Pen hunting. What are your thoughts on this type of hunting? Before I started this column, I wasn’t really sure what category to put this under. But as I go along, I am sure you will see why I chose “How To”.
There are many pros and cons we can all add to this subject matter. The places that advertise “fair chase” will argue with you all day about it. Fair chase for the animal is usually defined as “nothing can restrict the animal’s movement and travel plans”. In other words, the prey can run forever if it wanted. Pen hunting is quite different. Usually you have a fence around five or more acres, thus restricting the animal’s movement and travel routes.
Okay, lets look at some pros for pen hunting. Number one is you know what you’re hunting for, and you know it’s there. You have a set price for the animal you want to harvest, and the odds are in your favor for a good success rate. So if you have a tight budget, you will most likely spend your money well. Some places don’t charge you if you fail to harvest an animal. Basically you are food shopping, but this time your shopping list and trip will be a fun time!
To compare, let’s look at some pros for fair chase hunting. Fair chase hunting basically gives you the satisfaction of knowing you did everything right when you harvested your animal: all your hard work and scouting paid off. Some just say all the stars were in alignment (haha), I personally believe God blessed me. Out of this whole planet, you had the animal you were hunting for right in front of you, and you finished the job. No better feeling!
Let’s look at some cons for pen hunting. I personally have been on one pen hunting trip. I had a blast! The food at the lodge was outstanding. The staff was very pleasant, people who truly enjoyed their chosen profession. The only con I can possibly come up with is the reaction that other hunters gave me when I told them where and how I shot my animal. I can not even begin to tell you some of the harassment I got from other hunters and friends! These are the same men that go into a store and pay $15 for one steak that someone else killed and butchered. No one takes in account how much meat I put in the freezer, or the memories I made with my cousin. But, so be it.
That leaves us with the cons for fair chase. I thought of this a long time, and my opinion is the only low point to fair chase is that possibility that you’ve wasted your money and there are no guarantees that you will come home with meat. Whether you harvest anything or not, you are making memories you will never forget.
This brings us to the heart of this column. Both types of hunting have good and bad points. The point I want to get across is that they are both hunting. We need to “Stick Together” on this fact. You don’t have to like it, but don’t put it down. That’s a weak link in our hunting rights chain. PETA loves this argument! It’s a way they can worm their way in between us.
I work in a prison. One rule we have is never argue with another staff member in front of an inmate. How many hunters argue pen hunting and fair chase in front of animal activists?! It gives PETA fuel for the fight, which can be completely avoided. Pen hunting is no different than me going into my chicken coop to get a chicken for dinner. I don’t have grand children yet, but I want them to have the same opportunity to enjoy the outdoors like I have. If we stay separated in any area of hunting, it could be the demise of the sport we love. We need to be together as one in this battle. Embrace every aspect of hunting. Like it or not, be supportive. Whether you believe it or not, when you put down any aspect of hunting you’re siding with the antis. Do you want to be that man or woman?
Ken Baney is a Western States Sportsman Pro Staff member and experienced hunter and outdoorsman.