Idaho Statesman says: Thrill of hunt absent from private reserves

Shooting of penned elk by rich people, and calling it a “hunt” continues to take a hit in the Idaho media.

Here is today’s Idaho Statesman editorial against shooter operations.






  1. Boots Avatar

    THANK YOU for this topic and the link. We have communicated over the years IRT wolves… I AM a hunter as well as the editorial writer. The column was well written and gave me chills.
    Traditional hunters have problems with high fence operations for many reasons: It puts hunting in a bad light, as its NOT hunting, its shooting. The clients who partake in those hunts have lots of money and no time to wait for a tag draw, actually scout, or camp out. They fly in, take the animal and have the ranch owner handle the taxideermist and shipping.
    I would compare it to a red light district where someone needs an ego boost that only money can buy. The hunting community dislikes the former, as the married community dislikes the latter. I wont verballize the comparison but its there.
    Many people may be surprised to find that most true hunters are very conservation minded. These “farms” have the potential for harm and no potential for good for the resource.
    BTW I will be visiting your Blog format often. And can you make it possible for us to attach photos, I would like to see more of yours and others sent to you.
    Thanks Ralph

    There isn’t a way WordPress allows for people to the post their photos without me giving them some administrative privileges. I’m reluctant to do it right now as I am on the learning curve somewhere. Someone could send me a photo and ask it be posted if it is relevant to a topic, e.g., I’d love to see Rex Rammell’s elk shooting compound for myself.

    I’ll try to post more photos. Ralph Maughan

  2. Alan Gregory Avatar

    Little good has come from such “game farms” across the country, other than their owners’ profits. And certainly there is no “wildlife conservation” going on behind these farms’ fences. They are akin to any other resource extraction activity, mining the land, in this case “wildlife,” for the sake of profit and little else. Responsible, conservation-minded hunters should have nothing to do with game farms.

  3. Bruce Boxall Avatar
    Bruce Boxall

    I hear a lot about ‘conservation minded ‘ hunters. But I know that they just want to perserve land in order to kill animals over and over–and for future generations.
    To me- a hunter is a hunter is a hunter.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    To me, there are many kinds of hunters. The differences amongst them are more important to me, maybe not to others, than whether a person hunts or not

    I don’t hunt. I used to some, but I didn’t find the work of cleaning and packing the deer out worth the effort, but to someone who does all of that, I am impressed.

    That’s one reason why those who go to shooting farms, shoot an animal against a fence, have someone else clean it, more likely just mount the head, disgusts me

    They wil go back to wherever they came from and no doubt tell a tale of scouting the wilds of Idaho until they found a 6-7 point bull elk on a rocky ledge, shot it as violent storm was approaching, but they managed to get it out. It is now proudly on display at their mansion to show what a man (or maybe in some cases a women) they are.

    In fact it does show their character — shallow, phoney, think they can buy anything

    What they deserve is to have the head of cow, taken from a slaughterhouse, on their wall

  5. Boots Avatar


    My GGfather was a hunting guide for Teddy Roosevelt in ND. Before the turn of the century, many species were nearing extinction and some, actually became extinct. California Grizzlies, Passenger Pigeons, and Mirriams Elk became extinct, while Buffalo, Tule Elk, and many other species rapidly became scarce and were truly threatened if not endangered.

    TR was our first conservation President, and because of his actions, all Americans can now enjoy National Parks and wildlife in abundance. While hunting fee dollars pay the way in most cases, all Americans truly benefit by watching and photographing our wildlife resources.

    If you are a vegan, I can understand your position… However if you visit places like Taco Bell or Micky D’s you are fueling the need for beef, which competes with wildlife for habitat in the West.

  6. Kate Tyler Avatar
    Kate Tyler

    I agree with those that say canned hunts or caged animals held in elk/deer “farms” should be banned.

    Hunting is something I grew up with and I much prefer venison and elk to beef. But I wish more hunters would take the time to more carefully select their target and in an anterless hunt, only take dry does or cow elk without calves.

    This requires more time and effort.

    Rather than brag about bagging a deer or elk, it would be nice to see more hunters talk about how they had the easy shot but saw that the animal had a fawn or calf and did not shoot.

    Another issue is hunters who take the largest herd bull, biggest buck or the cow elk that is obviously on watch. Hunting magazines and outfitter advertisers serve to hype that getting the biggest antlered animal is the best.

    But, a spike bull if far better eating. An older cow who has survived and has the wisdom to lead the herd to winter ground doesn’t taste that good either.

    As for the caged elk and deer, my heart goes out to them and barbaric canned hunting needs to go the way of the covered wagon.

  7. Erin Miller Avatar
    Erin Miller

    We talk all the time about letting does and cows pass by when we’ve seen young with them, even young that’s a year old. By the way, lots and lots of sets of mule deer twins in the southern part of Idaho this year, which is awesome.

    Does your heart go out to caged game birds who are let out of a cage and shot by paid “hunters” before they get ten feet in the air??? I don’t like some aspects of hunting ranches, but think it provides opportunity for disabled or elderly people who often go to them. There’s some hipocracy here with people worrying about these elk when there are other species out there with the same type of thing happening: people paying to kill an animal that is captive. And, who’s to say what is “right” when it comes to anything with various methods to it? What justifies a person to judge another? Having opinions on it is one thing but to classify the person by how they choose to do one thing in quite another. There are MANY aspects to this issue, aspects that apply to other issues as well that aren’t getting ANY attention…


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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