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November 22, 2006

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Discussion Topic: Should High-Fence Hunts Be Banned?

Last month, we asked if canned elk hunts should be banned. By and large, you said, “Yes.” But to be fair, though, we should hear from the other side. In this Associated Press story about North Dakota Senator Tim Mathern’s proposal to put an end to high-fence game farms in the Roughrider State, preserve owner Sally Dvirnak argues as follows:
"We're just people trying to stay on the family farm," Dvirnak said. "What frustrates me the most is that you have people who don't like it and don't agree with it who feel they have the right to dictate what someone else can and can't do. That's not America."

And Shawn Schafer, who runs a whitetail ranch says that:
". . . most hunters would not pay to shoot animals in a pen. Customers want an authentic hunting experience, which . . . is provided by most of the game farms in North Dakota."

Does any of this change your mind? Write in your comments below.


cory needham

I understand people not liking the idea of shooting pen animals but some of these farms are on thousands of acres of land That just happened to be high fenced to control the number and quality of game . These animals for the most part are all wild animals u still have to get out and hunt just like you would on unfenced land NOw at the same time these farm should be required to have a very large number of acres . To do this on 100 or 200 well that could be like shooting fish in a barrel But serveal thousand well now thats a differnt story


Its their land, let them use it how they want. If you take away the only opportunity for them to offer hunting land to make money off of, then they very well may end up selling the land, and we might have more of this 'industrialization' crap, and with housing plats squeezing in wherever they can. If it involves the humane and somewhat fair chase hunting of animals, let them do it.

John Smith

What if your favorite local lake was portioned off to private owners and partially fenced off and other areas had timed fish feeders and you were relegated to fish only around the public boat ramp where no fish would choose to live because of the feeders and fences. That is how I feel while hunting. I gave up bass fishing years ago when clowns in nascar uniforms took the lakes over and now spoiled rich landowners are taking over the woods, dividing it up, fencing it or baiting the deer to their property. I can't wait until we are like England or Europe and you can't hunt unless you are a millionairre. people complain about lack of hunting interest in our youth. We are turning it into golf and making it for the elitists by selling off public land and condoning un-fair chase and baiting of our deer herds. Why don't we take people in golf carts out to permanent stands over corn feeders........oh wait....we do that. Every TV "hunting" show is held at (insert name here) ranch where deer are farmed. This is ridiculous.

I don't see why game farms should necessarily be banned. But don't call what takes place at many of these place "hunting"--because it isn't. And don't call the people who patronize them "hunters"--because they aren't.

About 12 miles from where I live a farmer has raised Elk for years. Then, a couple of years ago, he decided he could make a ton of money by letting people come over and shoot his elk. He bought 100 acres of bare ground just down the road from his current farm. You go to his farm, pick which elk you want to "hunt" and he loads it in the trailer, takes it to the 100 acres of BARE (you know, no trees) ground with the high fence around it and lets you shoot his elk. Fine, if that is how he can make his money, so be it. But don't call it hunting. Especially since on any given day you can pull into his farm and ask to feed the elk and they eat right out of your hand. Not wild animals, so it's not hunting.

As a professional wildlife biologist in Texas, I've thought quite a bit about this common practice here. First, we are talking about two very different things. One is the "scientific" deer breeding (Being a scientist myself, I have yet to understand why it is called scientfic breeding) where people artificially breed deer based on antler characteristics and sell the genetics (often over $100,000) to people who want to place big deer on their ranch. I'm not very fond of this idea because I would have much more gratification by managing properly and seeing the results of hard work rather than buying deer. As for hunting behind high fences, I have mixed feelings. Low fences keep the animals as public property as they should be. As a hunter on one of these properties there is always at least a chance that something out of the ordinary may show up. However, I can understand the point of high fences. Many ranches here are fenced to keep deer out rather than to keep them in. With an overpopulation problem in many areas, some managers spend large amounts of money and time in beneficial habitat and harvest management to maintain good range and a healthy herd only to suck in the surrounding deer with the "vacuum effect". Subsequently, the habitat suffers, the herd suffers, and the neighbors get mad for them pulling all the deer away. Sometimes it is necessary to regulate the harvest beyond what the state can control. Harvest management isn't just for large trophies; the entire herd suffers when people just shoot anything they see. Sex ratios become skewed, age structure of the male population is altered and the fawning period is extended resulting higher fawn mortality. Also, instead of survival of the fittest, we are promoting survival of poor antler characteristics. There is a solution besides high fences though. If all surrounding landowners can work together towards common goals by regulating harvest and sound range management, the herd will benefit and hunters will benefit. That's just my two cents, well after rereading my comment it's maybe fifty cents. (Sorry about the long winded thoughts)


fences are for livestock. game animals are not livestock and should not be treated as such.


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