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 the do it yourself hunter. The intended result of our efforts is the continuation of such hunting from a general public, landowner and membership perspective.
Anthony showing his first hunting dog and first pheasant.
We begin with the 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 that seek a finite definition to all clauses of this statement may miss the point of the entire discussion. The variability of nature precludes one set definition uniformly applicable to all conditions. Fair chase hunting is a concept that provides a framework of principles based on grouped similar ideas that serve as a basis for analysis to provide the answer to what is or is not fair chase hunting. In our case, the discussion to follow provides that conceptual framework for how MAHA operates and how its hunters must conduct themselves.
Kevin. Kansas has an early archery spring turkey season ahead of gun season. To tag two with a bow from one set up is a memory that is tough to beat.
The clause “Fair Chase” is that all pursued wildlife has fair chance to escape the hunter through full use of all of its God given capabilities to detect, fly or run unrestricted by man or his inventions.
The above statement is simple enough and usually easy to recognize in practice.
Man the hunter 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. The easy example is no high fence restrictions to the movement or escape of a deer. MAHA does not have any high fence hunts or any other hunt that restricts wildlife’s ability to evade a hunter. However, the definition of fair chase does enter into less distinctive categories than that as illustrated by high fence hunting.
Fair chase within this definition (wildlife’s capability to escape) allows the hunter’s use of deception and concealment as these two techniques do not restrict any wildlife’s ability to evade the hunter. This includes deceptions such as decoys, scents, or calls and concealment as blinds, camouflaged clothing, and cover scents. At this point the definition of fair case is largely limited to that of a single prey and hunter. That of course is 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 the pheasant drive hunt while legal does begin to enter into restricting the pheasants’ escape from the hunter.
A line of drivers closely spaced that allows no distance between them within which the pheasant can pass without being in shotgun range and existent between the drive line and posted hunters equally spaced begins to restrain the pheasant’s ability to escape the hunter. This is a case where an invention of man now acts as a restriction to the 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 the wildlife’s capability to escape unrestricted by man regardless of degree renders that hunt less than fair chase.
For MAHA we do agree that a drive hunt to be less than the absolute definition of fair chase without discussion to the hunter’s shooting ability or to the spacing between hunters. There go we prohibit within this association of hunters any form of drive hunt.
Ethics as a term has the definition of a system of standards. Relative to fair chase, ethics means we, MAHA, as an organization sets the standards for hunter conduct within this fair chase hunting statement and that of our Conditions of Membership (rules). Those two documents set the ethics by which we will conduct ourselves.
Bob, out in west Kansas with some pheasant from the first day.
An action although lawful does not translate into MAHA fair chase (drive hunts).
We are a private organization and as such can set the conditions for membership and behavior requirements inclusive of that membership. The minimum of which is the member must obey all federal, state and local statues as well as the MAHA Conditions of Membership to be a lawful member of this organization. The 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 (Boone & Crocket) limitations. Compliance while reliant on self discipline is required and at any incidence where violations are detected will result in being dropped from the MAHA membership rolls.
This clause is far more directive in denoting (specified meaning) absolutes applicable to all conditions rather than the 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.
The first MAHA fair chase standard is that all scouting, placement of equipment and hunting is on foot. The lone exceptions are on designated wetlands and their trails allowing the use of off-road vehicle.
The use of hunting dogs for rabbits, squirrels, upland birds and waterfowl is permissible within the constraints imposed by those sections of the MAHA fair chase statement and Conditions of Membership. Dog use for any other wildlife is prohibited.
All sportsmen are responsible to ensure their own shooting skills to ensure as quick a harvest as possible in every case.
Each of the MAHA hunting disciplines has its own set of harvest fair chase ethics listed within that section found at the end of this MAHA over capstone fair chase ethics statement.
While having covered that MAHA does not conduct any high fence or other wildlife restricting hunts our fair chase concept is inclusive of other activities that are in the boarder or gray region concerning free ranging wildlife (drive hunts).
We further do not propagate or post any wildlife for the purpose of hunting. An example would be the release of wildlife in a field immediately before the arrival of hunters. Such confinement-raised wildlife lacks the appropriate fear response required for effective escape behavior and hence would not be fair chase relative to wild animals.
Perhaps more controversial is the MAHA fair chase limitation on baiting.
The first discussion is the 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 of course is timing.
A food plot does provide year round cover and typically time specific food source the wildlife does concentrate and at times hunters many be present to gain that advantage. What is beneficial about a food plot is that it becomes a supplemental and not a single source food source giving benefit year round and at the wildlife’s daylong choice of use.
Baiting such as hanging cut apples in a net bag immediately before a hunt and for a limited time just at the height a deer could nibble a few differs from a food plot for its effect even though both achieve the same result of concentrating wildlife. The food plot gives much benefit to the wildlife and some to the hunter. The use of bait gives little benefit to the wildlife and much to the hunter. The underlying principle in all cases for fair chase is the scales must be tilted toward the benefit of the animal as the entire concept of fair chase is to keep the hunt a hunt and not a guarantee.
The controversy over baiting continues as illustrated by attracting scents typical of the female deer in estrus to attract a rutting buck. The manipulation of the animal is the same as a food plot or apple baiting that of providing an instinctual drive satisfaction be it food for hunger or reproduction. Both fit the metabolizing and reproductive definitions of life itself, the two most behavioral motivating factors for any creature. Moreover, for 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? The answer lies within state laws that 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 the 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.
We limit or 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, squirrel and rabbits 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 the hunting or pursuit of any other animal. This is a matter of two facets. The first is the work hour limitation of the MAHA staff and second the clientele we select to service. We do not promote nor manage for any other type of hunting.
A tough call in our intellectual society that rates fair as equal under all conditions.
Fair in nature has a very different definition than the human understanding of fairness as in nature all creatures are either predator or prey. There are no equals. “Fair” in this case is that the prey animal has the 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 the harvest of a pheasant in the field by shotgun is not.
In terms of God’s design of nature, fair is limited to that inherent physical and mental capabilities existent within that creature to metabolize energy and reproduce its own kind, the definition of life. That metabolizing of energy begins with finding, capturing and consuming prey. Within nature this started as a survival (metabolizing energy) 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 the 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 the 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 the recreational hunting and tool use by those creatures inherently capable of such abilities to have additional advantage over that existent within that 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 the conditions of nature be it a chicken house for the grocery store or the grass field for the pheasant.
Specific to MAHA’s approach to fair chase hunting is the private land hunting lease. The hunting lease 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 the 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 do it yourself hunters that seek their own self guided hunts.
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.
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 the quality of the hunt is a far greater value than the actual harvest. That quality of hunt will always be tempered that the best reasonable success to except is along the 10% range. This means there will always me more days without full bags than with and years between book deer or turkey. Memories forever come through tough difficult days in the field not the head on the wall by one day's walk. For the most part these same hunters only require the land resource for their successful hunts. MAHA provides that.
Mid-America Hunting Association approach to self guided fair chase hunts.
Our fundamental fair chase aspects are 100% wild free ranging game animals and we lease land that has existing reproductive, protective and 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 that basic element the migrating ducks would simply pass on by. Our duck hunts remain fair chase as the habitat is year round available and dose not give the duck hunter 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 the hunt easier. More simply put, we do not post feeders, plant food plots or propagate any animal there by impacting on the "free ranging" principle of fair chase hunts through a man influenced pattern of behavior.
Mid-America Hunting Association further defines fair chase hunts by what it does not provide. These lacking aspects are no organized hunts and no hunting guide services.
The type of organized hunts that we prohibit are gang type, over pressuring hunts as is typified in the 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. Our hunting land access is for the do it yourself hunter to include the small family group or circle of hunting friends.
While most of our do it yourself hunters do hunt alone as the hunting discipline of choice may demand that for success we also support those that seek fellow hunter companionship. It is that basic element that of enjoying the day in the field whether it be a lone hunter behind a bird dog or a deer hunter on stand that each may hunt the method he does chose. Those that seek the good conversation of like minded persons while sitting in a duck blind may also have his hunt that way.
Through not proving any hunting guides, we do not seek to deliver an advantage to any hunter through superior time in the field observation. All of our hunts are for the self guided hunter. This however, is not to be confused with our giving recommendations of where to hunt.
When we give recommendations where to hunt, it is over the telephone and identifies a state, county, unit and sometimes an individual property. This verbal guidance is based on the self guided 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 the previous season. That is as far as our guidance extends. We do not enter the field with any hunter and deliver him to the animal of choice. It will be tough to meet any more thoroughly the precepts found in the fair chase concept hunt than that which we provide.
MAHA Fair Chase Hunts
Mid-America Hunting Association contribution to self guided fair chase hunts is to provide the do it yourself hunter with the most difficult resource to be found. That is the right habitat within the right region of the three state area of Kansas, Missouri and Iowa where we lease land