Canned hunts can have a number of definitions. In some
cases a "canned" hunt is merely an all inclusive hunting trip that includes
transportation, licensing arrangements, food, horses (if needed),
camping supplies and accommodations (or alternately, cabins), guide
service etc. The hunter pays an outfitter one fee and the outfitter
takes care of all arrangements. The hunter shows up and hunts.
This type of hunt is usually for free roaming native
animals and is, in all likelihood, conducted under the rules of "fair
chase", so to speak.
The more insidious type of canned hunt are those done in
these hunts, "exotic", non-native, animals are hunted in an enclosure.
These enclosures, usually called "deer proof", are 12 ft. or higher
fences. They range in size from a few hundred square feet to a few dozen
square miles. The YO ranch in Texas, one of the largest "canned hunt"
operations in the world, has 44 sq. miles in a single enclosure.
The exotic animals are raised by the operator, or
purchased from breeders
for hunting, and released in the enclosures. The animals range from the
mundane feral hogs (sometimes called "wild boars") and Spanish goats to
the more exotic blackbuck antelope, nilgai, axis deer, mouflon sheep,
etc. In most cases game laws do not apply to these "privately owned" animals and they can be hunted year round, usually without need for a
The client pays a fee for the hunt, usually by the day,
and a "trophy fee" if an animal is killed. Alternatively he may pay a
single fee for a "guaranteed" hunt. If he kills nothing he gets his
money back, and can hunt as many days as needed to get his kill. Trophy
fees range from $200 for a feral hog or Spanish goat to upwards of
$10,000 for the more exotic animals. This may or may not be in addition
to fees for food, lodging etc. Depends on the operator of the hunt.
In a canned hunt, the client is taken into the enclosure
by a guide, canned
hunts are ALWAYS guided. The guide undoubtedly knows where the animals
he seeks "hang out", but he will usually lead the client around to
unproductive areas, just to make it seem "sporting". After the requisite
walk in the brush, the client is "guided" to the area containing the
game he seeks. The client selects an animal to kill and shoots it. The
animal is then processed by the operator, cleaned, cut-up, wrapped,
frozen and packed......after pictures are taken, etc. The hunt is over
in one morning, usually.
At some of these operations a client may choose to kill
an animal that is led
directly from a barn into a small corral. In one case that I know of, a
at a canned hunt operation near Bandera, Texas, did this with a feral
He wished to kill a "wild boar" with archery equipment. The feral hog,
selected for the length of his tusks, was led into a small corral. The
client stood safely outside the corral and loosed arrows at the animal.
Over and over he shot the animal, never hitting a vital area. The animal
was tortured until the client, literally, ran out of arrows. The feral
hog was then killed by a single shot from a .44 magnum revolver the
client borrowed from the "hunt" operator. The client paid his fee of $50
for the "guaranteed" hunt, the hog was butchered, the head mounted, and
the client brags to this day of his bravery at facing a wild boar with
just a bow and arrow.
A new twist is canned hunting for "native" game. The
"Sanctuary", in central Michigan, raises trophy whitetail deer in it's
400 acre enclosure. Animals are selected for their antler development
potential, animals that don't measure up are released from the enclosure
to the wild (and hunters are supposed to reduce deer populations?) and
only the "best" are kept for the clients. These animals must be hunted
under the laws of the state for deer.....2 weeks per year, and the
hunters must have a deer license. Because of their limited season, the
"Sanctuary" is booked years in advance for hunting. Fees range upwards
of $3500 per day, but they guarantee a chance at a minimum 10 point
buck, with a minimum 20" antler spread.
That is big game canned hunting.
More common are canned bird hunts. Pre-purchased birds
quail, etc.) are placed in fields direct from small pens or crates and
hunters are released moments later to hunt the birds they paid for.
There are thousands of these clubs throughout the US and they kill
millions of birds each year. A small club I know of in Delavan, WI has
80 members and kills over 5,000 birds each year. Another, larger club,
in nearby Richmond, IL, kills over 30,000 pheasants, ducks, quail every
year. Birds that are not killed quickly succumb to the elements or
predators. "Carry over", or survival, is nonexistent.
At Richmond, ducks are also hunted. The clients are
taken to a blind on the edge of a man made pond. They are provided with
sandwiches, drinks, etc. Of course they all wear camouflage and have
their duck calls with them. The ducks they have paid for are taken to a
"launch tower" in trees on the other side of the pond. Employees of the
club then place the ducks in a spring powered mechanical launcher, and
launch them toward the hunters in the blind. After all, if they were
merely released, they may choose to fly the wrong direction. Why the
duck calls? Why, to signal the launcher when they are ready for another
duck, of course.
Fees for this hunting can be steep. Richmond charges
$3000 to join the club, an "equity" membership. It also charges a $300
annual fee which covers the client for a number of "points". Pheasants
are 10 points, for example, as are ducks. So the annual fee covers the
first 10 pheasants or ducks. Guests are charged $75 for a four hour hunt
and must buy a minimum of 4 birds at $15 each. For a guest to have the
opportunity to kill four birds costs $135. Or about $17 a pound for meat
filled with lead shot......and that is IF the client kills all his
Make no mistake. There are NO magnanimous excuses for
this type of
hunting. There is NO wildlife management, no contributions to wildlife
agencies, no experience of the animal's natural habitat, and no
to the economy of rural areas, the fees line the pocket of an operator
These "hunts" are, indeed, an atrocity.
Federal law banned the import of animals for hunting in
1973. But, of course, there are loopholes. Animals can still be captive
bred here, and animals can be imported for zoos and such. Many zoos sell
the offspring of these imported animals to auctioneers, who in turn sell
them to canned hunt operators.
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