I guess I would have to agree with Edge on this one. While there are some ranches that are really just pathetic about how small the areas you hunt in are, some I have seen are measured in the acres!!! Others have hunting areas that are several thousands of acres with herds that have been reproducing on their own for many many generations.
They are what they are and I would never say they are wild animal hunts but I have been on a couple hunts behind high fences that were as difficult if not more challanging then any fair chase hunt I have been on.
Its those that go in hunts on high fence ranches and try to claim they are public ground hunts that really tick me off. Call them what they are and we are all happy about this.
To this same point. I have a friend that has gone to Africa several times, South africa. He has gone to three differnt hunting outfits and every one had high fence hunting. The areas are roughly 1 to 2 square miles and he was told the high fence was to keep predators out. Funny thing is that in those specific areas, there are only specific game animals to hunt.
He gets pretty burred up when I tell him he is doing nothing differnet then what he would be doing down in Texas on some of the larger hunting ranches.
My problem with high fence hunting ranches is that it has given private land owners here in Montana the idea that they can charge $$$$$ for access fees and out of staters will pay it but no local hunters can or will afford it.
I acutally feel that these hunting ranches offer me as a custom rifle
builder and wildcat designer an opportunity to test my creations in a real world hunting setting and allow me to collect performance data that other wise would take years and years to get.
I do not test my products on any game until I know for a fact that they will cleanly and efficently kill any animal I shoot at, that is only fair to any animal but again, I have been on some high fence hunts that were just as difficult as any wild game hunt.
To be honest, here in Montana, if your hunting say elk and you get access to good private ground, it is pathetically easy to shoot a respectable bull elk. I have seen 500 head of elk with more then 20 mature 6 point bullets in the 300 to 375" range stand in a field and watch us as we drop by at 300 yards. Not a single elk ran even when we stopped to take a look through the binos.
The ranch by the way is owned by a rich out of stater that only lets his east coast buddies hunt there. So to say that is more difficult then some high fence hunting is silly and no more difficult then popping a prairie dog at 300 yards. Then just drive the truck out and load your bull up hole.
In Montana, at least on private ground, its more in the luck of getting permission and a permit for limited draw areas then anything. You get those two things and if your any kind of a shot at all, your tag will be punched.
I talked with a guy that went on a high fence elk hunt two falls ago. He was hunting a certain bull that the ranch owner said was a legit 425" bull. The hunting area they were in was a square mile of broken timber and draws. The guy wanted to take the bull with a bow and he has taken dozens of wild bulls all over the US with archery gear. He is a very good hunter and generally gets 6x6 every season at least.
Anyway, he had a week long hunt. First day they got into the timber and within 30 yards of the bull he wanted but the wind swirled and he blew out of the timber. They hunted him for three solid days after that and saw the bull every day but never got within 200 yards of him. Then on the last day of the hunt, the guy took out his 300 Win Mag to "end the hunt" on the big bull.
They never saw hide nor hair of the big bullet that entire day and the guy settled for a 350" bull at last light.
Two weeks later an older lady had that 425" bull walk out in front of her and she popped him with a 243!!!
My point is. Big game animals that live in an enclose area know that area every bit as well if not better then wildcat know the area they hunt in. In the back country, a bull elk may live to maturaty and never see a human. In a high fence hunting area, they play the game every day and get DAMN good at it.
Again, I am not saying I approve of everything to do with high fence hunting. I certainly do not but when done in the proper way, it can be an extremely challanging hunt.
In my opinion, if you go on a high fence hunt, just be honest with what it is and do not come off saying its a wild game hunt. If your ashamed of what your doing you should not be doing it in my opinion.
I have an elk hunt booked this fall for elk on a high fence ranch. The main reason I booked it is because We got a hell of a deal on the hunt and also because I will be able to test either my 300 AX or 338 AX on heavy game and get real world test results to offer my customers.
I will shoot a big bull, there is no doubt about that and I will never claim its a wild elk hunt because it is not in any way but from what I have heard about this ranch, I better be ready for some serious walking and possibly deep timber hunting. We will try for some longer range hunting but the owner said that does not always happen as he does not "feed" these animals, they are limited in number to the area hunted and that land supports them fully so you hunt them as you would in the wild, on water and food sources.
Anyway, enough, My only point is there is a huge spectrum of high fence ranches out there. Some should be shut down yesterday while others really offer a unique chance at a challanging hunt and often to hunt some unique game that is only able to be hunted on these ranches.
I also like hunting exotic rams and this is the only way to do it here in the US. Also a great chance to get away for some off season adventures.
Anyone that has hunted a large herd of Mouflon sheep and tried to pick out a specific ram you want on a large hunting area knows how challanging that is.
All I say is be honest with what your doing and up front about it. If its high fence hunting, come out with that from the start and no one has a right to complain, try to hide that fact and everyone will hammer you.