Fair Chase Hunts

Along the spectrum of man’s hunting of wildlife ranging from him running naked using only speed of his legs and gripping power of opposing thumb hands to use of every possible tool ever devised to locate and kill any other creature exists a line. Somewhere along this spectrum between these opposed extremes we must draw a line at which we will operate. This document does just that for MAHA and its hunters.

We, Mid-America Hunting Association, as an organization are not entering into any debate on what is or is not fair chase hunting.

We further do not take any political oriented position on should there be only fair chase hunting or other means.

We simply are defining our concept of hunting and application of private land fair chase self guided hunts for do it yourself hunters.

We do not negotiate.

First ever hunting dog with a Kansas pheasant.

Anthony showing his first hunting dog and first pheasant.

We begin with an often cited and widely accepted definition of fair chase as provided by the Boone and Crocket Club:

Fair chase is the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit and taking of free ranging wild game animals in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over such animals.

Those who seek a finite definition to all clauses of this statement may miss the point of this entire discussion. The variability of nature precludes one set definition uniformly applicable to all conditions. Fair chase hunting is a concept which provides a framework of principles based on grouped similar ideas that serve as a basis for analysis to provide answers to what is or is not fair chase hunting. In our case, the discussion to follow provides that conceptual framework for how MAHA operates. Or, how its hunters must conduct themselves.

Two turkeys by bow during the Kansas spring season.

Kevin. Kansas has an archery spring turkey season. To tag two with a bow from one set up is a memory tough to beat.

Fair Chase

The clause Fair Chase is all pursued wildlife has fair chance to escape a hunter. Through full use of all of its God given capabilities to detect, fly or run unrestricted from man or his inventions.

The above statement is simple enough and usually easy to recognize in practice.

Hunters may use what he has to pursue, detect, acquire and attempt to harvest any wildlife as long as that wildlife has full use of its own innate and inherited physical capabilities to evade any hunter’s attempt at harvest. An easy example is no high fence restrictions to movement or escape. MAHA does not have any high fence hunts or any other hunt which restricts wildlife’s ability to evade a hunter. However, definition of fair chase does enter into less distinctive categories than as illustrated by high fence hunting.

Fair chase within this definition (wildlife’s capability to escape) allows hunter’s use of deception and concealment as these two techniques do not restrict any wildlife’s ability to evade a hunter. This includes deceptions such as decoys, scents, or calls and concealment as blinds, camouflaged clothing, and cover scents. At this point definition of fair case is largely limited to of a single prey and hunter. Not the only means hunters may employ.

Fair chase further enters into less distinctive definition when regional or sub group standards are applied. An example is a pheasant drive hunt. While legal, it does begin to enter into restricting a pheasants’ escape from hunters.

A line of drivers closely spaced allows no distance between them within which pheasants can pass without being in shotgun range existent between drive line and posted hunters equally spaced begins to restrain the pheasant’s ability to escape a hunter. This is a case where an invention of man now acts as a restriction to wildlife’s fair chance to escape the hunter through use of its God given capabilities. A coherent firing line of shotguns for a pheasant is equal to a fence for a deer. Under the concept of fair chase, it is an absolute, meaning that any restriction to wildlife’s capability to escape unrestricted by man regardless of degree renders that hunt less than fair chase.

For MAHA we do agree a drive hunt to be less than the absolute definition of fair chase without discussion to the hunter’s shooting ability or to spacing between hunters. There go we prohibit within this Association of hunters any form of drive hunt. Pheasant or deer.

Iowa deer season differnt for residents.

Beau

Ethical

Ethics as a term has definition of a system of standards. Relative to fair chase, ethics means we, MAHA, as an organization set standards for hunter conduct within this fair chase hunting statement. They are set in our Conditions of Membership (rules).

Bob on one of his Kansas pheasant hunting trips.

Bob, out in west Kansas with some pheasant.

Lawful

An action although lawful does not translate into MAHA fair chase.

We are a private members' organization. As such can set conditions for membership and behavior requirements inclusive of that membership. A minimum of which is members' must obey all federal, state and local statues as well as the MAHA Conditions of Membership to be a member of this organization. Additive is contained within our fair chase hunting ethics statement. They need not be reprinted here. It is enough to say this organizations holds its members to a higher standard than that of the general society inclusive of this fair chase statement that exceeds its original (B & C) limitations. Compliance, while reliant on self discipline, is required. At any incidence where violations are detected will result in being dropped from the MAHA membership rolls.

Pursuit

This clause is far more directive in denoting (specified meaning) absolutes applicable to all conditions rather than guidance framework of a concept for analysis of any condition. Where MAHA draws its line on the fair chase continuum is the purpose of this discussion.

First MAHA fair chase standard is all scouting, placement of equipment and hunting is on foot. The lone exceptions are on designated wetlands allowing use of off-road vehicle for equipment transport.

Use of hunting dogs for upland birds and waterfowl is permissible. Within constraints imposed by those sections of wildlife codes, MAHA fair chase statement and Conditions of Membership. Dog use for any other wildlife is prohibited.

Taking (harvest)

All sportsmen are responsible to ensure their own shooting skills to allow as quick a harvest as possible.

Free Ranging

We do not propagate or post any wildlife for purpose of hunting. An example would be release of wildlife in a field immediately before arrival of hunters. Such confinement-raised wildlife lacks appropriate fear response required for effective escape behavior. Hence would not be fair chase relative to wild animals.

Perhaps more controversial is MAHA's fair chase limitation on baiting.

The first discussion is a distinction between baiting and year round food sources such as a food plot. Both have the same intended result in they concentrate wildlife in a specific area. The distinction is timing.

A food plot does provide year round cover. Typically time specific food source specific wildlife desires and does concentrate at times hunters many be present to gain advantage. What is beneficial about a food plot is it becomes a supplemental, not a single source giving benefit year round at the wildlife’s night/daylong choice of use.

Baiting such as hanging cut apples in a net bag immediately before a hunt at a height a deer could nibble a few differs from a food plot. Even though both achieve similar results of concentrating wildlife. Food plots give much benefit to wildlife and some to the hunter. Use of bait gives little benefit to wildlife and much to hunters. The underlying principle in all cases for fair chase is the scales must be tilted toward the benefit of wildlife as the entire concept of fair chase is to keep a hunt a hunt, not a guarantee.

Controversy over baiting is illustrated by attracting scents. Typical is scent of female deer in estrus to attract a rutting buck. Manipulation of an animal is the same as a food plot or apple baiting. That of providing an instinctual drive satisfaction be it food or reproduction. Both fit the metabolizing and reproductive definitions of life itself, the two most behavioral motivating factors for any creature. Moreover, concentrating in this case of deer estrus not only a specific creature but also the male of that species. If the effect is the same regardless of the cause, should not both be prohibited if one is currently considered acceptable? The answer lies within state laws which allow specific and outlaws other specific baiting or attractions.

MAHA fair chase hunting line is drawn on the continuum that MAHA builds wetlands habitat inclusive of food source vegetation for purpose of attracting waterfowl. No other food plot is built. Use of attracting scents is permissible, however short term baiting targeting a specific creature is not compliant to state and federal regulation and that of our own landowner relations.

Game Animals

We limit our management to Mule and Whitetail Deer; Eastern and Rio Grande Turkey; pheasant and Bobwhite Quail; goose and duck hunting. We also support crappie, bass and catfish fishing.

While we have dove, teal, prairie chicken, and allow the hunting thereof, these later species we neither lease land for their specific habitat or seek their huntable population densities.

We do not allow hunting or pursuit of any other animal. This is a matter of two facets. First, is work hour limitation of MAHA staff. Second, the clientele we select to service. We do not promote nor manage for any other type of hunting.

Unfair Advantage

A tough call in our intellectual society which often rates fair as equal under all conditions.

Fair in nature has a very different definition than human understanding. Fairness in nature is impossible. All creatures are either predator or prey. There are no equals. Fair is a case that prey animals have conditions under which it may employ all of its God given capabilities to avoid its predators. There go does the predator have equal access to all of its capabilities to pursue that prey? In nature that answer is yes. A coyote will use superior size, speed, hearing, movement, paws and teeth to detect, overcome and kill to consume a mouse. Hence, it is acceptable for a predator to dominate creatures selectively concentrating on a prey creature well within its capability of pursuit and harvest. This includes man within nature and not always from the societal perspective that says chicken from the grocery store is acceptable but harvest of a pheasant in field by shotgun is not.

In terms of God’s design of nature, fair is limited to inherent physical/mental capabilities existent within a creature to metabolize energy and reproduce its own kind. The definition of life. Metabolizing energy begins with finding, capturing and consuming prey, eating vegetation. Within nature this started as a survival (metabolizing energy). An activity the superior intellect of man has transcended through agriculture replacing the survival hunting requirement changing it to a recreational activity. While many may perceive man as the only creature seeking recreation through hunting and sometimes at expense of other creatures he is wrong.

Examples of recreational aspects in nature are of the playful nature of otters when tossing about a turtle, monkeys that explore non-food creatures due to curiosity, dogs with full food bowls in the kitchen hunt to kill and leave behind songbirds and the list continues long for any student of nature. Man as the supreme earthly predator can shape pursuit of prey as he sees fit as it is the role he has due to his position of superior intellect, not necessarily superior physical strength or capability.

Use of tools to acquire advantage over a prey are existent in nature as well. Some species of birds use twigs to work grubs out of holes in tree limbs. Apes use walking sticks to test the depth of water in a stream and monkeys use of long grass stems to retrieve termites from deep within the mound. Manipulation of nature where the primary activity results in secondary gain to metabolize and later reproduce are found in some of the lowest forms on the food chain such as leaf cutter ants. The point being that using nature as an example it is justified for man, the superior hunter, to use tools he devised such as guns to acquire wildlife.

God’s design allows for both recreational hunting and tool use by those creatures inherently capable of such abilities to have additional advantage over that existent within any creature to secure prey. It is not a matter of morality. It is a matter that in nature all are predator or prey under all conditions and predators use all available means to acquire its prey. It matters little that man manipulates conditions of nature be it a chicken house for the grocery store or grass field for a pheasant.

Contributing Factors

Specific to MAHA’s approach to fair chase hunting is private land hunting lease. The hunting lease is one more form of agricultural income same as forage or grain crops, timber, water and livestock. The farmer’s role in life is to change basic elements of the earth into human consumable products. A hunting lease is another form of that process. We seek to provide the service of making that hunting lease available to those fair chase hunters who seek their own self guided hunts.

Disclaimer

MAHA’s fair chase hunting approach is not intended to be the model for society at large. Its application is solely to the MAHA membership and organization and not to be used as a test to any other means.

MAHA Fair Chase Hunts

Our desire as an organization is to work with hunters that want full credit for their hunting success.

These are hunters that have the self confidence to hunt without a guide or on restrained animals with a no game no pay guarantee. It is a matter that quality of a hunt is a far greater value than actual harvest. That quality of hunt will always be tempered by the best reasonable success to except is along the 10% range. This means there will always be more days without full bags/tags than with. Or, years between book deer or turkey. Memories forever come through tough difficult days in field. Not a head on a wall by one day's walk. For the most part these same hunters only require hard to come by land resource for their successful hunts. MAHA provides that.

Our Way

Mid-America Hunting Association approach to self guided fair chase hunts.

Our fundamental fair chase aspects are 100% wild free ranging game. We lease land with existing reproductive, protective food habitat for upland birds, Mule and Whitetail Deer and turkey. That one element alone of reproductive cover is key to sustain our fair chase hunting.

For waterfowl, we develop wetlands thereby creating duck specific habitat that was not existent before. In this case, of duck attracting wetlands, had we not provided this basic element migrating ducks would simply pass on by. Our duck hunts remain fair chase as habitat is year round available. It does not give duck hunters any further advantage as it still remains his challenge to decoy, call and camouflage.

Residential wildlife do not receive any environmental limiting factor enhancement as a means to make a hunt easier. More simply put, we do not post feeders, plant food plots or propagate any animal.

Not

Mid-America Hunting Association further defines fair chase hunts by what it does not provide. These lacking aspects are no organized hunts, no guide services.

Type of organized hunts we prohibit are gang type, over pressuring hunts as is typified in a pheasant drive. This type of hunting consists of a convoy of vehicles and dogs used as a line of drivers converging on a line on stand. This type of hunting begins to encroach on the free ranging element of the fair chase ethic.

More

While most of our do it yourself hunters do hunt alone we also support those who seek fellow hunter companionship. Those who seek good conversation of like minded persons may also have his hunt his way. To this end we run a buddy hunt list to pair up folks of similar interests.

When we give recommendations where to hunt the first trip, it is by telephone and identifies a state, county, unit and sometimes an individual property. Verbal guidance is based on hunter’s habitat preference and hunting discipline. After these two aspects it is a matter of what we have seen when we were on that land. This information is always historical ranging back from the previous day to previous season. That is as far as our guidance extends. We do not enter the field with any hunter and deliver him to his animal of choice.

MAHA Fair Chase Hunts

Mid-America Hunting Association contribution to self guided fair chase hunts is to provide do it yourself hunters with the most difficult resource to be found. That is good habitat within the right region of our three state area of Kansas, Missouri and Iowa where we lease land

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