Times had changed. The animals had caught on to hunter movements, and at this point in history the earth was filled with people – many of which were literally relying on their hunting skills for food. No doubt there have been battles fought over hunting lands and rights since the beginning of time, and even today the fight continues on.
Generally speaking, we Americans are competitive, and territorial. We don’t just like to win, we crave it. It’s part of who we are, and it’s one of the reasons we have thrived as a culture. It’s no different in our love for hunting. Everyone wants to shoot the biggest deer and plaster their face all over social media. We fight, and bicker with one another on laws, gear, and an assortment of other trivial matters.
Trespassers and line-hunters
Now let’s discuss something not so trivial – Your hunting property. Every year someone will post on a talk forum or Facebook where they are having issues with their neighbor hunting close to their property line. Usually, it plays out something like this:
“I worked hard to buy this property, and I’ll be danged if my neighbor doesn’t hunt right on the line.” It’s always interesting to note the poster will sometimes admit to also hunting on, “the line.” But, it’s okay for them because they don’t shoot on the other side.
A few years ago I was hunting a small farm, and the places for tree stands were extremely limited. The best place for a stand was right on the neighbor’s line because of a natural pinch-point that led to a food source. My property held the pinch point and bedding, the neighbor had the food. Both of us had stood right on their side of the line – he hunted his side only and same for me.
Over the next few years, my relationship with this mysterious hunter became very strained. We never spoke, but we should have.
The first incident I had with him wasn’t violent, but annoying. I was walking to my stand early one afternoon and noticed that he was waving at me with his orange hat to go the other direction. I complied and waved – no big deal. After that incident, he nailed his orange hat to the tree in an effort to make me think that he was there and I would leave.
One year later I was nestled up in my tree before daylight and he comes driving right up to his stand. I flash my light, he doesn’t care – and that was okay. About 8 a.m. a young 8 point is coming from his bed right towards me and literally walks under my stand. I didn’t want to shoot the deer, and I didn’t want him to get shot so I stand up as he is coming and start trying to scare him off. No luck. He jumps the fence goes 50 yards and BOOM! My neighbor shoots him right out in front of me.
That’s okay, it was his property and totally legal, but what happened next was very concerning. The guy gets in his truck and drives close to my stand staring me down, and then drives to the deer. He continues staring at me and continues the stare-down for a long period of time. It got weird, real weird. I finally left the area and never had another run in with the guy, but he was obviously annoyed at me. Honestly, I was being a jerk for trying to scare the deer off – shame on me, and lesson learned.
Thankfully, what happened with that particular hunter was not violent and no one got hurt. No doubt though we had a strained relationship, and had never said one word to each other. But why? Why not just take a few minutes to have a friendly discussion and talk?
What’s even worse than the line-hunting, is when landowners catch someone trespassing on their trailcamera. Many times on social media the landowner will post pictures of the trespasser, and other commentators start advocating physical violence towards the parties discovered. I get it. You don’t want people shooting your deer, and turkeys. You don’t want strange folks on your land – I really get that! We have boundary and trespassing laws for a reason, and everyone should obey those laws.
I am not advocating for trespassers, or for those that hunt on your property line. This isn’t for them, or their protection – this is for you.
I’m just advocating that we use a little common sense, and don’t rush into hasty decisions. Whether that is tongue lashing your neighbor or threatening them. Here are some simple suggestions on dealing with your neighbors:
Always remember this rule: Listen, listen some more – then talk.
1. If you find a stand on your property line or know that your neighbor is hunting the line – go talk to them. Most issues can be solved with a friendly conversation.
2. If you find a trespasser, don’t start with a bad attitude. It’s okay to be stern, and also not be a jerk. If all else fails you can call the authorities later.
3. Don’t gas people up on social media to harm others. First of all, you look a little nuts doing this. Two, you might actually convince someone to do something that gets someone hurt.
Hunting is fun, and some of us are very serious about it. Let’s not forget at the end of the day we are all human, and sometimes we don’t act logical – much like Esau.
Whenever we engage with our hunting brethren and sisters, remember we are on the same team. It’s not worth a fight, or worse. Keep it civil, and you might even make a friend.