High fenced property - how big is big enough?

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by safari hunter, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. safari hunter

    safari hunter AH Veteran

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    High fenced property - how big is big enough?

    There has been a lot of discussion here about high fence hunting properties in Africa and I suppose for north America as well... For this question I am only asking about Africa.

    I would venture to guess that 90% of hunters on this forum who have hunted in Africa have hunted on a high fence property at some point in time.

    I personally have no issue with a game fence if the property is big enough that certainly no buying of trophies is happening, the animals are self sustaining and that during an 8 day hunt the entirety of a property cannot be covered. Variety of terrain is also important.

    The smallest property I have hunted was approximately 50,000 acres, I can say that this size or larger seems to fit this criteria for me if it is well managed so that the game is not over hunted. What do you think?
     
  2. browningbbr

    browningbbr AH Enthusiast

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    safari hunter

    I've only hunted in S. Africa. The properties that we hunted were adjoining parts of a 7-ranch conservancy that was quite large. I don't know the exact size, but am certain that it was much larger than 50,000 acres. Terrain varied widely (from 1000 ft wooded hills, to grass plains to rocky canyons.)

    We saw the fence only a couple times during a 9-day hunt and it was not a factor in any stalk. Our hunting was truly fair chase. We got "busted" on a couple stalks early in the hunt and never saw those groups of animals again the rest of the week. For me, that says a high-fenced property is large enough.

    I would be very happy to hunt the same properties with the same outfitter again.

    - browninbbr
     
  3. BryceM

    BryceM AH Veteran

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    Trying to figure out where to go on a first trip to Africa, this is a pretty important question in my mind too.

    I've hunted big game in N. America for years but I'm fortunate enough to live in wide open country where there is no limit to how far a critter can go. Realistically though, my favorite deer area is probably no bigger than 20 or 30 thousand acres. Sadly that area is now a permit-only region and I haven't been back for a few years.

    When it comes to Africa, I think it depends on what you're looking for. I'm perfectly happy to hunt plains game in a high-fence area provided it's big enough that it doesn't affect the stalk. I also don't want the animals I shoot to be replaced at the game auction the following Thursday. Hunting is only fun if there is a significant chance of failure balanced with a realistic expectation of nice opportunities. If I come home short one or two animals on my list that's OK. It's the overall experience and a chance to see new horizons that I'm really after.

    After breaking in my boots though, I'm really looking forward to a wilderness-type hunt where I can go meet the horn & tooth critters on their own turf. I can't think of anything more enjoyable than working hard to run down a nice buff in his own backyard. Shooting DG in a high-fence area isn't what I'd be looking for unless the area was truly enormous - 200,000+ acres. Even then in the back of my mind it would seem a bit artificial.

    The number of hunters sharing the area comes into play too. Four different groups working a single 40,000 acre tract is different than a single hunter in a 75,000 acre region.
     
  4. Thunder head

    Thunder head AH Enthusiast

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    Tuff question that only the individual can realy answer.
    I bow hunted propertys as small as 10,000 acers and as large as 22,000. The 22,000 was so thick and brushy you could probably gun hun it and it be fair. Very few areas where you could see more than a 100 yards.
    I think you have to have a self sustaning population. The animals have to have enough food, cover and water to have a reasonable chance of escaping you.
    Given the right circumstances 50,000 would be enough for me. I would prefer more though.
     
  5. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    ...On one of the ranches I hunted 4,000 acres was the total and it was plenty big for me! It depends on if you are on foot hunting or riding around on a vehicle all day looking for game! I think alot of people do a lot of complaining about fences & fair chase but if you are on foot stalking & riding around at a minimum you can be satisfied with a fenced hunt!
    .. In Wis. I own 54 acres in a 1200 acre swamp, where you pretty much have to stay on your own land, except during the week. Which is probably about similar size to what the average person owns if they own land at all! This swamp is connected to a Public hunting ground which is part of it! So when you only get to hunt 54 acres, 4000 + acres look damn good to me! Anyone knows that many acres can sustain the animal populations & it is fair chase unless its all meadows & prairies!
    ... I know my response probably will open up a can of worms but how many people truly ever get to hunt this size of properties and have it to yourself for a week or more? I think people have to realize with the ever growing population these huge areas to hunt are slowly dwindling away. It's time to quit grumbling & start hunting! It's never going to improve and it's the way it's going to be in most places of the world! We would all like to see it like Tanzania or the way it was but this is reality!
     
  6. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    I think Calhoun nailed it. I would love for the guys who say that 10 000achers is too small to come and hunt my property it will sure be an eye opener.:eek:
     
  7. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    There is a good editorial article by Gerhard R Damm from AFRICAN INDABA called Hunting Behind High Fences posted on this subject in the Articles & Stories section of the site, click here to read it.
     
  8. billrquimby

    billrquimby AH Veteran

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    Gerhard's article is good, but I'd like to add that the terrain and type of habitat are important, too.

    An individual blesbok, springbok or an American pronghorn roaming a 5,000-acre (approximately 2-1/2 miles wide and 3 miles long) enclosed area in wide-open grassland probably would not be too difficult to find.

    Put a bushbuck or a white-tailed deer in a 500-acre heavily forested enclosure with lots of ground cover and numerous canyons and gullies, and you may never see that animal again.

    Bill Quimby
     
  9. Leeukop Safaris

    Leeukop Safaris AH Veteran

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    Louis, you nailed it! There is some people out there who will never in there life hunt anywhere else than in Tanzania, Botswana and Mozambique just because they have got the wrong idea about High Fence properties. You can hunt from a vehicle on 100 000 acres like it is done in these country's and call that fair chase but i dare you to come and hunt in South Africa on our Ranch wich is 14 000 acres to experience true fair chase. I am tired of these endless arguments of high fence and fair chase. On the end of the day it is the methods that is used to bag your trophy that will determine fair chase.
     
  10. safari hunter

    safari hunter AH Veteran

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    Some good points made by all. Niel, have to agree with you here:

    It is true whether or not the hunt is fair chase has more to do with the outfitter and the hunter himself than the size of the property.

    However for me that leaves out the element of whether or not the animals are sustainably hunted on that property or are "put and take", for me both elements are important.
     
  11. Spiral Horn Safaris

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    Neil I have been on both sides of the fence excuse the pun HA HA.:laughing:

    I have hunted Zambia in a area bigger than most people can even dream about and now I have my farm in South Africa. The first point that jumps up in to my mind is hunting off the back of a truck, weather it is 1000000 acres or 5000 you still have an unfair advantage so to start out most of us have only our self’s to blame when clients say hunting in this area is easy, make everyone walk for their animal!!!!

    Then there is the question of how big a property must be to have a fair chase hunt on. The answer is very simple if you hunt a animal on foot and it can get away so that you will need to track it up again it is fair chase. The vegetation is also very important, hunting a blesbuck in an open field is not a challenge in my opinion but it can get very difficult you just need things to go wrong.

    There is another issue that we have not talked about and I think this is the main cause for the fence problems. We have a few bad apples that ruin it for everyone they have a open property of 250 acres and buy game each year drop them off and shoot them now that is what really p#/sis me off. For this reason mainly I think the fenced country’s a getting a bad name the hunts are much cheaper because the guy does not have to let the animal grow up and pay for feed he just gets money in circulation. Then you get the guy who is doing it the right way but because he is $200 more expensive the client goes ells where. Sorry guys but you get what you pay for and that is that.

    I hope I did not come across to strong but I feel that it had to be said.
     
  12. Skyline

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    Yes this is an issue that goes round and round and to which there will never be a concensus.............this is probably why Boone & Crockett chose to stay away from fences entirely. Safari Club has gone to a two listing system for free range and for estate hunting.

    I completely agree with Louis that it is the 'put and take' operations on small acreages that cause most of the bad press on fenced hunts. Lazy clients and lazy PH's have furthered the belief that all hunting behind high-fence is easy and not very sporting.

    There have been a number of good points on here and I think that at the end of the day it is up to the hunter and the PH to do things in a moral and ethical fashion. Even in the wide open spaces people will find ways to circumvent the physical challenge to a hunt. One needs to look no further than the use of helicopters in New Zealand in free range areas for tahr and chamois.

    Choppers are used to locate game and then to transport the hunters to the top of the mountain so that they can hunt down and avoid the long steep climb up from the valley below. In most cases the trophy is then taken back to the lodge hanging on a sling from the chopper and not packed off the mountain on someones back the old fashioned and labor intensive way. Hunters do not have to do things this way, but having talked to a lot of hunters who have been lucky enough to go to New Zealand it would seem that most have used the chopper.

    All of this is a sign of the times and the change in the mindset that has occurred with so many hunters. :(
     
  13. Ray Atkinson

    Ray Atkinson AH Enthusiast

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    I get a kick out of this subject and the objectors that cry the loudest are those that have hunted the least as a rule..It depends on the terrain, and any logical thinking person should be able to know the answer to the question after one hour of hunting the property..I have seen some relitively small places that were impossible to hunt...

    The other comical thing is how some folks can be so judgmental and then when they hunt a million acre tanzania concession by foot they only cover about 8 or 9000 acres in the 10 days they hunted if they hunted by foot...I have seen many elk hunters hunt a 5000 ac. area in a 500,000 ac. National Forest, go figure...

    I try not to judge anyone elses hunting methods or habits, its about all I can do to handle my own..

    I hunt fenced and unfenced areas every year, its part of my job.....My only requirement is that I must feel like it is a fair chase hunt before I agree to book hunts on it and that usually equates to about 15,000 acres or more and usually more, as I don't want to limit my clientele anymore than I have too.
     
  14. billrquimby

    billrquimby AH Veteran

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    Skyline:

    Ethics are in the eye of the beholder, and depend on the practices accepted by the participants in a particular area. In South Africa, for example, it is considered unethical to shoot near water. In North America, there is no stigma in doing so. In Arizona, it is illegal to use bait to hunt black bears. In many other areas, most bear hunting involves bait.

    There is an ongoing controversy in your part of the world about using hound packs to hunt leopards, but from the mountain lion hunting I've done in Arizona I can assure you that following hounds on horseback is both challenging and sporting.

    You are too quick to condemn what not only is widely practiced, but virtually a necessity for hunters in a country and terrain you have not visited.

    I was fortunate to have hunted both islands of New Zealand, and like most foreign hunters and the majority of local hunters, I was transported in a helicopter to where we hunted tahr and chamois on the South Island.

    And, yes, my animals were carried off the mountain on a cable below the machine -- and, yes, I also rode down in the chopper. It would have taken at least two days to get to any road on foot.

    However, I challenge any resident of a country with mountains no steeper or higher than the Drakensbergs to climb on foot to tahr and chamois country in the Southern Alps, then pack his game off the mountain on his back.

    I doubt he could fight his way through vegetation at the bottom of the mountain so dense that a grysbok would have trouble traversing, but if he did manage it, he would have to climb cliff faces that would frighten a klipspringer.

    I've walked many miles just to reach a certain area where an animal I sought lived. I've also hunted from horseback and from small boats, and I've used Jeeps, Toyotas, Land Rovers, SuperCubs and helicopters to get to hunting sites on six continents.

    There should be no ethical problem in using a helicopter to get to the top of a mountain. Using one to locate game and to shoot from is another story.

    Bill Quimby
     
  15. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Bill..............first of all I am from Canada. I am not sure why you think I am from RSA. I have been a big game guide in the west for some 33 years now. I have held licence in British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon, the Northwest Territory, Saskatchewan and Manitoba..... and I owned outfitting businesses in BC and Alberta for many years. I have spent many months of my life guiding for mountain goat and three types of sheep in British Columbia, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

    Some places we packed in on horses for several days to get to a spike camp and then backpacked from there. Other outfits, like the one I guided for in the Yukon years ago, were strictly backpack. We would get dropped at a lake by float plane and we packed and hunted from one lake up and through a divide, along a mountain range to another lake where a super cub on floats would pick us up at the end of the 10 to 14 day hunt. You didn't lack for anything as long as you packed it with you on your back.

    For a few years I guided coastal grizzly and also mountain goat near Bella Coola in British Columbia. Goat hunting there involved thrashing your way from sea level all the way to the alpine through the various stages of coastal forest....devils club, moss, wet rock and pouring rain day after day. It is not for the faint of heart but man when you got a big billy you certainly earned it.

    I guided for cougar for a few years during the winter for an outfitter near Princeton, BC. It is indeed lots of work chasing hounds around through the deep snow and up and down steep ridges. Most of the time the clients would hang by the trucks and the outfitter would monitor the direction of the dogs and use logging roads to cut off some distance, then use a snowmachine to get the clients as close to where the cat was treed as possible. That is still the norm and the clients rarely accompany the dog handlers/guides as they would never keep up.

    I have also hunted in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and the rocky but not very high mountains of West Texas near Alpine for free range aoudad. So my mountain hunting experience is not limited to Canada. I have seen how the outfitters and local hunters do things in those places and quite a few others.

    I have packed hundreds of head of game out on my back for foreign hunters (mostly Americans), including stuff that is a lot heavier than a tahr or a chamois..........so I think I know a bit about crashing through muskeg, spruce swamps, shin tangle, shale slides, rock, steep terrain and carrying heavy packs. I have the thrashed knees and arthritis to prove it and even now I still pack caribou out for hunters in the NWT for a couple of weeks most years.

    In BC the use of helicopters to transport game or hunters has been illegal for many years, so yes there are sure differences from place to place. You are also correct that what is considered normal in one spot is not in another.

    Sadly I did not get to New Zealand yet. Actually my godfather lived there for many years and hunted on foot, never used a chopper and took many a fine free range tahr, chamois and red deer. I was always going to go and hunt with him but he died before that ever happened. You are right in that choppers are legal there and an option for hunters to fly out every day and get dropped at the top of the moutains if they want.

    I would have to say that if for some strange reason they were going to allow the use of choppers to drop sheep and mountain goat hunters on the top of mountains in western Canada, I can guarantee it would be met with a lot of anger by all the hunters who have climbed up there through shintangle, spruce swamps, shale slides and rock slides and did it the hard way. That is not likely to happen though as the respective provincial and territorial governments do not permit it for mountain hunting.......thank goodness.

    It use to be that taking a couple of days to get in to a hunting area and a couple of days hiking out with that ram or goat in your pack along with your gear was part of it, but as you have pointed out for me, not any longer. It is hard to fit in killing a red deer, tahr, chamois and maybe a fallow deer on a 6 or 7 day hunt if you have to spend a day or two getting in to the hunting area and another day or two getting back out.

    It is obvious you took part of my post the wrong way and my wording must have been poor. My point was times are changing and sorry but what a lot of hunters view today as being perfectly acceptable just wasn't cricket 30 years ago. Many of the changes and the practices/methods that are now viewed as acceptable all revolve around making it easier physically for the hunter and shortening the length of time required to do the hunt. What a sad time we now live in.

    As I said, ultimately it is up to the hunter and the PH as to how they conduct their hunt (assuming legality in the first place)...........that was my point.

    Some day I still hope to get to New Zealand and hunt tahr free range...before I am too crocked to do it. I would also like to hunt around those wimpy Drakensburgs.......I hear it is quite beautiful there.
     
  16. billrquimby

    billrquimby AH Veteran

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    Oops! I apologize.

    Yes, times are changing, and I agree the hunting world would come unglued if helicopters were to be used to drop hunters on top of a Canadian sheep mountain (although I personally can't see the difference between that and landing a SuperCub on one).

    A lack of time, as you pointed out, is one the biggest changes affecting the modern hunter. Guys like Jack O'Connor and his peers could spend 30 to 45 days in Africa, plus another three weeks or more coming and going, in their day. Today, a three-week safari is a long one and clients need spend only a couple of days at most traveling each way.

    Hunting has also gotten a heck of a lot more expensive, even figuring for inflation, and that means the average age of hunters who can afford to travel to foreign countries has increased.

    Bill Quimby
     
  17. DUGABOY1

    DUGABOY1 CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    HIGH FENCE

    This is a subject that will never has a definitive answer because everyone wants to assign one thing or another as to what constitutes fair chase. Just like the title of this thread, “High Fence-how big is big enough?” This assumes that if the property is large enough then it will automatically be fair-chase. The fence is only the most visible thing, so is what people zero in on. Then if the fence is to be used they want a minimum size behind the fence to make it fair-chase behind that fence. So there is the question of size. Then they assume the animals inside no matter how large, are tame, so how can it be faire-chase? Then if one are all of those things don’t get it closed, they start with the question of are these animals fed high protein? If they’re exposed to the cattle-feed on the high fence ranch that sometimes they feed on it, then they are not wild.

    This is the simplistic formula that the anti-hunter uses to chip away at our heritage, and 90% of the excuses they use to discredit us are gleaned from threads like this one.

    The fact is the size, within reason, doesn’t matter if all conditions are right. The judging of a place for hunting fair-chase has to be the whole of the place not just a fence, or just where the game came from, or if they occasionally feed on farm food, or that they are not indigenous to this place, has absolutely nothing to do with if a hunt for them is fair-chase.

    We can take a small example for the convenience of control of the differences of a place that is, and is not right for fair-chase hunting. For this to judge size assuming all examples are high fence. Understand that I’m not recommending 640 acres but just to make a point by both places being the same size. If you want you can multiply the two sizes by fifty if you want, but in either there many place where that is all you will hunt in just a day hunt, no matter the size of the property.

    We take two small places both surveyed to be one section in size, or one square mile (640 acres) Both pieces of land are perfectly square with four equal sides.

    One piece of this land is as flat as a tabletop it is covered only with one-foot high grass. Any way you look at this place from the exact center of this place, your longest shot would about 880 yds, with nothing to stop the bullet but poor shooting. This place no matter what large animal was fenced in this would be a CANNED so-called HUNT. About the only things that could avoid a hunter would be snakes, mice and ground squirrels. In this case the one section is not big enough, not only because of the fence, but because of the lay of the land, and lack of cover in conjunction with that fence.

    Now we take another tract of land with the exactly same surveyed size with all four sides exactly the same length as the first one. However on this piece of land, though surveyed as exactly one section of land, this piece has small hills gullies, seep creeks, a spring, rock outcroppings, briar thickets, good forage, and bedding places, and bush so that an animal could move a max of only 40 or 50 yds in any direction to be out of sight. This 640 acres is actually a lot larger than the first section, If this pieces was ironed out flat, it might be as large as twice the size or 1280 acres, and as long as the animals inside this section were not over populated for the carrying capacity, of the land, and a hunter hunted for the best he could find on this place, on foot, this piece would be fair-chase even with the fence! Now the larger the place gets, combined with the bush conditions of the second place, the more animals can live inside, and more hunters can hunt it at one time, and still be fair-chase. 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. They are so large in many cases the animals rarely see the fence either, unless one is near their individual range. IMO the only animals that are effected by the fence on those properties is a species the naturally migrates, to follow food sources as they get low. All others are fine inside a fence.

    So what these two examples are meant to show is the size and/or the fence is not what makes a piece of land behind high fence fair, or not fair-chase. The danger we pose to ourselves with a thread that asks how large does a place behind fence have to be to be fair-chase, is a very dangerous thing, and actually has no answer that means anything. We all know when we are hunting fair-chase, and when we are not, and because of that each man decides what is or is not faire-chase for him personally. And no one has the right to interfere as long as he breaks no game laws, and follows the rules of the land-owner his ethics are his own, and he should apologize to nobody. Nobody requires anyone to hunt behind high fence that is a choice! If you don’t like them don’t use them but how is it your business if anyone else does hunt there!

    The deciding factor here is what YOU do in relation to YOUR ethics, not what someone else does, as long as neither break the rules! However make no mistake threads like this one will find their way taken out of context, to the anti hunting websites, with a little added comment of something like “See even the hunters say hunting fenced ranches is CANNED HUNTING”!

    I have been on many high fenced places, but only hunted on one for meat, but I hunted on foot, and with an iron sighted double rifle, for a cull hunt of young Eland over population of a 1000-acre block. I went there to blood a new to me double rifle, and to fill my freezer with some very good meat, not trophies. That hunt was not a snap for sure in the Yaupon holly so thick you had to crawl through 10 acre patches that would hide an elephant till you bumped into him and bent your nose, and that was only 1000 acres. If that place had been 100,000 acres I could have hunted in there for a year, and never seen all the animals there.

    Just because there is a fence means nothing as long as there are other factors as well. Like Kelly, I love the vast open of Alaska or most places in Africa, or north Australia, but that doesn't necessarily make a high fence operation a cage!

    ............................................ :thumb:
     
  18. Leeukop Safaris

    Leeukop Safaris AH Veteran

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    Can not agree with you more! Dugaboy. Thanks Excellent post!!
     
  19. Spiral Horn Safaris

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    Have to agree with you guys thanks dagaboy great post:cool:
     
  20. husb0023

    husb0023 AH Senior Member

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    I don't hunt fences but I put nothing on anyone who does. The most important thing is that boots are in the woods.
     

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