Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rasch on High fence hunting

Just ran across this post by Albert Rasch at The Rausch Outdoor Chronicles blog: High Fence Hunting: Is the Public the Problem?

I really like some of what Rasch has to say here. An excerpt:
While I agree with the premise that American wildlife is a public resource, I object to the idea that because I own the real estate they inhabit, I should be prohibited from profiting from their presence or for granting someone access to them, whatever the reason. Never mind that I have a very real interest in wildlife management, once that fence goes up I am publicly stating that I choose to use the land I own in any way I wish, from plowing it up and flattening it out for mono-culture corn growing, to highly ethical permaculture based land use. Regardless, from the perspective of anyone but the landowner, access is now prohibited in very real terms, to not only the real estate, but from everything animate and inanimate upon the dirt.

Again, in principal I do not disagree with
Tovar and the others with respect to the unpalatability of some enclosed or put and take operations. My objection to banning the use of high fence hunting is simply one of liberty, private property, and the libertarian ideals. Bad apples will be weeded out, of that there is no doubt - the internet makes darn sure that everything gets way out in the open - and the market soon adjusts to the realities on the ground. But seriously, how many operations are there out there with an elk in a cage and a corral for some knuckle head to shoot it in? How many of you know of someone with a twenty acre high fence enclosure, billing itself as a trophy hunting mecca? Business excesses of that sort, should they exist, can be dealt with through the legislative process if the market forces don't resolve it. . . .
The probability of someone hand feeding an elk, supplementing his diet with high protein pellets and vitamin tablets, in an attempt to raise a 400 class bull, is pretty high. If that person then releases it into an enclosure regardless of size, shoots it, and then hangs it on the wall for all to see, that's his choice. It wouldn't be my choice of course. It might not be yours either. Now if he sold you the right to shoot that bull, that would be your choice to buy it... or not. It's up to you. I just don't see the moral dilemma.

My argumentative buddy Dukkiller (
The Daily Limit, see his post The “Facts” About High Fence Shooting?!?. He is a lawyer after all..) often reminds me that the problem starts when you call that hunting. I don't disagree with him entirely; I wouldn't call that hunting either. In some cases its plain old shooting. But that's none of my business. That's the chump who paid big money for a semi-tame elk so he could hang it on the wall, that's his business. I would prefer that he keeps his business to himself too.
Rasch is led to ask "why High Fence ranches exist in the first place," and while I am not sure I agree 100% with his market analysis, I do agree that high fence ranches symbolize a failure of modern, publicly-funded game management to give hunters what they desire. The state of Pennsylvania, for example, has just spent the past ten years trying to implement the rudiments of a Quality Deer Management system. It has not been an easy process, and the jury is still out whether it works or not. If private companies can do better what the state cannot, then I think we should at least have that discussion.

The failure of states like Pennsylvania to produce a quality deer hunting experience for a certain percentage of hunters seems to me to be another casualty of an exclusive "we hunt for food" philosophy. While many hunters enjoy eating the food that hunting yields, food is not the sole motivator for many hunters. Managers who downplay other motivations--including aesthetic motivations for sport and trophy--perhaps are guilty of a kind of blind spot.

At any rate, a very thought-provoking piece by Albert Rasch.


  1. Jim,

    Thank you very much for thinking well enough of my writing to post it here.

    I really think you hit it right on the head when you say that there are several reasons why people hunt. In many cases I think that hunters don't even consciously realize why they hunt and why they pull the trigger on a particular animal. it is that deep introspection that we are lacking.

    I sure would like to look into the Pennsylvania experience. I would like to see why it has been difficult, and where those difficulties lie.

    Best Regards,
    Albert A Rasch
    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: Game Reserves, Preserve Hunting, High Fence Hunting, What are the Facts?

  2. Albert,
    I've been chewing on this issue all week. Seeing a bunch of farm mallards walking across a neighbor's front lawn this week gave me pause: why is raising waterfowl--the same species we hunt--acceptable, when raising deer, elk, or moose (species that we also hunt) is not? Why is raising pheasants okay, but not deer?

    Unless we have a clear bias about ungulates and other large mammals that we're completely honest about . . . I don't believe peoples' thinking about the issue is all that coherent or consistent.

    Those mallards behind the chicken wire are just as off-limits to me as the high fence elk or deer. One can purchase whitetailed deer breeding stock with uber-antler genetics just the same as one can purchase mallards from McMurray Hatchery.

    Why the double standard?

  3. Easy.....Money, greed (not necessarily monitary) and ego. Take these away and you would not need a fence.

  4. And add to the double standard, the fact that we pay the state to farm raise trophy trout (etc) and stock our waters so we can catch them. Is an angler who catches these fish any different from the high fence hunter? I suppose in waters besides private ponds, the fish can "get away", but those who know the rivers and where/when the stocking occurs, know exactly where these fish go.

    Then add again to the double standard. Why do we insist upon removing all wild deer from a fenced in area? We don't insist upon removing every raccoon or porcupine.

    The double standard(s) is why I don't object to high fence facilities, even ones that enclose wild deer.

  5. The delicate balance of landownership rights and publicly owned wildlife resources that can be positively or negatively influenced by financial or competative,,, humaness. The thought that we only collectively,, own other life forms, yet can individually posses a space of land and do what we please on it,,, to it,,,with only those we choose, it is a sheer miracle it worked in the past and cannot be expected to work well in the future. This concept in thinking perhaps is the reasonings behind modern man's quest for the old feeling he searches for ,,,,to belong. Freedom, a truely American concept will loose to out to greed, competition, possesion and insecurity. Yet the cure's to these are found in the forests, mountains, lakes and oceans of this place that is our home. Respect, self reliance,comradery,viablity and tenacity or in-attiquicy are taught best in nature and can be inspiring or humbling. The facts are before us. Man is an intricate animal.He questions his motives and reasons. It is hard for me not to think of society as a child, young , greedy, not worried for itself, unable yet to really consider its actions, looking for its identity and place. Not caring fully yet for the advise it gets from its older members, their deaths locked away.But in every child there is great potential, and certainly all is not lost and hopefully our outdoor children will prove their tenacity and survive with the help of natures lessons in living and thinking.

    Rod Elmer

  6. Found you through Albert over at the The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles. These are some really deep topics that are part of society. I hope the conversation keeps on going.

    Best wishes,
    Scott Croner and
    Nebraska Hunting Company™

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