- By Rich Miller
At this exact moment I am at my hunting camp letting my can of beef stew settle before I head off to bed. I have been down here hunting this weekend chasing crazy whitetails around the woods. It has been really slow for the few days that I have been here. I have seen a few deer but nothing of size. Not only are we not seeing much deer movement, but we have not heard very many shots either. That is really unusual for the end of October with rifle season in full swing. Most of the time it sounds like a war zone from the start of rifle season to the end of November. In this particular tract of property we only have around 300 acres and it is surrounded mostly by public land and some private on one side. We try to practice quality deer management as much as possible, but the deer are small-bodied to begin with and the average buck taken is one and a half years old; you can imagine how hard it is to see a good buck.This afternoon while sitting in the stand, my mind was wandering as it usually does when I am not seeing anything. I got to thinking about a conversation that I had not too long ago. It was about the ethics of hunting in a high-fence area. I have never hunted in a high fence, but I have been able to get a tour of one and I am here to tell you that it was impressive to see the fruits of the time, labor, and especially the money that was invested in the place. The fellow I was discussing high-fence hunting with was dead set against it and didn’t agree with it at all. His complaint was that the guys hunting inside the fence were shooting big mature deer and acting like they are hunting the same deer that he was on the outside. It took me a little while to digest it and come up with a reasonable response. First of all, I somewhat agreed with him; high-fence deer are definitely not the same deer that I have been hunting. A deer in the enclosure is not going to be passed up as a basket rack six point and step across the property line only to get blasted by the neighbor. Also, the managers can keep the doe-to-buck ratio more in line with better camera surveys and stricter management practices. However, most of these enclosures are between 1,000 and 10,000 acres, and it isn’t like you just go out there and chase a monster buck around to you get him tired and shoot him. It is still hunting and after the season opens, the deer are still deer and they know they are being hunted. I think the property managers and owners know that they are not hunting the same deer that most of us are on public ground and hunting clubs. They know that they have a way better chance of seeing and shooting a monster buck in an enclosure because there are more deer in there, and they aren’t there by accident or luck. The property managers worked extremely hard, spending a lot of time and money to build the enclosure. I have gotten very frustrated with neighbors and outlaws shooting some great up-and-coming bucks that I know I passed up to so they could reach their potential. At those points, I felt like fencing everything in myself if I had the resources to do it. I understand both sides of the argument and really don’t have an opinion either way. The opinion I have is we are all in the same boat whether we like high fences or not, we all love hunting. There are people and groups in this world that would love to keep us all out of the woods if they had their choice in the matter. So as long as it is legal and everyone is obeying the rules, let’s stop arguing between each other and support hunting of any kind. If we start picking and choosing we might all one day be out of a sport that we love. What are your thoughts on high fences?