How can the hunter and landowner continue to get along?
A hunting license does not authorize you to enter private property without permission.
The battle over public and private land has been a big issue here in Maine. Our Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says 94% of land in Maine is privately owned, which makes hunting hard if you do not own land to hunt on.
I am fortunate. The three pieces of land that we hunt on make up about 680 acres and are owned by my parents and grandparents.
We have allowed people to hunt on the land as long as they asked, stayed on different sections of the land so as to not interfere with us hunting and there are no four-wheelers allowed.
I hunt in a small town where everyone knows everyone else and knows where the landowners hunt/own. It is a community where the rules and verbal requests to hunt on certain parts of land are taken seriously.
Over the past two years, we posted signs around our land to keep people away from where we are hunting and to ward off those who we have caught trespassing.
There was a guy who walked out into our clearing and walked towards us, waving as though he was a part of our hunting party. He walked half way between the woods and where we sat in our tree house before he decided to turn and walk back into the woods.
Then, there was the guy who we have seen sitting in a hemlock tree just out of sight of my treestand. Last fall, my Dad found a tree seat on the property with no identification information listed. He put a Posted sign up at the head of the trail and planned to remove the seat if it was not gone before the deer season started.
It magically disappeared but the hunters did not.
Three men followed my husband up a steep piece of terrain that was nowhere near the property lines and very clearly posted. There is no respect for the landowner and clearly no respect for others hunting in the area.
Along with the discussion on land use, is the expansion of hunting on Sundays, something you can NOT do in Maine. Instead, Mainers are given an extra Saturday before the season opens to hunt.
But if we hunters want to be able to hunt where we want and when we want, it cannot be a one way relationship. Hunters need to prove to the landowners that we respect their boundaries, rules and requests.
The main reason Maine has no plans to expand into Sundays is landowners. They want to be able to access their land without having hunters in the woods. There have been landowners who threaten to post all of their land permanently if the week is expanded into Sunday.
Us hunters are not doing ourselves any favors either. Trespassing, leaving garbage, water bottles, beer cans… we are not always the stewards of the land that we think we are.
If we expect those that own the land (that we are lucky enough to hunt on) to continue to provide access, then we need to step it up and start acting like it is our land and treating it as such.
The old adage, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch” is starting to become the norm for the hunter and landowner relationship.
RELATED: How To Hunt in the Suburbs
I know that the battle between public and private land is a huge issue for hunters across the US, but unfortunately these recent incidents of trespassing on our land have left a sour taste in our mouths.
We will continue to let some people hunt with permission, but they will be surrounded by yellow posted signs as they walk into the woods.
How do you handle the landowner/hunter relationship? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.