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High fenced property - how big is big enough?

This is a discussion on High fenced property - how big is big enough? within the Hunting Africa forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; HHHMMMM guys I don’t know what it is with the whole fence thing and like mentioned before each to his ...

  1. #21
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    HHHMMMM guys I don’t know what it is with the whole fence thing and like mentioned before each to his own but I would like to share this with everyone.

    I recently hunted with a good friend of mine from the States he was used to hunting an area with a outfitter the size of 200 000 acres. The first thing he said as we drove my property is he can’t believe how big it is (10 000 acres) I found myself asking why would he think it is so big? When you compare it to 200 000 acres?

    The simple answer to my question turned out to be, a lot of people lie about their property and the size of the land they hunt on. I came to this conclusion that if you add up the size of the property’s that some outfitters claim to hunt it might be bigger than the whole of South Africa( this is adding all of the property sizes not just the claim of one Outfitter). I have heard people talk about properties more than 100 000 +++ acres in size sorry guys I don’t buy it, I live in South Africa and there are very few people who hunt on land of this size maybe one or two people in the whole of South Africa. I think people get lied to and then the fence thing becomes an issue.

    Hunting open areas is wonderful and as mentioned before it is not possible everywhere. I still think that if you need to track a animal up on foot too hunt it, the hunt is fair chase there is nothing more challenging than tracking up a heard of Eland or Kudu in thick brush !!!
    Louis Van Bergen
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spiral Horn Safaris View Post
    ... I have heard people talk about properties more than 100 000 +++ acres in size sorry guys I don’t buy it, I live in South Africa and there are very few people who hunt on land of this size maybe one or two people in the whole of South Africa. I think people get lied to and then the fence thing becomes an issue.
    I couldn't agree with Louis more. I know of 2 properties in South Africa that are in the 100,000 acres range. A few land owners got together and took there perimeters down and combined the properties. It takes guts...because everyone has to get along, money shared and whatnot. I think it's a great marketing game...because everyone worries that they go to hell if they hunt in a high fence. (Just Joking on the last Comment).

    I have hunted on a few ranches in South Africa. And I could tell you north, south, east and west in one day. But the same thing happens very easy in North American too. With that being said I grew up in the country and have a very fine sense of direction. I rarely get turned around.

    There are a lot of ranges under 10,000 acres. It's how the hunt is carried out. Some PH's do a lot of range work on there land to enhance the property value to wildlife. I have a lot respect for taking care of your land and animals. Especially after growing up on a farm.

    My comment is this...fair chase comes from how the hunt is carried out. As I think back on my 20+ years of experiences. The best hunts were when I had to work hard for the animal and I stalked up close and personal for one perfect shot to the vitals and the animals went down or piled up in less than 100 yards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DUGABOY1 View Post
    HIGH FENCE

    Like some of the properties in RSA where 1,000,000 hectares (not acres) is common there is no real way to tell if you are hunting fair-chase but I think a real hunter can recognize whether a PH is on the level or not. In most cases in RSA you may hunt for a week and never see a fence, even though you are inside one, those damned places are just too large. ............................................
    I just reread my post above and spotted the area listed of some ranches in RSA which is in error!
    Gentlemen, the quote above is a typo! The area listed by me of 1,000,000 hectaries was meant to be "100,000" not one million!

    ............................Sorry about that!
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    My hunting experiences in the last 25 years have been very limited. Prior to that I have hunted both small and big game in Pennsylvania. Most of my hunting was done on State game lands and surrounding farms. The border of the State lands were only marked with signs , so the only fences were the low farm fences, easily traversed by both man and animals (except for the cows and horses that they wer meant to contain). Since most days, I was outsmarted by the game, I always considered those hunts fair chase.
    25 years later I find myself hunting fenced areas. Although many exotics are available, I have limited my hunting to wild hogs. Even though these areas have been ony about 1000 to 2000 acres, I find the stalking style hunts very fair chase. I have run across some buffalo and other exotics during my hunts, but I cant say that if I payed to hunt for one of these species that it would be a piece of cake. 2000 acres of Florida hammock, swamp and scrub seems like you are in another world.
    The use of dogs, really shrinks the 2000 acres down to size and except for the chase, the thrill of the kill is all but gone.
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    Default high fences

    Ray has a valid point, as does Bill.
    2000 acres in the flat grass plains of the Free State (like Kansas) is one thing, but the same size ranch in the bushy, rocky hills around Colenso in Kwazulu Natal when hunted on foot are entirely something else.

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    The older I get the less sensitive I am about what other folks do and I have to tell you the high fenced ranches look better every year!

    In this changing world we live in with hunting, trapping, firearms, and out way of life being sniped at from about every direction, thanks to the internet, TV and the liberal left, I would suggest that all of us be real carefull about being to holier than thou, that can lead to more an more legislation on and every new law takes away one more freedom, and sooner or later where going to no more be free men...We gotta stick together and let each person be his own judge.
    RAY ATKINSON

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    ...Ray's right we as hunters have to stick together & quit bad mouthing each others beliefs & ethics! With hunters being out numbered by a huge margin we have to accept all forms of hunting as long as it's legal & live with it! It doesn't mean you have to do it or agree with it. The bottom line is it's hunting & if we as hunters can't band together & be a strong group - The anti's will tear us apart one by one!!! Future generations of hunters are depending on us! What's your choice!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Calhoun View Post
    ...Ray's right we as hunters have to stick together & quit bad mouthing each others beliefs & ethics! With hunters being out numbered by a huge margin we have to accept all forms of hunting as long as it's legal & live with it! It doesn't mean you have to do it or agree with it. The bottom line is it's hunting & if we as hunters can't band together & be a strong group - The anti's will tear us apart one by one!!! Future generations of hunters are depending on us! What's your choice!
    + 1 here! Ban together, or die seperately!
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    Tanzania awaits... all one million square kilometers of it. Karibu!
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    Default Hunting Behind High Fences

    Hunting Behind High Fences

    Boone & Crockett Club – the universally respected North American hunting and conservation organization founded by Teddy Roosevelt and recognized for its stringent Fair Chase definitions and the concomitant hunting ethics and morals – has tack- led, as B&C President Robert Model said in his president’s mes- sage in the Club Magazine “Fair Chase” Spring Issue 2004 – the so-called high fence issue. Model challenged all B&C members to participate in a policy formulating exercise to develop a sensitive and workable solution. In Model’s words, the challenge centers on “to recognize what composes appropriate management within high fenced areas and what is and is not fair chase hunting”.

    B & C realizes that in North America there are more and more legally established “high fenced areas”. In Southern Africa this trend has started already several decades ago in South Africa, and has spread to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. The important issue on hand – and we in Africa know about this from painful experiences – is how hunting takes place (or should take place) within those fenced areas.

    We have been bombarded for some years with criticism for the so-called “canned hunts” (I still prefer to say canned killing or shooting, since even the thought of it makes my hunter’s soul recoil in horror) and more recently the issue of “put & take” has justifiably gained momentum. I have written frequently – and not only in hunting magazines – about it. Therefore I am encouraged that an American organization like Boone & Crockett Club tackles the matter in a very serious way. Last not least, most of the visiting hunters going on safari in Africa come from the United States – and if such a respected association like B & C develops a credible solution it might very well be applicable in Africa as well, respectively the African professional hunting associations could use it as a blue print to develop acceptable universal policies together with the international hunting associations.

    I am impressed by the democratic and pluralistic approach of B&C and the courage to involve all members in the effort to find a solution. The club recognizes that the deliberations will provoke debate and even controversy, but that the inescapable realities require decisive actions!

    Africa will closely watch the discussion at B & C and it is more than likely that we will use the expertise of some B & C members to assist us in solving a few of the fair chase related problems on our continent.

    Many American hunters look at the one African safari as a unique achievement of a livelong dream, others come back to Africa whenever personal economics make it possible. These hunters expect in Africa a quality hunting experience.

    Based on valuable traditions, but at the same time consider the necessity of change in an ever changing world.

    Change is a difficult process there and here. The challenge is that we use our combined knowledge and expertise to come to conclusions which serve at the same time the furthering of biodiversity conservation objectives, the sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of biodiversity AND the local rural population, the preservation of hunting and the public acceptance of the contributions modern trophy hunters make to conservation.

    SCI has also recognized the importance of the issue with the recent press release dealing with the SCI Board’s policy on fenced wildlife operations (see separate article in this issue). The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation CIC has already put “Best practices in Trophy Hunting in Africa” high on its African agenda and the professional hunting organizations in Africa have tackled the problems repeatedly over the past years.

    The end result of a future combined effort could be a fundamental guideline for safari hunting within and outside fenced areas in Africa.

    Some years ago the burning issue of fair chase hunting within and outside fenced areas had been tackled already by a select group of prominent African and American hunters. These efforts resulted at that time in a statement which read:
    Every sport hunter shall pursue an animal only by engaging in fair chase of the quarry. Fair chase is defined as pursuit of a free ranging animal or enclosed ranging animal possessed of the natural behavioral inclination to escape from the hunter and be fully free to do so. A sport hunted animal should exist as a naturally interacting individual of a wild sustainable population, located in an area that meets both the spatial (territory and home range) and temporal (food, breeding and basic needs) requirements of the population of which that individual is a member. Sport hunted animals should, wherever possible, be sustained within an ecologically functional system. Said animal is to be hunted without artificial light source, or motorized mode of transport and in an area that does not by human design concentrate animals for a specific purpose or at a specific time, such as artificial waterholes, salt licks or feeding stations. No ethical hunter whilst sport hunting shall take female animals with dependant young.

    In my opinion this statement does already incorporate most – if not all – basic requirements covering hunting behind and outside fences. The statement also addresses concerns voiced by a number of people in various discussions I had. Most of these concerns evolve around the issue “what is actually the difference of shooting a canned lion, since ‘put and take’ shooting involves also species like certain antelopes and especially white rhino?”

    I want to make my point of view again absolutely clear – and I know that I am not standing alone on this issue! The important point which distinguishes hunting from mere shooting must be the uncertainty of the outcome of the hunting activity. Those “guaranteed hunts” which some callous outfitters and agents offer and in which so-called hunters participate have nothing to do with hunting. The often used arguments by proponents of these killing excursions “that killing a canned animal actually serves conservation since it protects the wild populations”, “the ethics and morals of an activity cannot be prescribed” and “what’s the difference between breeding cattle for slaughter and breeding lions for being shot” are unscrupulous and fact-twisting.

    Unfortunately the public and the media regularly mix hunting and canned shooting to the detriment of all true hunter-conservationists.

    The core issue in the above statement is clearly “A sport hunted animal should exist as a naturally interacting individual of a wild sustainable population, located in an area that meets both the spatial (territory and home range) and temporal (food, breeding and basic needs) requirements of the population of which that individual is a member”. Of essential importance are the under- lined words.

    Looking at the high fence issue in combination with fair chase, one can clearly deduce that any form of “put & take shooting” (i. e. when an animal is released on a property irrespective of size for the sole purpose of being shot as soon as possible after release) and the even more perverted form of “canned lion shooting” (when the lion – often enough an aged zoo or circus lion imported from Europe – is sometimes released only hours before its being killed) have nothing in common with hunting and neither do they have any conservation benefit. They have also nothing to do with the livestock industry, since an animal destined for slaughter is killed by professionals under very controlled conditions.

    Some may argue that it is a form of free enterprise and personal choice – and there I concur, as long as the perpetuators do not call themselves hunters and/or conservationists. If a government deems it fit to curtail such activities (as a draft legislation in South Africa for large carnivores suggests), these proponents of free enterprise should not complain, since a modern welfare state has the right and obligation to subject unbridled free enterprise to certain restrictions!

    The age-old traditions of hunting, the objectives of the sustainable use of natural resources, the Africa-specific objectives of poverty relief, as well as the challenges of biodiversity conservation and wildlife management on finite (i.e. fenced) and open areas require that the organized hunting community around the globe takes stock and develops a clear vision for the future. Open and necessarily controversial discussions are essential to analyze problem areas and to find solutions. An inclusive and honest information and media policy is as necessary as good public relation work. I sincerely hope that the Boone & Crockett initiative will focus our attention again on this important issue and that all hunters worldwide see the necessity to join forces.
    This article first appeared in the e-newsletter of African Indaba. Get a free subscription.

    Gerhard R Damm
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    Hello all.

    Very interesting topic. I would believe this is would be reflected upon SA Safari owners due to the fact that in Africa the smallest owned hunting properties with high fences are all in South Africa.

    The only reason why this happened was when the big bang hit SA and many cattle , sheep farmers all turned to game farming as a better and easier way to survive agaiant the hardship of livestock theft, sicknesses. Im not saying game farming is easy but unfortunately due to the above and rich businessman in SA all opened game farms during this bang as a family getaway and money maker.

    Fences are put there to keep out the game pouchers and the farmers son next door with his 303 trying to shoot your game which you bought and put on to your farm. Also many game farmers have bought animals which are not indiginous so they cant afford them to escape. If you hunt on a Safari in SA they are all fenced in and they range from 1000 hectars to 9000 hectars normally. Most of them are from 2000 to 3500 hectars though.

    If a hunter does not want to see any fences then SA is not his place.

    But the fact is if you hunt on foot then even 1000 hectars is a good chase.

    regards.

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    I think Owen brings up a great point. The land is fenced in South Africa because landowners and ph's don't want to loose their investment in the property....mainly the animals. Though a lot of the great Ph's are doing water projects and habitat improvements. And I think noone wants to loose a animal to poach or other bad deeds, because of trespassing.

    After seeing my deer hunting wrecked in Wisconsin by a Department of Natural Resources that has it's head up it's ass. I can see why people turn to fences. So they can have sustained use of wildlife populations. Instead of using hunting to exterminate a species for political reasons.

    In a fair and just world, you wouldn't need fences or laws....but what is fair anymore.....fair is what you get at the end of the day...right or wrong.

    I think as long as the fenced property has cover, available natural browse, space and proper wildlife management....I'm OK with it. I love the Canadian far north with all the open space and few people inhabiting the area. But some areas are getting overpopulated and fences are a way to manage wildlife without a ton of human intrusion.

    Right or Wrong...fences are here to stay!

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    Well put enysse , im happy you agree with me ! You are 100% correct too. As you said yes the fences help us to conserve nature too. And introduce new species and help relocate animals that were wiped out in certain areas.

    Fences play a great role , when ever something looks odd on the farm or we have and idea there was poaching the fence can have evidence of being tampered with .. if there were no fences there wud be no such evidence and where wud we draw the line on who's animal is who's ??? They wud all be poached out thats a fact ..

    I say again 1000 hectars fenced farm is still a good fair hunt if hunted on foot no doubt about it .

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    I have talked to a lot of Ph's from Southern Africa and the one thing that keeps being brought up over the years, was this comment. When there where no fences, there where no animals. When fences went up, so did the game populations, and the quality has only got better. I don't know about anyone else, but I like to see animals. I have seen plenty of blue skys. At the end of the day, I got into to hunting because of the animals.

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    Enysee well said I feel that people confuse fenced game farms with canned hunts those are two very different things.

    Just because a game farm is fenced and privately owned it does not mean that the animals are kept in pen's in fact a lot of Outfitter and landowners spend a great deal of money to ensure that the breeding herds on their property's are balanced genetically to produce great quality animals for the future hunter and in my opinion that is called conservation, I would not even mention the costs involved with maintain a 16 mile fence.

    It takes a true understanding of game management to be able to look past the fences and see the bigger picture. The bottom line is if there were no fenced parks and game farms where would we get game from to reintroduce to an area that has been pouched out you need not look further than Zambia for a great example. There used to be thousands of rhino's both black and white and their numbers were reduced to zero in the wild according to what I understand this was all thanks to pouching. However South Africa donated some white rhino's to a Zambian National Park a few years ago. They are constantly under the watchful eyes or game scouts to protect them from pouching and from what I last heard are doing very well.
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    Well done Louis, I could not agree with you more! We are part of a Black Rhino project threw (KZN) Nature conservation. Well if it was not for our fences we wouldn't be so fortunate to have twelve of these endangered Black Rhino's relieced on our propperty. They are doing very well.

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    I've been following this thread with interest, but hadn't decided to post until now. I think there has been an excellent exchange of viewpoints and ideas so far.

    When I went on my first safari, in 1983, I hunted the Deka concession in Zimbabwe for 24 days. That was pretty wild Africa, totally open spaces, very hilly country, lots of vegetation and a heavy abundance of game ranging from the grysbok to elephants and black rhino. It was a paradise and I couldn't ever see myself hunting a fenced property. I must say, there was one fence on the north border of Deka that seperated the concession from a tribal area, and it was only there to protect the villagers from the animals.

    In 1986, we hunted Charara in northern Zimbabwe for 15 days. Again, even wilder country with no fences anywhere in any direction. I really thought this was a great place, even though we saw much less game on this hunt.

    In 1989, I hunted an even more open and wild area in Botswana for 24 days. 8 days in the Kalahari where there were no roads, only a few tracks that the hunting vehicles used. Up in the north along the Kwando and Selinda Rivers, it was pristine and gorgeous country. Obviously no fences and tons of game. After three safaris with wide open spaces and no fences to ever be concerned with, I couldn't imagine hunting any property with a fence, and to be honest, I wondered about those hunters who did that type of thing.

    Fast forward 20 years when I finally got back to Africa. I took my family of four on a 2 week vacation that would include 5 days of hunting at the end. We hunted with Spear Safaris and I only wanted to shoot either of an eland or an nyala. I also wanted my son to have an opportunity to hunt kudu, impala and warthog to give him a taste of African hunting. We hunted on three different properties, and all were fenced. The first property, we spent 3 days on. It was 10,000 acres, hilly with much vegetation. We mainly hunted Eland here, but could have taken a kudu if we saw the right one for my son. After three solid days of dawn to dark hunting, we had seen several herds of Eland, and a ton of Eland tracks, but the only shot opportunity I had was on a medium sized bull at a couple hundred yards, and there was enough intervening limbs that I passed up the shot. My son did kill an impala, but that was the only animal we took in 3 solid day on this property. That high fence surely didn't hinder the ability of those Eland to evade us completely. After that, we did a short hunt for Kudu on a ranch near Phalaborwa, and my son was able to take an outstanding kudu that afternoon. This property was probably 25,000 acres or a bit more, and the fences didn't do a darned thing to hinder the kudu's ability to evade us. The bull we took was an accident, blidn luck as it turned out. Finally, we hunted on Spears home concession, which is a 35,000 acre fenced block of property. It is very thickly vegetated and most of the time you can't see much more than perhaps 150 yards, often less. We did manage to take a nice warthog and nyala in one day, but fences again played absolutely no role in the hunt or experience.

    After that hunt, I firmly believe that hunting a high fenced property is fine if done the right way. It was an outstanding hunt, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

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    A lot of valid points and interesting perspectives from all.

    DLS, I assume that Africa has changed tremendously since you were first there almost 30 years ago. I think that it is important to hear perspective such as yours since you have gotten to experience both.

  19. #39
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    Default Don’t Fence Me In

    Don’t Fence Me In
    by Craig Boddington

    This is an edited and abbreviated version of the full article as printed in “Fair Chase”, the official publication of the Boone & Crockett Club

    In recent years one of the issues the Boone and Crockett Records Committee has continuously attempted to deal with is the business of fenced animals. In some contexts the answer is simple.

    The Boone and Crockett Club records system tabulates listings for native North American big game. Non-native big game animals are excluded from the Club’s records program. A much knottier problem arises when it comes to the disposition of native big game animals that are confined within game fences. Again, some questions are easier than others. Due to the tremendous value of large specimens of high-profile species there is now a growing “game ranching” industry.

    The most common situations are whitetail deer and elk, partly because of availability of captive-reared individuals, and partly because of demand. Mind you, it is quite possible for an operator to offer a quality experience (if not a quality “hunting” experience) with a captive herd. Horror stories are also possible. These days there are some very big elk and some very big whitetails confined on some very small properties, awaiting someone with a big enough checkbook. Personally, I don’t blame the operators; we have a free enterprise system, so I blame the shooters who support this industry. I also blame all of us, collectively, for placing such a premium on size of antler and horn that some of us have forgotten what our sport is all about. Montana has taken decisive action, outlawing game ranching. Maybe that’s the wave of the future. However, to date this has not been an issue for the Boone and Crockett Club’s North American Big Game Awards Program, because animals that qualify for inclusion must not only be hunted by legal and ethical means; they must also be taken from unfenced breeding populations.

    So now we get to the real rub. What about native game in natural habitat, existing in breeding populations, hunted legally and ethically... but confined by game-proof fencing?

    In the context of fair chase and the impact of questionable hunting practices upon the future of the hunting in an increasingly urban society that lacks an appreciation of hunting as a recreational pastime, the harvest of farmed animals from non- breeding populations is very important to the Boone and Crockett Club. The Club’s concern to date has been focused on how to maintain a system of records for native big game in a country where stewardship of wildlife lies in the public domain; and how to keep that records system as clean and pure as possible in the context of legal, ethical “fair chase” hunting.

    The proliferation of game-fenced ranches in recent years has presented the problem to the Club’s North American big game records committee of how to deal with free-ranging North American big game animals taken in native habitat, from breeding populations, but within game-fenced acreage.

    Game fencing is becoming much more common, especially in Texas where the state has official programs aimed at better managing habitat and whitetail deer on private land. In certain situations in Texas, wildlife may be considered a commodity for sale or exclusive use of the private property owner. This has come about for several reasons.

    As a state, Texas is something like 98 percent privately owned, with an accordingly strong tradition of protecting property rights. Unlike most parts of the U.S., wildlife in Texas has long had economic value; Texans have grown up understanding that, in order to hunt, they needed to either own their own land (or have friends or relatives who did), or invest in a hunting lease. Texans love their whitetails, and have long been in the forefront in managing deer for quality. In order to manage a ranch for quality deer, both habitat and deer numbers must be managed. Hunting and fences are two important tools for a sound habitat and herd management program. Fences are as important in keeping deer out of an area as they are in containing them. Unless all of your neighbors are like-minded or your property is huge, the only way to really manage for quality is to fence the land.

    So we have a situation where some hunters and landowners, and not just in Texas, are producing spectacular whitetail deer (and occasionally elk and other species) that have antlers large enough for inclusion into the Club’s records book. They are producing them without tricks, from breeding populations in native habitat, and they are hunting them by legal and ethical means. The only problem is that many of these animals are coming from game-fenced acreage, and under the current rules are not eligible for inclusion into Boone and Crockett Club’s Awards Programs. Obviously this rankles many hunters, so the discussions have been long and heated.

    Personally, I have come full circle on the issue. The whitetail is a homebody, a creature of close cover and edge habitat that normally establishes a very finite home territory. If you know anything about whitetail deer it will be apparent that, in proper habitat, a whitetail confined within a relatively small area is not handicapped in its ability to evade hunters. Many years ago a Texas outfitter had a huge, hand-raised, non-typical buck in a brushy pen of just a couple of acres. He wanted to show him to me, so we went to look. No deer. Perplexed, we walked that entire pen for quite a while looking for him. Still no deer. My friend was horrified, certain that either the deer had escaped or had been purloined. No, he was just being a whitetail. The next day he was standing placidly by the gate on the inside.

    Expand that concept to the fenced hunting ranch of several hundred to a few thousand acres, and it’s clear that there is likely no ethical issue, nor should any be implied. Knowing all this, and having some experience with game ranching in South Africa and elsewhere, for years I imagined that there must be some way to recognize the great animals taken under such conditions.

    I’ve finally circled back to the simple fact that there isn’t a way to recognize big game taken from fenced ranches under the Boone and Crockett Club’s current North American Big Game Awards Program, and I applaud the strength and determination of the records committee in holding a very difficult line: Excluding North American big game animals taken within a game fence into Boone and Crockett Club’s Awards Program as we know it today.

    This is unquestionably patently unfair to the landowners and hunters who have done so much for quality deer management and have produced spectacular animals, using game fencing as just one of their tools. I still support the decision, because the ultimate problem is really quite simple: How do you decide how much acreage is enough, which management practices are acceptable and which are not... and who decides?

    It depends on the habitat, as well as the size of the area for the animal, using its natural defensive behavior, to elude its pursuers. In some areas a mature whitetail deer could take good care of himself in a few dozen or a few hundred acres, but he couldn’t if you put him in a fenced parking lot of several thousand acres. Where do you draw the line?

    Who draws it? Could you realistically create a formula for acreage versus habitat, inspecting and certifying properties on a case-by-case basis, deciding what constitutes “fair chase” and what doesn’t?

    This isn’t just about whitetails, either. The rules are the rules for all North American big game, as it should be. To behave naturally and use their senses and defenses properly, elk require a lot more country than whitetails, and how could you fence strongly migratory animals like caribou and create a “natural” situation? Mind you, the records committee does not impugn or imply that a great whitetail taken by ethical means from a breeding population on a large fenced area is a lesser trophy than a buck of the same size taken on unfenced acreage. It’s a can of worms. Our records system is, admittedly, a work in progress, but it’s a work of several generations now, and crossing a line that is now very clearly black and white is a very difficult task.

    It’s said that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I’m not personally rabidly against fencing, and I have enjoyed several good hunts within fenced areas . . . not only on other continents, but here at home as well. I have hunted whitetail deer on game-fenced ranches, and I make no apology. A great whitetail taken by ethical means from a natural, free ranging, breeding population is a super trophy . . . whether it qualifies for inclusion into Boone and Crockett Club’s Awards Program or not. Very few of us actually hunt “for the book” anyway, but these are personal decisions we must all make.

    The entry requirements for the Club’s North American Big Game Awards Program are clear, and if you are hunting behind a game fence—under any circumstances— your animal will not be accepted. This is not fair to all, but on the whole I think this is fair for our sport, because some animals taken behind fences are not from breeding populations, and should not be allowed to compete with, nor gain the recognition of, animals taken in unfenced circumstances. And, of course, some fenced areas are smaller than others...

    Whether or not you choose to hunt behind a game fence is purely a personal decision. I personally have issues with hunt-
    ing our native big game behind game fencing. Partly this is be- cause there are unfenced options, and partly it’s because there have been so many abuses. If you don’t have a problem with fencing that’s okay by me so long as it’s legal, ethical, and you understand the end result will not qualify for the Boone and Crockett Club’s records book.

    This is all a very personal matter and I deal with it on a case-by-case basis. I know I don’t want to hunt whitetail or elk behind a fence because I have lots of unfenced options, and the idea of hunting North American wild sheep on a game farm horrifies me. But I’ll probably hunt in South Africa—behind a game fence—a few more times before I’m done, and I enjoyed a really great hunt here in the U.S. for which I make no apology.

    I went on a bison hunt near San Acacio, Colorado. There are a few genuine, native range, free range, breeding population bison hunts that Boone and Crockett Club will accept, but very few and all by permit drawing. I wanted a midwinter bison, a big bull, for a head mount, under the best circumstances I could find. I hunted a big bull that was free-ranging on 60,000 acres — none of it game fenced, and the southern quadrant not fenced at all. That’s free range, and southern Colorado is native habitat. However, that bull was not part of a current breeding population, and no hunting license was either available or required.

    By Boone and Crockett Club’s standards the spectacular bull does not qualify for the North American Big Game Awards Program. I can live with that. My bull is a great trophy taken on an enjoyable hunt.

    I have no problem with his exclusion from Boone and Crockett ‘cause them’s the rules, but I won’t have any severe attacks of conscience over participating in such a hunt, either.
    This article first appeared in the e-newsletter of African Indaba. Get a free subscription.

    Gerhard R Damm
    AFRICAN INDABA
    Dedicated to the People & Wildlife of Africa
    www. africaindaba.com

  20. #40
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    CT Safaris is offline AH Enthusiast
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    DLS, I really enjoyed reading your post. I think one of the main reasons why some clients are opposed to hunting behind high fence is because they confuse ranches in Southern Africa with some of the ranches in e.g. Texas which are purely put and take operations. I'm glad that you had the opportunity to hunt with a reputable operation and get a better perspective of hunting behind high fence.

    Of course there are also operators in SA that put and take but I think for the most part this is not true and I hope that more clients will have similar experiences hunting behind high fence to what you had so that they can also spread the word and help us get rid of the stigma sometimes associated to ranch hunting.
    Chris Troskie / Chris Troskie Safaris - South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe & Mozambique
    chris@ct-safaris.com Tel: +27 82 859-0771
    www.ct-safaris.com Real Hunts for Real Hunters

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