Free range or not?

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by UKHunter, Aug 17, 2015.

  1. UKHunter

    UKHunter AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    Messages:
    601
    Video/Photo:
    61
    Likes Received:
    732
    Hunted:
    England, Scotland, Wales, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Germany, USA (Wyoming) and Hungary.
    Im just hoping someone can clear this up for me.

    I have noticed on hunts advertised on outfitters websites, magazines and on here that outfitters say that their animals are free-range or free-roaming, however, this hunting takes place on a fenced property?

    Now I understand a fence isn't going to stop a Warthog or some of the smaller antelope but surely a fence is in direct contradiction of a free-range hunt?

    Im not saying that hunting animals behind a fence is a bad thing, depending on a few variables. I would just like this cleared up as I feel some people may be being mislead.
     
    Philip Glass likes this.

  2. petrusg

    petrusg AH Elite

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,348
    Video/Photo:
    109
    Likes Received:
    605
    Location:
    South Africa
    Member of:
    SCI, DCS, PHASA, SA Hunters, Xtreem Archery, Rowland Ward, WRSA
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe
    I can see where you are coming from... If you look up the meaning of free rage "kept in natural conditions, with freedom of movement" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_range

    The wildlife in South Africa is predominantly within private game farms/reserves which are all fenced off. Public or government owned reserves are all also fenced off.

    The questions that you need to ask your outfitter is the size of the property you will be hunting your animals in.

    For example, one of my concessions is in a Big5 Private Reserve of 5000ha (12500 acres) - is this free range or not? I would most definitely say it is.
     
    gizmo, HuntingGold, Ado and 1 other person like this.

  3. UKHunter

    UKHunter AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    Messages:
    601
    Video/Photo:
    61
    Likes Received:
    732
    Hunted:
    England, Scotland, Wales, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Germany, USA (Wyoming) and Hungary.
    I see your point and it raises an interesting question - When does an area become large enough to be classified as free-range? For example, in the UK all our deer are free-range, no fences what so ever (except park deer but they are predominantly reared the same as sheep - for meat), they are free to go and come as they please from one place to the next, however, they can only go so far as we are an island.

    I'm not sure if I would call your big5 reserve free-range, even though it is a large concession and I would have no issues hunting in a concession that size. It is something I would have to think about. At the moment I think I place free-range animals under the condition that, 'No man made barrier prevents their movement'.

    Again, I'm not against fences and hunting behind them so long as it is an area I deem ethical.
     

  4. petrusg

    petrusg AH Elite

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,348
    Video/Photo:
    109
    Likes Received:
    605
    Location:
    South Africa
    Member of:
    SCI, DCS, PHASA, SA Hunters, Xtreem Archery, Rowland Ward, WRSA
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe
    What size would you consider free-range based on the above insight into RSA? (The average size game farm in RSA is 800 ha to 3 000 ha)

    If you are on a buffalo hunt for example, a 5000 ha farm is rather large when you are on a walk and stalk looking for buffalo herds.

    'No man made barrier prevents their movement' - does not really exist is most Southern African hunt-able concessions, though some may argue with me on that point, it's the simple truth.

    *not creating a debate, just interested in your thoughts...
     
    gizmo and Christina Nyczepir like this.

  5. UKHunter

    UKHunter AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    Messages:
    601
    Video/Photo:
    61
    Likes Received:
    732
    Hunted:
    England, Scotland, Wales, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Germany, USA (Wyoming) and Hungary.
    There is nothing wrong with a debate, I'm asking these questions to learn with an open mind.

    At the moment I feel that a free-range animal is an animal that has free range of movement and can go where it likes without man made restrictions. However, my thoughts on this are evolving. I feel it is a hard one to judge and comes down to an individual.

    I would have no problem hunting on a concession 12,500 acres in size and I would consider that fair chase. In that the area is large enough for the animals to evade the hunter, escape and hide but I'm not sure if I would call it free-range.

    I agree it does not really exist in Southern Africa, so although they may not be free-range I would still consider it fair chase.
     

  6. petrusg

    petrusg AH Elite

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,348
    Video/Photo:
    109
    Likes Received:
    605
    Location:
    South Africa
    Member of:
    SCI, DCS, PHASA, SA Hunters, Xtreem Archery, Rowland Ward, WRSA
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe
    Now free-range vs fair-chase is what should be on the cards when making an enquiry. You should be able to gauge this based on the size of the concession vs animals being hunted.

    Great enquiry, looking forward to what some of the other Outfitters/PH's have to say...
     
    Christina Nyczepir, Jfet and UKHunter like this.

  7. broncolcj

    broncolcj AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2014
    Messages:
    301
    Video/Photo:
    78
    Likes Received:
    445
    Location:
    Colorado
    Member of:
    NRA, SCI
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Namibia
    I would say that a great many fences are more of a "necessary evil" to keep the poachers out. If a property is 5, 15, 20 thousand hectares the animals are likely to roam it pretty freely. Except for the ostriches of course :p
     
    gordon-kruger likes this.

  8. petrusg

    petrusg AH Elite

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,348
    Video/Photo:
    109
    Likes Received:
    605
    Location:
    South Africa
    Member of:
    SCI, DCS, PHASA, SA Hunters, Xtreem Archery, Rowland Ward, WRSA
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe
    Hahahaha!!!!
     

  9. petrusg

    petrusg AH Elite

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,348
    Video/Photo:
    109
    Likes Received:
    605
    Location:
    South Africa
    Member of:
    SCI, DCS, PHASA, SA Hunters, Xtreem Archery, Rowland Ward, WRSA
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe
    There is truth about the ant-poaching as each land owner will/should take every effort to look after their concessions and keep the population in good steed as they have every incentive in the world to make sure they have good breeding stock due to it mostly being their livelihood.

    It also allows animal populations to be controlled and kept in balance with the habitat. If animals are allowed to populate unchecked, they will reproduce until they exceed the ability of the habitat to provide enough food to sustain the population. This results in damage to plant communities and eventually malnutrition and starvation for the animals.When proper management controls are in place, a pre-determined number of animals are allowed to be taken from the population. This assures that the food supply can support the remaining animals in a healthy state. Out-of-control populations of animals can cause damage to the plant community that can take decades to repair.

    The most damaging problem for many animals today is not excessive hunting. It is loss of habitat due to development. If we are to maintain a viable population of a wide range of animal species, we must learn to be much wiser in how we develop and use our natural resources and devise plans to maintain viable habitat for these species.

    South Africa is a prime example on how this has been accomplished of the years.
     

  10. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    2,637
    Video/Photo:
    128
    Likes Received:
    5,312
    Member of:
    SCI, DU, Pheasants Forever
    Hunted:
    Canada, United States, Zimbabwe, South Africa (Eastern Cape; Northern Cape; North West Province, Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo), Namibia, Cameroon, Benin, Ethiopia, Argentina
    I think what people mean by "free-roaming" in South Africa is that the animals are born, breed, live and die on the property in the natural course. Said another way, the animals are not "put" on the property for the purposes of hunting them (some might call this "put and take"). So, for example, if kudu are bought at auction and put on a property and then hunted, I would say those are not "free-range", while they would be if there are kudu herds which roam the property and reproduce normally. Many places will be a mixture of both - that is, there will be free ranging herds, but animals will be brought in from time to time to enhance the genetics, or to make up for too many having been taken off, or for other reasons. Some places will have small "breeding areas" for some animals - buffalo and sable being examples - with offspring being released into the "free-ranging" but fenced area, where they will live out their lives until shot or die in another way.

    If you assume that this is what "free ranging" means in South Africa, we all still have to make our own decisions about what constitutes "fair chase" - which is a different term - in this context. Personally, I want to hunt free ranging animals which can get away from me. For my purposes, my cut-off is about 20,000 acres, although I recognize this is a big number. Having said that, there are lots of operations which are that size or much bigger in South Africa, so I'm not setting myself an impossible limit. And I won't accept animals which have been brought to the property for the purpose of shooting them. Lions are another matter, which I won't get into, because that's a pandora's box.

    Hope this helps.
     

  11. UKHunter

    UKHunter AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    Messages:
    601
    Video/Photo:
    61
    Likes Received:
    732
    Hunted:
    England, Scotland, Wales, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Germany, USA (Wyoming) and Hungary.
    You raise some interesting points, Hank.

    Perhaps some of the confusion comes from the fact that, for example, some South African outfitters differ in definition of free-range to say somewhere like Tanzania.

    I see your points about a self producing population vs a put and take scenario, as well as concession size. I think this is more down to ethics than whether or not an animal is free-range or not. We all know or perhaps have our own moral compass on what fair-chase hunting is, but I believe people are mislead by claims of an animal being free-ranging based on my opinion of the matter.

    It would be interesting to hear the views of some SA PH's.
     

  12. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    2,637
    Video/Photo:
    128
    Likes Received:
    5,312
    Member of:
    SCI, DU, Pheasants Forever
    Hunted:
    Canada, United States, Zimbabwe, South Africa (Eastern Cape; Northern Cape; North West Province, Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo), Namibia, Cameroon, Benin, Ethiopia, Argentina
    I think you are right about your comparison between South Africa and Tanzania. Likely the words are used differently in these two places, likely because of the much, much different land situations. Much of the Tanzanian hunting concessions are just that, concessions, and are not fenced. Neither are the animals "owned" by the concession holder. In South Africa, the land is privately owned, as are many of the game the animals, so these lands are usually fenced. Since no one "owns" the animals in Tanzania, poaching is fairly rampant, depending on the animal, while in South Africa, it tends to be controlled (rhino being perhaps an exception).

    Certainly from the point of view of animal populations, fencing tends to result in far higher numbers of animals than are found in unfenced areas (Namibia being another example, like South Africa).
     

  13. ActionBob

    ActionBob AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,647
    Video/Photo:
    82
    Likes Received:
    5,315
    Location:
    Central Minnesota
    Member of:
    NRA life, DSC, SCI
    Hunted:
    Minnesota, Texas, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, British Columbia, Argentina, Kansas, Macedonia, Austria
    Interesting topic with lots of varied opinions. I would say there are several definitions and you must ask lots of questions ot really get a clear answer. If you don't want to see any fences at all, that will be tought in RSA... Those South Africans are the best fence builders in the World! LOL.

    Adriaan, not wishing to be argumentative but I would not call that free range... Fair Chase.. Absolutely! I would say that going further, it depends upon the species. Duiker and steenbuck, probably the various pigs, most or all smaller predators, heck likely big predators especially leopard are pretty much free range and fair chase. I've seen leopard duck under a fence without missing a stride.. And jackal baboon, and wart hog go through most fences at full clip! But a cattle fence seems to keep most wildebeest in check and will certainly turn them if they have the option.

    Hank sums it up well.

    My first hunt in Africa was with Crusader Safaris owned and managed by Andrew Pringle in the East Cape and he prides himself so on being all free range that he we could not hunt blue wildebeest because he had non available in his definition of "free range". The PH told me he could take me to a place if I insisted but it would not be free range and he preferred to not do that hunt. So I passed and took one this year hunting with @Spear Safaris on their roughly 20,000 acres where we were mainly hunting buffalo.... That was high fenced and my first fenced hunt... The buffalo hunting was phenomenal and he did have I think 3 bulls that had been brought in to improve genetics.. Those were off limits for a few years at least. We saw fences every day and drove the roads along them... But the internal fences had been taken out and the buffalo hunting was challenging and exciting. Not free range but certainly free chase. I would not repeat the lion hunt though.

    To hunt Eland with Crusader, we had to hunt next to a fenced area and actually went in there for lunch. And the whole concession was high fenced and we needed to call to get the gate open to enter. Then we drove some 40 kilometers to the area the eland were hanging out. That night we actually saw a young eland bull trying to get into the fenced enclosure (within the concession) where we had our mid day break... When we shined the headlights at him, he looked at the high fence and then hopped over it!

    The RSA huge concessions are a bit different to understand but in the right areas it works well and creates some great hunting experiences in large open areas. But they do have cattle fences.

    Then the forth outfit I hunted with was @Tootabi Hunting Safaris and for my hunting was all fenced. I think he had unfenced areas but even the fenced places were mostly fair chase... I hunted a bontebuck and lechwe which were not overly challenging hunts and the bontebuck were probably in as large an area as you will find for them, but definitely a controlled area. The lechwe were free to roam a large area but were just not hard to find nor difficult to stalk... Maybe I should have held out to hunt one in Zambia or the likes... but the opportunity was there and I took it. I could have had a deal on a sable in similar conditions but drew the line and thought I would rather hunt one in a place like Zambia or Moz. where they really are free roaming. (but it was thrilling to see them!)

    We also hunted a very large fenced area where we drove in through one gate and after 121 kilometers and a wrong turn which lead to a decision to not eat the last jerky or candy and to conserve the water.... We found our way out another gate well after dark and made it back to the lodge. That was so huge, I would have to think of it as being as close to free range as you can get on a fenced property... However the comments about the necessity of managing the animal populations rang true and they were doing massive culling... Which lead to skittish animals and challenging hunting conditions. We had herds of hundreds of animals running around in front of us. So it was a sight to behold and a very cool experience.

    Sounds like what I saw in much of Kruger! Especially as it relates to elephant... One old gentleman explained it to me that it is to the point that it would not make a difference to go in and cull 1000 elephants... The population is increasing by that much per year so all it would accomplish would be to gain a year of status quo. He commented that to improve the situation they need to go in cull 7000 elephants. (sorry for the diversion from the topic)

    In Zimbabwe we hunted very large communal land areas. That has it's own challenges, mainly a lot of people and livestock around.. But not much in the way of fences.... We drove past some large fenced areas... But we drove for hours without seeing fence while hunting and walked 10+ miles without seeing fences.

    If you don't want to even see a cattle fence or drive through a livestock type gate, as a minimum... I would suggest you might look elsewhere other than RSA. Save up for a Tanzanian hunt or go to the right areas in Zimbabwe or Mozambique. I'm sure there are others such as Zambia as well. I assume Namibia has open areas but no experience.

    Personally having been there and done all of the above.. No big problem with the very large fenced areas that are truly fair chase... I want nothing to do with the put and take stuff but understand it is fine for others and if done well I cannot condemn the practice. But it will really piss me off if I'm mislead into something that it is not.....
     
    Ridgewalker and buchnerl like this.

  14. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    3,187
    Video/Photo:
    81
    Likes Received:
    2,682
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Kyrgyzstan(2) South Africa(2) New Zealand
    Fences keep fewer animals in/out than what you might think..... I watched a Impala ram go through a 8 foot game fence that is "suppose" to keep that from happening. All he had to do was get his head through! Warthogs go under almost any fence. Kudu and Eland go over a 8 ft fence. 12,000 acres is almost 20 square miles. Plenty of room to roam, reproduce and grow old. Just my opinion. Bruce
     
    Ridgewalker likes this.

  15. JustinC

    JustinC AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2014
    Messages:
    569
    Video/Photo:
    26
    Likes Received:
    458
    Location:
    South Africa
    Member of:
    PHASA, DSC, SCI
    As mentioned above, free-range and free-roaming shouldn't be confused and although not impossible, you will struggle to find a property in SA that is truly free-range with no fences somewhere along the line, be it a park border, high fence on a neighboring property or barrier to public roads etc. So its a little misleading in my opinion.

    There are obviously various factors and situations that contribute to a hunt but I would like to say that Free-roaming animals on a fenced property tend to me more cautious of humans and develop new evasion techniques such as visiting drinking holes after dark etc due to hunting pressures... and will very often provide a more challenging hunt than a free-range hunt. In remote areas, where animal/human contact is limited your PH would generally have a good idea of the habits of the game present and will be able to, relatively accurately, predict the movements of the animals, depending on the species.

    The area and landscape also play a large role in fair chase hunting... a 2000 ha property in a Bushveld area would not be the same as 2000 ha property in the Karoo.

    As an oversees client paying a premium, its your prerogative to specify what you want out of your African hunt but the vast majority of local hunters have never hunted a true free-range area such as Zim etc and have no problems with hunting fenced properties, as long as its a fair chase.
     
    Ridgewalker and petrusg like this.

  16. petrusg

    petrusg AH Elite

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,348
    Video/Photo:
    109
    Likes Received:
    605
    Location:
    South Africa
    Member of:
    SCI, DCS, PHASA, SA Hunters, Xtreem Archery, Rowland Ward, WRSA
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe
    Hahaha - too funny!!
     

  17. Petrus Geldenhuys

    Petrus Geldenhuys AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2014
    Messages:
    362
    Video/Photo:
    24
    Likes Received:
    166
    Location:
    South Africa
    Member of:
    PHASA
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia
    I would like to take this topic in a slightly different direction just to see what everyone has to say.
    So if you have a fenced area of say 5000 ha or 12500 acres compared to a non fenced area (Block) in Tanzania of the same size do you think it would be less challenging to hunt say a buffalo in the fenced area?
     

  18. UKHunter

    UKHunter AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    Messages:
    601
    Video/Photo:
    61
    Likes Received:
    732
    Hunted:
    England, Scotland, Wales, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Germany, USA (Wyoming) and Hungary.
    The Buffalo is still a Buffalo no matter which area its hunted on.

    I can imagine a heavily hunted Buffalo herd on a fenced property can be a hard hunt as the Buff has leant to evade hunters and not be seen. However, that Buffalo will always be on that property, whereas in Tanzania they may be there one day, you have a busted stalk and their gone.

    Now both animals can be a hard hunt but only one has the true means of escape.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015

  19. UKHunter

    UKHunter AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    Messages:
    601
    Video/Photo:
    61
    Likes Received:
    732
    Hunted:
    England, Scotland, Wales, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Germany, USA (Wyoming) and Hungary.
    I don't think i'm ever going to be in a financial position to hunt a truly free-range Buffalo. As sad as that is for me, I would have no issue shooting one in a fenced concession.

    It would have to be a very large concession, ideally one that has an open boundary to a NP so the game came move between the two and the hunt would have to be fair-chase and done by spot and stalk. I want to do a lot of walking and feel that the buff has the upper hand. I have no doubt I could find someone in SA to fulfil my wish. In fact, I already have a few outfitters in mind.
     

  20. TokkieM

    TokkieM AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2012
    Messages:
    984
    Video/Photo:
    60
    Likes Received:
    1,401
    Location:
    Sweden/South Africa
    Hunted:
    South Africa,Zimbabwe,Sweden
    Interesting topic. SA has very little "Free Range" hunting left no matter which way you look at it. Low fence hunting is not free range hunting either,Springbuck,Blesbuck,Black Wildebeest are kept in low fence areas without much issues. It is foolish to assume that because of the size of the fenced area it is free range,that is the whole reason for a fence,to contain and restrict animal movements. In SA better know as taking ownership or looking after your investment.
    Furthermore fences enable intensive breeding and manipulation of species for either colour or trophy size,it weakens the gene pool and enables the owner to "stock" species that would not naturally occur in the area,often at the detriment of endemic species.

    Europe may not have fences,but there is way more man made barriers like roads,towns and villages to say the game moves freely,they move in the direction they can.

    You can hunt fair chase in 50HA of you want,but you won't hunt free range.

    Will have to check with the guy below on the quality of SA fences. FB_IMG_1439375991394.jpg
     
    Ridgewalker likes this.

Share This Page

 
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice