Signs, signs, everwhere are signs

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I wrote this column a couple years ago, but it seems to me it can stand repeating, especially after a guy who deer hunts on the property next to us recently had a trail camera stolen from a fairly remote location. The thief was brazen enough to drive across the property owners standing alfalfa field to get to it, also angering the property owner in the process and setting himself up for a pretty easy trespassing conviction if identified.

I’m not a very opinionated man, but I do have a few annoyances. I try hard to keep these “pet peeves” on their leashes, but occasionally they break free. Bad signs really irritate me; hard to read, too small, homemade looking, bad signs! For instance, a bad “for sale” sign might as well say” I really don’t want to sell this, but my wife won’t let it stay, so after you’ve read this sign, please just drive away.”

Speaking of bad signs, a major “pet peeve” of mine is trespassing and hunting without permission, and with the myriad of fall hunting seasons already underway, allow me to offer some pertinent information. I am a hunter and I have been a land owner, so I’ve been on both sides of this “fence” so to speak. Are you land owners and sportsmen aware that regulating trespassing and hunting on private property DOES NOT even require a “bad sign” but in fact, requires no sign at all? In Kansas, law requires hunters to gain land owner permission even on unmarked property. Let me also note the difference between “hunting with permission only” and “hunting with WRITTEN permission only.” “Hunting with permission only” allows for any form of permission, written, verbal or over the phone, and requires the land owner’s signature on any ticket or formal complaint issued by the conservation officer. “Hunting with WRITTEN permission only” is satisfied only by permission in writing, and gives law enforcement personnel free reign to issue citations, and /or make arrests with no further authorization. By the way, land owners, the fish and game dept. furnishes both the signs and permission slips, at no cost, for this type of posting. I’m sure we hunters have all seen the bright purple paint on fence posts and old tires along property lines. These purple markers along property boundaries also mean “hunting with WRITTEN permission only,” and corresponding compliance is required. The local conservation officer told me that trespassing violations are misdemeanors, so fines are determined and levied by the judge. He said that locally in McPherson County, the minimum is two hundred fifty dollars plus court costs of ninety-eight dollars, but can be up to five hundred dollars depending on circumstances and the judge’s decision.

We hunt mostly deer and turkeys, and trap coyotes, raccoons and beavers. Lots of land owners, especially farmers, are willing to let respectful, responsible hunters help them control deer, turkey, predator and beaver populations on their land. In my assessment, there are very few reasons why hunting and trapping permission is denied. One is because the owner wants to reserve the privilege for themselves and their family. Another is because someone else has “beaten us to the punch.” There are also land owners who simply do not want game animals harvested. These are all legitimate reasons we hunters must respect. The explanation that makes me cringe is when a land owner denies hunting or trapping permission because of a bad experience with previous hunters or trappers. Trespassing, cut or broken-down fences, gates left open, muddy ruts in fields, indiscriminate shooting and other disrespectful actions toward the owner or his property; I’ve seen or experienced them all! Sadly, these actions by a few of our comrades adversely affect all hunters in the end.

Remember, NO SIGN of any kind is required to keep unwelcome hunters off your land, nor to have them prosecuted for trespassing! I was once denied permission to firearm hunt for deer on a man’s property because years before he and his wife had dodged bullets whizzing through the trees as they attempted to cut firewood. Evidently the shooter had never before heard the sound a chainsaw makes…Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.

Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]

 

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