Understanding The Term "High Fenced Hunting"

Salome

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False propaganda will have you end up paying way more for the exact same thing in a different wrapper.​

fence.jpg


As a hunter I am sometimes shocked and surprised at how our own perceptions and views gets affected by those who oppose us, the Anti-hunting groups.

Not many years ago it was considered a honor to hunt an Elephant, if you look at these legendary hunts it was customary for a hunter to sit on top of the trophy for photos, today if you see a photo like that online they get more attacks from hunters than anti hunters because "you do not respect the animal and it is not ethical" and many more accusations.

To a large extent the same started to apply to high fenced hunting areas, I can honestly understand the resistance to small camp fencing known as “High Fenced Hunting” in the USA because of the size of the encampment, in South Africa we call it a "boma", a temporary containment facility, a place where you can stand on the one fence and see the other fence, now I would agree with anybody that shooting an animal in such an area does not even deserve debate, it is not hunting.

The problem that has developed over the years is that marketers for both the unfenced hunting areas and anti-hunting groups started using this to sell their view on hunting, now as anything that is said and used as a tool for marketing, one should consider the facts before buying the argument.

In South Africa we have properties with fences, we call it “Game Fenced Properties”, that is by no means the same thing as the punted “High Fenced hunting areas" you might have heard of.

To start off with, in the South African Nature Conservation legislation there is a permit a property owner can apply for that is called an exemption permit, this permit only gets issued if a property is larger than 400 hectare (988 Acres), the condition for the exemption permit is that the property be fenced so to keep animals inside the boundary inside and animals outside the boundary outside, thus the abundance of game fences because when an owner is granted the exemption he is exempted from hunting seasons and the game on the property is his property.

So considering the benefits to hunters/clients is that firstly, Outfitters can offer hunts out of season, secondly the animals being the property of the land owner the animals becomes part of the free market system and the ability for owners to do things like donations and offers to clients.

Now, most properties that clients hunt on are larger than 2400 acres and can go all the way up to 40 000 acres which is large properties, the animals on the properties are self reliant and breed by themselves, they are also untamed nor used to humans as there are ample place to hide and there is very little to no interaction with humans.

I have asked clients to identify a specific animal he/she sees while on a property, once he did I ask him to count the amount of times he sees that same animal for the full trip, and in very rare cases they have seen that animal 1 to 2 times in a full week, but most times they never saw it again.

Then one of the most popular marketing tactics for some of these so called free ranging properties or unfenced properties is these beautiful pictures you see for example Blesbuck, Wildebeest and other species behind these low cattle fences, and I have seen that some of these camps that are quite small on these same pictures as well.

How many times do they sell that to people as "non high fenced properties"? and yes it is not high fenced, but it does not mean the animals on these properties are uncontained animals, because the part that never gets shared is that there aren't that many animals that has the ability or the will to jump over low fences like the Kudu does. Species like wildebeest and blesbuck to name a few are contained because they do not jump fences, in the unlikely event where they actually do "jump" over a fence they damage the fence as they rather jump/dive through it and they have to be chased or spooked before they do that.

The point is that I would like to advise free thinking people not to jump on these catch phrases or jingles people warn you about like “High Fenced” and "canned" as in most cases it is just marketing jingles to promote either properties with the same practice just with lower fences or the Anti viewpoint.

So if you are a hunter, I hope you will consider the facts around this emotional subject and get the facts for yourselves, as you might be a victim of brilliant marketing by making one of the most practical management tools for game breeding and hunting, the game fence, the reason you miss great opportunities and deals based on false propaganda and you end up paying way more for the exact same thing in a different wrapper.
 
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Salome

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Factually incorrect. I have seen both Blesbuck and Wildebeest jump low fences. Not often, but I have seen it.
Though you are correct, they have the ability and when pushed they will be able to do it, same as an Eland that will jump a high fence when pushed, they do not behave like Kudu and other species who does not see low fences as barries and move over them without motivation. So their natural instinct, if not pushed, is to respect the barrier.
 

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When you think of all the pros and cons of "high fence" establishments the list of cons is VERY short and of that list some of the cons are merely perceptions/bias/preference.

To elaborate, as you mentioned there is a perception that these are tiny properties where the game is not free ranging and is semi tame and no matter how one tries to change perceptions with facts the perceptions linger.

Secondly, bias; some people simply are bias against high fenced properties and they will never change. There are several that are on this very forum and openly cast scorn on anyone that even considers a high fenced hunt and will say that it is isn't a real hunt, no matter the size of the fenced property. Some are very experienced international hunters and some have no idea what they are talking about, they merely parrot what they have heard or been told. I have realised that it is usually the ones that can afford to hunt DG almost every year and cost is not a factor, an elitist attitude.

Lastly, there is the preference to hunt more free range hunts. I have no problem with this category as everyone is allowed to have their preferences in life.

It is the high fence laws and properties with their associated benefits such as year round hunting, breeding programmes and pricing that has made it a possibility for thousands of hunters to hunt Africa that never would have due to cost. I would hazard a guess and say that a vast majority of hunters' first hunt are to high fence properties and an even greater majority of family hunts that include first timers, wives and kids opt for high fence.

The SA model has brought back many near extinct species, produced exceptional quality for breeding and produced an industry growth that is not matched by many. Like you said, lack of understanding.... and lack of understanding often leads to lack of opportunity. So if people don't want to understand then they are welcome to miss the opportunity of truly great hunting. They are welcome to pay more for virtually the same thing.
 

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Thank you--these are points that need to be made and that all of us need to have at our fingertips.

"High fence" is a silly synecdoche, and I've come to detest the term. The presence of a fence that happens to be high, around an African property often spanning tens of thousands of acres, is not the same as an American game farm where animals are captive and raised to be hunted pretty much à la carte.

"High fence" has become the equivalent of "trophy hunting" - a term that we should steer away from. I am saddened by the use of this term or its various opposites "free ranging/fair chase" by hunting concessions wanting to (essentially) engage in negative advertising against their competitors. So bad has this become that even among industry professionals there is the perception that hunting in a game fenced property in Africa is equivalent to doing so in a postage-stamp-sized American game farm where more or less tame animals stand there like in a zoo, ready for low-skilled hunters to shoot them.

So, great points. It behooves all of us to know this and correct the perception that (alas) has been allowed to run rampant even among our own.
 

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This topic comes up an awful lot, but it will never die.

The reason for that is that RSA can talk about high fences and low fences until they are blue in the face and in response the customer can still say “I still don’t want it”. To which RSA in almost every region says “we have to have fences, we don’t want our game escaping or to be poached”. And that‘s the circular debate that will happen perpetually.

The danger with the argument “Fences don’t matter, they are huge areas” is that at that point, competition widens. Does Texas have huge fenced operations? Does Texas have the same species as South Africa fenced? Do both Texas and South Africa have the same non-native species fenced as well? Yes, yes, yes? Then why do I need to get on a 47 hour airplane ride instead of a 2 hour airplane ride?

The problem is not a fence, it is a symptom of a non-native ecosystem. Once that bridge is crossed, its a race to have the most strange creatures, the largest trophies, the best accommodations, the shortest plane ride, the highest game densities, and the lowest prices.
 

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I can agree with most of what you say Rook but with two exceptions.

Firstly, in order for one to own the game on one's own land the land has to be fenced. It isn't just the escaping or poaching factor.

Secondly, if any landowner is daft enough to overstock their property they soon won't have an ecosystem that is able to sustain a viable hunting quota.

It is a perception problem in the main (in my humble opinion). If high fence is the problem then one could level the same accusation against the likes of the BVC and other places throughout Africa and the rest of the world. I think very few would say the BVC is non-native yet a similar sized property in SA is termed non-native... It's a perception that has been adopted because there are MANY small hunting properties in SA and as soon as high fence is mentioned in SA then people immediately picture 10 000 ear tagged buffalo on 600 acres.

Edit: I re-read your post and understand what you were getting at re: non-native hunting. I agree, why go to SA to shoot a non-native LDE when you could probably find it in Texas which is also non-native. I do tend to agree with you, I like to hunt species in their own habitats.

And as the OP was trying to convey, outfitters/landowners will actively besmirch other outfitters as "high fence operations" when they know themselves that the hunt those operators provide invariably offer very little difference to those they are providing. So we have uninformed hunters as well as outfitters actively reinforcing this "high fence = bad" perception. I understand it's a dog eat dog world but it really has to change if the "high fence = bad" label is ever to fade away and the hunting community embraces the fact that one can have a real wild hunt behind a high fence.
 
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I am not making any comment on fences, other than this. What is sad its the number of pictures that I have seen where the proud hunter is with his trophy and in the background there is a fence. Just looks bad.
 

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Living in Texas and having hunted High, low, and no fences and am tired of reading and talking about the subject and want to just go hunting!
 

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+1 on photos with fences in background.

I hunted one Texas exotic game ranch where a person had shot several African animals, including a giraffe, and claimed he had done it in Africa. No photos showed any sign of civilization. WHY?
Because he wanted to and the rancher was able to meet his needs. It is a business.
 

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What I think is telling is the skyrocketing prices for no-fence / low-fence / unmolested hunts. Elk hunts in the Western USA have been pushing way past $20,000, sometimes pushing over $30,000 in the right units. Tanzanian and Ugandan safaris for somewhat similarly "not-terraformed and altered by man" locations can exceed $100,000.

Do I think every fenced operation in RSA is awful? Nope. The best of them is roughly the same level of sad and depressing as the hunting I do here in the Midwestern USA, hunting a non-native animal (Whitetail deer...not originally present in this area 200 years ago), hunting non-virgin forest, adjacent to non-virgin GMO crop fields next to barns, barb wire fences, and interstates. Will the next world record come from where I hunt? Statistically, its very possible. Is it wild? It's as wild as my area can provide, just as high-fenced RSA in the East Cape is "maximum wild theoretically possible" in that region of the world.

Do I like hunting? Yep. Would I hunt these conditions? Yes. Is it sad and frustrating? Yes. Do I like talking about it, reminding me how little natural land that isn't all screwed up remains? Not at all.

Reminder to RSA outfitters. Read the tealeaves. People are clamoring for natural hunting and they are paying 10x to 20x for the experience of doing so. While everyone is running to put up more fences, build more resorts, add more color phases and non-native species to their environments, there is a sizable amount of the hunting world (and growing) that would love to see for even a moment, an unmolested wild place and an attempt to kill one animal exactly as it would have been 200 years ago.
 

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When you think of all the pros and cons of "high fence" establishments the list of cons is VERY short and of that list some of the cons are merely perceptions/bias/preference.

To elaborate, as you mentioned there is a perception that these are tiny properties where the game is not free ranging and is semi tame and no matter how one tries to change perceptions with facts the perceptions linger.

Secondly, bias; some people simply are bias against high fenced properties and they will never change. There are several that are on this very forum and openly cast scorn on anyone that even considers a high fenced hunt and will say that it is isn't a real hunt, no matter the size of the fenced property. Some are very experienced international hunters and some have no idea what they are talking about, they merely parrot what they have heard or been told. I have realised that it is usually the ones that can afford to hunt DG almost every year and cost is not a factor, an elitist attitude.

Lastly, there is the preference to hunt more free range hunts. I have no problem with this category as everyone is allowed to have their preferences in life.

It is the high fence laws and properties with their associated benefits such as year round hunting, breeding programmes and pricing that has made it a possibility for thousands of hunters to hunt Africa that never would have due to cost. I would hazard a guess and say that a vast majority of hunters' first hunt are to high fence properties and an even greater majority of family hunts that include first timers, wives and kids opt for high fence.

The SA model has brought back many near extinct species, produced exceptional quality for breeding and produced an industry growth that is not matched by many. Like you said, lack of understanding.... and lack of understanding often leads to lack of opportunity. So if people don't want to understand then they are welcome to miss the opportunity of truly great hunting. They are welcome to pay more for virtually the same thing.
I would have to argue with your statement that there are very few cons to a high fence and reducing it further by saying it’s only perception. The pros of a high fence are bias and perceptions also. I started out before my first trip to Africa very anti-high fence, after my first trip my problems with it went away and I would have argued the hunting experience was great, but I just finished my 10th trip and the more I see the more I am against the management that can be used inside of a high fence (not necessarily the high fence itself). It’s crossed the line from wildlife into farming in South Africa. There are high fenced properties I will gladly hunt and there are high fenced properties I would not consider hunting. People often focus on the size of the property, they should investigate the management of the property. I’d rather hunt a 10,000 acre property managed for a sustainable off take than hunt a 50,000 acre property that is over hunted and restocked with trophies each year. Color variants, breeding huge trophies, bulls only, supplemental feeding, ear tags are other topics that continue to make me more against this type of hunting. As I stated at beginning, my opinion has been evolving on this topic but keeps growing more negative as it increasingly moves towards a farming/harvesting model.
 

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Just curious as to how many African animals can jump fences? Here, an elk (wapiti) can jump at LEAST an eight foot fence and a mule deer a six foot fence. I've seen a deer here jump a six foot fence just after standing next to it. What's odd is pronghorn antelope generally won't jump a three or four strand barbed wire fence and prefer to go underneath it or sometimes through the strands. I have twice seen pronghorn bucks jump a wire fence. Pronghorn are and elk historically were animals of the plains. So, elk learned to jump and pronghorn didn't? Strange.
 

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This topic comes up an awful lot, but it will never die.

The reason for that is that RSA can talk about high fences and low fences until they are blue in the face and in response the customer can still say “I still don’t want it”. To which RSA in almost every region says “we have to have fences, we don’t want our game escaping or to be poached”. And that‘s the circular debate that will happen perpetually.

The danger with the argument “Fences don’t matter, they are huge areas” is that at that point, competition widens. Does Texas have huge fenced operations? Does Texas have the same species as South Africa fenced? Do both Texas and South Africa have the same non-native species fenced as well? Yes, yes, yes? Then why do I need to get on a 47 hour airplane ride instead of a 2 hour airplane ride?

The problem is not a fence, it is a symptom of a non-native ecosystem. Once that bridge is crossed, its a race to have the most strange creatures, the largest trophies, the best accommodations, the shortest plane ride, the highest game densities, and the lowest prices.


Interesting take on it, to start with RSA fighting the fight fight till they are blue by itself is a funny that that fight exists, i have heard of many claims of “free range” “non high fenced” farms.

Understanding our laws might simplify the argument a bit.. you cannot hunt a animal classified as wildlife which is not on a "exempted property" or "Enclosure Certificate" as a client without a hunting permit in the clients name, for a permit to be valid it needs to be signed by the client as well and carried on the person while taking part in the hunt, this permit is also issued for the dates you are taking part in the action as well as specifically names the species you are hunting.

So that removes the flexibility that if you did not apply for a species you cannot legally hunt it on a Legally “Free Ranged” property, keep in mind this applies to all plains species, Springbuck, Kudu Impala etc.

I have asked hunter before who claim they have hunted free range/ free roaming animals in South Africa if they recall meeting the legal requirements to partake in this hunt..
specifically on normal plains species.. we have yet to get the answer expected by the law.

So by implication if these legal requirements are not met and there is a mere transfer of hunting rights and not a hunting permit (issued by Government) you hunted on an exempt farm, and to qualify as an exempt farm you need to meet the minimum requirements..

There is standards set out for the “Fence”, i will not add that as well..

Here is it copied form the Limpopo Nature conservation act:
“Exemption of enclosed land from provisions of this Chapter
45. (1) Whenever the owner of enclosed land applies for exemption of any or all of the
provisions of this Chapter, excluding section 31(1)(f), and if such owner submits a written
application and environmental management plan on the prescribed forms, the MEC may after
having considered the application, grant such owner of land or any other person indicated in the
application, such exemption.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) “enclosed land” means land which is enclosed
in such a way that–
(a) the specially protected wild animals, protected wild animals and game
found on that land are confined to that land; and
(b) those outside that land are excluded from entering that land.
(3) The holder of an exemption issued in terms of subsection (1) may, subject to any
conditions contained in the exemption, grant permission in writing to any other person to –
(a) hunt or catch the species of live wild animals specified in the exemption
on the land in respect of which the exemption was issued;
(b) sell such dead or live animals;

(c) convey such dead or live animals from that land to a destination indicated
in the written permission;
(d) convey live wild animals to that land; or
(e) assist with the hunting, catching or conveyance of the animal”

Here is it copied from Eastern Cape Hunting ordinance.
“adequately enclosed” in relation to land means enclosed by—
(a) any fence, wall or obstruction of any kind whatsoever forming
an enclosure from which any wild animal of a species specified
in a certificate of adequate enclosure issued in terms of section
35 (4) (b) is unable to escape without breaking it;
(b) any natural boundary through or over which any wild animal of a
species so specified will under normal circumstances not pass,
or
(c) any combination of fences, walls, obstructions or boundaries
referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) so that any wild animal of a
species so specified cannot escape from such land; (lxvii) “

So based on the legal standards one can easily see what is determined by the law, i can provide the links to the laws if you are not satisfied with the copied parts.

but to the point, the bigger question is, if you hunt "real" free roaming animals are you meeting the minimum requirements of the law.
if those are not not met and you can legally export your trophies there are questions that needs to be asked, have you been bluffed to create the perception of no fences (Heard this one before, no that is the neigbors fence not ours hahaha, Right), or has your hunt been legally conducted.

this has a bit of a far reaching effect in my opinion if you consider the Lacey Act in the US as an example where a US citizen can be federally prosecuted for illegal acts with wildlife internationally.

Secondly you run the risk of loosing your Trophies you worked hard for for to hunt and take back home..

So the claim “Free Range”, “Low Fence” comes not only with a marketing angle but also legal requirements that needs to be met..

As for the “Non-Native ecosystem” it is in my opinion a bit of a stretch to apply that in general to South Africa, Texas i get since Africa Species in Texas is Non-native,
In South Africa there are arguments that this area has always been only Impala and Kudu area, which in the short term History might be correct since most other competitors for grazing has been hunted and harvested to low or no numbers by cattle farmers before Game became valuable to them, there are references when you look at historical tellings and record of most areas having a large variety of the plains species, yes there are some cases where species who might have roamed into areas
they might not prefer exists but that still makes that a natural occurrence.

We also have the TOPS (Threatened Or Protected Species Act) act in South Africa protecting just that, Ensuring for example Black Wildebeest is not introduced into areas where it cannot be
proven they at one point naturally existed and are not natural and healthy environment for it, so the perception that South Africa has a “Non-Native ecosystem” is just that, a perception..

I do not however argue that there are some exceptions to the rules, and there are places holding species that are not Native to the Area or Continent but that is an exception to the rule and strictly regulated.

In my there is still a good reason to travel 40 hours by plane to hunt a species that is at least native to the continent hahah, and price i guess. Africa do offer a bit more bang for your $.

There is also good reasons to prefer "Exempted" areas over "Free Range" areas since you are offered more flexibility, freedom of choice, and the benefits of the Free Market system applies..

Just my take on thing..
 

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I am not making any comment on fences, other than this. What is sad its the number of pictures that I have seen where the proud hunter is with his trophy and in the background there is a fence. Just looks bad.
I agree it looks bad and might raise a lot of questions but this is a reality. I do however think the Professional Hunter should pay more attention to the photography part of the hunt, at least for the sake of having a beautiful professional photo taken of a memory/moment of the hunt that the client might never experience again in his/her life.
 

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Just curious as to how many African animals can jump fences? Here, an elk (wapiti) can jump at LEAST an eight foot fence and a mule deer a six foot fence. I've seen a deer here jump a six foot fence just after standing next to it. What's odd is pronghorn antelope generally won't jump a three or four strand barbed wire fence and prefer to go underneath it or sometimes through the strands. I have twice seen pronghorn bucks jump a wire fence. Pronghorn are and elk historically were animals of the plains. So, elk learned to jump and pronghorn didn't? Strange.
It will be a complicated answer because can potentially jump and will jump are different. Bushbuck, duikers, and warthogs are only animals that will regularly go through a fence from what I understand. Eland will occasionally jump a high fence when pushed. Most other animals the high fence will act as a reliable barrier, including low fence for some species.
 

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So that removes the flexibility that if you did not apply for a species you cannot legally hunt it on a Legally “Free Ranged” property, keep in mind this applies to all plains species, Springbuck, Kudu Impala etc.
Marcel, keep in mind that the Eastern Cape does not have the same legislation as Limpopo. There are many species here that can be hunted without exemption, Impala being one of them.
 

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It will be a complicated answer because can potentially jump and will jump are different. Bushbuck, duikers, and warthogs are only animals that will regularly go through a fence from what I understand. Eland will occasionally jump a high fence when pushed. Most other animals the high fence will act as a reliable barrier, including low fence for some species.
One would think, that many African antelope species would/could jump fences, but just like the North American pronghorn, they apparently don't, at least as a common practice as they never had to learn to do it. My theory with elk and jumping fences, is that after being pushed into the mountains through being relentlessly hunted on the plains for food by the increasing population of European settlers, the elk over time and by necessity learned to jump over deadfalls and other debris present in the forests, which the pronghorn never had to do? A fence would be just another forest obstacle to jump over. Both whitetail and mule deer here generally have inhabited woodlands and forests forever, so they learned to jump over forest debris since they came into existence.
 

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