Overall incidents of trespass amounts to less than 1% of hunter days. While a relatively small incident rate in each case it is a significant event for the hunter affected.
We recognize that effect and seek resolution every chance we get. In all cases these incidents are not predictable. They all do have a resolution. Although the resolution is rarely timely enough to save that day’s hunt. That is the nature of hunters being a cross segment of society. They include the lesser members of that society. To think otherwise anywhere is simply being foolish.
The issue that most enforces trespass regulations is the eye witness must call it into law enforcement at the time of occurrence. Law enforcement will not respond after the incident. It will not take reports from other than the eye witness.
The Association recognizes the hunter is there to hunt. It is also recognized the hunter's frequent position is that it is not his job to enforce trespass regulations. The Association hunter believes it is an Association responsibility to enforce trespass laws. The reality is as stated earlier, the eye witness must take the good citizen action.
Mark, Dusty and Jeff, one trip per season.
Some Past Cases
A landowner death. Ideally when a landowner dies we receive a call at the office. As a minimum attempt to negotiate the lease contract until the end of the current season. We are often successful. The worst case is when we have no knowledge of the death until a member is hunting a property. He is told by the new owner (typically a relative who inherited or will inherit the land) to get off his land. In these cases if we cannot resolve the issue with the new landowner we drop the lease. The correct membership response in this case is to cease hunting, notify the MAHA office and plan another day’s hunt somewhere else.
Tenant farmers often assume they have hunting rights when all they have is farming rights or cropland access. In all cases we negotiate with the person with the legal right to negotiate land access for that property. That may be a corporation, family LLC, trustee, land trust or any of the many other permeations if not the ideal of the actual and single landowner him/herself. This is a headache that your membership dues pay for the MAHA staff to handle. Member reaction if being confronted with a tenant he is to continue the hunt. Tell the tenant to call the MAHA office. The MAHA contract with the landowner is written. Tenets often only have their ideas.
Guide services have been caught placing their clients on MAHA leases in all three states. In each case the MAHA office seeks retribution through the local sheriff and conservation officers. On these issues there has been much success. Even in cases of less than clear-cut proof and only suspicion. In several cases the “guide” has been wanted for vehicle, game laws and other violations with outstanding warrants. Membership response if hunting a MAHA mapped property with a current reservation is to continue his hunt and tell the guide to contact the MAHA office.
Professional hunters, or those under some level of sponsorship from a manufacture/video company, have been found on MAHA leases. They have attempted to displace members. This is an easy one as a simple call to the local sheriff as with the guides above. A a follow up call to the manufacture or video company also reinforces MAHA’s predominance. Correct membership response in these cases is to ignore the “professional” hunter and continue the hunt.
The More Common
Trespassers include several types: neighbors, pretend members, pretend landowners, low life slob hunter, past members, unauthorized guests of current members and members hunting w/o reservation.
Neighbors of a lease property may have been hunting that property for years. They feel it is their right to continue to do so in spite of the landowner contract. MAHA response is simply to notify the landowner that if his neighbors continue to trespass we will end our lease, typically withholding the current payment. Membership response when confronting a trespasser is to continue hunting and tell the trespasser to leave.
Pretend members are those that when found by a current member say they are also members. They often say the office must have screwed up the reservation. This has been a surprisingly successful technique with the current membership, typically an honest person believing in the good of others. The good member sometimes backs down and cursing the office for an administrative error that ruined his hunt. Correct member response is to demand MAHA ID and government photo cards to prove membership. Not having both on hand when on leased land is a violation of Association rules. It is a strong indicator the pretender is not who he says he is. The member is to continue his hunt and tell the pretender to leave the property.
Pretend landowners do the same as pretend members. Or, another variation is to state the landowner gave them permission to hunt. Correct member response is to continue hunting and tell the pretender to leave.
Low life slob hunter, typically a road hunter, rarely has the guts to hunt by himself and typically is with others. They often jump from vehicles to shoot or conducts drive hunts through our land and everyone else’s. Member response is to ignore all of them. Call law enforcement Notify the MAHA office and the partners will make control of this issue a landowner responsibility. Usually, these hunters do not return to the same property for a second hunt.
Past members that have retained their membership material and quickly flash their card to show membership. Check the date on the card, it must be with a year of the current date. Group these trespassers in the low life category.
Unauthorized guests of current members. Every year we dis-enroll a member for sneaking on a guest(s). If one is encountered notify the MAHA office and we will respond appropriately and quickly.
The one we should never have to deal with. It is the current member that feels he can hunt without a reservation. This is usually detected by a member hunting the property with a current reservation and being impacted on by another member using the pretend member excuse of administrative foul up. We view this very dimly. We will discipline those that hunt without reservations. The member with the valid reservation knows who he is. He should stand his ground telling the other to call the office.
First year leases have been the most commonly trespassed land. Typically, these are honest mistakes of the neighbor or relative that is unaware of the landowner’s contract with MAHA. Once informed the land is under lease the offending hunter usually departs never to return again. In all cases we notify the landowner to correct the trespassing problem. Frequently the landowner was completely unaware his neighbors or relatives had been hunting his land without permission.
TJ and buds.
All in all trespassing is part of the hunting business. While the overall incidents are a low percentage compared to the many successful days a field they are a significant interference for those encountering it. The examples above should show if such an incident is encountered common sense should prevail.
First, always have proof of whom is being encountered is who he says he is. Proof if not offered freely, automatically brings the circumstances into question.
Second, trust your Association maps. We have been in this business for a long time. Our mapping program and especially our written signed land contracts has been hammered through the test of time.
Finally, armed with this knowledge all that should encounter a trespass situation should never let it ruin the day any more than the time it takes to assert your rights for what you have paid for. Leave the headaches for the MAHA partners. We pay the money to the landowner and the landowner knows who writes the checks. It is however, and always will be from the state agent stand point, the eye witness to the trespass must report it.
Buck with his buck.