HIGH FENCE HATE
The age-old debate over hunting high fence ranches as opposed to low fence or free-range property is a topic of discussion amongst hunters everywhere, but to those in the Lone Star State it’s an issue as hot as the West Texas sun.
Most states offer vast amounts of public land that’s open to any hunter who has passed the required safety course and purchased the mandatory license and tags to hunt. However, in Texas almost 95% of all land is privately owned, making it extremely difficult for your average hunter to find a spot to hunt whitetail, sheep, turkey and hogs. If you’re fortunate enough to have family or friends who own land, you’re all set, but if not, you better be prepared to shell out big bucks for the big bucks. This comes in the form of an expensive lease, guided hunt, or a high fence ranch with price tags ranging from $2500 - $12000!!
Those who reside outside the state of Texas are quick to hate on hunters who choose to harvest their animals on high fence property, with the opinion it’s cheating, not true hunting, and doesn’t give the animal a fair sporting chance. What most of these people don’t understand is that the average high fence hunting ranch in Texas is well over 1000 acres and practices strict conservation and herd management. Ranch managers pride themselves on the quality of whitetail and exotics they offer and work hard growing healthy bucks that can score anywhere from 140 to well into the 200s and 300s. Lots of money, time and effort goes into raising deer of this caliber, and often times a high fence is more to keep lower class deer, illegal hunters, and predators out as opposed to “trapping” deer in just to be hunted.
While I was in college in the Texas panhandle, I had the opportunity to intern on a large ranch in Central Texas that catered to trophy hunters from across the country. Although a majority of my duties involved landscaping or general ranch chores, almost weekly I assisted in darting deer in order to tranquilize them so we could gather blood and hair for DNA registry, administer vaccinations and measure bucks for growth. Through this experience I saw first-hand the importance of putting a high fence around a ranch. It is evident that this practice is necessary to protect your investment and preserve the quality of whitetail.
A devoted hunter will travel almost anywhere in search of their dream buck or high-quality animal. No matter if it’s on public land, private land, or a high fence ranch, hunters will put in countless hours tuning bows, sighting in rifles, shooting at the local range or flinging arrows in the backyard to ensure that perfect lethal shot when the opportunity presents itself. We all spend money on camouflage, scent control, range finders, binoculars, cameras, et. Let’s be honest, we also spend much of the year scouting a particular area and researching movements patterns, preparing for those 2 or 3 weeks in the fall when we get out in the woods with the goal of putting meat in the freezer and a trophy on the wall. We all love the outdoors and hunting, so let’s stop the hating on high fence hunters and reserve it for the true cheaters. Poachers!