Contributors to this thread:
Public Property Ethics
Just wanted to start a new thread sort of keying off of Jim's private property threads. Do the bowhunters on this site feel it is acceptable to sit the borders of public land in scenarios described in Jim's post? I linked the original post here as a reference. I often sit the borders (within 50 yards or so) of private lands when I turkey hunt and call birds into my decoys from private property before I whack them (they're turkeys, they don't die on the private although they have come close once or twice). Is this an ethical situation or am I out of bounds? What about deer moving on and off public? Good discussion!
Public land is Public land. I generally don't hunt borders but that's more because I don't fully trust OnX, etc. (and most land here isn't marked) and would prefer to not run the risk of getting ticketed. But that's just me. If the land was properly marked with No Trespassing signs and I saw plenty of animal movement from Public to private (or vice versa) I don't think I'd have any moral trouble sitting 50 yards onto public.
I hunt public land a dozen times a year or so and some spots border private property. I won’t hunt right on the border but 100-200 yards off i don’t see an issue with it. I mean if it’s where the deer are go for it, I’m not gonna sit where the deer aren’t if that’s the case may as well stay at the house. I can see some scenarios where it would be an issue i.e. setting up close to a border where people have box blinds and or stands and are actively hunting, or situations like that. We all know there’s people out there like that though and nobody should be surprised by the acts of some over a bit of venison
Private land is private upto the border of public land. Is it morally right for a private land owner to set up stands and sit on the border of public land? The owner has the advantage to where he can shoot both sides of the lines!
These have been interesting threads and good reads. I've always noticed that a lot of hunters suffer from "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence" syndrome. Public and private land where I hunt in PA always seems to have a majority of hunters setting up right at or very near the property lines. Many of these hunters have the attitude that "your not getting MY deer but I will shoot YOURS", kinda foolish in my opinion but deer seem to make people do foolish things. I try to avoid property lines because I don't like to be bothered by anyone when I'm hunting.
Iv shot elk as they hit the ground on the public side of the fence but that was with a rifle with a bow I try to put a couple hundred yard buffer between me and the fence
I hunt public in a 90* corner between two land owners, one to the north, and I own the property to the east. the main travel is on a trail on public running north and south, but the best ambush site is within view of the neighbors north line.
Yes I could go elsewhere I have 500 acres, but the success here is proven.
How ethical am I? Am I a bad neighbor?
Around here, I hunt mostly county (public) land. There are a lot of different private landowners on all borders of it. Some let me hunt theirs with permission. If I didn't hunt near the edges of the public, I'd be pretty confined to a core area and get burned out in a hurry. The county land is two big parcels, one under a section and one three sections, but the ag fields are all on private, so the game goes off the sanctuary of the public and into private to feed. I sit or hunt edges most every time, but also core areas where its not so thick I can't get into it. There is not a lot of pressure except on weekends, both public and private. I prefer to hunt week days to minimize conflict and increase chances of finding unspooked game. I rarely run into anyone. Landowners here are all pretty decent folks.
BTW, I still hunt and spot/stalk. I have no blinds or stands set up near anyone's property lines and bait and minerals are illegal. I prefer to disturb no ones 'sit'-uation or hunt.
Yes, I'll hunt the borders. I grunted a buck off the private last year and killed it. I wouldn't expect any public land hunter to stay away from my border if it was my land.
I think 50yds off bow hunting and at least 100yds gun hunting is an acceptable distance. To many variables and temptations can happen setting up on a property line
Another great discussion. When you own property next to public hunting you already know that it's you against everyone else. You really have no control over who hunts the land next to you. When it's public land it can be even worse, or it can be better. If the public land has great habitat and is full of deer, as soon as the pressure gets to bad, those deer will move over to your property. I guess I'm getting off topic. You can legally hunt all of the public land even right next to private property. It probably only becomes an ethics question if you are hunting in a way that would lead you to think that a wounded deer is very likely to run onto the private land. Other than that, I don't think it's ethically wrong.
I almost got shot by a guy hunting a fence in Missouri. He was told the night before rifle that family would be hunting the family farm so he placed a blind 10 feet from the fence. I was sneaking up on a nice buck when he shot it on my side. The dude had the audacity to come over the fence and try to claim it with the neighboring landowner. I took the buck and told them if they had a problem I'd just call the warden. To answer your question, I always hunt close to fences on public.
I see issues from both sides and yes I am a property owner, and hunt a lot of public,,, I always give a buffer......... I think it is not ethical, and I see it all the time... the property owner, sets stand right on the border,,, that way with a rifle he can cover both public and all of his private.................. legal yes,,, ethical I do not think so
I give the public land hunter a break,,,, but my opinions do not mean spit
I also have my land posted,,,,,,,,, it states anyone that needs to track a deer is welcome, just let me know at the cabin, (address given) and do it after hours............... thank you
I hunt public land primarily, several of my spots are very close to fencline, it got me in trouble once not being able to properly recover but as long as I’m not shooting across the fence I don’t worry about anything besides recovery. My ethical range is 25 yard so whenever possible I try to set up at least that distance away from private.
If I’m in a new spot and I see someone set up on the private I am respectful of that. This year I actually found a good spot and had a good hunt more yards from the border, next trip there was a ladder on the fence line in the private right next to my stand...you can bet I still hunted it.
On private land I’m more careful because that person doesn’t have the ability to set up in the same area I’m hunting so I never set up on the fence line and give a buffer
I haven’t hunted public land in 40 years, so take this with a grain of salt. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t ever want to be in the wrong, my Daddy instilled that in me, so if I hunted public I would never hunt close to the border if I knew it. Where I hunted public land it was National Forest, and theoretically you could go from public to private and not know it, the only signs being tiny and facing toward the private. I always hunted deep in the woods so that was never an issue.
That said, it’s legal, but not a good idea IMO.
I sometimes hunt elk on "flagpoles" of public land maybe only 1/4 mile across. In CO a landowner doesn't have to grant permission to track or recover an animal that crosses onto his property. So I contact the landowners beforehand to let them know that I know the boundaries on my GPS and will honor them, won't hunt right on the line. I've only ever had one problem, and that was with a well-known jerk who simply hates bowhunters. Luckily I've never had to recover anything on his side.
One property owner asked me, "With 1.2 million acres of National Forest around here, why do you need to hunt this little piece behind my place?" I replied, "Because that's where the elk are." He laughed, said "I guess so", we ended up having a 30 minute conversation about fly fishing, I met his wife, and he told me if I killed an elk and it went onto his (unmarked) property, to go right on ahead and track and recover it, no need to contact him. Sometimes it works out like that.
I don't hunt borders. Life's too short.
Lou, correct if I'm wrong, but doesn't CO game laws say a hunter has the legal obligation to pursue mortally wounded game onto private property after making a "reasonable" attempt to contact the landowner? And failure to do so could result in a violation to the hunter?
Grey Ghost's Link
Grey no without landowner permission it is a no go I lost an elk that got onto a ranch that wouldn’t allow me or the game warden to access his property to recover it years ago.
As an outfitter a few years ago, we dealt with this exact situation several times. Our local game warden told us that if we weren't able to contact the landowner, or he didn't give permission to trespass, we were to call him and he would escort us onto the property to retrieve the game.
The above link seems to to say basically the same thing. Scroll down to the section titled "Game shot on public but runs onto private".
Maybe the difference lies in that we were able to get in contact with the ranch owner not sure all I know is he said no and the warden said that’s all we can do.
The law is fuzzy about what constitutes a "reasonable attempt". I know of an instance from a couple years ago where I hunt, where the rancher/outfitter wouldn't let the hunter or his outfitter recover a mortally wounded bull that was slowly dying about 75 yards on the other side of the fence. It came close to becoming a fist fight, then a gunfight (I know both outfitters well and got the same story from both, albeit with biased twists - I believe the bowhunting outfitter because I know the other guy is a pathological liar, once guided rifle hunters for him....). This was the guy I mentioned who hates bowhunting.
The WCO tried to intervene but said he couldn't legally force the one to let the other recover it. A few hours later after the bull finally expired as they watched from across the fence, the guy finally relented and let them go over and retrieve it, all the while lecturing them on how bowhunting was terrible, most animals are only wounded and never recovered, it disrupts the rut, kills all the big bulls before they can breed, blah, blah.
The law definitely needs to be clarified, Lou. Fortunately, every time we had a client's wounded animal run onto a property we didn't have leased, the landowner was agreeable to allowing us to retrieve it. Our local game warden seemed to believe he had the right to escort us onto the property, with or without the landowners consent. But I've heard of other accounts in which the warden claimed he couldn't. Fuzzy for sure.
“A few hours later after the bull finally expired as they watched from across the fence, the guy finally relented and let them go over and retrieve it, all the while lecturing them on how bowhunting was terrible, most animals are only wounded and never recovered, it disrupts the rut, kills all the big bulls before they can breed, blah, blah.”
Sounds to me like he expected the bull to recover if he was left alone?
We hunt a drainage with a private ranch at the bottom; my folks used to know the guy who bought it... and put up a 4-strand fence around the whole thing. Zero chance of stumbling across the line by mistake at least.
We give the ranch quite a berth. Yeah, it kinda rankles to feel like you have to stay clear of the private AND spot the guy a hundred or hundred & fifty yard buffer zone, but it’s a big place.
I miss Big Places.....
Matt, whatya mean ya miss big places? You work in NYC don't you, that's a really big place. ;)
If I'm in this situation (public / private border) I give a bit of cushion, but also fully realize you could be 400yds over, liver hit one by accident and it ends up on the private. Likewise, I could be 5yds from the line, hit one and it goes 100yds deeper into public. You really can't guarantee what happens here, just not possible.
Someone above noted something like "dont shoot MY deer but Ill shoot YOUR deer". It struck me, because that seems to cross lines a lot - meaning all areas of life. I do think that happens to some degree in the public/private hunting debate.
In the end, If it's posted private where your deer dies, and you shot it standing on public, you should be able to recover that deer. Ideally that's just finding the land owner and asking nicely... and getting a, likewise, kind response. If not, then I guess the CO would be the next step.
Being from the North East though, I have a different view of public/private than most on here, so maybe it's just my weird North Eastern lens coming through ha ha ha!
I hunted a timberland and wounded a deer that went a long ways into a 13 acre piece leased as a camp site from Boise Cascade. I knocked on the door of the camp and was promptly ushered off the property. I called the warden when I got home and he accompanied me to the cabin where he informed the owners that in our state, deer are public property, wild animals, and a hunter has the absolute right to an animal he shot. They got mouthy and when we retrieved the deer we found out why they were so protective of their lease. There were about a dozen gallon milk jugs nailed to trees filled with salt water. I got my deer, they were issued violations, lost their licenses for a year, and worst all, lost the lease. The paper companies up here will not tolerate hunting and fishing violations and that is part of the lease agreement. These big timberland companies have become very leery of leasing and no longer will they lease anymore than a tiny lot. Plus they retain the right to clear cut right around your cabin. Like Will, I too live in the Northeast, but way up North where an open land philosophy reigns. Of course, having an extremely low deer density helps up here on the border as far as posting. Waste of time unless you like to park your butt and see nothing for a month.
This may be a dumb question, but what do gallon milk jugs filled with saltwater do to affect hunting?
The salt water runs down the trunk of the tree and the deer lick it. Salt is illegal in NH as a deer attractant. Poachers will hang a bag of salt hidden way up in a tree. When it rains, the salt water drips on the ground and creates a salt lick. They also hang apples impaled on bluefish hooks with a cable where a deer can reach it. Very cruel. I found one along with a set gun while hare hunting. If I hadn’t seen the wire I would have gotten blasted with buckshot. The warden knew exactly who set it and got him. Lifetime loss of license. That was 35 years ago.
Ah, ok, never thought of that. Thanks for the explanation. Out here in the West they just put out salt blocks and claim they were for "cattle" even though there aren't any cattle around. Illegal, but tough to prosecute on private land.
Here's a question -
I shoot an elk in Wyoming on Natl Forest/Wilderness boundary - it runs and dies in a Wilderness area. Do I nee to hire a guide to retrieve it?
I rarely if ever hunt public I. NY my home state but I hunt a 137 acre block of private. Some years the land I hunt has the only standing crops for miles around. During those years I see a lot of border stands pop up. I used to get upset but now I just hunt and sometimes cut those border stands off. I have no issue with folks setting up on the edge of public or private as long as they have the right to be there. Shawn
This is a great thread!
I could see being wary of borders if you don't know the landowner/lease holder, or if you do know them and they aren't friendly for whatever reason (I learned that the hard way this season. Based on that lesson, there are borders I will definitely be more cautious with so as not to be associated with certain people).
I own, lease and hunt public. The deer in my area move around a lot. So, getting into deer is a challenge, so I move around too. As do some of my neighbors.
I guess all of this gets more complicated when guys leave stands setup on public too. One of my neighbors does that. He has bad knees, so he doesn't like to sit in the same spot for long. I can probably think of 11 stands, blinds, chairs that he has out on public land. He always says that if he were coming up to a spot and I was hunting in the same general areas in my climber, he would move on without question. Even with that, I tend to not hunt near his setups for many reasons (disruption for either of us, not knowing when it was last hunted, etc.).
If i am hunting on public land, i usually hunt wherever i want to. Every...single..inch..of where i am legally allowed to go. Sometimes that involves setting up near private. Mostly that involves deer coming off of private bean or corn fields to bed on public thicket areas. Usually i am far away from border, but i dont worry about setting up close to private at all. I paid for my license, and public land permit, so i am actually paying extra to hunt public land.