! I come from a state where nearly all of us are hunters, our entire lives, and NO ONE talks like this there! There is a new type of elitist, big money hunter that is starting to dominate conversations, especially out west. While I love your comment, be careful because there are a lot of young men still just taking the single shot out for spring turkey every year and they are hella good at what they do with minimal equipment and sanctimoniousness! Haha.

      • You are implying some false equivalencies there. Still I posit that you are correct, it is a matter of degrees, but I also suspect enough degrees differentiates those who want a challenge from those who just want instant gratification.

      • Finally! You *insert title* win the internet for today.

        This whole shpeal on what is or isn’t ‘ethical’ is nothing but a fart in the wind. Its me-too, moral high horse talk, through rose colored shades.

        Very very few people hunt these days out of necessity, which is about the limit of the scope of ethics. The rest want a live target to use their fancy, new, over priced rifle on, maybe they want to eat grass fed, non-polluted meat, maybe they want to go kill something for the shits and giggles. Its all irrelevant. Modern day ‘hunting’ is nothing more than a legal and socially acceptable outlet for people to kill, a vent for the darker side of humanity, to sugar coat it as something noble and ethical is an absolute disservice to truth.

        ‘Hunters’ have no shortage of excuses and facades to try and justify their hobby to the rest of the world. ‘I’m teaching my kid the value of life’, ‘I’m teaching my kid gun safety’, ‘Its communing with nature’, ‘It brings the family together’, ‘We help protect the environment’, ‘Our fees maintain game grounds…..’ (Ok, you got me on the last one, the fees actually do maintain public grounds.)

        People aren’t fooled when “hunters” post their pictures of mangled fox kits to their favorite forums, make gut shot threads for coyotes, and call it hunting. Hunters should stop trying to justify themselves to everyone around them, and stop asking for your peers permission when you don’t need it. If you like to go kill animals and watch them thrash around in the dirt after being shot, then go hunt, its not ethical, but it is legal. TBH, I don’t care if this is what someone else likes, if its out of sight, its out of mind. If you like hunting, stop apologizing for it and go own that trash.

        I’ll address the next high horse that typically comes along, and starts interrogating me on the subject of farmed meat, no, it isn’t ethical either, but it is a step up, provided its an actual symbiotic relation were you give protection, keep your stock in good health, etc, and get meat in return before the animal gets too old to eat. Industrial feed lots, and greed filled people who won’t fence in or provide for their stock do not apply.

        – $2.00 from someone is tired of being fed bullshit and propaganda from every conceivable class/group/orangization.

      • Double post, but someone else brought up a decent point.

        What is or isn’t hunting or ethical to a person has to be judged by their own standards. A lot of people like to go by consensus, but it doesn’t always work when you start trying to define the nit-picks about what does or doesn’t qualify to be something.

  4. I’m not ever going to pay for a hunt on private land. I’m too tight with a buck to do it. I hunt public lands. This means I put up with assholes and come up empty handed on occasion. Hunting, for me, ain’t about the trophy. It’s about the hunting.

    High fence hunting is like stalking the meat aisle at the Safeway. Both are legal. Neither are satisfying.

  5. Kat, I knew I’d like reading your stuff. I went along on a Texas hunt with my nephew and his son, the place was all fenced, maximum shooting distance approximately 110 yards. No sport and no challenge. Definitely not hunting.

  6. It’s just not hunting. It’s tourism. It’s essentailly the same thing as a dude ranch, or the “gold panning” expiditions you can go on in South Dakota. It’s there for city slickers to feel like they’re doing something manly.

  7. A quality refutation of Ortega y Gassett’s absurdist and elitist form of hunting:

    In some parts of the American West, there is emerging what one self-styled proponent of the lifestyle called himself: the “hunter-hobbyist.” This person uses preponderous and condescending language, coupled with a healthy dose of utter abstraction from the natural world, to advocate his thoroughly over-civilized and urbane notion of interaction with wildlife before the good-hearted public. The Roman emperors waxed long about their bucolic and agricultural lives in such a way. His results can be seen in states like Colorado, where an fictionalized and completely urban notion of the wild has overtaken what were once largely untouched places. Where there was once scrub brush and the dust of the occasional pickup there is now the picnic table, manicured trails, overly cropped and unnaturally growing trees, doggy-bag crap-canisters – all so that this neurotic and thoroughly urban person can foist his harried psychological state onto “nature.” Similar things are happening in hunting. The overly-civilized Nero would never allow himself to be caught “trophy hunting” – god forbid he lets on like a great kill IS truly a trophy to be respected. Gone soon will be the days when boys could wander the forest free of judgment, where they learned the true ethics of the wild from the way they did occasionally abuse a shot, or or kill without praying to Vishnu beforehand.

  8. Honest question: So what about spreading corn out so the non-fenced game appears day after day to eat? Is this any different?

    • i would say yes. in a canned hunt they would go out and capture these large bucks then put them in the “cage” and then let people “hunt” them. high-fencing just sounds like a larger cage canned hunt.

    • No, that’s not hunting either. That’s trapping. I wouldn’t say that’s its unethical or anything, in fact it’s far more practical if your goal is to put meat on the table. But it’s more along the lines of trapping as opposed to searching and seeking out game.

    • A good question. here’s another…is hunting on an island a “canned hunt”? many islands that are legal to hunt (many in alaska) are much smaller than some of these high fenced places in other areas. If the game is there, and at high tide they can’t escape, isn’t this the mother of all canned hunts?

  9. To be fair, at least admit that high fence shooting doesn’t meet YOUR standards of “sportsmasnlike”. This is NOT on objective standard that can be measured and verified empirically, its ALL down to personal opinion. At one time, and to many people still this day, using magnum calibers and high-powered optics is not “sportsmanlike” and gives the hunter an unfair advantage. I’m guessing when bows and arrows replaced the atlatl, there were old timers who felt that advancement was unfair to the animal and disrespected the spirit of the hunt. I’m not saying I’m a fan or supporter of “high fence hunting” (haven’t really put much thought into because I can’t afford a hunt like that, and I usually don’t make a habit about worrying over how other people with no bearing on my life spend their time). But I do find it at least moderately humorous to see someone get decked out in their advanced photo-realistic camouflage with 3-dimensional outline-breaking patented RealBrush flaps (after laundering them with scent-absorbing doodads), douse themselves in animal urine/scent blocker of some sort, load up their fuel injected 4WD ATV, drive out to their hunting land, climb up into the tree using their polymer, composite, and aluminum mechanical tree-climbing stand, use their aural magnification device or advanced optics (maybe even some nightvision?) to locate their game, use one of a dozen different synthetic game calls to call it in closer, ready their advanced modern polymer stocked centerfire magnum rifle with advanced adjustable precision trigger (or maybe even an “unsporting” modern polymer and alloy semi-auto with detachable box magazines and 20-30 rd capacity), sight through their high powered precision engineered multi-coated bullet-drop compensating scope, send a precision engineered modern controlled-expansion full-bonded bullet into the side of an animal from a few hundred yards away…. then gripe about how some other guy was “unfair” and “unsporting” because he did the exact same thing, but on a piece of property with a fence around it. I’m not even going to mention feed corn, foodplots, or trailcams. Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means anti-hunting. But I think there’s a little bit of gatekeeping/”no true scotsman” over COMPLETELY arbitrarily drawn lines going on here. Lets face it, the overwhelming majority of us, including the author, use all sorts of equipment and techniques that make bagging some game a LOT easier than it was for our fathers and grandfathers. Does that make us unfair, unsporting assholes? Not in my opinion. But that’s just that. My opinion. Yours can be different from mine, and that doesn’t make either of us right, or either of us wrong. Thats how opinions work. So Ms. Ainsworth is more than welcome to get all high-and-mighty about how she’s better and more ethical than high-fence hunters, just like I can sit back and laugh at how funny it is to see a BigEndian angrily decry the heresy of a LittleEndian as if that were a distinction that would be made by any but the two parties.

    • My first thought while reading this was “How is hunting with a firearm sportsmanlike?”

      If you want to claim that your hunt was sportsmanlike, then the only tools you should have used are a knife, spear, or some other human powered weapon. I’ll call hunting with a firearm or bow and arrow “fair” when the prey can shoot back.

      That being said, I’m all for hunting, just don’t claim the animal has a fair chance.

      • beefeater, my thoughts exactly…if you can sneak up on your prey and smack them on the rump before you quickly and humanely dispatch them, with a non-powder weapon that doesn’t leave your hand,to feed your loved ones/needy – then you’re a hunter…otherwise, you’re just a video game player, high fence or no fence. – and I don’t worship nature…respect, yes, but worship? -that’s for God alone…

      • If these anti canned hunters hunted with bare hands and rocks then you can preach! Choke the life from that big buck your self?? Admit it! Either we are inclusive or exclusive as long as people are excited about hunting who cares about some self defined recording of records group.. this is the same fudd style nonsense that is losing us our gun rights

    • “Lets face it, the overwhelming majority of us, including the author, use all sorts of equipment and techniques that make bagging some game a LOT easier than it was for our fathers and grandfathers.” You mean like the photo at the top of this whole article??? Hahahaha. +1

      • I have some bad news for you. The cover image was taken during a public land mountain lion hunt in the Sierra Nevadas which range over 24,370 square miles. Gun, pack, and nothing more.

        • And how much of that lion did you utilize? How did he taste? Now, if you took a lion for just for the skin, that’s not all that different from the high fence. Harvesting more than you will use is still an insult.

        • Mountain lion… Oh yeah, no way that wasn’t shooting something for the sake of getting a pelt. You’re not a real hunter, you’re nothing but a damn trophy collector.

        • We were talking about the fact that you look like you cleared out a Bass Pro to head into the woods. There are many other hipsters who would consider the equipment you have there and the quarry in that photo “unethical.”

        • “Gun, pack, and nothing more.”
          Kat, did you forget the pic you posted on the ATV, on the same land with the same rifle?

        • “Gun, pack and nothing more”

          – (and an ATV, and photo realistic camouflage, face buff and gun, and modern polarized scratch and fog resistant sunglasses, and modern multicoated magnified optic, , and probably a battery powered digital satellite navigation/GPS system, and probably some binoculars and most likely a radio for communication/coordination)

          Listen Kat, just to be clear, I am NOT criticizing how you hunt at all. If anything I’m jealous, where I live hunting like that isn’t even an option, I’d jump all over it if it were. What I DO have a problem with is you judging other people because they don’t hunt like you, when there is a LOT about how you hunt that many people would view as just as “unsporting” or “unfair” as a high-fence hunt. How about you do you, and let the rest of us do us?

        • +1 on the jealousy of being able to go on the hunts you seem to with the gear you take. I think though you’ve got a lot of people who are crying “those who live in glass houses…”

          Which I think is an honest criticism of your article. High fenced hunting isn’t for me. Cost aside, just not something I am interested in at all. If I owned property (if my fortune holds, maybe in another decade I can afford 40-60 acres west of me an hour or so) I don’t think I’d setup feeders. That isn’t what I am looking for in hunting. But everyone is looking for something else. Prairie dog shoots aren’t all that sportsman like IMHO either, but plenty of people do them. Yeah, I wouldn’t call that hunting like I wouldn’t call high fence shooting hunting either, but I see nothing wrong with it. So long as the animals themselves are treated fairly humanely and in most cases they are (better lives than most livestock).

          Hunting mountain lions, unless its in your own backyard or a friends is effectively trophy hunting. A lot of people have an issue with that. So long as game populations can support it, I see nothing wrong with it. Not something I can afford or have the time for. I care the most about the experience and something in my freezer I can eat. I still enjoy getting a big buck over some button, but frankly the little guy tastes better. I’ll sure shoot things I have no intentions of eating. Coyotes are on my kill-on-sight list around here and frankly fox too a lot of times (I or my friends and neighbors have lost chickens to them too many times).

  10. I have hunted too many places with different hunting laws and ethics to pound the table too hard about what I think is sportsmanlike or ethical hunting. What is legal, ethical, and sportsmanlike in Location X is not in Location Y. These days before hunting some new place, I figure out what is customary for that place and let the sophists contemplate their navel while I go out hunting.

  11. Well, baiting is illegal in my state , high fence hunting is legal I guess although I only know about one well off guy who fenced his land for his own hunting , nobody pays to high fence hunt here .

    I agree 100% with the author .

  12. I’m against fenced shooting. It’s not hunting . Ironic you should mention the ducks. I worked for a duck outfit and one year we decided to pen raise 500 mallards. The boss would blow his duck call Everytime we fed them. Come hunting season the clients thot he was one hell of a duck caller and they was all tickled shitless.We only did this once, Boss man said “,this just ain’t right”

    . One of the reasons I don’t like Ted Nugent is because his ” spirit of the wild” consist of shooting the wild spirits in a pen. I’ve seen that guy step out on his porch and put the low down with a shotgun on a group of deer penned up right by his back porch, no clean kills, he was just blazing away and the deer had no where to run, banging into the fence trying to get away, it was sickening. Maybe he’s changed but I doubt it.

    • You’re against fenced shooting, but you’ll hook line turkeys and trap fish. You sir, are a hypocrite.

  13. I’ve wanted to hunt but never had the time, money, or chance to come it in the right ratios.

    That said, the times I’ve *really* wanted to hunt have been when roaming the landscape and coming across groups of deer/javelina/turkey close enough I could bean them with a rock. There’s always a few seconds where both parties are just standing staring at each other in dumb silence before the wildlife starts to book it. I imagine if I ever do hunt that’s how I’d go about it.

  14. Stop liking what I don’t like!!! There are many more larger issues to spend our moral outrage on, IMO.

    I agree high fence hunts are not sporting, but their is clearly a market for them. I may not want to participate, I may not be able to afford it if even if I did. That doesn’t mean it should be illegal, it means I shouldn’t participate.

    In other words my tastes and preferences are not the determining factor for what others do.

    I find homosexuality much more morally repugnant, unnatural and harmful to society than canned hunts. Think anybody in popular culture at large cares what I think about that?

    • “That doesn’t mean it should be illegal, it means I shouldn’t participate.”

      Bingo, we have a winner!

    • You see the problem is that the ARs use these canned hunts against us. They will show a photo of some fat guy with an AR and a dead animal he shot off a feeding station in a high fenced area. To the general public all hunters are like that and the ARs do their level best to convince the public of it.

      These people give the ARs all sorts of ammo to use against us.

      • Every time I go to the local range, there is some (or multiple) fat guy(s) with an MSR blasting away at a target 15 yards away. He usually has a 12″ group using $400 scope or dot on a $1500 rifle. The anti’s could use this image to convince the general public that all gun owners are like this idiot or all gun ranges are filled with men like this. Does that mean we should outlaw gun ranges too?

        What about driving sports cars? I see many fat guys driving sports cars erratically all the time. Does this mean that all sports car drivers are idiots?

        The solution to the problem of image is to take an anti(s) hunting.

        Take them quail hunting. Loan them your wifes 20 guage so they don’t get their shoulder hurt by your 12 guage.

        Take them on real elk or deer hunt. Make them spot for you. If they don’t want to hunt, invite them up to your camp for an evening and night. Show them what real hunting is.

        New laws regarding hunting should only be enacted if the game population needs managing or if the new law prohibits further regulation.

        • What’s wrong with fat guys…… For much of history skinny guys were just shitty hunters!!!

        • Thank you Jon!!! I just figured out how to solve all the world’s problems. We simply outlaw fat guys. See we pass this law and you have 6 months to fit in a size 34 pants or we exile you to a penal colony in a hot climate with a controlled diet until you become small enough for a size 34. You get sent there 3 times before we hang you for being fat.


  15. “I despise the thought of shooting a placid animal who thinks I’m their buddy there to feed them treats. I cringe at the idea of piling up ducks that were sitting in cages mere moments before.”

    And what does this say about the “business executives” who think going on a high-fence “hunt” is just the thing to create corporate bonding. My father who hunted to put food on his family’s table in the Great Depression and was a life-long hunter called these sorts of people “junk hunters”. That’s good enough for me.

  16. We have [shooter bull operations] as small as 10 acres, one at 25 acres, one at 60 acres.
    Geee….at 10 acres, is this a game hunt or a petting zoo?
    I just don’t think I could do it. Maybe bring a camera rather than a gun.
    Next is high fence ground hog hunting!

  17. Kat, I’ve never hunted deer in a high fence. And I agree that small enclosures (10 acres? Really?) Are not ethical. That’s a pen, not a fence. However, I have a friend that owns a licensed hunting preserve. He has to high fence it by law. He has pics of bucks that no hunter has ever seen. This preserve is only a few hundred acres. The deer are just as wild as the ones I hunt on a thousand acres across the creek from him. I was out there today helping him put no fishing signs around his pond and creek outside the high fence. He owns several hundred acres outside the fence ,too. (Also a problem with poachers cutting holes in the fence. Think they’re meat hunting?) Of course, Ray does things a little differently than the high fence operations you talked about. He lives on the place in a very modest 3/2. Want luxury accommodations? They’re 30 miles away. Gourmet meals? The same. At your expense. Oh, and if you don’t take a deer? You don’t pay.

  18. One of the hunting community’s biggest problems is that for some reason everyone who calls themselves a hunter believes that THEY are the ones who do it correctly, and that anyone who doesn’t hunt in the exact same fashion isn’t a real hunter.

    Anyone who uses corn isn’t a real hunter, anyone who uses a firearm isn’t a real hunter, anyone who uses a rangefinder isn’t a real hunter, anyone who hunts over food plots isn’t a real hunter, anyone who uses trail cams isn’t a real hunter, etc. Hell I turkey hunt with a guy who refuses to use decoys because he believes any turkey hunter worth their salt should be able to call a gobbler into their lap without them.

    In a time where we see a decline in the number of people hunting, the people who are hunting can’t wait to tell each other that they’re not real hunters.

    If I had someone showing me a picture of a monster buck they killed in a high-fence hunt, and they were waxing eloquent about their keen hunting abilities, would I roll my eyes? Absolutely. But my eyes seem to do a lot of rolling these days.

        • What I meant was what Dirty Harry said about opinions, everybody has one, and they’re relative…then you have things that are absolute..that’s all..(aren’t Jedi pretty absolute, too?)..

    • Tom, I thought you hunted South Africa? They are big fences for sure, but the preserves are certainly fenced.

      • Don’t point things out like that to hypocrites, it makes it hard for them to think they’re better than everyone else.

      • I did. And it’s why I chose Eli as my outfitter.
        Large land and no fences up near the border with Botswana. Jim Shockey hit up Eli at the Wild Sheep Foundation show inquiring about Bushbuck. He did NOT want to hunt fenced property. Eli assured him, and I vouched. No fences. Not sure if he took Eli up or not. I’m waiting on Instagram for bragging rights.
        Then off to Mozambique. Not sure how one could even get fence over there. It would have to be hauled in by boat or barge.
        I never saw a fence. Not even near the abandoned Portuguese hospital where they hunt lions and leopards. (They use plywood propped up against doorways open to the bush as guards.) I heard stories that got my adrenaline flowing!

        • Thanks Tom, I too, have chosen to hunt the Cape Buffalo in Mozambique. Several guides in Limpopo I spoke with told me that unfenced hunting in South Africa was a pure myth. It may be days of driving before you would ever see a fence, but a fence is there. At least that’s what everyone has told me. I’ll still hunt my plains game there.

        • You guys are all being led to trophy animals by local guides who have cultivated and offered these animals up for you to slaughter for no other reason than making money for them and the joy of killing for you. The entire trophy hunting industry is bullshit wrapped in a bunch of lies about conservation, feeding villagers, etc. Money. Killing. Period. And you know it. You guys would hunt humans the same way if it was legal.

          • “There is no hunting like the hunting of man. And those who have hunted armed men long enough and like it, care for little else thereafter”. Very famous American author who, for the life of me, I can’t remember his name.

        • Marty, that’s Hemmingway.
          It’s a great quote, but also complete bullshit. Many of my fellow veterans love to hunt. Per capita, veterans, especially combat vets, hunt far more than those who are not.

          • JW, right it was Ernest Hemmingway, Never heard it was bullshit. Hell we even had the quote printed on the bottom of our task force t-shirts.

  19. Although I love you dearly, Kat, I’m not with you on this. If I may be forgiven quoting George Bernard Shaw, “Forgive him, for he believes the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature.” Your ideas of sportsmanship and ethical hunting are, indeed, your ideas, and as anyone can clearly tell from this excellently written piece, they are ideas and ideals you deeply believe and live. They are, however, not mine. I grew up in Tennessee hunting and shooting in exactly the kind of world you display here, and that world is as dead as Elvis. What you have described here is a world in which hunting continues to decline at its present precipitous rate, a world like Europe, where hunting becomes the solely the province of the elite…the reason for my thinking here is that time, not money, has become the great delimiting factor in this culture. You describe the style of hunting I grew up with, and as you note it is amazingly time-consuming. To do those things that you define as legitimate hunting requires a time commitment that most of the people in this country just cannot make. I live in a place where, if I was to stand up and walk to the window, I would see a heard of mulies, looking pretty ratty as they shed their winter coats. I know their pathways, where they lay up, the seasonal rhythm of their lives. But I acknowledge that most people will NEVER have that blessing, and I only have it because I have worked my whole life and continue to work 60 hours weeks to be here…oh, and been very very lucky. It’s easy to wax poetic about that lifestyle because, quite honestly, people PAY us to do so. If we continue to see hunting through the eyes of that paradigm (as does the Boone and Crockett Club, whom I despise and whom I believe have done more to damage the hunting community through their endless divisive rhetoric than anything positive they have done for fair chase), hunting will continue its spiral downward. That is the simple truth, based on whatever indicators you’d care to look at. The world, as the Elves noted in the beginning of LOTR, is changing. The future of hunting, if it is to have a future, must include some level of high fence hunting and probably an increased reliance on guides as opposed to the traditional hunting you describe. If people like you and I, who can quite legitimately swing weight, don’t step in to help direct that future of hunting, I suspect we won’t like he results that will follow. Okay…rant mode off! BTW, in Tennessee, every person I knew HATED bait hunting…they also grew acres of field corn, which they plowed under just before deer season, and left old apple orchards untended, and somehow the tree stands managed to overlook those fields and orchards. Nothing is ever as clean as we might wish it to be.
    Michael B

    • This. This is the much more better written version of what I was trying to say.

      Thank you, sir.

    • Hunt over a food source, natural, or otherwise, you’re hunting over bait. Acorns, corn, spybeans, peanuts, honeysuckle. It doesn’t matter. That’s the way our ancestors did it for thousands of years. Besides, there are more whitetail deer on the North American continent than when the Pilgrims landed. Mostly due to agriculture. We shouldn’t hunt over those fields? I tell you what; let’s go back to throwing rocks at small game. That’s sportsmanship. Kat, you leave that AR at home. Not even legal to hunt with in my state if a semi holds over five rounds. Oh, I correct myself. Hunting pigs on private land with anything is legal.

      • Truth. I have stands in oak flats and near persimmon trees for a reason, and I planted scores of ’em for a reason. ALL the deer and turkey and other wildlife benefit and maybe once every two or three years I take a nice buck there. As will my grandson in 30 years, God willing.

  20. This is the same as the debate about the “climbers” on Everest, nearly all of whom are guided with a high degree of decadence. Real climbers laugh at the pretenders who paid a fortune for their moment of false glory.

    • Not sure that’s a fair comparison. A climber, no matter how pampered, still has to make it to the summit on their own. They still have to acclimatize. No guide in the world can eliminate the risk of failure or death on an Everest climb. Are they less “hardcore”? Maybe, but the majority of the risks are the same.

  21. very interesting topic for discussion, kudos.

    me myself don’t like driven pheasant shoots, but they are an important part of the highland economy in scotland; contributing to income for the folks in a rural and remote society.

    so i go out as a ‘flanker’ to bring up the bag count the paying (and poorly shooting) guests have paid for.

    this to me is not hunting, as i know it: watching, stalking, clean shot. more like a shot show for paying customers, but still way ahead from the industrial killing of mass produced animals for cheap food.

    as long as the animals had a decent life before the kill (whats to be assumed with good game farmers), who am i to throw the first stone…

  22. I’m overall inclined to agree, but I would say with a few minimal exceptions. That being people who want to hunt and are disabled or would otherwise have difficulty hunting not pertinent to their skill. I recall reading an article a long time ago about a 9YO who had Leukemia that went on a canned hunt as it was one of the things he wanted to do in life (the hunt.) I would say that even with fences, it was probably at his limits to even do that.

  23. What exactly is “sportsmanlike? Does it include wearing the latest camouflage, scent blockers, the most accurate weapon, and the most lethal ammo, etc? I have never hunted a farm raised animal, but it strikes me as hypocritical to denounce someone who lacks the skill to hunt in the wild, and not equally condemn the technology dependent hunter who does.

    • Using an accurate weapon and lethal ammo falls under our responsibility as hunters for an ethical kill. One shot, well placed, should always be the goal.

      I don’t use scent blockers, personally…

      • You are right, an ethical kill is always the top priority. That being said, I have taken a fair amount of game with my non sub MOA .303 ,and a traditional recurve doesn’t fair bad either. Skills like stalking and tracking seem to be becoming more rare with the increase of technology. It is undoubtedly true that hunting has becoming easier, and the question of sportsmanship is becoming increasingly subjective.

  24. This article has the opposite effect on me that it should of, I think I will maybe set up my place as a high fence hunting area.

    Sure, you’ve maybe shot hogs, white tails, mulies, squirrels, doves, rabbits, quail, turkeys, ducks, geese, coyotes, pronghorns and all kinds of other game.

    But have you ever hunted the mighty bos taurus? Right now I have a great (somewhat) high fence opportunity for you hunters that have never had the honor of hunting this rare and elusive beast.

    For the meager sum of $5000 I will pick you up from the airport. I will put you up in a luxurious 1992 jayco pop up camper I borrow from Mom. Included is complimentary Milwaukee’s best and hungry man microwave dinners.

    Then I will guide you in the morning to hunt in my 1974 chevy farm truck. I will show you how to approach close enough to get a good clean kill and you will have the honor and glory of pulling the trigger and taking the magnificent animal. Did I mention they weigh over 1000 pounds!? The approx 400 pounds of boneless trimmed meat is excellent, many even compare it to beef!

    For additional fees we can have the head mounted as a trophy.

    Please respond if you are interested in particulars.

  25. Bos Taurus? Cooter E. Lee, do you think you’re the only person here with a vocabulary? No one one this site wants to shoot a domestic cow. Much less mount the head. Sit down and shut

    • Hey, don’t ruin it for me, I was going to retire off this idea!

      You’re probably just jealous you don’t have a majestic bos taurus head mounted in your house. Hater. Lol

      • Hey, for those rates I’ll join in. Female guides are rare. Granted, my smart mouth might hack off the clientele, but it’s worth the risk.

        • Sorry but this is my idea and I figure with 8 million in NYC, I might just retire.

          Perhaps we could partner and put together some multi-location multi-hunt packages though? If you wanted to go a different direction, not many have hunted the resplendent Gallus gallus domesticus.

          I’ve heard from several reputable sources the meat tastes very similar to chicken.

  26. Hmmm, ethical killing of one’s food. Doesn’t seem to matter in the butcher dept at the local grocery store. The buffalo wings I just ate were a bit “caged” before death, as were the tasty pork chops I had last night. Who gives a shit about how you kill it before you grill it.

  27. Could kill one tomorrow if I wanted to. Actually thought your post was funny. Oh, don’t hate anyone except child molesters, rapists, poachers, (in that order), and lesser criminals. At least a thief is a honest criminal. Always tried to incarcerate them in that order. Good luck with your guide service!

    • I just have to find my halter top and short-shorts.

      Well crap, I don’t own any.

      My guide service is ruined. 😞

        • You were doing so well on skipping all your usual female colloquialisms. Just painful to read a comment like that. Now, how about fewer attention whoring selfies.

  28. Not a hunter, so take this as you will… how is this any different than the Fudds?

    What happened to you do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else and ditto for me?

    • Therein lies the crux of the problem. You said “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else”.

      Some of the worst shooters I’ve seen are those who hunt exclusively or almost exclusively high-fence. I’m not saying wounding animals is only their bailiwick because that isn’t true at all. But it is an issue.

      Then there’s honesty. A sad number of high-fence shooters lie about their hunts. I know of a writer in the industry who lies – he has to, editors will not knowingly take high-fence “hunting” articles – and countless bloggers, Instafamous people, and average guys who lie. Many of them are building or have built a rep as an experienced hunter based on photos of themselves with what are high-fence animals. Others lie and dangle it like a carrot over public and leased land hunters, which is just flat out shitty behavior. Be honest. Seems like a simple request but it apparently is not.

      High-fence will always be a thing. It’s legal. It isn’t something I will do but if you want to do it, have at it. Just be honest about it. And practice your shot placement because there’s no excuse for wounding and mangling animals.

      I could go on but you get the idea.

      • Kat, since I’ve been reading your articles I’ve almost always agreed with you. Now, I’ll agree that my experience with high fence hunting is limited to mostly Ray’s operation, but all of the guys I’ve met have made ethical shots at reasonable ranges (100-300 yards) and only one round expended. You making a blanket statement about hunting in a high fence is tantamount to me making a blanket statement about any other subject you might choose.I could choose several, but that would only cause a shit storm.

  29. THIS article is exactly the reason the anti’s have been so succesful. Get the people of the gun to argue among themselves over some minutae. Next step, ban hunting with more than 5 rounds, semi auto, non-straight walled cartridges etc. etc.
    This is why the greatest enemy of the 2nd Amendment is not a (D) but another gun-owning citizen.

  30. FUDDS… The ultimate enemy of the People of the Gun. Nice to know who’s side you’re on, Kat.

  31. Just one tidbit of info.

    One square mile is 640 acres. So even a “huge” 1500 acre preserve is really only 1.3 miles by 1.3 miles. And if this space is wide open prarie, its nothing.

    • 1,500 is by no means considered huge. That would be considered a quite small piece of property for hunting in South Texas. For instance, that is 1/4 the size of the “breeder pen” on just one division of the King Ranch, which is not available for hunting.
      I have 870 acres to hunt and most ranches would call that a postage stamp. In the northeast, people think I must be rich. In south and west Texas, people think I must be poor.

      • You are most definitely your own favorite subject. And your stuff. Maybe you could rerun that article that dissected your ridiculous amount of belongings stuffed into a Tundra.

  32. Form and function complement each other. Some people hunt for food, and some for entertainment. Morality of taking a life aside, both are legal. One could argue that necessity validates both, and combines them into a form of art. Art is subjective, and as such doesn’t fall into the right or wrong categories.

  33. I agree with her on the high fences. I don’t care anything about them or the people who use them. I used feeders one year on a place I had and didn’t feel right about it so I gave them away. I like to hunt, to actually hunt. I don’t even use ATVs because of how much more I enjoy it.
    The hunt isn’t just about the kill and trophy and I almost feel sorry for those who miss the rest of it.

  34. 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 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 last 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.

    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 and on demand hunt, good for him. It’s probably one less person competing for public land or available leases.

  35. As a life long hunter who busts his rear every year hunting public lands in Colorado, I completely agree with you. The only people that should be High Fence Shooting are disabled people.

    • And the hilarity of this is that the Colorado elk herds are managed to a point of almost comical intervention by man. Endless tagging, controlling of corridors, sometimes even feeding them when the snow gets too high!!! Hahahaha. RMNP puts up fences in places to force elk down by the roads – now THERE are some penned animals. Fake as hell.

  36. Agree with Kat. There are two kinds of hunting property, the hunting property you own and the hunting property you’ll eventually lose. After experiencing the latter, I put myself in the position to be in the former situation. I hunt whitetail three months and spend all year investing sweat and money making the property a place they want to spend time and can thrive, likewise the turkey, bass, bluegill, quail, dove, etc.. In the end, I’ll leave this paradise a better place than I found it for my grandchildren and theirs, if they so choose. And the 165 Tennessee buck and perpetually full freezer, and the work it takes to get it, means more to me than any high-fence 200 buck could ever, and I’ve passed on that opportunity.
    Ya’ll do what you want to.

  37. A few comments…
    I wish I could hunt. Arthritis is a bitch.
    My one successful hunt was in 1968, as an 18-year-old. First hunt, got a whitetail buck. Long story short, it was too easy; in the woods on PA, just sitting while the buck walked up on me.

    There was a time in this country (as in most countries back then) when the vast majority of hunters were farmers hunting their land or near it. Trying to travel to another state (or even county) could take all day, or several days. At three miles per hour normal traveling rate, long treks were time-consuming.
    Back then the vast majority of people were farmers; over 90%, in fact. Times change, and practices do as well, of necessity. If you want to base your ideas of “true hunting” (as with “true” anything else), I believe you’re basing that on “tradition,” as in “that’s the way it used to be done, and this new-fangled stuff just isn’t my idea of “true.”” Well, in that case, if you’re not hunting your own land, you’re not a real hunter.
    But I don’t hunt, so what do I know. If I had the money, a fence hunt would allow me to “mainstream.” Aren’t you for that?

    On another note, given the context here, I have to wonder if vegans, who say they respect the food they do manage to eat, care at all that the food they do eat is farmed, not free range.

    • Is there such a thing as free range taters? What about free range corn? Veggies are kinda hard to free range so the Vegans don’t care a bit that their organic non gmo heirloom taters ain’t free range.

  38. Kat, I understand where you’re coming from and I can agree. I will disagree however with your method of hunting. Planting food plots, leasing land, trail cams, ATVs, and all that which most hunting mags swear up and down are the most bare bones things you absolutely NEED to hunt with really aren’t needed. Sure, growing a monster buck on your food plot and then puttin him in your freezer is awesome, but you could achieve the same result farming. From my perspective it appears as though hunting has evolved into a bastardized form of free range farming. You buy some acreage, put out a food plot or feeders, you monitor your herd with trail cams, and come deer season you take that monster buck that you’ve grown on your food plot. Obviously, your herd can change and the deer can come and go as they please but let’s be honest hunting is starting to look more and more like free-range-you-harvest farming. I could go on but then this will turn into a massive tome about the cost of entry for hunting now a days and how the mags and shows feed into that.

    • There’s some truth to what you say, for sure. The difference is, while there are variables with them taters and maters, once you get it running and with some rain, you’re most likely going to be able to go out there and pick ’em off the vine. The big buck doesn’t cooperate nearly as much as the veggies do. Despite what those “hunt like I do or you’re not a REAL hunter” fools say, at least in my neck of the woods you have to be a pretty good hunter to consistently harvest big bucks from a tree. They don’t just come strolling along every time you hunt, as the idiots portray it. First, you have to be somewhere where deer are around. Then you have to manage the herd, selectively harvest to achieve a good age and sex balance. Then you try maximize the time they spend on your property through providing food, security, habitat and low-impact. Then you have to put the stand in the right place, access it without being detected (the ATV thing is exaggerated by the judgmental morons, if you ride to your stand then you most likely blew your hunt), and, most importantly, make the shot, which particularly with a bow, is not a given. It’s all fun as hell and a great time in the woods. And I do love the woods.
      These “spot and stalk” Fudd-puckers aren’t REAL hunters, they’re hikers.

      • Exactly. All the people commenting on “how easy it is to shoot a deer from a tree every time” are simply revealing that they never get in the woods.

  39. I don’t get the appeal of shooting a placid animal with no fear of humans behind a high fence, but as long as all applicable laws and animal welfare standards are abided by, whatever.

    That said, I won’t call it hunting. It’s slaughtering free range livestock. I also don’t consider shooting game over bait or salt lick to be hunting, but I certainly wouldn’t be above it if it were legal where I hunt. It’s wild game in the freezer, but it’s not really hunting.

    There is a difference, in my mind at least, between a hunt, a harvest, and a forage.

    Growing up in rural Vermont, most of the grouse I shot were on the ground or in trees. They were all delicious. Was that really hunting? Wingshooting purists would say no (if their assholes unpuckered long enough for them to get a sentence out) but it was still meat on the grill. I always defined what I did as armed foraging.

    True, I shot most of my birds off the ground, but after a day spent trudging through cedar swamps, blackberry brambles, and walking miles of logging roads, I felt like I had worked for for the birds I brought in. That’s what really mattered to me. At least having the illusion, for a little while that life can be as simple as physical work in, food out. Same thing with growing a veggie garden. It’s a needed counterpoint to convolution.

    I guess my point is, whatever can be done sustainably and is legal, go for it. And unless is could be universally considered monstrous. The bow hunter might look down on the gun hunter, but both would be justifiably appalled at the guy putting fishhooks in apples to catch deer.

    • I don’t feel guilty about the potatoes I pulled out of the ground for the same reason.

  40. Am I the only one that gets a little sick to his stomach at the idea of running deer with dogs? Not judging what anyone else does, it just seems kinga gross to me.

  41. I don’t hunt at all, but since you are talking about “fairness, ” etc., why aren’t you hunting with iron sights? Seems like scopes doesn’t exactly make the odds very even for whatever you are hunting (obviously not ducks LOL).

    • Red, the reason I use a scope is to be able to identify whether the animal is a legal animal. I’ve shot a deer which was a three point, but the t point was a half inch long and I would never have seen this without the scope. This was in a 3 point or better zone. Yea, I could have used binos, but the time needed to switch from binos to the rifle would have allowed the animal to disappear. And now a days, my eyes don’t work like they use to.

  42. I’ve been on a couple high fence hunts, even had the “trophies” mounted and hung on the wall. Took them down after a while…. just couldn’t look them in the eye.

  43. Damn, lots of hate for Texas here, lol. Judging by the tone of your writing, there’s no changing your mind. So, I won’t bother trying. I will, however, clear up some incredibly opinionated statements. I agree with parts of this article, and others I disagree with. For full disclosure: I come from a high-fence and free range background.

    For starters, totally agree with the part about releasing ducks for people to shoot. That’s beyond messed up, and should be outlawed entirely. I can also agree that I do prefer free range hunting over high fence. The thrill is just gone when it’s a guaranteed. It turns into killing, not hunting, especially on what you mentioned as “parceled” high fence ranches. However, that’s where our agreements end.

    A non-parceled 1500 acre high fence ranch isn’t exactly a “cage”. But, it’s not what I’d call “guaranteed”. The right deer has to walk out at the right time, at the right stand, get in range, stand broadside…you get the point. That might not be so on a small high fence, or a parceled larger ranch, but that’s been my experience with it. Maybe we just do it differently ‘round here (in Texas, mind you), but nothing’s “guaranteed” here.

    It’s your opinion, and you’re entitled to it. But, at the end of the day, that’s all it is, an opinion.

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