My Take on High Fence Hunting

Marc with a great South Africa gemsbock

As a hunting consultant I get asked all the time to discuss the issue of high fence hunting with clients who have never done it before.

My opinion on this subject comes from my background and experience so let me fill you in there first. I grew up in Idaho bow hunting public land. I had heard about operations that were behind a high fence and my immediate and long term opinion of it was that it was unfair and unsportsmanlike to participate in it. I vocally threw that part of our sport under the bus with no personal experience to base it on, and I held that stance until I hunted for my first time in Africa. When I was doing my research to go, I was shocked to find out that if I was going to hunt in South Africa, high fence hunting was going to be my only choice.

I got 4 animals in 5 days on that hunt, and I blew at least 30 stalks and shot two over water. I hunted my ass off and had a blast. I walked away from that experience realizing how wrong I was, in my initial judgement of high fence hunts.”

So I figured “when in Rome”…. Now, I will tell you after attempting to sneak in on a ton of game with my bow and blowing it 95% of the time, I realized that hunting behind a high fence was nothing like I had thought it would be. The only difference I experienced between that, and free range was the density of game. In fact, I was on a property that was about 4,000 acres and the only time I saw the fence, in 5 days of hunting, was when I drove through the gate every day. I got 4 animals in 5 days on that hunt, and I blew at least 30 stalks and shot two over water. I hunted my ass off and had a blast. I walked away from that experience realizing how wrong I was, in my initial judgement of high fence hunts.

My opinion on high fence is that as long as you are on a large enough acreage and the animals aren’t “pen raised” and released the week before then all you will experience is more and better animals to try for. I think, a property becomes “big enough” at 3,000 acres in dense, hilly terrain or 5,000+ in more open terrain. The fence is a NON ISSUE accept for allowing for higher animal desity and more controlled management. If you ask me, baiting allows for a less sporting advantage, by far, than a high fence. But for some game, baiting is the only way to be successful. In the brush country of South Texas it’s the only way you’re going to shoot a good whitetail. The same is true of a black bear in Idaho. It’s pretty tough otherwise.

We work with an elk hunting operation in Colorado that is 4,800 acres under high fence and the ranch sits at 8,500 ft. elevation. There are bulls they saw this year that hadn’t been seen for over three years. And remember, they have to feed the majority of the elk on that property during the winter and STILL they didn’t see those bulls! I know of a ranch in S. Texas that has a trail camera on almost every feeder, all year long, and some bucks go years in between being caught on film. If you have been curious about high fence I’d encourage you to hunt one some time and see if you feel the same way you do now.

In conclusion high fence hunts can allow a hunter an economical and time effective way to harvest the critter of his dreams. They also allow for a child, new hunter, or someone who just can’t get around like he used to, a chance at success. It’s not very often, without a once in 10 year draw, or by writing a very big check for a private ranch, where you will ever find the animal density or trophy quality that you will find behind a high fence. All the high fence properties I send clients to meet my requirements of a true hunting experience and if you’d like to know more about them, feel free and ask. I can be reached at marc@gothunts.com.
-Marc Warnke


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