show your support

Hometown USA For Sale

by Joe Guidice

What’s a hunter to do about the shrinking of our open spaces?

          All across the country hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are faced with the same dilemma: Shrinking open spaces caused by the development and growth of our communities. Nearly everyone who hunts, fishes, or traps has seen it. For Sale signs everywhere. Almost everyone has seen a favorite hunting ground or fishing hole developed or sold and posted by the new owner. With the exodus of more and more city folk and non-hunters moving to the suburbs and farther, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find land to use for outdoor activities. In addition, we are faced with the constant onslaught of negative media coverage of those persons who engage in illegal activity and the conduct of those who abuse the privileges afforded to them who both cast a poor image of sportsmen in general. This in turn only gives the anti-hunting groups more fire in their efforts to ban hunting and fishing. Many farmers or landowners that used to allow hunting and fishing on his property have now posted their lands and no longer allow anyone access to it. Who can blame them in some cases? How many times have you seen garbage, spent shell casings, wanton vandalism and waste on a place where you hunt or fish? Would you continue to allow this of it were YOUR property? All this and more are making it increasingly difficult to find places to go within a reasonable drive from home.

          While it’s true that we’ve all heard this before, it needs to be said again and again until it’s finally learned. We as sportsmen must do something to help ourselves and our image. We have to stop giving the anti’s the ammunition they need to deprive us of our sport and what many of us feel is a part of our national heritage. WE have to organize. WE have to behave like sportsmen.

          Here are a few things to do that might help you secure a place to hunt or fish, and might even help you make a few friends along the way. You’ve already heard most or all of these things. I believe that most sportsmen practice these things. Now the time has come to start preaching what we’ve been practicing. 

  • Join or Form a Club. Many clubs and sportsmen’s associations have agreements with local landowners for access to private lands. Many of these organizations actually post the property for the owner, and patrol it for trespassers. Organize. The anti’s are organized, why shouldn’t we be organized too.
  • ASK. If the sign says posted, it means posted. However, many times simply asking for permission is all it takes. Remember to renew that permission every season as well. A lot can change in between hunting seasons. Don’t forget to ask if you can bring your friend, son, father, father-in-law, etc. Ask about what kind of game it’s ok to hunt there. Many farmers that won’t allow deer hunting on their place will allow you to hunt rabbits as they view them as a pest. Make sure it’s ok to bring your dogs too.
  • Offer to Help. It won’t kill you to put in a day’s work at the farm, or to spend a day or two helping a landowner repair a fence, hang some signs up, dig a ditch or whatever he needs. And not just during or right before hunting season. There’s work to be done year-round. An offer to work might go along way toward getting you permission to use the property.
  • Be Polite and Present Yourself well. How you present yourself is very important. Think about how YOU’D react to someone knocking on YOUR door.
  • ASK Every Time. Don’t just show up unless you have that kind of permission to do so. Call ahead of time or stop by in advance and make sure it’s ok to use the property on the day you have planned.
  • Don’t Bring Extra Guests. Think about this one for a minute. You’ve given permission for to people to use your property, and all of a sudden six show up! Is this rude? You bet it is. If it were MY property I can guarantee that you won’t be back. Consider this: maybe the owner has also give someone else permission to use the property, and he has an idea as to how many people he wants on his property at any given time. Not only is it not right, it might be unsafe for too large a group.
  • Stop and Say Thank You and Goodbye. Offer to share what you’ve taken with the owner. It shows that you are appreciative and it shows respect.
  • Don’t be a Slob. Clean up after yourself and the others in your party. Don’t leave the remnants of your lunch in the woods. Pick up your spent shells. It won’t hurt you to take an extra plastic bag in with you and pick up other trash that you find. When you stop and say goodbye, you can discard it and it might show the owner that you are helping to take care of his property.
  • Respect the Rules and the Property. If the owner says you can hunt in a certain area, stay within those boundaries. Don’t set up for target practice or plinking without permission to do so. It shouldn’t sound like a shooting gallery when you’re supposed to be hunting.
  • Be a Friend. There’s nothing wrong with stopping by during the off-seasons just to say hello. Maintaining a friendship with the owner shows that you’re not just using him for his land. Send a Christmas card, drop off a pie or some vegetables from your garden, telephone and say hi. Get to know the owner and become friends.
  • NO MEANS NO. If the owner says no, respect it. Don’t show up and sneak in to the property. Not only is trespassing illegal; it’s unethical and ruins opportunities for others.
  • Report Violators to the Authorities. If we want to preserve our sport, we need to police ourselves. If you see someone breaking the rules, report it. Call your local Game Warden, Conservation Officer, Trooper, Sheriff, whoever handles it in your area. DON’T under any circumstances challenge a person who is armed. If you can, get a license plate number or back tag but if that’s not possible just give the best information that you can.
  • Choose Your Hunting Companions Wisely. Unfortunately, one bad apple DOES spoil the whole barrel. If someone you know doesn’t behave responsibly and ethically, it’s time to start hunting with someone else. Be an example to people you hunt with.
  • Teach Your Kids the Right Way. The lessons we learn as children stay with us for a lifetime. If you want to preserve the hunting traditions for our next generation you have to pass on the values that we need for the future. Teach safety. Teach ethics. Teach responsibility and respect. It will pay dividends later on.

          None of what I’ve described here is impossible or outlandish. All it takes is a little time and effort and a measure of respect and humility. We as hunters are facing tough times and unless we help ourselves and improve our image all that we care about could someday be lost. Good Hunting.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).