More and more hunting in this country is becoming a matter of arranging a hunt on private land. This is generally not a problem because land owners are seeing wild game as a money crop and are taking necessary steps to protect game and help it to flourish. However, it does become a problem when land owners begin to put up high fences to hold the game on their property. Land owners and outfitters like this because they can bring clients in for 2-3 day hunts and be fairly sure that the client can collect his trophy without too much trouble. They can also more easily cull out the less desirable elk, deer, or whatever, and let the better animals do the breeding, thus increasing the quality of their herd.
However, the real problem occurs when there are too many animals in too small an area. These animals often lose their natural fear of man and are, thus, easier to approach. And, because the area is too small, they must be fed on a regular basis, further reducing the natural fear of man and vehicles.
In the Texas Hill Country there is at least one auction that does nothing but sell exotic and “wild” animals to the land owners and outfitters. Once the land owner knows what kind of animal his clients would like to take, he simply goes to the auction and buys some. These critters are put out in the high-fenced area a few days before the clients are to arrive and fed daily until they are “hunted” by his customers.
This does not occur with just exotic game, there is also a good market in pen-raised whitetail deer and elk for the same reason. City hunters, who generally don’t know what real hunting is, are allowed to write a fat check for the privilege of taking a huge trophy that, in reality, may be nearly as tame as the average milk cow. Sadly, these are the kind of folks who are more interested in how high the animal will score in the trophy books than in having a real hunting trip.
Ranch hunting, in itself, is not bad when ranches are surrounded by the usual 4-strand bob-wire fences. The game can wander at will, jumping, crawling under, or through, the fence, and migrate naturally. If the hunting pressure gets to be too much, they can just wander over to another area to escape it. And, on most ranches, the deer and elk are not fed continually to keep them hanging around. But, beware of booking a high-fence hunt regardless of how many acres are supposed to be inside the area. You are probably going shooting instead of hunting. And, believe me, there is a big difference.
I don’t have an issue with hunting on private land; it can be a real hunting challenge. But I’ll pass on shooting behind a high fence, thank you.
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