Saturday, December 26, 2015

Trespassers: What Can Be Done?

By Andrea Haas

I was sitting in my deer stand last weekend overlooking the food plot where I've been getting trail cam pictures of a buck of a lifetime. I've even had several encounters with him in this spot recently and I know that if he keeps slipping up, his days are numbered. While I'm sitting there I'm reflecting on my deer season and thinking how lucky I am to have this beautiful piece of private land to hunt on. It's something that I will never take for granted.

Suddenly I hear something walking in the woods behind me. My heart starts to race, like it always does when you're anticipating seeing that big buck take his first step out of the woods. But I didn't see a buck step out, or any deer for that matter. Instead, I hear the voices of 2 people coming closer and closer, cussing, yelling, and breaking tree branches along the way, ruining my evening hunt.

There are few things that make me extremely mad and upset, but people not respecting boundaries, crossing the fence onto our property and ruining my chance at the biggest buck of my life is definitely one of them. Unfortunately trespassing is something that has become a common occurrence on our private property over the past few years. Just this spring I had a game camera stolen right before turkey season by a trespasser. We contacted the Sheriff's office and thankfully I got the camera back, as the trespasser walked by another of our game cameras with the stolen camera in hand, and was able to be identified.

I would just like to say that my husband and I have worked hard for what we have, my husband especially. We work hard to manage our land how we see fit and turn it into a haven for wildlife. We do not, however, do all this work to benefit trespassers and poachers. So what can be done about this?

As far as I know, in Missouri, we need to have no trespassing signs up around our property, as well as purple paint on the trees. You can do some research on your state to find out what the law is regarding this. Fencing off your property clearly shows the property lines and may be worth the extra effort if this hasn't been done already.

It also doesn't hurt to have a conversation with surrounding neighbors to let them know where your property line is and to let them know if they do or do not have permission to be over there. In our experience, this does not guarantee they will stay off of your property, but it doesn't hurt.

If this doesn't work you may have to resort to contacting the Sheriff's Department and or game warden. Setting up surveillance cameras to catch them in the act will help too so you can provide evidence to help support your case and help identify the trespasser or poacher.

Sometimes it's an honest mistake made by someone who really just didn't know where the property line was. But with my experience, it seems people just have a blatant lack of respect for other people's property. 
Does anyone else have any other words of advice here? If so please drop me a comment, I am all ears!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hunters Unite

By Andrea Haas

My friend Kinsey and I dove hunting
Every year on social media I see hunters bashing other hunters for their hunting methods. I even fall victim to this myself from time to time. It seems there's always one hunter that wants to criticize others because the buck they shot was too small or too young, they don't agree with the weapons others hunt with, or even the type of animal that is being hunted. The way I see it is, if it's legal and no laws were broken then why criticize them for hunting the way they like? 

Crow hunting is something that I catch a lot of heat for. We have a crow season here in Missouri that opens every November. For some of the benefits of crow hunting, check out this article:

Personally, I could care less what weapon I hunt with. If it's in season, I'll use it! I enjoy hunting deer with a bow, rifle and muzzle loader almost equally and my main goal is to put meat in the freezer. If that meat happens to be from a big buck, even better! I see a lot of people setting goals for themselves to only harvest deer with their bow, opting to forego rifle season even though their odds of harvesting a deer would be better. Let them! There's no rule that states we all have to hunt the same way and have the exact same goals for our season. And if there was such a rule, think about how boring and uninteresting that would be!

My doe from 2015 Rifle Season

In case you haven't heard of the Sportsmen's Alliance, they are a non-profit organization working to defend hunting, fishing, and trapping against lawsuits, legislation, and ballot issues proposed by anti-hunters. Another thing that they are working just as hard at is getting hunters to unite, stop bickering with each other, and accept each others differences. Last week they shared this photo on their Facebook page, along with this caption: 

"One of the greatest threats to hunting is our own inability to get along and accept each others differences. ‪#‎OurHeritageOurFight‬

I couldn't agree more with that statement! If there's one thing that every hunter has in common, I feel it's that we all want to have the right to go hunting. We all enjoy the outdoors in our own way and need to be united against those who are ready to take those experiences away from us! Embrace our differences and, as long as it's legal, respect other hunters' choices. After all, "We're all on the same team."