By Duane Fronek
I see this little phrase come up from time to time. What I’m about to write might infuriate some and please others and leave others thinking about where they stand on this little phrase. My thoughts on the phrase “Fair Chase” in a nutshell is basically, has got to be the most dangerous word to outdoor men and women and our pursuits in the wild when it comes to hunting, trapping and fishing. The phrase in my opinion is probably the most responsible for hunting, trapping and fishing rights lost over the years, pitting one outdoorsmen and women against another. Simply put fair chase is basically not just a phrase but an attitude and a tool to justify ones way of doing things, while sacrificing those of another. We see it all the time when issues come up such as the use of cross bows, high fence, hunting with hounds, trapping and the list goes on. The animal rights groups love that little phrase, because they have it figured out, and know those two words are their meal ticket for pushing their agenda. Their agenda, banning all forms of hunting, trapping and fishing, period.
I’ve heard it said many times before, don’t know who the originator of it is but it goes something like this; “in order for a hunt to be fair chase, we would have to hunt with what we came into this world with, naked and our two bare hands.” And that would be true in my opinion. Animals survive with what they were born with, necessary to survive. Man on the other hand were born with a thinking brain, to solve problems to give us an edge. When it comes to hunting, we surely can’t run as fast as most animals, so man thought of ways to do the running for him, spears, bows, traps, guns etc. If we were to take a step back in time with our modern hunting equipment, we most likely would be worshipped on what we had to make our hunting more successful, that edge so to speak. Man has always used his most important weapon, his brain, when it comes to hunting, trapping and fishing. Because that’s our biggest weapon in order to survive and to equal out our physical short comings to the game we pursue.
I’ve heard so many arguments over the years on what was fair chase, things like running coons, cats or coyotes with hounds not being fair chase, or baiting is not a fair chase practice or high fence hunting isn’t real hunting, or trapping isn’t fair chase because the animal doesn’t have a running chance. To all that I say hogwash. Hunting with dogs is more than just turning dogs loose, there’s training, breeding and basically one’s way of life or way of doing things, they have a passion for it and they’ve figured a way to use man’s best friend to aid him in hunting, using the dogs as a tool. Baiting is just another form of hunting, no different in my opinion than placing out doe in heat or sitting on a corn field, your using the animals needs and instincts against them in order to gain an edge, same as just sitting on a ridge where you can see several yards and perched on the ridge with your trusty 300 mag. To reach out and touch one. It wouldn’t make much sense to sit there with a pistol or slug gun, no, we utilize the tools we have, to give us that edge. Now a deer walks up to within 40yds and you have the 300 mag in your lap are you gonna pass up the deer because he’s not 300 yds out, I don’t think so. Same with high fence, some say it’s not sporting or fair chase. Well think about this, a lot of high fence are 100’s and even 1000’s of acres, where the deer roam where ever they will in basically in the same settings as their wild counter parts, just better taken care of. there are quite a few hunters out there that don’t have the luxury of time on their side to enjoy the outdoors the way a lot of us do, their business men and women with busy schedules or locked in a city with no land they know of to hunt on or the time, but yet have a love and a passion to hunt just like the rest of us. I’ve heard it said trapping doesn’t give the animals a sporting chance, well most of that comes from those never doing it, just like I suspect with the other claims of why this or that isn’t fair chase. Trapping involves knowing your target well, well enough to put his foot on a pan or trigger no bigger than say 3”x 3” in order to get caught, you need to know their habits, what makes them tick just like pursuing any other thing like hunting or fishing.
So why condemn something or tactic another uses? Could be a number of reasons , jealousy, greed, or just plain stubbornness because that’s not how I do it. And each time we attack another’s legal way of doing things, we in essence are driving a nail in our own coffin for future use by the anti’s. Take for example your on the front lines in a war, and all the tall guys are getting killed. Everyone gets together and says, lets not use tall guys in this fight, it’ll eliminate anyone getting killed. So they do and go back into battle and now the medium height guys are getting waxed. So they have another meeting and decide, ok lets just use short guys, to prevent any further damage and fatalities. Now the enemy has the advantage of less troops in the ranks and basically over runs the troops and wins the battle. And in essence that’s what we are doing to ourselves when we start acting under the guise of fair chase. We essentially are sacrificing another’s way of doing things in order to preserve our own, but in reality we are destroying ourselves and our numbers in the ranks that allows us to be over run by the opposition..
We may not agree on everyone else’s way of hunting or pursuits, but know this, everyone of us that hunts, traps or fishes has a love and passion for what they do, just as much as the next guy or gal, even if his/her way is different than ours.. Ben Franklin once said; “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” No truer words have been spoken when this country first began, and feel those words hold true for the outdoorsmen/women of today.