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High Fence vs. Free Range Hunts

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High Fence vs. Free Range Hunts

Old 01-17-2018, 09:40 AM
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Default High Fence vs. Free Range Hunts

Now I know this will probably create some controversy and I know it's been a topic discussed previously, but I thought I throw out some food for thought.

First of all, I don't have the money or the interest in a high fence hunt but some people do or high fence operations wouldn't be around. They made them illegal a few years ago here in Montana.

I'd never thought too much about them and like most people my impression was that it would be like shooting a prize bull in a pasture, but I happened to be on a caribou hunt a few years back with a wonderful old fellow who had hunted all over the world. He'd hunted caribou 9 times and his trophy room was 16,000 square feet (to give you an idea of his experience). He was 80 years old at the time and over the course of the hunt we visited a lot about the different hunts he'd been on and somehow or another the topic of high fence hunts came up. He said he'd been on a few and here's what he said he'd learned about whitetail High Fence Hunts. Keep in mind that they are not all the same, but this is what he told me about the ones he's researched.

In the high fence operations he researched, the fawns are separated at birth. The doe fawns are bottle fed and raised up so that they are relatively tame so they can be handled more easily. All are artificially inseminated. The buck fawns are put in separate pastures based on age....1.5 year old are together, 2.5 year olds are kept together, etc. As soon as the antlers are fully developed they are sawed off the first two years so that the bucks do not injure each other fighting, etc.. Human contact with the bucks is kept at a minimum so that they do not become tame. When they are 3 years old, they are released into the preserve several months before they are hunted. Within a couple of weeks, they revert back to how a buck in the wild behaves.

By fall, they act like any normal buck in the wild. Many are never seen during daylight hours and many are not even caught on trail cams. Some preserves use corn, etc. to lure the bucks out but others do not.

Some high fence operations are several thousand acres in size, while others are much smaller. One operation in Texas has 30 miles of fencing to maintain. Deer do escape... Many in the south have hogs and the hogs are continually rooting around and breaking the fences created holes were deer can escape also.

The gentleman who was telling me all of this said he hunted one high fence preserve for a specific buck they knew was on the property, but he never laid eyes on it.

As we all know, these hunts are not cheap. Most charge according to the size of the buck killed but some do not... Some charge a flat rate and you can shoot any size buck you find... Prices range from about $7,500 on up...

So, the question is why would anyone pay to hunt a high fence preserve? Other than the gentleman I have mentioned, I've never talked with anyone who has hunted a high fence preserve, so I'm not sure. This gentleman said he was curious about how a preserve hunt would be compared to a free range hunt. He obviously had the money!!! He said it was fun...much different than he'd envisioned it would be. I asked him if he'd done others and he said a couple, but he much preferred hunting free range game. When I met him he had 16 hunts scheduled around the world that year..5 of them in Manitoba. After our Caribou hunt we dropped him off at another camp for moose and then he was hunting whitetails there later in the fall and geese and he had a spring bear hunt planned!!!! What a life!!!

Most hunters frown on High Fence operations, but my guess is that 99,9% have never even visited one say nothing about hunt on one. Leasing and buying land specifically for hunting has become the big thing these days.... Is leasing or buying land, planting food plots in the middle specifically designed to grow large bucks and keep them on the property really that much different than a high fence operation? Bucks are basically grown up until they are fully mature until they are on the "Hit List". I'm just tossing that out there for food for thought...

Hunters these days travel all over the country, Canada, etc. in search of a large buck. Everyone seems to want to kill something bigger, and bigger, and bigger......Probably the reason high fence operations exist. I know a guy back east who traveled to Saskatchewan 4 times looking for "the big one" and never shot anything bigger than a 130" buck and he probably spent well over $20,000 by the time it was all said and done. Did he have fun trying? I really don't think so.. He sat in a ground blind from daylight till dark every day and froze his butt off... Not my idea of fun!!!

For me, I'll continue to hunt right here around home. I may travel to another state or to Canada to hunt deer, but probably not. We have good bucks, but generally speaking we don't have huge bucks. I don't have much interest in hunting Muleys because quite frankly they are no challenge at all... Many will disagree, but I see thousands of them each year and they just aren't anything that I find to be much of a challenge. For those who choose to hunt a high fence area, lease land and plant food plots, etc., go for it...... Any kind of hunting is better than watching tv, playing video games, etc. It's all about getting outdoors and enjoying ourselves and NOT judging each other.

Time for my daily walk.... Have a good one!!!
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Old 01-17-2018, 10:31 AM
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My opinion is if the animal is in captivity you are farming not hunting. I don't have a problem with farming or hunting but they are 2 different things.

As Ive said many times...Ive raised,killed and ate many animals in captivity. I don't have a problem with it I just never called it hunting.

Last edited by rockport; 01-17-2018 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 01-17-2018, 11:34 AM
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Your friend sounds like an elitist, so many hunts each year, he is not a hunter, he is a shooter, with all of these hunts lined up how in the world could he possibly scout out his own stands and deer ?????? on my one and only outfitted hunt in arctic circle quebec for caribou, I met a gentleman from Michigan, who stated he has hunted with rifle only for years, , shot much game. after we took out allotted caribou we had a couple of days to enjoy the country so we walked and explored, he followed me like a puppy, I finally asked him why, he said he would be lost with somebody guiding him, he had never hunted alone, or hunted animals on his own. He was I believe in his early 60,s He is another shooter, not a hunter !
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Old 01-17-2018, 11:40 AM
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For white tail I don't think I would do it but for some of the other game if I had the money I wouldn't mind. I've always wanted to get after a black buck, axis or fallow deer and don't have near the money to travel the world looking for them. The only thing is I would still want it to be a challenge and not just a "canned" hunt.

Now as far as those muleys go we may need to talk....lol Down here in Oklahoma I have seen 1 buck way off on private land and maybe 6 doe at different times in my 24 years of hunting lol. A muley is right up at the top of my bucket list along with a bear.
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:22 PM
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Y'all do as you wish. High fence hunting is legal but I'm not gonna do it. I'd rather eat tag stew than allow an animal from a high fence to pollute my game pole. As always, feel free to disagree. It is, after all, a free country.
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by kellyguinn View Post
I've always wanted to get after a black buck, axis or fallow deer and don't have near the money to travel the world looking for them. The only thing is I would still want it to be a challenge and not just a "canned" hunt.
You can get black buck, axis and fallow on free range low fence hunts all over TX. Not all of them are behind high fences.
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:33 PM
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To each his own. If it’s legal and your ok with it, then go for it. As a rule, high fence hunting is not for me. I like the chase and the ability for the critter to elude me, which is what usually happens. I know this can happen behind a fence but it doesn’t seem the same.

With that said, I really want to take a Bison. Free range doesn’t seem to be an option as I don’t think I would ever draw a tag. Such a dilemma . . .
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by flags View Post
You can get black buck, axis and fallow on free range low fence hunts all over TX. Not all of them are behind high fences.
I would much rather do that than a high fence. Truthfully I just can't get myself to put the money down on either but if I had spare cash I may have to look into them free ranging down there.
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Old 01-17-2018, 02:09 PM
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My hunting is the converse of hunting all over the map for specific animals. I hunt a relatively small area. I have access to 3300 hectares, I hunt maybe a third of that.

My thing is trying to know all the game in my chosen area. I've even seen the same Mouse multiple mornings. I know most of the Deer on my lease, have most of the Fox dens mapped, know where the Badgers are. Where the Ducks nest, where the Rabbit warrens are, where the Hare and Pheasant hang out. I even know where many wild plants are likely to be found. Micro instead of macro.

I figure I have some of the knowledge of a hunter gatherer. Though it is likely much of the knowledge has been lost over the centuries.

I also hunt the edges and leave the game in the center alone. Kind of like early settlers would hunt, away from the cabin so there was game close when/if the hard times hit.

I've hunted high fence, here it was more a social gathering than a hunt. A bunch of high rollers and aristocracy would hunt high fence. On one side their time is valuable and they just don't have the time to invest in doing it another way. It is almost like theater, they dress the dress, follow the old traditions and brag a little about their successes on the hunt. One thing I did notice, most of them are what I call city dead, their senses aren't attuned to their surroundings. They often have game underfoot and don't see it, hear it or sense it. Many times I've waited, waited and waited until whatever is almost out of range trying to give the other guy the shot before I'd shoot.
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Old 01-17-2018, 02:22 PM
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finding any bull Elk worth shooting on public land ,takes a great deal of research and actually hunting the area you selected too hunt, this usually takes several days of intense scouting, a good deal of knowledge of the terrain, knowledge of the basics of how elk react to hunting pressure, accurate terrain maps, and your ability too shoot accurately from field positions, you obviously have options,where youll hunt what you consider a trophy, and licence costs, guide fees, etc.
Ill point out that theres free range public land hunts in national forest and BLM land and there are private land hunts on open ranches with private land , if youve ever hunted on public land youll have probably looked up the success ratios and found that its generally in the 15%-20% range in most open to the public areas.
professionally guided hunts on private ranches, or areas that require a lottery/draw tag can easily , boost the odds to over 50%
a few years ago one of the guys in our elk hunting club who had only taken one elk, in 4 years of hunting public land decided he wanted to take a guided hunt that guaranteed he would get at least one good chance at a decent 4x4 or better elk.
they charged him at the time about $4K for a 3 day hunt, with a personal guide.
he drove out with a buddy too Montana from Florida, only after he arrived did he find out that guided hunt was on a large ranch and the elk were in a 6000 plus acre enclosed area. (at no time was the fact the hunted area was fenced disclosed during several sales and contract discussions.......since he had already paid in full up front he decided to hunt, the guy he drove out with demanded a refund but the guy running the operation would only return 75% of his down payment ( he had sent 50% down and was to pay off the rest on arrival, ) as that was outlined several times in the contract
he stated he only saw the fence around one part of the area in the three days of hunting and he shot a 4x5 bull that while not a record was impressive.
he felt he had gotten his moneys worth, his partner stayed at the ranch and was totally pissed off, but did not throw a fit like some people I'm sure would have.
I think the lesson learned here is that before you book a hunt youll want to ask pointed detailed questions and ask for 5-6 previous hunters phone numbers to check out their opinions. and yes read the contract carefully

Last edited by hardcastonly; 01-17-2018 at 02:55 PM.
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