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High Fence Hunting in Indiana May Move Forward

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An Indiana high fence hunting proposal is garnering attention as it interprets a decades-old court case.

Some of us hunters don’t like the idea of fenced-in hunting at all, simply because it takes all of the challenge and fun out of the pursuit. If deer and other creatures can only elude our grasp for so long before we back them into a literal corner, then what’s the point of the hunt? Where’s the pride?

Under those circumstances, virtually any hunter could bag a big buck simply by chasing him for long enough, and that’s not “fair game” pursuit by any means.

Still, despite the reservations of the Indiana Senate leader, legislation may be on the way in the state that could allow for high-fence hunting of deer, says the IndyStar.com. It’s a surprising turn of events, not least because David Long, a Republican Indiana senator from Fort Wayne – and the current head of the state senate – expressed his distaste for the concept of high-fence hunting just last year, likening it to dog fighting in terms of ethics, and even going as far as to call a fenced-in hunting area a “slaughterhouse without a roof.”

Still, despite Long’s strong words, he can only stave off the advance of high-fence hunting in Indiana for so long, and since it seems as if many other politicians in the state are in favor of the concept, he is now allowing legislation to proceed that would legalize the fenced-in hunting of “farm-raised deer and elk.”

Related story: Missouri Deer Hunting Reaches a Tipping Point

Still, that doesn’t mean that Long hasn’t made a valiant effort to fight the legalization of high-fence hunting in Indiana. Last year, after similar high-fence hunting legislation passed through the Indiana House of Representatives, Long shut it down with a veto. Now however, Long has relented on his stance and will allow another Republican state senator to present an argument for the legislation within the senate.

Not that Senator Long has had a change of heart, however. On the contrary, the Indiana senate leader is having his hand forced in the issue by a court ruling on a case that has been percolating in the system for the better part of a decade. The case in question – a 2005 lawsuit in the Harrison Circuit Court system – arose after the Indiana Department of Natural Resources made moves to shut down high-fence hunting preserves. At the time, there were about a dozen such preserves in the state, all raising deer and other animals in captivity and inviting hunters to come kill them for a fee. When the DNR made a move to stop the practice, the owner of one of the preserves filed suit, igniting a legal debate that would rage on until the fall of 2013.

Related story: Read about a piece of Colorado legislation on a unique hunting style.

When a judge finally ruled in the case, he claimed that the DNR had overstepped its jurisdiction in trying to shut down the preserves. The judge said that, since the deer and elk on the preserves could essentially be considered livestock instead of wild animals, the DNR had no power over them.

As such, the hunting preserves are legally allowed to operate in the state, and as of the court ruling, there were still about four or five in operation. New state legislation on the subject will seek to regulate the preserves and to determine whether hunters will be subject to regular state bag limits and license requirements while pursuing captivity game animals.

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High Fence Hunting in Indiana May Move Forward