Sunday, October 31, 2010

North Dakota Measure 2: Watch your step, folks - it's slippery out there

A couple of days ago, I got this treat in my inbox - a link to an ad paid for by HSUS about Measure 2 in North Dakota. The HSUS says the ad features "licensed North Dakota hunters" - none of them named in the ad itself - who support a ballot measure that would effectively ban high-fence hunting in that state.

Now, whether or not these are real hunters or actors who got licenses would be fun to debate, but that's not my concern here. Nor am I about to launch into a lecture about the perils of hunters jumping into bed with HSUS, as amusing as that would be.

My concern is a disconnect I see among some hunters - embodied in Measure 2 - and how that can be exploited in the future, both in North Dakota and elsewhere. Follow me here for a little bit: Read more...
My understanding is that Measure 2 was proposed by hunters, and I get the sense that there are a fair number of hunters nationwide - or at least a very vocal group of hunters - who oppose high-fence hunting for deer, elk and exotic species. The biggest complaint is that it's not "fair chase" because the animals can never truly escape, and they're at least semi-domesticated - accustomed to human presence, which stacks the odds against them.

At its most hyperbolic, this loathing centers on an image cited by the hunters in this ad: You look at a bunch of penned animals, you pick one, it's released and you shoot it. That's pretty distasteful, especially coupled with the notion that it's some rich guy paying for a petting-zoo hunt so he can mount a head on his wall and pretend he worked for it. Don't we all hate that guy?

Personally, I've seen only one high-fence ranch, and it's not like that at all. It's 1,000 acres in brutally steep terrain, and you can have a hunt ranging from pretty damn easy to really strenuous. But animals are not released from a pen for your shooting pleasure. And honestly, I have no idea whether the norm is closer to what I've seen or the petting-zoo ranch.

How do I feel about high-fence ranches? First, I kinda have a knee-jerk Libertarian response: If you don't like it, don't do it. With more thought, I'm fine with standards about the size of the land and the treatment of the animals. And I'm definitely OK with all the record-keeping organizations putting an asterisk next to trophies killed inside fences.

The reality is that in our society, we have decided it's OK to kill animals and eat them and mount their heads and whatever else we want to do, and so long as our methods of killing don't cause extended suffering, the rest is window dressing.

But let me get to the meat of it (pun intended): I see precious little difference between high-fence ranches and clubs where you can hunt planted birds, and this is where I see a HUGE disconnect among hunters: Many who oppose high-fence ranches will support planted-bird clubs.

Why do I think they're similar when there's no fence confining the planted birds? Well, because these birds are raised in pens, they have no survival skills and if they're not shot promptly by hunters, chances are they'll be hawk food in days. Hell, these birds have less of a chance of a full and free life than do the animals at high-fence ranches - at least the one I've been to.

And if we're honest, we'll all admit hunters like both types of clubs or ranches for the same reason: For a set investment of time and money, they have much higher odds of success. The only difference is with planted-bird clubs, many hunters need such facilities to keep their hunting dogs happy and sharp. I certainly see a lot of that here in California, where our wild pheasant population is pretty anemic.

Now it's time to tie a bow on this, which requires that we look at the meat of Measure 2:

A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if the person obtains fees or other remuneration from another person for the killing or attempted killing of privately-owned big game species or exotic mammals confined in or released from any man-made enclosure designed to prevent escape.

Did you catch that phrase? Or released from. Why, my goodness, this law would apply to clubs that plant pen-raised birds if it weren't for that other phrase: Big game species or exotic mammals.

Folks, do you have any idea what that last phrase is, "big game species or exotic mammals"?

I bet you're familiar with it, because it's election season, and it's a favored whipping boy in American politics.

It's called a loophole. Maybe you thought loopholes looked really creepy or insidious, but I spent ten years covering politics for major newspapers in in three states - Virginia, Minnesota and California - and I can tell you that this is exactly what a loophole looks like. And here's why it matters:

Let's say North Dakota voters pass Measure 2. A couple years down the road, someone - no names named, here - is going to want to get rid of that loophole. Here's how the campaign ads (or testimony before the Legislature) will probably go:

In 2010, North Dakota voters wisely decided to make it illegal to hunt animals raised in or released from pens, but unfortunately, there was a loophole in the law: It applies only to big game species. Why don't other species deserve that same protection? Help us make North Dakota law more humane - extend these protections to all animals.

(Cue the weepy music.)

Perhaps you disdain slippery-slope scenarios, but they are reality in politics. Hey, in California, we legalized medical marijuana in 1996, and on Tuesday, we've got the why-not-legalize-it-all-the-way proposition on our ballot.

Here's the funny thing: I don't have a dog in this fight. I've hunted planted birds, and I'm no longer interested in it because I find the odds unfulfilling. I may do it again if it means a chance to acquire meat we need and keep my shooting sharp, but generally I'm declining these invitations.

Same goes for high fence hunting. I've kinda done it - I hunted pigs in an insecure perimeter of a high-fence ranch (in other words, they could get in and out at will), and I killed a Corsican sheep inside secure boundaries because we were planning a feast and needed more meat. But now, with four years of hunting under my belt, I crave more challenge. I want to know odds are high that I will fail because it makes success all the more sweet.

But I really don't care if other people want to hunt this way, or "shoot," as it's called at some bird clubs to dismiss any illusion of challenge. I don't care that people want and are willing to pay for different levels of challenge.

Personally, I think challenge is a spectrum, and I'm loathe to decide which hunter gets to say, "Anything easier than this is illegal; anything harder than this is OK." Good Lord, what if Tred Barta were calling these shots? Most of us would have empty freezers!

Mostly, I'm bothered by hypocrisy. "It's OK to kill birds this way, but not deer" - as if birds' lives have less value. Or their lives are less valuable because their deaths help keep our dogs sharp.

All I've got to say is this: If you're a North Dakotan, please examine your values closely before you vote; this is no time for a knee-jerk reaction. And if you live in another state, it wouldn't hurt to do the same honest self-assessment. You never know when something like this will appear on your ballot.

All right, now. You know how I feel.



UPDATE:North Dakota voters gave Measure 2 the smackdown last night - it lost 43 percent to 57 percent.
© Holly A. Heyser 2010

28 comments:

Janna said...

en though I'm a very new hunter, I've been really getting my hackles up about how much anti-hunting sentiment there is out there. I'm starting to think that just about any hunting is far ethically superior to the way animals are treated and killed in the average factory operation.

I'm not familiar with this bill (thanks for filling me in Holly) but I find it kind of disgusting that there would be a law against a slightly less challenging variety of hunting, while saying nothing about factory-farmed animals.

Just coming off my second planted-pheasant hunt (also my second hunt ever) yesterday, I'm already beginning to lose my taste for non-wild hunting. Perhaps its too early too say such a thing. But I'm so glad I've had these opportunities to hunt planted birds for the training they provided. What a shame it would be if this type of opportunity weren't allowed. But primarily, the hypocrisy just kills me when grocery stores are filled with animal products produced in god-awful animal living conditions.

Albert A Rasch said...

Holly,

As you put it, it is the typical back door ploy to do two things: elicit sympathy from an uninformed public, and divide and conquer. First its private concessions, then public hunting areas, state or national parks.

I have yet to meet or speak to anyone that has actually gone into a "High Fence" property that was dissatisfied with the experience.

There is way too much hyperbole, and not enough reason. You may remember the following discussion:
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: Game Reserves, Preserve Hunting, High Fence Hunting, What are the Facts?

I think a lot of people came to the table on that discussion with some preconceptions, and left with new ideas.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Instincts and Hunting

Barbara Baird said...

Unfortunately, thanks to the movie FARGO, it seems a lot of people think of North Dakotans as rather simple-minded halfwits and an easy target for such cosmopolitan and worldly groups as HSUS -- which, btw, if behind the campaign for Prop B in this state, which will just add more regulations to an already regulated dog breeders' market. So, great points, Holly, and voters always needs to look behind the curtain, especially these days. Does it seem like there are more outright lies, or is that just my imagination? The liars are getting worse, or we're getting more cynical?

I'll be interested in hearing Galen's point of view; since he still lives in ND, whereas I left many years ago.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

I have no problem with people who want to maintain and hunt on high-fence ranches. It's not for me, but it's their choice. It's absolutely no different than going to a farm pen and selecting which cow you want to butcher this fall. The animals have more freedom over the course of their lives and if you're going to eat meat, that should be the goal for livestock.

I guess that last point is key though. If you have a fence - are the animals behind it still wild game? I say no - but that doesn't mean they aren't still delicious.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Holly, I know this is going to disappoint you, but I agree with you down the line. We raise all kinds of animals for food, in all kinds of ways, and it is our obligation to treat them decently while they're alive and do our best to give them a humane death. Everything else is, as you point out, window dressing.

If we see it the same way, it must be true.

Matt said...

This is a tough one. I agree with hunter's rights to a rediculous degree, but I'm not sure I agree with protecting the rights to hunt pen raised animals. I've hunted my whole life and have always prided myself on the fact that I've never accepted an invitation to hunt pheasant on any of the many farms in the area. I just really can't see how someone can call it hunting when you are basically shooting clay pigeons with wings, that you have to have a dog to find. Fair chase? I suppose if you consider it fair chase when you sit down at a 4 star restaurant and order roasted quail. I hardly see the difference. They're both an overpriced way to get some meat and have an experience that you can't get in a grocery store.

But hey, to each his/her own. Right?

Emily said...

Holly - I find it interesting that ND has this on their ballot. Does the state of ND really offer a lot of high fence hunting for big game? You got me interested so I had to look up their state regulations for hunting and was surprised to see Big Horn and Elk tags available. For some reason, I always pictured ND as flat cold farm land. I guess Elk were prairie animals at one point in time.

Anyway, I agree with you. While high-fence hunting doesn't interested me at all, it isn't something that should be banned. And what about those who aren't able to get around in the backcountry? These types of hunts may offer an opportunity for an elderly or physically disabled individual. I'm okay with that.

Albert A Rasch said...

Matt,

Show me proof, not hearsay, not rumors, not so and so said that he heard from someone, show me PROOF that hunting behind a high fence, or any fence for that matter constitutes or indicates shooting a pen raised animal.

I get sick and tired of that tired refrain. I forget which post it was, but I mentioned that 99% of the people pissing and moaning about high-fences are really just pissed off that they don't own the property that's high fenced.

I've been on ten acre lots that you couldn't get through. I know folks that own 2400 acres. Where do you draw the line? By what moral authority do you draw a line, any line!

Instead of complaining about that guy's good fortune, perspicacity, or plain dumb luck to amass a bunch of acreage, (And bar you from ever using it...) do something about it! Write letters to Congress and tell them we need more public lands. Defend your right to be armed and to hunt. Pick up trash for the love of Pete.

I'm going to my cot... If the Tallibannanas wake me up, there will be hell to pay...

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: The High Fence Discussion Continues

NorCal Cazadora said...

Janna, welcome to my world - once I started and found out what it was really about, I started getting really pissed off about the stereotypes and outright lies.

As for how you hunt, my recommendation would be to hunt every opportunity you get right now, planted-bird or not, because your brain is hungry for practice, and if you feed it, you'll learn a lot. But if you really find yourself uncomfortable with planted birds, there's nothing wrong with declining the opportunity.

This is one of the reasons I like duck hunting: You get LOTS of opportunity with all wild birds.

Albert: I suspect most of the people who trot out the stereotypes have never been to a high-fence ranch. The one the hunters describe in this ad sounds like the one from the HSUS video - and we know how good HSUS is at finding an outlier and portraying it as the norm.

Babbs: Interesting, I hadn't thought about the HSUS perspective here as cosmopolitan vs. rural, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's something to that (in more ways than one).

What HSUS really does is look to stamp out forms of hunting in states where there isn't a long tradition of that form of hunting - it's easier to pick them off like that. That's why dove hunting went down in Michigan - they had just legalized dove hunting and no one had time to develop fondness for it.

I too am hoping Galen will weigh in.

Mike: I look at fenced animals as semidomestic. In the ranch I've been to, they do require supplementary feed because their population is above the land's carrying capacity. This means they know which trucks bring out feed.

But the animals on this ranch are pretty wild, and the owner prides himself on that. And while there are some wild hogs that were imported, the population is breeding well on its own - as pigs will do - so there are plenty of them who've had at most limited contact with people.

Tamar: Oh, I knew you'd agree on this one!

Matt: "To each his own" is key here. And I'm not ashamed of any of the invitations I've taken, because I know I'm a developing hunter, and those opportunities helped me hone my skills.

Emily: My understanding is that elk were prairie animals that were pushed into the mountains by expanding human/agricultural habitat.

And yes, a high-fence hunt can be a great opportunity for someone with limited mobility. It seems to me that whether it's with a fence or not, we like to help our young and our old by providing them with hunts they can handle.

Josh said...

That's an interesting take, and also well-put.

And though I mostly agree with your comparison between birds and mammals, I don't completely agree. Birds are different from mammals - very, very different. In fact, it would make more biological sense to say that we shouldn't hunt any mammals because we don't hunt humans, than to say we shouldn't hunt birds because we don't hunt mammals.

Animals are different, and laws that distinguish these differences for purposes of proper management are wise laws.

I'm not weighing in on the N.D. issue one way or the other, though like you, I've been swayed to more support for high-fence hunting than I'd been in the past.

NorCal Cazadora said...

The only meaningful difference I see between birds and mammals in the context of this argument is that mammals are more likely to be considered trophies. I think that plays significantly into the mindset of hunters because so many of us are disgusted by the hunter who would rather buy an easy trophy than earn a hard one. This, of course, is one of the huge problems I have with things like Measure 2 - it's like we're trying to legislate against a mindset.

Tovar said...

Good post, Holly.

Here in Vermont, we have a current high-fence debate. Whatever folks may feel about such shooting/hunting operations (I'm not keen on them myself), the main issue at stake in our local case is "public trust." The landowner has enclosed not just imported animals (elk), but also local wild animals (deer and moose). He is profiting from fees paid by shooters to kill "public wildlife resources" which the legislature has, in this case, bizarrely redefined as agricultural animals.

Privatization of wildlife is, I think, a problematic model. Eric Nuse has been active in this and I hope he'll chime in here.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Oh yeah, I've read about that issue, and I agree it's a problem. In California, landowners can get permission to sell extra tags for clients to hunt animals on their land, but I don't think they're allowed to fence them in.

The ranch here that I've been writing about has wild deer on it, but they can clear the fences no problem.

Josh said...

Holly, the differences to which I was alluding were to pain, anticipation, sense of place, size, etc. - those things that cause us pause when we consider high-fence operations.

Peebs said...

Having never hunted planted birds I accepted an offer from a club hunter that hunted Delevan with me, he was a member of a private bird club and we went out to HUNT... It wasn't hunting at all, the first bird I "destroyed" I was use to hitting birds that did anything other than fly straight and he was just a mass of feathers. My fourth bird I had to kick out of the grass and that did it for me time to go home. The birds were very good eating but I could have purched them for less than my host paid for his membership. My point is that I do not like put and take for any game nothing worse than a trout that has it's tail worn off from swimming in a cement pond. Planting to supplement a population is ok but taking of them before they have adjusted is not hunting or fishing. I'll get off my soapbox now.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Josh: I'm still not seeing it. Are you basing this on science?

Peebs: I do declare, this may be the first time I've seen you on a soapbox! Now here's my question for you: Would you make any of those things illegal? (And thanks for adding fishing - fits the same mold, for sure.)

SimplyOutdoors said...

Holly,

I have no problem with "high-fence" hunting whatsoever. I may not choose to hunt a certain way, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to prevent someone else from hunting that way.

And I think we're missing a bigger point here. What these types of legislation are really about is banning all types of hunting. On the surface, and to the general public, it appears as though someone is trying to go a "good thing" for the animals, but deep down - and any hunter who pays attention can see right through it - these types of legislation are about stopping all forms of hunting - bit, by bit, by bit.

And the sad part is that most hunters lose sight of the true goal of the legislation, fight amongst themselves, and, unknowingly, actually take a step toward hurting the very activity they love. And that plays right into the HSUS' hand.

Trust me. I saw it here in Michigan when dove hunting was on the ballot - we had the same type of ads, where "hunters" were against dove hunting - and the HSUS, and other organizations who backed the legislation, walked away with a win.

These types of ballot proposals are a smokescreen, and most hunters get lost right in the middle of them, and can't see out the other side.

Don't buy into the types of ads mentioned in this post. The people featured in them are not hunters; they are out to destroy hunting.

Please educate yourself before voting on any type of measure such as this. And, as Holly mentioned, be careful, because tucked inside these pieces of legislation, could be something that is going to put a damper on the way you hunt, without you knowing it.

Okay..my rants done!

NorCal Cazadora said...

I guess today's the day we'll find out if North Dakotans fall for it.

I understand where the hunters who oppose high-fence hunting are coming from - they have a deep sense of what's fair in hunting, and they don't see this as fair.

But I fear they're a bit myopic. Plenty of people don't see rifles as fair. Or compound bows. Or anything more than our primitive tools (despite the fact that our "primitive" ancestors were way better hunters than most of us are, and with way less gear).

I also respect the fact that they fear this kind of hunting feeds anti-hunting sentiment. I'm very cognizant of such things myself, and I'm glad they're thinking about it. But I think the reason it feeds anti-hunting sentiment is that HSUS relentlessly trots out the "pick your animal, release it, corner it in a fence, shoot it" scenario (and yes, there's a video). Any normal human would find that repugnant. I think far, far fewer people would be bothered by the high-fence ranch I've seen.

All I've got to say is this: If Measure 2 passes, I'm starting a pool on how long it takes for someone to "close the loophole" in Measure 2.

sportingdays said...

Fascinating how the HSUS picks its battles carefully and values those incremental victories. I'm not sure that measure would fly even in South Dakota, where pheasant hunting is commercialized to such a degree that the big pheasant lodges have to supplement the wild birds with pen-raised birds to make sure all of their guests get consistently good shooting throughout the season. The "hunting" of semi-domesticated buffalo on ranches in South Dakota is also a good business from what I understand.

I have a hard time defending high fence ranches, trophy hunting and bird clubs to other hunters at times, let alone to non-hunters. I will add that most of the disparaging remarks you hear about bird clubs today almost always come from hunters who don’t own hunting dogs of one breed or another. Raise a bird dog from puppyhood, fall in love with it, and spend countless hours and countless dollars training and helping the dog reach its full potential and you tend to feel differently about places that offer hundreds and thousands of acres of open space where you can walk unmolested with a shotgun and your bird dog for six months out of the year.

It's very difficult in this day and age for most working-class hunters to find enough wild birds to help an upland hunting dog reach its full potential.

Unwittingly perhaps, I think bird clubs have become increasingly important bastions of hunting culture. They generally promote good values such as sportsmanship, hunter safety and conservation.

They are very welcoming of families, particularly of women and children. I see many more women and girls hunting on bird clubs than in any other setting. Here we are in the 21st century and yet many California duck clubs ban women members and guests – even prohibiting the daughters of their own members from hunting. Public hunting grounds, unfortunately, can be intimidating, threatening and downright appalling. I cleaned up two plastic grocery bags worth of spent shells and garbage in the public duck blind I hunted last weekend – only two weeks into the California duck season. I’ve never seen such trash on a well-run bird club.

Bird clubs are accessible -- both geographically and financially -- to many more hunters in a way high fence and similar big-game operations are not.

Certainly, they are not for everyone, but I do think they contribute to the greater hunting good. They provide friendly, safe, close-to-home opportunities for new hunters starting out and they keep many people hunting who would otherwise leave the activity –- cutting our numbers even further, diminishing what little political clout we have left and reducing the amount of money spent on licenses, gear, guns, ammo and, ultimately, habitat and conservation. They also maintain an interest in upland birds, which can ultimately benefit their wild brethren.

As for the hunting experience, you can can have as easy or as challenging an experience as you'd like. No one should ever mistake it for wild bird hunting. But if you visit the local bird club at, say, 2 p.m. after most hunters have cleared the fields, hike the club's outer perimeter carrying a .410 or a sweet little 28 gauge and following your favorite hunting dog, you'll have a pretty enjoyable experience.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Sportingdays, I'm so glad you weighed in, because you make a lot of valid points, including the fact that - like the high-fence ranch I mentioned - planted-bird hunts can provide way more challenge than the kick-em-to-make-em-fly experience if you know how to approach it.

And the arguments you mention are precisely why I will defend the presence of such clubs even though I'm no longer interested in those kinds of hunts.

And yes, if we ever get an upland dog, I know we'll pretty much have to join such a club, or partake of such hunts frequently, because you need to to keep the dog sharp and supplement the more limited experience you can get in California with wild birds.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Oh yeah, and in early reporting (eight of 505 precincts), Measure 2 is losing - 52 percent no, 46 percent yes. If you're interested in following this, click here and keep an eye on the second ballot measure.

Peebs said...

No I would never pass or vote to pass a law that might limit someone from having sportingday's experiance or give Janna a chance to learn her skills in a better place than grancentral at Delevan. Things are a lot different now than when I started hunting I use to walk down to the Russan river through town with my shotgun over my sholder I think you can guess what would happen now. I think my objection for lack of a better word was moral which is kind of silley I don't object to eating a burger and those aminals are rased to die so we can eat.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Final results are in: Measure 2 loses 43-57 percent. Bye-bye, HSUS!

And Peebs, I understand it being a moral thing, and I don't know that I have a better word. Maybe it's easiest just to say, "It's not for me."

And how I envy you, having been able to walk down the Russian River with a gun. Opportunity is way more limited now. And it seems to me that one thing the clubs do is cater to people like me: urban people who can't just walk out the back door with a gun, or drive down the street to a friend's ranch to hunt.

Pay-to-hunt means we know we have a place to hunt, which is sad, but if that's what it takes to keep urban people in the game, then so be it. If hunting's future lies with the rural population, I think we know what that future is.

mdmnm said...

Well, a bit late, but I'll weigh in on the other side. I think that the few bad apples in the high fence barrel can spoil matters for all hunters. Albert- google "Kirt Darner" and you'll see an example of such a bad apple. There are plenty of perfectly ethical high fence operations, but to dismiss all attacks on them as mere anti hunting sentiment is a mistake, I think.

As to another problem with high fence ranches, not only is there the public trust issue mentioned by Tovar, but the very real problem of chronic wasting disease, which seems to be much worse in captive bred deer and elk, yet passed to animals outside the fences fairly easily.

Of course, all a moot point, now.

Tovar said...

mdmnm: I think you're right. Most people I've heard talk about high-fence or captive-shoot operations find the idea of them unpalatable. Maybe the examples that come to mind for them (and for me) are the extreme "bad apples," but that's also true for hunting in general. I think hunters need to be willing to take ethical stands against at least some forms of captive-shooting operations, as against the worst forms of hunter behavior.

I understand the fear that hunters will be divided and conquered. But the other extreme--of circling the wagons and defending anything and everything that calls itself "hunting--is also fraught with ethical and political pitfalls. I think non-hunters and even some anti-hunters (I speak from personal experience) can relate to, or at least comprehend, hunters who spell out some kind of coherent ethics with regard to animals. They cannot relate to "anything goes."

And, yes, concerns over CWD are another important factor in the high-fence debate. It has been raised in the current Vermont case as well.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I can't think of any hunter who would defend the kind of high-fence hunt that HSUS trots out as its example of high-fence hunting - the video where a piss-poor archer fires arrow into arrow into some exotic animal at short range, trying to kill it. Poorly.

But HSUS is the master of portraying the extreme as the norm, and not only do non-hunters buy into it, but some hunters do as well, and I refuse to bend over just because HSUS has done a good job of PR.

Take the bear hunting debate: HSUS is fighting bear hunting in several states, and in EVERY SINGLE statement, press release or quote they put out, it's always "the trophy hunting of bears." New Jersey wants a trophy hunt. California wants to expand trophy hunting. It's just bullshit. Yes, there are trophy hunters, but is every single hunter in the field hunting just for trophy? No. But the media picks up the quote, and all the people who don't hunt just absorb it as fact.

The right-to-hunt-and-fish amendment on the ballot this week in Arizona? HSUS said it was the "trophy-hunting interests" that wanted it = never mind that that's not what most hunters hunt for. Never mind that the NRA was behind it, which is a group of gun-nuts, not trophy-nuts.

I'm not going to let HSUS define what I do as bad and then say, "Aw, you're right, this is bad, I'm going to stop doing it." I think it's just as important to call bullshit on that as it is to criticize poor hunter behavior - in the end, it is just as damaging.

Tovar said...

If you haven't seen it, you'll want to check out Ted Williams's recent revisiting of the canned hunt issue in Audubon: http://audubonmagazine.org/incite/incite1011.html

Albert A Rasch said...

Hmmmm...

I suppose that in principal I do not disagree with Tovar and the others with respect to the potential unpalatability of some high fence or put and take operations. My objection to banning high fence is simply one of liberty, private property, and the libertarian ideals.

There are 2450 acres available near my home in Florida. If I was ever to win a gigantic lottery, (Doubtful as I never buy lottery tickets...) I would buy that place and high fence it so fast, that birds would not have time to adjust their flight paths.

Then I would manage that property on permacultural principles, which would include the wild game on it. Now I understand that the game animals would be held in public trust. But guess what, the public has no access to the property.

As the owner I have the RIGHT to forbid or grant access. And that is all there is to it. Everything else is moot. There is nothing left to discuss after that. Zip. Zero. Nada.

The only solution then is for the government to purchase that land and make it available for public access. It would be THREE times larger than the next closest state park!

But I guarantee that I would be a better steward than the state. But with that comes the fact that access would be limited to those that I chose to invite.

And THERE my friends is the crux of the issue as I see it. The real problem is one of access.

There is something else afoot also, and Sporting Days alluded to it. As a society, we have lost much of the ethics and morality that permeated our actions both at home and in the field. Take any of the examples of greed, poaching, trespassing, vandalism, or plain disrespectful and irresponsible behaviors, that are exhibited now-a-days makes those that have, not want to risk what they have in order to give to those that don't.

Again, I think the solution is more access.

Hey I just had an idea! How about licensed access? If you can pass a structured course on shooting, game management, environmental care, conservation, then you can use the public land.

Oh... I see the problem. Someone will complain that it's not fair to have to study and be held accountable...

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: Instincts and Hunting