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!

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