December 6, 2022

Indiana "Canned Hunting" Back In The News

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Most people were led to believe that canned hunting was abolished in the state of Indiana. It appears that this may be extended for another decade. The director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is now saying a compromise deal may be in the works to allow those so-called game preserves to continue operating for another ten years, at which time they must cease and desist.

This canned hunting issue has spread like a bad disease across the country and states have rushed to outlaw the practice, without much though for the future I might add. I believe that the majority of laws passed to ban hunting in preserves is only a knee-jerk reaction to a few screaming people opposed to something they know little about.

In Indiana, this story has festered for a long time. If you follow this link, this story contains what was thought to have been a resolve of the issue and it will give you a long list of previous posts about the subject.

Whether you agree or disagree that hunting preserves are right or wrong isn’t all that is involved in this matter, at least not in Indiana. Game ranches began springing up in Indiana because there were no laws prohibiting them and consequently no rules governing them either. Those opening up the ranches were led to believe they had a right to do so.

In response to reported animal abuses, the IDNR then moved quickly to pass a law saying game preserves were illegal and no more could be opened and those that were had to close immediately.

I’m glad we live in a free enterprise country. I would suppose that if we were to close down all game ranches we should also close down all private fishing ponds. This practice takes fish grown in tanks and dumps them into enclosed areas so sportsmen can fish them out. Is there much of a difference?

Some of you are going to think I’ve lost my mind and perhaps I have but hear me out before you crucify me. I’m not a proponent of hunting in certain enclosed ranches. It appears quite clearly that there was some real abuse that was going on with some of these game preserves in Indiana. This is wrong and cannot be tolerated.

If one manufacturer makes a bad product do we make all makers of that product shut down? I wouldn’t think so. If it is a matter of public safety, laws are put in place to ensure that anyone wishing to produce that product abides by certain guidelines. This is what should have been done in Indiana’s case and all across this nation.

This will come back and haunt us in the future. Banning all “canned hunts” as the opponents choose to call them is wrong. For any hunter to say that it is wrong to persue game in an enclosed area is making a broad sweeping statement that cannot be substantiated with facts.

I have hunted for decades. I hunt many of the same areas year after year. One area I go to every year for opening week of deer season, constitutes an area of a few hundred acres, perhaps as high as a thousand acres or more. It is heavily wooded mostly with several places of new and older clear-cuts. There are many old and new logging roads as well. I know there are many deer, bear, coyote, moose and an entire array of wildlife that inhabits these woods. I know this because I see the signs of their existence. During that week of hunting, often I never see any of these animals.

Drugging an animal and tying it to a stake so someone can shoot it, is not only wrong but anyone who would do this is mentally disturbed. Putting 100 game animals into a 30-acre piece of land is far from what I would consider to be ethical hunting.

There are obviously individual perceptions of what is and isn’t considered an ethical, fair-chase hunt. If guidelines are put together in a sensible manner, a game preserve can and does provide some of the most challenging hunting a hunter could find anywhere.

In Idaho, a former professional sports figure is trying to open a hunting preserve. Officials went into parts of his 1100 acre preserve to drive deer out before he enclosed it completely. After many attempts, many of the deer still remained in the area because they could escape.

The bottom line here is that I believe a hunting preserve can be regulated that would meet strict standards for eithical hunting and still provide the business person an opportunity to turn a profit. I also believe many of these preserves would provide a more ethical opportunity than what many hunters are now facing in their favorite hunting spot.

Before this can be done, we need to determine what is ethical hunting. Many questions remain unanswered when it comes to hunting. We have covered one question. Is hunting in any fenced-in area unethical? Is hunting over bait unethical? Is the utilization of food beds for game unethical? Is sitting up in a tree unethical? Is masking your scent or using buck lures unethical? Is driving deer unethical? Is using dogs unethical? Is using a scope on a rifle unethical? As you can see the list is endless.

I also believe that if we continue down the path we are headed, hunting preserves may be the main choice for those wishing to hunt. Land available to hunt on is shrinking at an alarming rate. What is ironic is those who oppose hunting because they consider it inhumane, are forcing this situation. Much of the land grabbing going on in this country is being done with money raised by those opposed to traditional forms of reacreation – hunting, fishing, trapping, etc. They buy the land and close it. As this practice continues, it gives other land owners the opportunity to charge big money for leases to other hunters. It also opens the doors for game preserves.

In time business people and hunting enthusiasts will be trying to find a way to repeal these laws being passed that ban “canned hunts”. We should stop banning them and start intelligently regulating them. But first, let’s decide what is ethical and what isn’t and that I believe is nearly an unachievable task.

Tom Remington