Free range or not?

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

  1. sambarhunter

    sambarhunter AH Fanatic

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    Yes perhaps so BUT you at least know 100% that he is actually in there behind the wire so you are hunting for a known animal whereas it is a different scenario without the fence.
     
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  2. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    It is still hunting unless the place is so small you can find the buaffalo at will which in most cases is not the case.

    If you have issues with any form of fencing you would not be able to hunt in South Africa as 99 percent is fenced in some or other way.

    There is a lot of great hunting in fenced areas in South Africa and I mean great hunting. You may find a great bull today (be it kudu or buffalo) and not lay eyes on him for the rest of your hunt..

    Personally I think too much emphasis is placed on "free range" as apposed to how you conduct the hunt. If you hunt the right way you will have a great experience and you for sure have no guarantees that you will find any specific animal or see the same one twice.

    Yes the size of the property as well as location will play a part but trust me there are great places to hunt high fenced or not.

    I have hunted a fenced property 42000 acres in extent, they have the big 6 on this property and enough of them(in excess of 800 buffalo) and a healthy elephant population. They have one specific bull in excess of 100lb we could not find him for 18 day's straight....

    Wound something here and if the trackers cannot locate it before dark you will be lucky to end up with the horns the next day.

    Yes each person will decide what is and what is not acceptable for them the same goes for hunting ethics, each person has his own and it varies from person to person but, I can assure you if somebody does not want to hunt SA because it is fenced, well that would be a mistake and they would loose our on some great available hunting...

    The hunting here funds conservation and if nobody hunted fenced areas the whole world would be worse off as all the game farms would be turned cattle, goats and sheep.

    So each make your choices but do not condemn the other.
     

  3. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    As IvW said, it is mainly about how you conduct the hunt.

    My outfitter sent me a video of a herd of Aoudad/Barbary Sheep filmed from a blind near a waterhole in his property. There is an outstanding male in that herd, but that is not much of a hunt, as far as I am concerned.

    But... he has seen an even better male which has probably been expelled from the herd and lives by himself in a nearby kopje (hill), so, I will have to look for him, and do some decent hunting.
     
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  4. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    I live and have hunted Colorado for many years. I’ve seen some fine 7 point bull elk a couple of times with only a cow tag in my pocket, or they were across a 4 strand cattle fence on private property I didn’t have permission to hunt. We have millions of acres the herds roam on. I’ve taken 17 elk in 35 years of hunting them either meat cows, or 5 point 3 year olds. That is the quintessential free range hunt. It’s very difficult and most of us don’t have the time or energy to hunt it with or without a guide. JME
    I have known plenty of hunters who come here to hunt elk and become very discouraged after a few days because they haven’t seen an animal. If they went to Africa and that happened, I doubt they would ever return.
    Just having so many species to hunt in Africa helps tremendously! As many on AH have said, “take what Africa offers” gives you much more opportunities. A possible exception might be leopard:whistle:!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
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  5. Philip Glass

    Philip Glass AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Lots of opinions here. Most of the world is or soon to be fenced. The question is the size of the property. I am soon to be on a PG hunt in Namibia. We will hunt 147,000 acres of private property with self sustaining game populations. I’ve hunted plenty of places that are not fenced and it can be a real challenge or it can be like a game farm you just never know. For me I want to know size of the property and what animals can be hunted there and which ones require “windshield time”?
    Best of luck,
    Philip
     

  6. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Leopard are always free range, high fence or not, very little will keep them in or out. ;)
     
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  7. Charles de Ribeau

    Charles de Ribeau AH Veteran

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    Many good points have already been made. I do want to offer a couple of additional thoughts.
    - First, if a herd of animals is on an island, how large does that island have to be for you to consider them to be free ranging? I'm not voicing an opinion, just pointing out that they are "fenced" by the surrounding body of water.
    - Second, Custer State Park in South Dakota has a large herd of Bison. It used to be the only place in North America from which Boone & Crocket (really particular about fair chase) would accept entries. However, the entire park is enclosed by a high fence. Of course, the park is 71,000 acres. Is that free ranging?
    - Opinion: If the fenced area is large enough whether an island (e.g., Ireland) or by a high fence, it can be fair chase. You have to decide for yourself how big a ranch has to be to qualify as free range/fair chase.
     
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  8. Erik7181

    Erik7181 AH Member

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    I’m in Florida and down here the outfitters use free range as meaning there fenced on a large property but there is no guarantee you’ll shoot something.
    It’s mostly catered towards first time hunters.
    They’ll charge $350 for a half day hog hunt. There are places that charge less then that but your basically not even trying at that point.
    Again this is only related to Florida, I cannot comment on African hunts.
     

  9. Dawid Wiesner

    Dawid Wiesner New Member

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    Hunting on unfenced land can only be successfully on state land. The unfenced idea is a bit overrated, even the Kruger National Park which is 1 million hectares is high fenced. In South African unless an area is high fenced game belongs to the state, but my be hunted with a permit in season in which case it will belong to the landowner on whose land it currently is. That would mean if your permit is in order for that province you will have to get permission from every landowner on whose land you will be hunting. In practice say you are tracking Kudu you will have to abandon your hunt every few kilometers as you get to the end of an particular landowners property to find the owner of the next property to get permission to hunt on his land and negotiate a price and strike a new deal with each landowner as the hunt progresses. The chances of you tracking down your quarry will be very slim at that rate. If the Kudu happen to cross a provincial line you will have to get a new permit all together for the province the Kudu currently is in. To counter this situation the authorities give high fenced areas exemption from that particular law meaning they can take full ownership of the animals their high fences can contain. Further more those landowners may now issue permits for game hunted on these properties which further streamlines the process. In my opinion the following factors is more important:
    1. Size of land
    2. Ability of game to move away or hide
    3. Terrain
    4. Whether animals was pen reared and fed or not.
    5. Whether hunts are put and take or not.
    6. Type of hunting, walk or stalk only or with the aid of a vehicle?
     
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  10. wildfowler.250

    wildfowler.250 AH Member

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    Appreciate this is an older thread but made for a good read.

    What worries me is that a lot of these outfitters say they have “147,000 acres”. Yet some of the properties are 10,000 some are 60k totalling 147k.

    Is it fair to say you don’t wish to hunt these smaller properties? How big do you need to be “big enough” for fair chase? I’d want to be able to bust a stalk and have minimal chance of catching up with it and have a good likelihood but no guarantees of bagging an animal.

    Anyone got any suggestions for a first timer what size should be my cut off? I notice 20k has been banded about a couple of times.


    Cheers!
     

  11. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    JMO, but it sort of depends on the terrain, vegetation, roads and game you are looking for. I had a section of land (640 acres or 1 square mile) cattle ranch many years ago. Basically 1 road down the middle. Mostly pastures, but every knoll had thick vegetation. Before I sectioned it off, cows would drop their calves in one or another of the thick areas (usually the hardest to get to). They were not easy to find.

    I have hunted as small as 5,000 acres with almost solid vegetation and it took two days to find the game I was looking for. I’ve hunted 20,000 acres of very thick mountainous terrain and it took two days before I saw the game I was after.

    I have known many elk hunters who have hunted free range in Colorado who have yet to see an elk in hunting season.

    Like I started out, terrain, vegetation, road cuts and specific game.
    Best of luck in your search for what works best for you!
     

  12. postoak

    postoak BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    If you want free range and you’re behind a high fence couldn’t you get it by restricting yourself to using only part of the property? Pick a small enough size area to hunt and you’ll be regretting your decision!
     

  13. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    This depends on your personal ehics.
    But dont be afraid of fences, 99% of hunters coming back from South Africa are happy returning clients.

    If you want real free range hunt, no fences, on similar contract terms (similar budget) as South Africa, then check your options for Namibia.

    In South Africa, fences are legal requirement. In Namibia, there are many areas without fences.

    If you go in that direction, then find the oufitter, and ask directly to give you offer for hunting in non fenced areas, and check for availble huntable species. To give you a clue, when we were driving from Windhoek airport, animals seen along the road, practcally continously were: hartebeest, oryx, kudu, warthog, jackal, baboon.... Those in most cases in central Namibia highland can be hunted out of fence. There should be more, but check with your oufitter.

    If your budget is much higher, check options for Tanzania. The budget for Plains game hunt in Tanzania then should be 20k, plus. At least. It is at least 4 to 5 times more then comparable hunt in South African or Namibian farms. But in this case Tanzanian total wilderness is added value.
     

  14. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I have zero clue about the number of acres involved on these properties I hunted in South Africa.
    It did not matter because of the species being hunted and the terrain and cover created the limiting factors.

    On the behavioural side:
    Blesbok hate crossing cattle fences, so they are in fact fenced no matter where you are chasing them. A Mule deer would be gone, not these guys. Warthogs will be happy to dig under a fence.
    IMG_5914.JPG


    This is a high fenced property in the EC. I never even came close to a fence after driving in. I also had plenty of game disappear on me. Kudu, Waterbuck, Bushbuck and Blue Duiker. Repeated sightings of all of them.

    I hunted a Blue Duiker on a property that would not have amounted to more than a few acres that I actually hunted.


    P1000148.JPG

    This is a cattle fenced and open range property.
    Oribi did not disappear and run for countless miles though.
    IMG_7555.jpg

    This photo you can't see fences, but there are low fences present. Which also demarcate property lines where you can not hunt. It's the terrain that provides the escape in this scenario, not the acres. Vaalies and Mountain Reedbuck. If you are tough enough, it's waiting for you.


    DSCN9157.jpg

    This is a "wild area" in Mozambique. No fences, but you also can't see the villages over the next rise and the poachers cruising the countryside constantly. Bones and tree stumps abound if you look hard enough. There are plenty of limiting factors other than fences.


    P1000934.JPG
     
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  15. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Fences are also a legal requirement in Namibia and other jurisdictions depending on circumstance.
    There are huge areas in South Africa without high fences as well.
     

  16. postoak

    postoak BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    It depends on the terrain and cover. In classic Limpopo bushvelt, 10,000 contiguous acres with no interior fences is plenty.
     

  17. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    You may also want to consider the impact of fences on the ability to find wounded game.

    In unfenced areas if you shoot badly and wound an animal, you may never recover it. I shot an elephant in Zimbabwe some 300 yards from the Botswana border, which was no more than a road. No fences at all. If the elephant had gone into Botswana, that was it for me.

    On the other hand, in fenced areas, you generally know that wherever the animal might be, it's still on the property. In addition, since the landowner owns the game in high-fenced areas (assuming he has the proper permits), then you are generally allowed to use a dog to track the animal. It's not impossible to lose an animal in these circumstances, but it is a lot harder. Of course, the size of the property may mean that even though the animal is still on the property, it might be impossible to find. I recall hunting at the old Wintershoek and another hunter wounding a buffalo. Even with the best rackers and even a helicopter, they were unable to locate the wounded animal.

    There are lots of caveats on any statements regarding fences because the bottom line is that "it depends." Yes, the size of the property is important, but so is the animal you are hunting. As @BRICKBURN says, I wouldn't hesitate to hunt blue duiker on a small property because the size just isn't relevant. When it comes to buffalo, size, though, is critically important. On the other hand, I've culled springbok on low-fenced properties where the animals simply won't jump the fence, even though they could, with ease.

    So the answer is to figure out what matters to you, what type of animal you're looking for, and ask the questions which come out of that analysis.
     
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  18. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    Think in terms of square miles, even a 3,000 acre place is over 4 1/2 square miles, if the area is mountainous or hilly that equates to a much larger surface area as acres are calculated from a flat map. If the are is heavy bush and not open savannah that size of area will seem quite large. And like already mentioned it has a lot to do with what animals you'r hunting.
     

  19. sambarhunter

    sambarhunter AH Fanatic

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    I have noted that quite often the BIG PLACES have special areas inside the main ranches where the really special big bucks n bulls live ...really special prices on them too.

    Some stay on a 100,000 acres yet hunt 50 or less........
     

  20. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Size is really only part of the equation. There are small (2-5K acre) places that are well managed with limited numbers of hunters every year and self sustaining populations and good trophy quality. There are huge properties that are also hunted very hard with lots of put and take to sustain the large numbers of hunters. And the opposite is also true, it works both ways.... So don't discount a property or select a property based solely on size alone.
     

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