Facing Hunting Confrontations
Dr. John Woods 12.05.13
[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”06wj7AGJ3mUcoFfYVX0hqLeAQBfstQn6″]FACING HUNTING CONFRONTATIONS
The sound of the ATV coming across the property line was distinct. The rider motored down the power line right-of-way traversing our land and stopped at a ladder box stand we used to hunt the open stretch of power poles cutting through dense woods on both sides. The engine died.
What the intruder did not realize was that I was sitting in a shooting house just 150 yards away through the opposite side of the woods. I climbed out of my stand, radioed the other hunters in our land ownership to ease my way. I walked down the road until I could stand on the edge of the open right-of-way without being detected.
Using my binoculars I could observe a man sitting in the hunting stand. He held a rifle which was sticking out the window, but he wore no regulation required hunter orange. The ATV sat right at the base of the stand. The guy was caught trespassing red-handed.
About then two other members rolled up on their 4-wheelers in plain view of the trespasser. He was now standing up and coming down the ladder. He jumped on his ATV. He tried to crank it several times, but it would not fire. Out of sheer frustration I suppose the man finally fled on foot into the woods. What were we supposed to do then?
Our first response was to phone the office of the Department of Wildlife to report the incident and to have the local game warden come out. They gave us the officer’s name and number, but the subsequent phone call yielded no results. The guy actually refused to come out to our camp unless we held the trespasser in custody. Funny me, I thought that was his job.
Next, we recovered the man’s ATV. We towed it back to camp and with some further thought we decided to load it up and deliver it to the local city police. The police officer “in charge” that Saturday knew the owner of the 4-wheeler, but informed us that we had in fact caught the guy trespassing in the county not within the city limits. I would call that a classic “passing of the buck.”
The only lesson learned that day was that we should have called the county sheriff. I still wonder if that would have had any different results. I do suspect though that we scared the bee-gee-bees out of that intruder. Maybe it sent a message through town that we were serious in at least appearing like we were protecting our private property. Trespassing has lessened.
So what is the most appropriate course of action when, as a private landowner, you are confronted by unauthorized hunters, poachers, or other trespassers on your land without permission? If you come face-to-face with these types and you are alone, it can be a scary experience. Most would be inclined to retreat and call the appropriate authorities from a safe location, and then be prepared to follow up with filing charges if it comes to that. In most situations this may be the most prudent first response.
A revisit to the OK Corral is not what most of us have in mind in terms of having to protect our private property. Of course, a home or camp invasion is one thing, being a direct threat to life, limb, and family. However, catching someone merely walking or hunting on your side of the fence may be something else. They may immediately flee the scene or they might become belligerent about it. I have witnessed both types of behavior.
If you discover a vehicle on your property or observe trespassers from a distance, then get license plate numbers and descriptions of anyone you see on your land. This information might be helpful later.
I recall turkey hunting in Alabama one time with a guide when we discovered another hunter in the same private property woods. The guide went to confront the other guy, who immediately ran off. Even I could see the trespasser had a thick head of snow white hair. When the guide reported the incident, the outfitter went to the police who knew right off who the man was. He was cited for trespassing that same day, because we noted his description.
Seriously, no one is suggesting that when caught in these situations that anybody ought to respond with any sort of deadly force. However, it would only be prudent to assume any such confrontation might escalate into a defensive action. Be prepared for that at least.