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Exclusive Interview: Ted Nugent on High Fence Hunting
F&S Contributing Editor Hal Herring sat down with Ted Nugent the other day to pick his brain on the question of high-fence hunting. The interview got a bit heated when The Nuge took issue with some of Hal's questions, calling them "loaded with assumptions and ignorant bias." Check it out below, then let us know; is this just another example of "hippie, dope-smoking antihunting 'journalism'?" What do you think of high-fence operations?
Simply put, is high fence hunting, "hunting?
Of course, if all the factors of escape and stealth are in play. Terrain, size, layout,
balanced animal populations, the very conditions that determine quality hunting
anywhere determine the quality of the experience, fenced or unfenced. The easiest deer I've ever killed were whitetails in Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota, due to these universal truisms, but lack of hunting pressure. Conversely, the most difficult deer I have yet to kill are found on my own SpiritWild Ranch in central Texas where for the last 21 days, I haven't killed jack squat. Go figure.
Does high fence hunting degrade the heritage of American hunting and the notion of fair chase, and respect for wildlife and the quarry?
There will always be whiners and small-minded squawkers who overreact based on assumption and other unidentifiable presumptuous notions. There are those small minded individuals, a lunatic fringe if you will, that think many forms of legal hunting "degrade the heritage of American hunting." To their way of thinking, in-line muzzleloaders degrade our reputation. They consider scopes on same, treestands, compound bows, crossbows, deer drives, women afield, ad nauseam, as unethical methodologies. I've heard some real doozies out there and don't know whether to laugh or cry, they are so divisive and unsophisticated. I pray they become educated.
Do you personally prefer to hunt in enclosures or in the wild?
I prefer to hunt, period, and shall more and more each year everyplace I possibly can. I am a hunter.
Does the ready availability, for a price, of "monster bucks" in high fences affect the experience of hunting in the wild for those who cannot pay, or would not, hunt a high fence preserve?
Does the "ready availability" of monster bucks on open ground in Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Texas, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Washington, or wherever they clearly flourish, change the dynamic of the overall "real" hunting experience? Of course not. Does hiring a guide in Alaska to hunt the mighty grizzly bear affect the experience? It is simply how it is, and I cannot imagine finding fault with any of it. Supply and demand, free choice, private property rights, good old American capitalism and entrepreneurialism are beautiful things.
Is high fence hunting in places like Idaho, or Colorado, where there are lots of public hunting opportunities, inappropriate? What about if the high fences block wild big game migration corridors or where domestic big game pose a disease threat to wild game herds?
Private property rights, supply and demand, freedom of choice, sustained yield and individual preference are the guiding forces in the America where I come from. Everybody knows that CWD & bovine TB are a direct result of our all-knowing government bureaucrats messing things up way back in 1967 and beyond. No believable evidence has ever been produced linking these diseases to fences.
Why do you or people that you know choose to hunt enclosed big game animals, rather than hunting in the wild? Is there a difference? In perception? in reality? (I know that you do hunt in the wild a great deal).
I gotta tell ya, your questions are loaded with assumptions and ignorant bias, almost as if you represented ABC news and its hippie dope smoking antihunting "journalists." That is quite a letdown coming from what was once a highly respected American hunting family magazine. I guide and outfit and hunt with 100s of great American hunters each fall with my Sunrize Safaris operation, and I am absolutely confident when I share with you that my hunters hunt every imaginable legal hunting we can find. We truly love it all.
I know that hunters need to stand together in the face of the anti-hunting forces. But I also see that those anti-hunting forces are given a great deal of fuel by pointing to "canned hunting" as a reason to attacks us. Do high fence operations create a public perception that hunting is just about killing, not about the experience of hunting and the conservation of wild game and wild places?
With all due respect, you don't know anyone who connects with a more or wider cross section of America in a public forum than I do each year. With my dedication to take the battle to the enemies' own trenches, I've conducted literally thousands of media interviews annually for more than 40 years; talkradio, newsradio, rock, sports, humor, everything from the BBC, Larry King and Rush Limbaugh to Howard Stern and Bob and Tom, cooking wildgame with Dana Carvey and John Ritter on Conan O'Brian and David
Letterman. In these unprecedented mass media arenas the dialog and communication has been over-the-top positive in every instance because I don't back down nor compromise my absolutist stand on hunting, fishing, trapping and the 2nd Amendment. The antis are clearly a lunatic fringe that represent the laughing stock to ma & pa America. They are out to ban all hunting, and to be gullible and unsophisticated enough to think that giving up or joining them in condemning any single hunting methodology is pathetically out of touch. I implore you to ignore them. I consider the Troy Gentry/Cubby the Bear shooting incident an anomaly, but anti-hunters will love it. Does it indicate that somewhere, high fence hunting needs to develop some standards? The embarrassing Gentry incident is remembered by no one, except Troy. I read nearly all the reports back when it happened. Not only were "fences" not mentioned, the entire incident didn't even quality as a blip on the radar. A big zero.
Is there a high fence hunting experience that you personally would feel is objectionable? A place too small? Animals too tame? Where do we draw the lines? One of my best interviews concerns the "meeting place between livestock and hunting" Any thoughts on this?
Personally objectionable, yes. Too small -- of course. Too tame -- of course. Again, I repeat, though the word "tame" has never come into play, the calmest animals I have ever hunted were free ranging whitetails in Illinois where there was near zero hunting pressure. Would I do that again? Hell yeah!
Do you feel that the many high fence operations in existence now, and the growing numbers of them, represent a "privatization" of the hunting experience, as in Europe, and does that pose a threat to the "public resource" idea of wild big game that is a cornerstone of the unique American model of wildlife restoration and conservation?
Nope. All private hunting in America whether fenced or nonfenced is controlled by private landowners. America is blessed with vast public grounds, and I do wish the hunting industry and community would put forth the proper effort to open up every square inch of majestic big game country currently owned by "we the people" instead of the vulgar anti-American corruption currently in place where soulless bureaucrats
continue to charge American tax payers to hire killers of our game where we are not allowed to utilize it properly. That should be Job One for F&S and every sporting concern in America right now.
Is this controversy over high fence hunting operations going to have a negative effect on American hunting? Will more high fence operations make hunting in the wild less attractive? Make conservation of wild lands and habitat seem less important? Will it become the norm (it seems far more accepted now than it used to be)? What are the implications of that?
No. The powerful heart of the American hunter and adventurer is alive and well in this great land. Recruitment of this instinct in our young people is the most important guarantee for the future of conservation and the environment. My own Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids and its amazing volunteers have been doing just that for 20-plus years. SCI, NRA, NWTF, RMEF, DU, Delta Waterfowl, FNAWS, 4H, FFA, National Archery in Schools programs, NSSF, NFAA, and every sporting org out there are upgrading their mentorship programs and finally reaching out to more and more young Americans outside our sporting community. It is thrilling to note that my various TV productions, Surviving Nugent, Wanted Ted Or Alive, SuperGroup, and Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild have all achieved top ratings on not only OLN, CMT, and The Outdoor Channel, but wonderfully top-rated on the anti's networks of VH1 and MTV, every show celebrating, defending my gungho hunting, fishing,trapping, shooting lifestyle.