I got an angry e-mail Monday from reader Kirt Curell about Sunday’s photo of Gov. Mary Fallin and the elk that she killed on the Wildcat Springs Ranch, a 6,800-acre high fence hunting area near Stonewall.
“A high fence, canned hunt, is in no way representative of a hunt in anyway,” Curell wrote. “I’m sure she was trying to connect with the outdoors men and women. When in fact that is exactly the kind of junk that is killing our tradition.
“Shooting an animal confined within a high fence, I don’t care how many acres, is not fair chase. If you think my beliefs are flawed then so are the Boone and Crockett clubs and tens of thousands of their members.
“The B&C club does not condone high fence hunting and will not accept any animal killed within them. If anything it was an elk shoot not an elk hunt. Do not disgrace true hunters and fisherman with this junk.”
It’s true that Boone & Crockett will not accept any entries from commercial hunting ranches. The question in this case is whether The Oklahoman should publish any photos from them.
I don’t necessarily disagree with Curell’s argument against high fence hunts, although I think it does depend on how big the cage is.
And are commercial hunting areas more unethical than shooting a wild deer that has been baited with corn? It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
I’m not a fan of high fence areas and have debated the ethics of them in previous stories in the newspaper.
Maybe I’m sitting on a high fence here, but I’ve decided not to exclude publishing trophy photos from them simply because they are legal operations in Oklahoma, governed by regulations of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Frankly, whether I publish a trophy photo from a hunter depends more on the quality of the photo than anything else. I get so many hunting photos that are either distasteful or of poor quality.
In this case, it was a good photo and it was the governor. As I told Curell, people can be their own judges of her hunting ethics.
He didn’t like it which is perfectly okay with me.