I was surfing through TV Channels Monday night and spied a program on Animal Planet called, “Animal Planet Investigates: Captive Hunting Exposed.” The summary revealed that it was actually the Humane Society of the United States’ conducting the undercover investigation of captive animal hunting ranches, more commonly known as hunting preserves.
Obviously I was curious... as the saying goes, "Know thine enemy." The national Humane Society is well-known as a powerful anti-hunting advocate, second only perhaps to PETA. Don't confuse the national Humane Society with the local humane educational societies. In spite of the name confusion, there is absolutely no affiliation between the two and to my knowledge, no effort by the local folks to curtail hunting rights.
I settled in to watch and see what the Humane Society investigation revealed.
For those lacking the time, or not in the mood, to read to the end, here's the bottomline. The so-called investigation simply revealed what most sportsmen already know, and in most cases, agree with. So-called "canned hunts" have little credibility among most sportsmen. If anything, the Humane Society "investigation" actually bolstered the position of sportsmen who subscribe to the rules of "fair chase" in our hunting endeavors. Here's a few details.
The TV special was an enormous amount of overblown hype. The investigators acted as if they were taking their lives in their hands by visiting commercial "high fence" hunting preserves. In truth any Tom, Dick or Harriet can simply book a hunt and most carry along a video camera as standard practice to document their "hunt." There is absolutely no need to go "undercover" or use any "hidden cameras" or subterfuge. Anybody can buy a canned hunt and what you see is what you get.
The Humane Society investigators tried to pretend like they were doing a million dollar cocaine buy from Castro himself, and that they were literally taking their lives in their hands. That part was stupid.
What they did throughout the one-hour special which was not stupid was show how such operations are anything but "fair chase," where real, free ranging wild animals have every opportunity to avoid and elude hunters.
They visited three operations in New York and one in Texas. In every case it was ridiculously clear that the animals were basically tame. The "hunt" was akin to walking out into a cow pasture, picking out the bull you liked best, sticking a gun to its head and pulling the trigger.
In an effort to "simulate" hunting, the preserve operators placed the investigators into a blind waiting for animals to come into easy gun range as they head for a feeder ... or in some cases the animals were actually "herded" toward the hunters.
The investigators continually pointed out how the "canned hunt" was anything but fair chase... the animals were behind a high fence with no reasonable escape. The animals were totally habituated to humans and showed no fear. In some cases they showed that some animals were actually sedated.
Perhaps without intending to do so, the Humane Society investigators basically reinforced and supported the beliefs of true hunters... that the regulated pursuit of true "wild animals," in the wild, is the way it should be done. They even used interviews with hunters who denounced the "canned hunts."
Many insist that the anti-hunting groups are targeting "canned hunts" with the belief that if they can succeed in making them illegal... then it will be easier to move on to other forms of "fair chase" hunting.
In the meantime the Humane Society tells us that Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), and Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), have introduced the Sportsmanship in Hunting Act (H.R. 2210) that prohibits the interstate trade of exotic mammals for the purpose of killing them for trophies or entertainment in fenced areas smaller than 1,000 acres, and also bans remote-controlled hunting of animals offered via the Internet.
As bad as it hurts to say so, I'd have to say that I back the Humane Society on this one.
If you want to watch some of the video from the Humane Society "investigation," CLICK HERE.
If you want to respond or share your opinion, send an e-mail to Richard@ScenicCityFishing.com. Include your name, hometown and phone number (phone numbers won't be published... for potential verification purposes only). We'll add responses here.
Soddy Daisy, Tenn.
NRA Life Member
While ‘canned hunts’ aren’t really for me, I see no problem with them. It’s just harvesting an animal on a farm. Same thing that’s done on cattle, swine, chicken, turkey farms, etc. If someone wants to dispatch their own ‘farm’ meet with a gun or bow versus buying it from a butcher, what’s the problem? It isn’t necessarily ‘fair chase’ but they aren’t wild game animals either.
Pheasant farms are a great tool for dog training or for getting youngsters introduced to the sport. I even read an article once suggesting buying live chickens to let young beginner bow hunters ‘hunt’ in the back yard. They shoot the bird, clean it and grill it. Circle of life. Takes out the middle man. They can be instructed in a safe environment that they feel comfortable in before venturing off into the wild.
Bottom line: Dead animal is dead animal. Deer or buffalo or whatever, when raised on a farm to be harvested for food are not more ‘sacred’ than cows and chickens. Why should canned hunting be considered so evil?