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Posts Tagged → trespass

Purple woad. Or why hunting leases

Leasing land to hunt on is a big thing these days, and there is no sign of the phenomenon decreasing. Most of it is about deer and turkey hunting.

Hunting leases have been popular for a long time in states with little public land, like Texas, but the practice is now spreading to remote areas like suburban farms around Philadelphia and Maryland. So high is the demand for quality hunting land, and for just finding a place to hunt without being bothered, and so limited is the resource becoming, that leasing is a natural step for many landowners who want to get some extra income to pay their rent or fief to the government (property taxes aka build-a-union-teacher’s-public-pension-fund).

Having been approached about leasing land I own and manage, it is something I considered and then rejected. If a landowner at all personally enjoys their own land themselves, enjoys their privacy there, enjoys the health of their land, then leasing is not for you. Bear in mind that leasing also carries some legal liability risk, and so you have to carry sufficient insurance to cover any lawsuits that might begin on your land.

Nonetheless, some private land is being leased, having been posted before that. And the reason that so many land owners are overcoming the same hurdles that I myself went through when considering land leasing, is that in some cases the money is high enough. Enough people want badly enough to have their own place that they can hunt on exclusively, that they are willing to pay real money.

Makes you wonder what kind of population pressures and open land decreases America has seen over the past fifty years to lead to this kind of change in land use. Makes me think of one anecdotal experience.

On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend of 2007, I drove up to Pine Creek to dig the footers for our barn. All the way up I shared the road, in both directions, with two motorcyclists headed in my same direction. That is it. In addition to my pickup, a grand total of two vehicles out for a Sunday drive in the country were on Route 44 and Rt 414.

Fast forward 13 years and my gosh, Pine Creek Valley has nonstop traffic in both directions at all hours. It does not matter what the time of day or night is, there are vehicles going in both directions. And not just oversize pickup trucks possibly associated with the gas drilling occurring around the area. Little tiny dinky tin can cars are going up and down the valley, too. There are literally people everywhere here now, in what had been the most remote, undeveloped, quietest corner of rural Pennsylvania. Even if you go bear hunting on some sidehill in the middle of nowhere up in Pine Creek Valley, you will encounter another hunting gang or two. Which for bear hunting is actually a good thing, but the point being that there are people everywhere everywhere everywhere in rural Pennsylvania.

OK, here is another brief anecdote. Ladies, skip ahead to the next paragraph. About ten years ago I was fishing on the north end of the Chesapeake Bay. When I was finished for the day, I drove back north toward home. At one point I had an urge to pee, so I began looking for a place I could pull off and pull out, without offending anyone. Yes, I have my modest moments. And you know what? The entire region between The Chesapeake Bay’s northern shores and the Pennsylvania Mason-Dixon Line, is completely developed. Like wall-to-wall one-two-three-acre residential lots on every inch of land surface. At the one place that finally looked like I was finally going to get some relief, I stepped out of the car and was immediately met with a parade of Mini Coopers and Priuses driving by on the gravel road to their wooded home lots. There was literally people everywhere, in every corner, in every place.

So what happened here?

There are more people and there is more land development, both of which leading to less nice land to hunt, fewer big private spaces for people to call their own, and so that which does exist is in much higher demand.

Enter Pennsylvania’s new No Trespassing law. AKA the “purple paint” law.

Why was this new law even needed? Because the disenfranchised, enslaved Scots-Irish refugees who originally settled the Pennsylvania frontier by dint of gumption, bravery, and hard work had a natural opposition to the notions and forms of European aristocracy that had driven them here. Such as large pieces of private land being closed off to hunting and fishing. And so these Scots-Irish settlers developed an Indian-like culture of openly flouting the marked boundaries of private properties. Especially when they hunted.

And this culture of ignoring No Trespassing signs carries forth to this very day.

Except that now it is 2020, not 1820, and there are more damned people on the landscape and a hell of a lot less land for those people to roam about on. Nice large pieces of truly private land are becoming something of a rarity in a lot of places. Heck, even the once-rural Poconos is now just an aluminum siding and brick suburb of Joizy.

So in response to our collision of frontier culture with ever more valuable privacy rights, Pennsylvania now has a new purple paint law. If you see purple paint on a tree, it is the equivalent of a No Trespassing sign. And if you do trespass and you get caught, the penalties are much tougher and more expensive than they were just a few months ago.

And you know what the real irony is of this purple paint stay-the-hell-out boundary thing? It is a lot like the blue woad that the Celtic ancestors of the Scots and Irish used to paint their bodies with  before entering into battle. Except it is now the landowner who has painted himself in war paint.

Isn’t life funny.

Some thoughts on PA deer season

We are already halfway through our two-week deer season in Pennsylvania, and already many hunters are discussing the merits of the first-ever Saturday opener. Pennsylvania has had a Monday opener for many decades, and where I grew up not only did the schools close on that Monday, there was a festive atmosphere that was palpable for the week leading up to it.

Gotta say, both Saturday and Monday were the quietest first days of deer season that I have ever heard. Very few shots heard either day, an observation made by a lot of other hunters.

One cannot help but wonder if the holiday atmosphere and the special quality of taking a work day off to gather together with family and friends to hunt has been lost with the Saturday opener. Yes, it would be ironic, because the change was done to expand hunting opportunities, given that most people do not work on Saturday like they do work on Mondays. But for many hunters it seems that having deer season now begin as just another weekend event of many other weekend events caused it to lose its specialness.

We shall see from the deer hunting results!

Separately, Pennsylvania now has a both a new trespass law and a new private land boundary marking law. Private land can now be marked “POSTED – NO TRESPASSING” by simply painting a vibrant purple paint stripe at least eight (8) inches long and one inch wide every 100 feet along the boundary of any private property. Seems that I am not alone in having my Posted signs ripped down by jealous jerks. Seems like I am not alone in working really really hard to create good whitetail deer habitat on my land, only to have some jealous people decide that it is so unfair that they can’t take advantage of all my hard work and also hunt there. So they rip down Posted signs and help themselves to my land and the land of many, many other private property owners.

Last Saturday we experienced a hunter trespassing on us, along with his young son. Why they would expect to be allowed to pass through the middle of our property, a place we hardly ever go because it is a deer sanctuary, is beyond imagination. They literally walked right through a long line of Posted signs, as if they did not exist. Their thinking seemed to be “So what if we ruin your hunting? We are simply trying to have a good hunting experience ourselves.”

But someone’s good hunting experience should never come at the expense of someone else’s hunt, especially if it results from trespassing on their property.

Think about it this way: A property owner spends all year toiling to make his property attractive to deer, and he creates sanctuaries around the property where not even he will go beginning in September, so the deer can relax there and not feel pressured. And then someone else who is not invited decides that they either want to hunt on that same property, or they want to pass through it to get to some other property, like public land. When they pass through, they disturb the deer and greatly reduce the quality of the hunting there.

Is this OK behavior?

As someone who works hard on his property to make it a quality hunting place, I can say that it is not OK behavior. It is a form of theft; trespassers are stealing from private property owners.

Dear trespassers – do you want people stealing from you? No? OK, so then you know how we feel when you steal from us. Don’t do it!

It will be interesting to see how the new trespass law and the new boundary marking law begin to change one of Pennsylvania’s least desirable cultures – the culture of defiant trespass. That just has to change.

Hope everyone has a productive, fun and safe rest of the season. When it is over, we begin our trapping season and small game hunting.

 

 

Did PA Senator Scott Wagner go too far?

Naturally people in all political parties are asking if Pennsylvania state senator Scott Wagner went “too far” when he grabbed cameras from a trespassing stalker who illegally followed him into a posted private building for a private non-political event.

Clearly the American Bridges stalker was literally over the line.

If you have to break a bunch of laws to try and prove that some elected official is a bad guy, then you have defeated your own purpose.

Again, the videographer stalker lied to get himself inside a private event on private property. The event was not political. The participants there did not give their permission to be photographed or recorded by the stalker.

Inside, the stalker hoped to get video of state senator Scott Wagner saying something that could be used against him at some future point.

Once again we see someone on the Left ignoring laws that are in their way, in the pursuit of achieving some goal against a political opponent. Basically, the same thing going on at Berkeley and many other places where close-minded fascists do all they can to shut down speakers who they disagree with. While claiming some sort of righteous mantle.

On the one hand, it is refreshing to see an elected official actually DO something, like actually take action on anything other than getting in line for another free meal at some political event.

After asking the guy to stop, to no effect, Wagner strode over and took away the illegal cameras. He had that right. By law.

And by nature, someone trying to bully you deserves a bit of a smack back.

So on that score, Wagner did well.

And he did not whine, or give fake smiles. He acted like a man. Like I said, in that way this is refreshing.

On the other hand, Wagner clearly lost his cool and was a little uncoordinated in his efforts. He was visibly upset and acting on his emotions.

As my friend Pastor John said, Wagner could have exhibited a little more poise. And both the politico and the athlete in me agrees: Never let them see you sweat, or lose your cool, and don’t get physical unless you are going to be smooth.

And for the record, there are things about Scott Wagner that I like, mostly his policies. And there are things, or to be more exact, moments, that have left me upset with the man. Having spent two days outside working polls to get him elected, I earned the right to criticize Scott Wagner. And I have some unhappy things to say about his behavior with me.

But that’s not the subject here. What is the subject is why the Left keeps ignoring laws they don’t like, that get in their way. Their behavior is anarchic, inconsistent with the rule of law. Why they expect to do these things without pushback and resistance is not understandable.

On that score, Wagner’s actions were a good “shot heard round the world” type moment.

The rest of us could emulate it. Smooooothly.

 

Who, Me? No, You!

America has been in the grip of moral relativism since the 1960s, and nowhere is this corrosive belief system more evident than among Politicians-Gone-Wild who get caught.

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane was just found guilty on all counts, including perjury, and her answer (she has been consistent on this from the beginning of her investigation) is something like “it is not my fault, I am the victim, everyone is out to get me, it’s not fair, and everyone does bad things so my bad actions are no worse than anyone else’s so I am therefore not guilty.”

This “Everybody does it, so I am not guilty” mindset has now filtered down from guilty politicians to nearly everyone in America. Seems to be almost a lifestyle, where people take whatever they want or think they can get away with, and then cry foul when they are caught and held accountable in even small ways.

Basic examples found daily in the news include shoplifters who then destructively run amok in the store they are caught in, decrying their “unfair” treatment by causing thousands of dollars in damage to prove their aggrieved status.

The most egregious example of this is the Black Lives Matter movement, where mostly hardened crooks are elevated to innocent hero status in the effort to attack civilization and the citizens who undergird it, our wonderful police officers.

More common is the trespassing for firewood theft and recreation that I frequently experience on properties we own or manage.

One guy had his teenaged children riding their ATVs on our property, and when I finally begged him to make them stop, his response was “I can’t control them.” Never mind that he had put up so many No Trespassing signs on our common boundary, and quite a few were way over that boundary deep into our land, that you could not look through the woods without seeing a sea of yellow marring the scenic beauty. In other words, he zealously guards against anyone trespassing on his land, but he casually lets his people trespass on our land, and makes no real effort to stop it.

Recently I received a brutal call from an angry local man I do not know, who really chewed me out, calling me every bad name imaginable. He ended his tirade with “A lot of people out here in the valley hate you.”

Despite efforts to have a lucid conversation with the man and inject actual facts to rebut his wild accusations, he denounced me one more time and then hung up the phone. Sitting there contemplating this strange call, I began recounting the run-ins we have had with his trespassing and thieving neighbors. Indeed, a great many of his neighbors had attempted to steal some of our land, or were serial trespassers after recreation and deer, or were thieves stealing commercial quantities of firewood and mountain stone.

Yes, we have had run-ins with people around him, and when I investigated with one of the confessed trespassers, he informed me that the caller was one of the people we had inadvertently netted in our anti-trespassing efforts.

Ah hah! went my brain. Here we have a man who has been trespassing on our land for years, stealing from us firewood and mountain stone for business purposes, and he is mad as hell that his free gravy train has come to an end.

And in fact, this guy was not alone in his angry denunciation of his imaginary oppressor.

One of the other trespassing locals we caught stealing red-handed two and a half years ago was so mad, he began denouncing me to anyone he met. I guess this is a customary defense mechanism, where guilty people try to pre-empt any negative information about themselves, but it is remarkably brazen nonetheless. We declined to press charges against him, because he probably would have lost his job as a result. And his partner in crime, a local attorney, could have lost his law license.

None of our largesse was appreciated or rewarded by these criminals. In fact, they took it as a sign of weakness and lack of resolve, and they went on the offensive, personally maligning the person who they blamed for their misfortune. That being “caught.” No taking responsibility, no admitting guilt, no owning up to doing something wrong, but instead blaming others for their moral failures.

One of the things I dislike about one of the presidential candidates is that she has zero morals, no ethics, no moral compass. She refuses to take responsibility for her many failed policies and legal failures as a senior American official.

One of the things I like about her opponent is that he stands for basic decency, defined by weak 2016 standards, mind you, not the 1940s Norman Rockwell ways by which we used to run this country, and which I grew up with and miss very, very much.

Americans must elect political leaders who set a basic standard for good behavior, who represent a return to basic good values, and who help us get away from corrosive moral relativism, a culture eating away the foundations of human relationships.

Texas Oil & Gas Companies Gone Wild – Part 1

Imagine my disgust and fury when out with my son on our hunting camp the other day we discovered four fresh survey stakes with gobs of ribbons placed on our property. No one had permission to enter our heavily posted, heavily surveyed property that adjoins PA State Forest.
Yes, I had been in discussion with a Texas-based company to come and explore the property, but we had signed nothing and they were in the process of negotiating.
So, finding the four stakes, which marked planned drilling and blasting locations, strategically placed around the property, but far enough away from the cabin that we were less likely to find them, conjured up the worst stories we have heard and seen about rogue Texas oil companies that trample on private property rights.
Luckily, I wasn’t present when the “surveyors” trespassed on our property. Had I encountered them, I would have held them at gunpoint until the State Police arrived to cite them for trespass. And I can tell you from personal experience, confronting trespassers out in the woods is uncomfortable and potentially explosive. Unless the trespasser does everything the landowner legally demands, which is a lot, the potential for gun fire is extremely high. People who defiantly trespass are probably violent, too. So the landowner has to be aggressive and controlling, ready to defend himself at any second.
I contacted the company, and their representative told me that — no kidding — my boundary is wrong and he will be happy to have a surveyor come out and fix it.
I am not lying about this. He actually said that.
Our boundary with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been surveyed by both my surveyors and the state’s surveyors, many times. It is clearly marked and has Posted No Trespassing signs along it, closely spaced so that no one can say they didn’t see them.
Interestingly, their stakes were conveniently placed so that they were least likely to be found. And whoever placed them had to walk past a bunch of big yellow Posted signs.
I am preparing the civil lawsuit and the criminal complaint as I write this, and hopefully the company will make good, so I don’t have to rub their thieving name in the dirt.
See, they stand to make a lot of money by finding out what is under my property, but they don’t want to work with me on it, so they tried to steal the information, instead.
And it is sad, because I love Texas.