Is it hunting? ‘Wild’ game increasingly raised in captivity for profit

Preserve owners push back on ‘purists,’ say private land operations maintain habitat
IMAGE: Tony Campbell –

By Joshua Haiar / South Dakota Searchlight

When Jeff Olson saw a photo of a massive buck deer recently – along with a message suggesting it was a record breaker – he was immediately skeptical.

Olson is a Black Hills Sportsmen Club board member and a former state Game, Fish and Parks commissioner.

“Any real hunter knows wild deer don’t look like that,” Olson said, pointing to the thick antlers and massive body, traits developed when a deer is fed a diet unattainable in the wild.

The photo was evidence of an open secret in South Dakota hunting circles: Not all game shot in the state is “wildlife” in the strictest sense of the word. Some are private livestock, raised behind high fences and sometimes even fed a tailored diet. The private deer, elk or bison – and the often guided trips to shoot them – are sold to customers across the globe for thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. CLICK HERE TO READ FULL STORY

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