Big Game Hunting

the "European Model"

12/27/22 @ 2:47 PM
User since 7/6/09

It is said that there are two schools of thought on hunting - the American model and the European model.  In the American model, the public owns the wildlife, land is readily (moreso) accessible, the government manages game populations and habitat, and essentially anyone can buy a license and hunt, for a reasonable cost.  In European model, land is essentially controlled by the wealthy landowners, access is tightly controlled, game belongs to those who own the land, hunting is pretty much out of reach for all but a privileged few, and it is very expensive.  I may have oversimplified, but the general points are valid, I believe.

So, my question is:  Do you think we are headed toward the European model, and, if so, how far along do you think we are?

Personally, I believe we are progressing on a rapid course in that direction, although our large tracts of public lands in places of low population density provides us a cushion that Europe never provided for.  However, in more populated areas, we do not seem far away.  As fewer people hunt in the future, I predict management agency budgets will shrink rapidly, and that will only accelerate the pace of change.

What say you?

Displaying 1 to 15 of 16 posts
2/3/23 @ 9:46 AM
User since 4/5/11

A few thoughts..... first, I don't view some of these things as that bad. For instance, leasing is a poor man's game for hunting private property as it allows someone to hunt private land at a fraction of the cost of buying and owning. Unless the private property you hunt is owned by someone you know very well, why do we expect a free ride on someone's property that they own and pay taxes on? We should pay or do something in else in return for having access to private property. Second thought,  there is a lot of public land but it is increasingly hard to have a quality hunt on those lands due to hunter pressure.  Maybe a solution is an application system instead of over the counter tags for public land and having it zone specific? I'd rather draw tags less often but have a higher quality hunt when I do. I'm not discouraging from introducing new people to hunting, but we can't ignore the consequences of this either and need to find ways to spread out the hunting pressure for those who can't, for whatever reason, hunt on private property. Maybe applying something similar to the turkey season structure to public land deer is another idea, where licenses are split into time periods?

I don't see us ever being the European model,  but things are definitely changing, some for the better, some for the worse. There is just now a bigger spread between the "haves" and "have nots" than ever before, and I think the only way to remedy this is to start having the public lands have a different application/license system (for buck tags) and season structure aimed at spreading out the pressure. Remember, one of the biggest reasons people stop hunting is not having a quality hunt,  so I think not having as much opportunity on public land, but having a far greater chance at success when you do, would keep far more people engaged and purchasing licenses. For those who do lease, own, or hunt private,  these are truly great times to be a hunter.

1/27/23 @ 1:05 PM
User since 5/11/20

Having hunted and fished on a couple of private reserves now, I'd say it comes down to the kind of experience a person wants and whether they're willing to pay for it. We go bird hunting on a private reserve and the quality of the hunt is first rate, the birds are in top shape, and you don't have the social issues like some idiot who can't control his dog ruining a hunt. I'm happy to pay for that, and I get why people might prefer it.

1/27/23 @ 10:52 AM
User since 7/20/09

I was just applying it to where the bulk of people hunt, who is most affected.  Can't just think that the northwoods has a lot of public land so its impossible to be happening anywhere.  I'd have to be blind to not see the change from when I first started out to now.  Even in places where its now problematic, it used to not be so much.

As access gets harder, management gets harder to enforce.  It all relies on people willingly shooting deer.  Some county boards already have said they are having trouble getting people to shoot deer.  Was only a few years back where they tried to enforce a doe only season in I think Door County and hunters were able to get it rejected.  

Deer being a public resource is like public land with no access.  Sounds great being public but in reality its a lot closer to the private spectrum than it is public.  Either way I can't get to those deer without permission.

1/26/23 @ 8:56 PM
User since 12/20/12

I don't think the OP was limiting his inquiry just to lands in central/southern Wisconsin where access is obviously problematic for many.

1/26/23 @ 4:17 PM
User since 7/20/09

They might not change who owns the animals, but if the land is locked up and you have to pay to shoot those animals...I don't see much of a difference.  Right now the DNR issues tags knowing that a lot of the land is closed to hunting.  The public may own those animals but the public also can't get to them.  

1/26/23 @ 9:40 AM
Sedge Fox33
User since 6/20/14

My Grandfather warned about this decades ago. It is moving towards the European model of hunting being for the wealthy. 

1/12/23 @ 10:08 AM
User since 12/20/12

Key to the so-called "European model" is the fact that landowners own the game residing on their properties.  Here, of course,  the game is publicly owned. Big difference when it comes to management. That change will never come to pass here.

While decreasing public access to private lands has been trending for many years, it is not indicative of a move towards a European model.

1/10/23 @ 9:03 PM
User since 4/2/10

I Say yes it absolutely is heading European way, All everyone complains about is high land prices, lack of access to private and so on. So yes for the people who want to own their own land, it's only gonna get worse.  I always thought out west was better, but the amount of guides and outfitters who lease alot of private land that was once accessible is crazy. That is where I wish there was a limit to how much land they can control.  But that is the Capitalism way. 

The public land we have is only gonna get worse I feel strictly from being overun by everyone who looses access to their old private lands. Sad day but thats how I see things going. Good topic though.

1/7/23 @ 8:37 PM
User since 12/7/05

phishin phool,

Comparing Germany's hunting accident rate with even the accident rate in Wisconsin during gun season is an apples to potatoes comparison...I would hope that in a country that requires the education and financial commitment to the sport that Germany and other European countries requires would result in a lower hunter injury/fatality rate. Germany, as a country, has about 300,000 licensed hunters...Wisconsin has nearly 555,000 licensed hunters for GUN DEER SEASON ALONE (795,000 deer licenses for all weapon types)! I really think it is remarkable that only a couple people are shot or killed hunting in Wisconsin during gun season. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of them involve kids under 16 years old, and yes, ANY injury/death that is preventable is one too many. It is a numbers game...the more people you put in an area with firearms, the more potential for accidents. Germany is 2.5 times the size of Wisconsin, but Wisconsin has twice as many hunters. Also, the use of tree stands is very popular here, which accounts for a lot of hunting deaths and injuries every year. It is a very different game. I have never hunted in Germany, but have seen a couple hunting shows filmed there and it seems like somewhat of a canned hunt to me. It looks like a bunch of rich guys with $5,000 rifles doing drives...almost like a round of armed golf...Not my cup of tea, but to each their own...What would make for great TV would be to take one of those German hunters, give him a bullet resistant vest and some blaze orange and drop him in the middle of some southern Wisconsin public land for opening weekend of deer season...In all seriousness, both places are a unique hunting experience, I'm sure. But the fact that Germany has so many fewer hunters hunting more area, almost exclusively on private land on orchestrated hunts with 5 times the education and 10 times the financial commitment would naturally lead to fewer hunting accidents than here.

Edit to add: Germany also does not allow persons under the age of 16 to hunt. Statistically, that would eliminate a LOT of accidents here...

1/6/23 @ 9:47 AM
phishin phool
phishin phool
PRO MEMBER User since 4/5/08

I just saw this thread. Very interesting concept to me, as I spent 8 years stationed in Germany. I am totally all for the "European Model"!!! It'll probably take me many words to express myself so, I will have to limit myself...To being with there is a high amount of classroom, testing, and yes weapons qualification tests to even get a hunting license and being "allowed" to even go in to the field!!! I was honored by being selected to be a Hunting Instructor and then even a Fishing Instructor. Part of your training includes looking at the color of the hair where the shot entered and being able to tell where your animal was hit!!! We even discovered that in a 33 YEAR period there were ONLY 6 deaths. Plus the fact 3 of those were animals (dogs) killed by wild boar!!! 33 years of hunting where you are allowed to hunt something 350 days of the year. Such a vast difference from hunting here in the "states". There have been many times I wished we could implement "their" standards. I'll end my time...anybody wants to know/learn more feel free to ask.

12/30/22 @ 11:23 PM
User since 7/6/09

I'm not going to argue against any of the points you guys have made.  This post is about each person's perception of the situation, not an absolute truth.

I do wonder if some of those points support my position.  Hunting in the US has always been a sport where most anyone could afford it, and a lot of people did it because you could hunt close to home and have a quality experience for a low-cost expenditure.  From my perspective, going out of state, traveling to a distant location within the state, or having to spend huge amounts of time to have a chance of success are reasons the sport is trending toward becoming for the "elite" - whether it is the wealthy or super-dedicated.  BTW, I'm not bad-mouthing being super dedicated - it just is a smaller segment of the population.

I do think that bow hunters, in particular, are feeling the squeeze, as crossbows and the desire to hunt local properties have become more popular, which puts far more pressure earlier in the season than used to be.  The quest for antlers has also contributed to this, as those hunters are willing to spend a lot more time afield than your average Joe meat hunter from bygone days.

12/30/22 @ 5:52 PM
Bowhunting Guy
User since 5/22/18

Drewster, your points are valid. Although I don’t see this particular issue as the demise of Wisconsin hunting.

Lots of people talk about hunter recruitment (or lack of) as one of our most immediate issues. I find myself in a different school of thought. Many people cite human pressure as the biggest detractors of their hunts… do we really need more people?

Let’s say we believe the numbers where fewer people are buying licenses. That may be true. However, do any of you notice a meaningful reduction in hunting pressure? Especially within an hour of metro areas? I find quite the opposite with massive increases, especially the last two years. So there may be fewer licenses out there, but people who do hunt seem to take it a lot more seriously. 

My point is that it’s getting easier and easier for more people to be successful. OnX, crossbows, the endless YouTube warriors, better clothing, more seasons…. You fill in the blank. There are simply more opportunities to make hunting easier. I don’t fault anyone for using the tools at their disposal, as I do too, but it’s a very different game than it was 25 years ago. 

I’m not saying to not introduce new people to hunting. I’ve recruited many over my years. Although, if we’re really honest, the less human bodies in the woods the more quality of an experience we all have. Pick your mentees carefully and instill stewardship and a respect for the outdoors and others. 

12/28/22 @ 9:09 PM
User since 10/3/12

Saying the governemnt here in the USA manages game populations . More accurately the govrt monitors the game population. In my lifetime it has become obvious that they have little if any control over the populations rather they adjust bag limits based on their population estimates which may or may not be accurate based upon the popular and legal acceptance of the latest science. 

I do see in Wisconsin trending toward a European system as land is increasingly leased in order to hunt. 40 years ago leasing was unheard of and politely seeking permission was politely granted at zero lease cost.

12/28/22 @ 1:50 AM
User since 12/7/05

As has been stated, I think the land area and public lands in the U.S. will prevent the 'European Model' from being fully implemented here. Also, keep in mind the difference in firearm ownership in the two continents. If I am not mistaken, even a bolt action hunting rifle is very expensive and difficult to acquire and the requirements for storing, registering, etc. are far more strict than here in the U.S. Hunting in Europe is certainly for the wealthy even without considering land ownership/access. Private land access for hunting throughout most of the U.S. has gotten more difficult the past 10 years, but is not impossible and public lands are always an option. I would like to see better management of public lands in Northern WI, but I also understand without the ability to manage/control wolf populations, that is a (steep) uphill battle. I think the commercialization of hunting and the fragmentation of once large farms into smaller 20, 40 and 80 acre hunting properties has contributed to the access issue. People pay a lot of money for those smaller parcels and allow family and maybe a friend or two to hunt, but there is only so much room for hunters on a small parcel. I struggle with this myself...I have family that hunts on my land and a couple very close friends that I would like to be able to extend invites to, but you can only put so many bodies on 30 acres safely...Thankfully, those friends have other places to hunt private, but nonetheless it would be nice to be able to hunt with them. So, in short - NO - I don't think that we will ever see the "European Model", at least in our lifetimes, here in the U.S.

12/27/22 @ 7:14 PM
User since 12/20/12

Not going to happen. While public access to private lands will continue to decrease, the U.S. has millions of acres of publicly accessible hunting acreage while Europe has, literally, zero. Huge difference. 

I've been playing the Western hunting game for many years. Big difference from 20 years ago. Access to premium units is now highly competitive so odds of drawing tags has decreased while trespass/access fees are getting very expensive if you don't play the public land game. Bottom line is you pay big dollars for outfitters or access OR....you buckle down and go deep into public lands to ditch the crowds.

PS  Major PIA on new site where text "jumps" down leaving large blank area after last text is entered.

Displaying 1 to 15 of 16 posts
Copyright © 2001-2023 Lake-Link Inc. All rights reserved.
No portion of this website can be used or distributed without prior written consent of Lake-Link, Inc.
This website may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission.
Lake-Link Home
fishing fueled by