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Thread: What does "Fair Chase" actually mean to you?

  1. #1
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Default What does "Fair Chase" actually mean to you?

    The other day I was watching another one of the Alaskan reality shows. Three guys were hunting moose. One of the old homesteaders made the comment...."I believe in fair chase, I don't even use calls." That comment kinda grabbed me as I must admit that I've never considered calling moose as "non" fair chase. But it got me to thinking what does fair chase actually mean?

    B&C says:
    FAIR CHASE, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.


    Another organization, the IHEA (International Hunter Education Association) claims it as:
    Fair chase balances the skills and equipment of the hunter with the abilities of the animal to escape.

    So I'd have to believe that there are probably quite a few definitions of what fair chase actually is and this will vary from person to person, organization to organization.

    Having only a spear or stick and string for countless generations, I would think that the native Americans would epitomize the essence of fair chase when trying to kill for food. But from some of the stories I've read, even some of their tricky tactics might be viewed as "non" fair chase to some these days.

    From what I've read, the term "fair chase" is very controversial. For example, one of the biggest controversies being bear baiting. A large portion of the hunting population says that it goes against the ethics of fair chase.

    I would have to say that imo, with the invention of the firearm, when it came to killing an animal, a large part of "fair chase" got thrown right out the window....if you know what I mean. And I know a few "purist" bow hunters that might tend to agree with me there.

    I don't know if I've ever really sat down and asked myself what it means to me, but in thinking about it, I'd have to say that I've just thought of fair chase as hunting an animal that is not confined in any way, and does in fact have the option of hiding, flying, swimming, or running away if it so desires.

    So, if you believe in, and consider yourself an advocate of fair chase, if you had to define it, what would your own personal definition be?

    Thanks for your input.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Member ramhunter's Avatar
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    LOL…you really just opened up the flood gates for a million different definitions and opinions….hang on!
    My opinion/definition is pretty simple! Stay within the guide lines of the hunting regs, and it’s fair chase….no reason to over think this!...grin
    "Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous" ~ Reinhold Messner

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    Member Antleridge's Avatar
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    I'm ok with B&C's definition, and there's some wiggle-room in it for some personal slant on things.

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    You bring up interesting points. To me fair chase is any animal not in a fence, regardless of method of take. You still have to find it, which is more than a significant portion of the general population can do.

    I see bear baiting as no different than trapping, you still have to place the bait somewhere a bear will find it AND be able to be there when they decide to show up. I didn't realize how much skill there is in bear baiting until I tried it!


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    It starts with no fence

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    If a call ain't fair chase he better be killing the moose with his head or hamstringing with his teeth.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Well....if it was fair, humans would not hunt. If it was fair the humans would have about equal chance of death on every hunt. True fair chase would be the human naked with no tools other than a rock or a stick. Could it still be successful......yes.

    It is silly to even have "Fair Chase" rules.......if the rules are in constant state of change. I remember when it was totally legal to spot from the air, land a shoot from the aircraft on the ground. Is that fair......??? A record Dall Sheep shot from the sleeping inside the tent. Is that fair....??? Is it fair that one hunter can move three miles into position on a snow machine and use the machine as a bench to shoot across, while in the next valley a hunter has to snowshoe three miles and make the shot off hand. One hunter puts the 148# hide on the machine; While the other has to pack or drag his three miles on snowshoes.

    The basic theory of B&C "fair chase" rules is that no hunter has an unfair advantage. So what is fair about one hunter living on a 46 foot boat eating meals prepared by a chef, while most of the crew is spotting for a monster Brown Bear while the hunter is warm and dry watching DVD's in his stateroom waiting for the herring spotter cub to return. Totally legal, the boat travels to the Brown Bear. They party much of the night, next morning the crew finds the Massive Brown Bear, the hunter finishes breakfast, has a quick warm shower. Is take to shore, has to walk about 1/4 mile on the nice beach, while a crewman carries his gear and .338 Laupa w/6.5 to 20 power scope. The bucket is placed for him to sit on, while the small folding table is placed with two crewman's coats are rolled up to shoot over as he makes the 285 yard one shot kill. Some photos, some handshakes, a bottle is passed, hunter is taken back to the 46 foot boat, other's skin the bear. As the Beaver lands to take the hunter, his trophy Brown Bear, his mistress & gear to the city.....he passes out a lot of One Hundred Dollar bills, thanks everyone for their help.

    All Legal........& ALL "FAIR CHASE".

    I am NOT bad mouthing boat hunting.....My point is there is nothing FAIR about staying inside the fair chase rules.....All hunts are not equal. And some hunts even if legal are not (in my assesment) fair to the Majestic Brown Bear that becomes that years B&C record "Fair Chase" Brown Bear.

    Not much in life is fair, you have to hunt the way that allows you to hold your head high, and be proud of your experience while afield, which is not or should not be determined by the size of your harvest. You have to live with yourself the rest of your life. In the final filter you and only you decide what is fair for you......"It is called FREE'WILL".

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    My definition of fair chase starts with not using artificial light, even if it is legally allowed. Second part of my definition will probably be more controversial. I am actually okay hunting game in a fenced area, but only under certain circumstances. If the fenced area includes natural habitat of the game in question, is several times larger than the natural home range of the game in question, and is also large enough that a hunter can expect to hunt for days and not necessarily be able to locate the desired game, then that meets my definition of acceptable. Oh yeah, one more requirement for me is that the game within the fence must breed and reproduce naturally. No put and take ever meets my definition of fair chase.

    As an example, I would have no qualms about hunting whitetail deer in a fenced area of 5000 acres or larger if the entire area is good cover and natural habitat for deer.

    One last point. I have no problem with bear baiting although I don't practice it myself and I don't really consider it fair chase. Similarly, in my opinion it is not fair chase to hunt over a water hole in an arid region where the game has a limited number of options for water.

  9. #9

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    I know unfair chase when I see it. Pen raised deer released just before the "hunter" shows up. High fences on "ranches" that look like manicured golf courses. Spot lighting. Spot from air, land, shoot. That's a good start.

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    Hunters probably used some form of "call" long before they had guns, maybe even before they had bows.

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    (Yet somehow some people manage to make millions of dollars selling calls)

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    You can't compare "Fair Chase" with "legal" first off. For starters, there are only two reasons for "fair chase" rules. The first is record books. To have records, you have to have standards or rules to make the records "legit". So organizations that keep records make their own set of rules or ethics. And each record keeping organization has their own rules, that's a given, otherwise we'd only need one record keeping organization. While it is unethical by Boone and Crockett rules to hunt and kill game in high fenced hunts, it is legal by law where it occurs. And SCI actually promotes it. They have their own record section just for such hunts. Hunting from boats is also considered unethical by many, but in some places and in certain situations, it is perfectly legal. Many consider road hunting as unethical, or at least as a lazy man's version of hunting or they might consider road hunters as slobs. But there are people who do very good year after year, driving around in their vehicle spotting and shooting game. And as long as they follow all the rules, such as getting off the road before they shoot, they are perfectly legal hunting this way.

    Which brings us to the second reason for ethics to be considered. Public opinion. If hunters consider road hunters to be lazy or unethical, or bear baiters as unethical, imagine how the non hunting public might feel. They have already shown that they don't understand or agree with practices such as hunting over bait, using hounds, or trapping and have voted those practices and more out in some states. Non hunters also have a low tolerance for trophy hunting. They can understand hunting for food, but not for trophies. They might consider hunting for food ethical, but not trophy hunting. So many hunting ethics, might actually be influenced buy non hunters, specifically an ethic might become an ethic in an effort to keep hunting acceptable to the non hunting public. Some of these considerations might include, not littering/keeping a clean camping area/not taking a dump in the middle of the road and leaving your toilet paper there too, respecting private property, not leaving your gut piles or other animal parts in the road. Respecting other outdoor users you encounter while hunting. Don't drink and hunt. (illegal and unethical) There are many more, but you get the idea. I actually consider these ethics to be way more important in the grand scheme of hunting than your personal hunting tactics or weapon. These are ethics that aren't even considered by record keeping organizations except maybe in a general sense.

    Personally since it was the question asked by the OP, If I ran a record keeping organization, one of my rules or ethics of "fair chase" would be, the animal has to be earned by your own efforts. In other words, no guide assisted animals or game farm animals would be accepted into my "book". If somebody else is finding and guiding you to your animal and dressing and caping and caring for your animal, what have you accomplished, other than showing you can pull a trigger and shoot straight? Oh wait, many times the guide actually finishes the animal off for the client after the client makes a bad shot. So my ethic would be, if you want to be recognized for your accomplishment, you actually have to accomplish something, by your own efforts.
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    Spotlighting, shooting from a boat, hunting over bait stations, food plots, salt licks, flying and shooting big game in the same day; are a few unfair advantages that come to my mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    B&C says:
    FAIR CHASE, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.


    Another organization, the IHEA (International Hunter Education Association) claims it as:
    Fair chase balances the skills and equipment of the hunter with the abilities of the animal to escape.
    Both of those orgs have a very very very strong need to not alienate any hunters whatsoever. Because the term fair chase is so ill-defined in the world and many varied in its interpretations within each individual, both of those orgs have watered down their definitions of the term so badly that their definitions are NOT definitive at all. In fact I'd go so far as to say that both IHEA's and B&C's definitions could be interpreted to mean just about any darn thing at all.

    I could even take some of the words from each of those to twist about..... So, B&C thinks the hunter has no advantage? Rediculous.

    IHEA's definition also seems to indicate a balance of power but hides this with the use of the word "improper" which of course can mean anything to anyone.

    Easy to pick on other's wordings though. If I wordsmithed up my own definition it too could be torn to shreds easily. Its just semantics. But of course that's probably a pretty good use of wintertime too.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wags View Post
    I know unfair chase when I see it. Pen raised deer released just before the "hunter" shows up. High fences on "ranches" that look like manicured golf courses. Spot lighting. Spot from air, land, shoot. That's a good start.
    Quote Originally Posted by Anythingalaska View Post
    Spotlighting, shooting from a boat, hunting over bait stations, food plots, salt licks, flying and shooting big game in the same day; are a few unfair advantages that come to my mind.
    Agreed, mostly. Personally, I'd have no issue shooting an animal out of a hay field, orchard, or backyard vegetable garden...I suppose a case could be made that food plots/salt licks could be considered an extension of that, but I would draw the line at intentionally planting/placing lures to draw animals in, so food plots/salt licks/bait stations are out. I have no issue with shooting an animal from a paddle powered canoe or raft. I definitely take umbrage with artificial light/spotlighting, spotting or shooting from the air, or pursuing an animal with any motor/engine powered vehicle of any kind.
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    What fair chase means to me, is keeping your long range rifles at home, it takes a lot of practice to be able to shoot 900 to 1000 yds, but I think those rifles belong at the range not in the field

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    Fair Chase to me is hunting an animal in his natural unrestricted environment, during the open season without the aid of phones/walkie talkies. I don't have a problem with bait stands, but I don't consider that fair chase becuase it is not a natural environment. In the reality of it, there is no such thing as FAIR chase for an animal, because humans have an unfair intellectual and technological advantage, even if you are hunting with a spear.
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Fair Chase is for: imports to Alaska, non-Alaskans, wanna be Alaskans, and non-resident hunters. If you really depend on Alaskan game for your family, you roll your eyes when you hear the term "Fair Chase" even if you practice what others might call Fair Chase.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sobie2 View Post
    If you really depend on Alaskan game for your family, you roll your eyes when you hear the term "Fair Chase" even if you practice what others might call Fair Chase.
    ``````````

    Exactly. Fair chase doesn't hold any ethical or legal high ground when it comes to filling your freezer. If it did, not too many of us would be eating beef or pork or chicken. Those food sources don't come to us via any sort of "fair chase". Fair chase is concept best left to record book keepers or to someone who's looking to challenge themselves. When it comes to gathering food, I'd rather have a quick clean kill than worry about how fair it as to the animal. That's why I use a rifle.
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    Fair Chase...is when the animal chases after you as well
    "Grin and Bear It"

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