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June 27, 2007

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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.


Matt Mallery

What an idiot!. High fence hunting, game ranches, etc are a disgrace to hunting and terrible for the ecosystem.


I respect what Ted does for the american shooter and hunter. He does dedicate a large portion of his time and energies to these causes. It doesn't hurt that he makes a nice living from them as well. Ted's American dream works for him.

For the average hunter/shooter, the ability to pursue these sports are dwindling @ an ever increasing rate. Private land is being locked up in leases, gun ranges are disappearing and hunters are aging.

Without the average Joe, hunting and shooting will all but disappear in this country.

Then the high fence, crossbow, in-line muzzleloader, black rifle debates will be pointless, because there will be no one to care.

Hal Herring

I much appreciate Mr. Nugent’s contribution here, and I enjoyed our exchange. I have a lot of respect for what he's done as a musician and for hunting. However I don’t want to be a party to misleading readers.
From Mr. Nugent's interview:
"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."
That’s an utterly false statement. F&S covered the Buckhorn Flats CWD infection last month--where the game farm owner kept stalling Wisconsin wildlife and ag officials--selling hunts from an enclosure that showed "shooter buck" after "shooter buck" to be infected with the disease, which has cost wildlife officials millions of dollars of public money to try and address- and then of course, someone cut the fence at buckhorn flats and let the rest of the deer free...in the "breeding enclosure, officials finally liquidated the herd and found 60 of 76 does infected with CWD.
Look at the shipments of infected domestic elk across the west in the past ten years, hundreds of them, shooter bulls killed in Colorado and found to be infected. Look at the bovine TB epidemic that occurred on Canadian game farms in the 90's. The ‘gubmint” did it? Give me a break.
And to say that all opponents of game farm trophy shooting are "small minded" -- what do you think Teddy Roosevelt would have said to Mr. Nugent about that? We may live in a time where public figures can say things that are not true, express opinions that are based in wishful thinking or emotion, and express them so loudly, and with such certainty and in- your- face aggression, that those opinions overwhelm the thoughts and efforts of more thoughtful and intelligent people, but that does not give those opinions any more truth or validity. You can call a cow's tail a leg, and shout all day that a cow has five legs. You can ridicule the people who question that, call ‘em names, question their loyalty to the group, use all the old tricks, - that cow still only has four legs, little buddy.
The high fence debate is not going to be won by who yells the loudest.
Hal Herring


sorry ted. simply cannot agree. a high-fenced animal is still captive, whether it is on five acres or five hundred. a captive elk cannot change zip codes when shot at like a free range animal could.


well, whattya know... you ask an owner of a high fence ranch what he thinks about high fence hunting and he nearly explodes with desire to tell you how great it is!



I believe the questions put to Mr. Nugent were fair. In spite of his over the top reaction (don't shoot the messenger Ted ), I see no 'hidden agenda'by the writer.

The privatization of hunting land is a return to the European model, and high fence hunting is the ultimate example of this trend in America. Federal public lands are increasingly being 'protected' by Wilderness designations from California to Virginia promoted by enviro groups. Wilderness policy greatly restricts hunter (and angler) access unless one owns a horse or cares to drag a deer out a couple miles on foot.

Hunting for the average income American is being priced out of reach on private lands, and public lands are slowly but surely becoming less accessible, especially for older hunters, women or young people who may not care to or be able to walk for miles.

I believe Mr. Nugent is missing or sidestepping these points in the interview. He missed a great opportunity to speak out on behalf of 'average' hunters.


Dave Darby

Wow! You guys are on a roll this year killing all the heros. First Zumbo, now Nugent. Good thing we have F&S and Outdoor Life to tell how to think!


While I like the majority of Nugent's comments, I find his rationalization for "high-fence" hunting to rank right up there with the pillaging of treasures by ol' Hearst simply because "I got the money to do it". Go to any Sports Expo and look at the prices of guided hunts. Many average hunters are already priced out. However, does "high-fence" hunting differ that much from state Fish & Game Depts stocking farm/ hatchery raised fish into lakes, streams and ponds to justify the cost of licenses?

Bob P.

I agree with Ted 100%. I too am a hunter. When the opportunity arises to hunt, I hunt. High fence hunting doesnt necessarily mean shooting a deer in a 10' x 10" cage. I think what truly does bother me more than anything here, is the direction Field & Stream is beginning to take. Recently, F&S took a hard line, liberalistic ideological stance against another great hunter and outdoorsman, Jim Zumbo. In reality, Mr. Zumbo, like Ted Nuggent, gave their opinion. F&S reacted to Mr. Zumbo by firing him! Since F&S has decided they are in the publishing business to dictate what they feel is fact, (which I call sensorship), are they going to continue this trend in all facets of hunting and fising? Next they will disgaree with Craig Boddington on which is the best Cape Buffalo gun, and sensor him! Just to let the liberal fringe at F&S know,I will not be renewing my subscription after this one runs out. If I want socialistic sensorship in what I can and cannot read or hear, I will simply tune in to CNN. We dont need another left wing, closed minded group of facists telling us what is right and wrong, according to their narrow minded beliefs. Get a life F&S, it is people like Jim Zumbo and Ted Nuggent that made your magazine great. Not your own limited experiences.


Hey Bob, I'm a bit curious ... what exactly did F&S do to Zumbo? Other than have Petzal defend the man's right to free speech after Outdoor Life fired him for saying negative things about black rifles?


This is all about people jealous of others who will not purchase their own property or prepare good habitat. I think the problem is that people who are against high fence because they want to have the benefit of the land owner who is providing quality habitat for his land by food plots and keeping people out to reduce stress on the wildlife. I am constantly having to run poachers off of our farm, they come onto our land and scout then wait until we are gone and come in and shoot anything that moves. They have even started driving through our property on their ATVs to drive the deer on to the neighboring property where they’re friend or relatives are waiting to shoot them. I have been in my blind and had people park their trucks on the road and walk in right where I am set up, no orange vest, like they own the place and start arguing with me that they have permission to be there. I should put up a high fence to keep people out! It’s my farm, I paid for, my food plots I planted my habitat I set aside from agriculture. People want to steal what I have developed, because they are too lazy or unwilling to pay the price to their own place. People always want something good without having to pay for it, there is nothing in our constitution guaranteeing that. I think anyone who owns private property should get to do what they want, if high fence is causing CWD then who cares the animals are all in the enclosures anyway it’s their problem. If you can’t afford it on your own get your friends and family together and buy it collectively.

God bless America,


It seems to me that the non-hunters would be happy to have enclosed hunting. That way all their wild animals would have a better chance of survival. I agree with the comment about asking a kennel owner if it is good for the dogs. Or a hog farm owner if it stinks. You get my drift? I am a hunter/angler and am very glad to live in a free country. One where I can pursue wild game as my ancestors did to help establish this great nation. Or, if I could afford it, use my one week off a year and go to a place where I could be sure of bagging something.
My point is, I Have A Choice! If I have to ask my neighbor if I can hunt this place or that, then I don't have the freedom of choice.

Gary Tompkins

I've hunted both wild Alaska with no guide and fenced operations in Florida. For deer, we lease 1600 acreas in SC. To me, hunting is hunting. I do agree with Ted, the pressure put on animals has a dramatic effect on how difficult it is to kill an animal. If you want difficult, try public land in SC. Our deer season goes from Aug. 15 to Jan 1 with a four deer per day limit. These deer are shy. Yet, in Alaska, some of the caribou literally walked through the camp.

To sum it all up, do what you feel is right; and let the other people do what is legal and they feel is ethical. We need to support all hunting and all methods of hunting. We must stick together.

Mike Moyer

I back Ted in all he said 100%, no one should back down from this issue and he is right. We need to stop helpping the Anti hunting world and help our own hunting world. Its just a choice and no one makes you hunt, it is our God given right to do so.

God bless Ted
Mike Moyer


I agree with Ted about 85%. I know of high fence areas that are over 6000 acres and some that are only a few hundred. Each are a different as night and day. The larger try every thing in their power to keep the animal population in check to help stop the spread of CWD. They have hunts of all kind, Trophy paid hunts to free hunts for their employees and families to shot the smaller buck and over populated doe. Whatever is needed to maintain a healthy herd. And believe me, if these animals smell, hear or see you, they are gone as far away as they can get. Much like an animal in the wild. It is the smaller operations that over populate there herd so they can shot as many animals as possible to make as much money as possible that is hurting this business. I drove by one such small operation one evening and saw a very nice 12 point standing inside a fenced in area of approximately 100 feet by 100 feet. Two days later this deer was on the front page of the sports section of the local newspaper. "Dr. so and so" harvests another trophy. Ted is right and Ted is wrong. There are good and bad. If we the people don't take a stand, the only people that will be hunting is the rich and famous. But I think that is many years away.


Tom and Evan I couldn't agree with your posts more. I still like Ted and he does do a lot for hunting and hunters rights but there are times like this that the "polititian" comes seeping out instead of the guy driving to the U.P. in his Bronco with the zebra paint job, called by the "spirit of the WILD", I don't think Fred Bear ever hunted inside a high fence even when he was 80, right?

Connie Miller

God, Guns and Rock and Roll, Ted!!! You said it RIGHT! It is what is and no one fools themselves when going "hunting" in a high fence. I do it for meat, along with spending time with family and friends, period! Overcrowding on public lands and the adventure to do something different calls me north to upper Michigan to shoot a Russian Boar (with bow, mind you). The price is right and the meat is great. I'm far from rich to own 100's of acres but the 10 acres I do have brings home the vension. Oh, by the way I hunt pheasant game farms too. ALOT less hunting pressure and I bring home meat. I guess some people only go after big racks and getting thier name in some kind of record book.


To Ted,

I know, as though he would care even if he did read this blog. But I will be going home to burn my copy of ''Kill it & Grill It''.
I liked the book because of its creative, somewhat ludicrous writing and the recipes were top notch. But he has major issues.

One. He is far too arrogant in his approach to debating those that would take our hunting from us.

''Supply and demand, free choice, private property rights, good old American capitalism and entrepreneurialism are beautiful things''

Women and minorities would not have the right to vote, african americans would still be slaves, etc. etc. etc.

YOUR ARROGANT, ELITIST ATTITUDE SUCKS YOU FREAKING OVERPAYED OVERUSED BRAGGART. See, I can throw together a bunch a crazy words to make a useless point and confuse people too. No use - no good.

I used to think I wanted you to speak for me and thought that your stances on hunting and fishing for your food was excellent. You are right about that. Our food is tainted and fresh game is the answer. But after some contemplation of your harsh words and ascertations that everyone should be doing just that - I REALIZED YOU WERE TOTALLY OUT OF TOUCH.

I don't know of many people at all that can sustain themselves off what little land they may own. Not because of lack of ability, but lack of land and resources. Hey Ted, I hunt on gameland, not private property; and so do most folks I know. We don't have thousands of dollars to spend on land to sustain ourselves - not to mention to blow on freaking canned trophy hunts.

You are totally wrong. Please stop speaking out now. We don't want your ''help'' anymore.

Oh, one more thing...

''There will always be whiners and small-minded squawkers who overreact based on assumption and other unidentifiable presumptuous notions.''

Right...Do you even know whats coming out of your pie-hole anymore?

So anyone who disagrees with you is small minded huh?

I think you need to crank that amp up a bit DUDE, because becoming deaf and mute would be a relief for the rest of us.

Hunter & Animal Lover


what is with everybody picking on the Nuge lately?


And to all those who think the only reason some of us are against high fence hunting because we don't have the money or we are jealous.
I bet about 95% of you INHERITED YOUR LAND, from someone who inherited from someone else FROM SOMEONE WHO FREAKING STOLE IT FROM SOMEONE ELSE. YOUR BORDERS ARE FALSE AND YOUR MINDS ARE WEAK. If so you live on stolen land that you did not earn. Sorry - inheriting something might make you the LAWFUL owner, but someone may just declare manifest destiny on your axx too one day. WATCH OUT!

Finally - start listening to REASONS some of us have against some of the more debatable forms of hunting. We are trying to help, if you listened and thought before you responded with emotion alone,you might just find your way out of that rut.


I agree with the Nuge. Several questions here were loaded with assumptions and ignorant bias. It is sad to see who is in the editor's chair at F&S. Furthermore, Dave has been living in New York state for too long. I've started to get irritated by his liberal bias on many issues recently.

Damn Yankee

ted was part of a supergroup called damn yankees back in the nineties. tommy shaw (formerly of STYX) was lead vocals.

The alternative genre of music exploded with Nirvana and sadly hair metal began to die.

Hillary Clinton

Thanks for your contribution Dave!!

Mike Diehl

"People want to steal what I have developed, because they are too lazy or unwilling to pay the price to their own place."

You have not developed anything. Unless you purchased domestic deer and raised them, the deer on your land do not belong to you. If your property is not posted you deserve what you get. If it is posted, you should not be allowed to hunt public property (deer) on your posted land.


High fence hunting is for fools too bound up by their egos to realize that a true trophy is only as valuable as the amount of work it took to harvest.

If you want to kill something in a pen for fun, go ahead. Just don't call it hunting.

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