My post is inspired by one made in the General Tractor Ownership and Operation by briansims. The guy in the story is a kindred spirit to me in many ways and its a timely and relevant post. I decided to post here rather than in that thread as my response is more of a question to the community atlarge and less of one contributing to the "Tractorman" thread.
This guy in that thread could be me. At times, I'm equally frustrated. My question to the hunting community is how have others prevented/reduced trespassing on their land?
I live in an agricultural area, very near a small town where everyone is either related or knows each other pretty well. A lot of folks were born a here and never left for any duration. It's a very nice little red/white and blue American town. However, among the "lifers", many have the attitude, "it's always been a certain way and always will be", especially when it pertains to hunting. My land had not been settled since before the state was formed. Folks owned it and used it for pasture/farming, but never lived there. It's been hunted by everyone forever until I bought it and built my home here.
Full disclosure - I was born here too. 'Lived about a 1/4 mile from where I built my house until my parents moved us to a neighboring county and I grew up there for all of my school aged years. Now I'm back.
I have numerous neighbors, some of whom owned the land at one time or another, others who just trespassed, have hunted here forever. Despite my requests to respect my property, especially now that we live here, they still do. The land is posted appropriately.
My land is very hilly, wooded and has numerous water hazards. As I have only been here for a few years, its not easy to patrol or keep watch over yet. It's 70ac in size, but being very hilly, it has far more than 70ac of surface. Much of the land on one side of me is now public, exacerbating the issue.
One time, early on, I was approached on my own land by a neighbor's middle aged son and buddy, carrying their firearms, accusing me taking down their deer blinds on my land. Not at the boardering edge either, 1000+ft from the border with their land. My response was kinder than it should have been but still pretty terse. I was honest. I hadn't touched their stuff, yet - but it was on my list. If some other hunter trespassing out here had taken it, it wasn't my problem and saved me the effort of taking them down myself. If I had taken it down, I would have given back to them when I did. Now 'git!
Who approaches a land owner on his own land, brandishing firearms, accusing him or taking down deer stands that should have never been there to begin with?! I have not had a run-in with those individuals since, but sheesh...
I don't hunt currently, my family and job demand my priorities be elsewhere, but some day I will have more time. My expressed requirements to my neighbors are to give me a call if they want to hunt my land so I can keep track of who is where, when. If no one else is hunting, I really would not hesitate to give permission to my neighbors to hunt the land. I'm not trying to be a jerk about property rights - I just want to know who, when and where so I can reduce some of the liability. I'd be on the hook if they trespass and get hurt too... but maybe I can reduce some of the risks if I have some information.
I never hear from any of them.
But I often hear things like, "I heard Moe got an nice 8 point out at your place!" at the gas station or the local watering hole. It's a small town, everyone knows or hears about everything. When confronted, Moe denies trespassing but the taking of the deer on my land is corroborated by all of Moe's "friends"... And when I say often, I mean at least once a year...
Calling the cops/DNR about trespassing or poaching isn't really an effective option. I have 4 LEO's for neighbors... They all know it's going on too, some are hunting their own land. Obviously, they are not the offenders. 'No evidence and the trespassers would be long gone before I got to them after I heard a shot and bow hunting is almost undetectable. I'd have to post trail cams all over the place to catch folks trespassing. The actual poaching has decreased (off season hunting) but I still see and hear indications it's going on. I would certainly anyone to task with the police/DNR if I did catch them.
My trail system is expanding, but I am not on it to patrol very frequently (or I'd be hunting myself).
As much as principle, liability comes into this. Have any of you had similar experiences? Any thoughts/experience on how to reduce the trespassing?