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January 24, 2008

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Discussion Topic: On High-Fence Hunting in Colorado

According to this NRA press release, proposed Colorado House Bill 1096 would:

[E]nd all hunting behind "enclosures" in Colorado. Under the far-reaching and vague bill, every piece of fenced property would be off-limits to hunting, no matter how large the enclosure. As written, it could preclude a farmer or rancher who fences his or her property from allowing anyone, including family or friends to hunt, regardless of the size of the property.

The bill itself reads:
IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR A PERSON TO OFFER ANOTHER PERSON THE OPPORTUNITY TO HUNT, WOUND, OR TAKE ANY MAMMAL THAT IS:
(a) INTENTIONALLY CONFINED IN AN ENCLOSURE, REGARDLESS OF THE SIZE OF THE ENCLOSURE; OR
(b) INTENTIONALLY TIED, STAKED, CAGED, OR OTHERWISE RESTRAINED FROM ENGAGING IN NORMAL MOVEMENT.

What do you think? Does this bill overreach? Would you support any bill restricting high-fence hunting?

Comments

MIke Diehl

"The fact that I should not be able to restrict YOUR access to a public asset, is YOUR point of view."

Yep. Laws, however, are malleable.

Let's be clear also about why I take this position. It's not because I'm a yahoo. Every place I've hunted I've left cleaner than it was when I arrived. It's not because I don't sympathizse with landowners or obey the law. I've never stepped onto posted land and never will. It's not because I'm impoverished. I'm not. I figure in about 10 years I'll have 10-40 acres of my own.

It's about American traditions (which are open access), current trends (which are largely narcissistic), and demographics.

Populations are going up, public land is being sold to private owners or, in the case of good Federal lands, generally seriously degraded by poor management. Private lands that used to be generally accessible are being closed, largely because of genexers seeing luchre.

Ultimately, this means that we must have fewer hunters (which will weaken political support for hunting) proportional to the population, or else we will have lots of angry middle class people who want to hunt but won't be able to.

Maybe that day is 20 years away. Maybe 50. Maybe, as one fellow implied in the South Dakota thread, it has happened already in Kansas. If "screw your neighbor" becomes the standard reply to public demand, the public will find a painful way to screw you back. And I would not fault 'em if they do.

When I'm a landowner, I won't want that to happen. So I'm advocating that people give some serious thought to this now, beyond "I got mine ha ha." In the long run, I suspect that philsophy is a political dead end.

Mike Diehl

"The fact that I should not be able to restrict YOUR access to a public asset, is YOUR point of view."

I should have read that twice before I responded. My pov is that if you restrict public access to public property on your land, you should not be allowed to use that public property on your land. I have no problem with people posting their land, but if they do they should not be allowed to hunt on that land.

rob

Were it to become the case that non-landowners were unable to find any place to hunt owing to lack of access or excessive lease fees...

this has already happened! we deal with it everyday, i can't afford a lease. the joy of owning land is the ability to use it to our advantage. if i can make a few hundred dollars to allow some one access to hunt public deer, i will. the deer are public,there is no argument there, the land is NOT! i've paid for that land, and provided the habitat for the wild life. why shouldn't i be allowed to take them legally just because you aren't a land owner? if that's the case, kick the deer off and then you can hunt from the road, that's public property too. but to suggest that i HAVE to quit hunting because you can't is ridiculous.

rob

"....I would vote for any state legislator that would deprive you of your priviledge of hunting the public's deer on your posted land...."

Mike,

I am already restricted, by law, as to what I can and cannot do with "my" posted land!
The Gov't tells me I can only plant or must plant X amount of wheat! The state tells me I can't dam a portion of my creek! The state environmental dept says I can't dump raw sewerage out onto "my" land. I won't do that anyway, even though I see homes in the area that do! What I need is just one more government entity telling me what I can and can't do! I tried to enter my land in the CRP program. It didn't qualify! Had I been able to put it in CRP, YOU could hunt it openly!
You want to vote for a state legislator that would deprive me of my right to hunt a public deer, just because you can't.
Mike, even you would have to admit that statement is a little, well, a whole lot narrow minded! It screams "If I can't hunt, neither can YOU! Even if you do have a place!"

Bubba

Chad Love

Mike, although I still have to disagree with you (at least in terms of small landowners) I have been thinking about it.
What would you think is a fair price to compensate the state for the denial of that public resource?
Would it be a sliding scale based on acreage and/or quality of habitat? Would the money be earmarked for aquiring additional public land?
I think we probably agree on more issues than we disagree (The mining law question to Romney was great BTW) and if I were a landowner and if I knew the money I paid the state was going to buy additional hunting land and therefore indirectly easing the temptation for landless hunters to trespass on my land, I could perhaps be persuaded.

Walt Smith

I have 70 acres that I have posted and I also hunt the same property. I've never had anyone tell me that I'm stopping them from hunting a publicly owned deer. If they did I would simply tell them that they are correct and unless they would like to pay my property taxes they can kindly hunt for publicly owned owned deer on any publicly owned property that they wish. Not my PRIVATE PROPERTY. Lots of it in da U.P. eh, just gotta drive there.

Bubba

Chad

Don't be giving Mike any ideas!

Acreage and habitat quality would scale my payment down to a tear stained sympathy card and a rebate check from the state!

Bubba

Bubba

If "everyone" left an area cleaner than when they arrived, public access to private land wouldn't be the problem it is today.
Litigation happy souls that would sue landowners over injuries incurred during their trespassing is another reason to "POST" land.
"...screw your neighbor..."
That mindset is already out there. The very blog that statement comes from is "screw your neighbor"! You have the audacity to tell me that I should be stripped of my hunting "rights" just because I won't allow the public to hunt on my "posted" property!
Come on Mike, you can do better than that! To actually be so narrow minded as to attempt to vote someone into office strictly on the premise that they "strip" me of my right to hunt!? Just because you can't!?
For your information, from the year 1983 until 2003, "I" had no place to hunt! Why? Because "I" couldn't afford a "lease"! Twenty years, Mike. I had access to public land. I refuse to hunt there because of the "yahoos" that would actually shoot horses out from under riders, then blame the rider! I wouldn't hunt there because of riders that purposely entered "Hunting Only" areas on horseback and whined because they were "shot at"!
I was able to hunt a few times, but only by invitation! I'm old, fat and crippled! If I am so inclined as to plant eighteen acres of alfalfa with a 250cc ATV, just to attract deer, you can bet your sweet bippy, I WILL POST MY LAND!!!! At this point Mike, about the only thing I'm interested in is being able to hunt for the next ten to fifteen years. After that, if I'm not dead, I probably won't be able to hunt due to health reasons! Call it selfish if you wish. At my age, I DON'T CARE!

Bubba

GREG

Mikes pov is asking for more gov. intrusions in our lives. This I vehemently am against! Mike has every right to his pov. Right ,wrong or indifferent. he has stated, even though his pov is different, he will not break trespassing laws, this I appreciate.

GREG

Im done kickin this dead horse but Im sure Ill jump in on the next one.

Mike Diehl

@Greg
I'm not asking for more gov't intrusions. Indeed, laws requiring people to not go onto posted land are a form of government intrusion, so that claim you made is pretty much subjective.

@Bubba-

As it stands, as far as I know, no one has a "right to hunt" publically owned animals. It seems to be a privilege that one purchases, annually, and that one can be denied.

BTW, I completely agree that some landowners have become disgusted with yahoos. As I've said many times, there must be reasonable grounds for accommodation. I never heard of someone shooting a horse out from under a rider, or suing a landowner for negligence because a hunter did something stupid. I suspect those are "urban legends." But people DO tear up private property, and that seems to be a "new thing" too, also courtesy of the ME FIRST generation.

I've paid fees to access private land. I always figured that was fair because it compensated the land owner for general wear and tear on dirt roads, and helped mitigate the damage caused by yahoos.

Oh well, at least you know why I think, as a hunting community, we're setting ourselves up for a problem with all this posting & leasing baloney.

Maybe in 15 years I'll be the one posting my land too. If F&S still has blogs then, I'll be sure to say that you were right, if that day comes!

Anyhow, it's been an interesting debate. Thanks!

Mike Diehl

"If I am so inclined as to plant eighteen acres of alfalfa with a 250cc ATV, just to attract deer,"

Intersting. So, you'd post your land to deny the public access to the public's deer, and then you'd bait your land to attract the public's deer onto your land so the public can't get at 'em.

Would I be correct to guess that you have no problems at all with high fence operations?

GREG

Hey Mike, you dont think there is a vast difference in baiting and planting food plots?

Mike Diehl

"I am already restricted, by law, as to what I can and cannot do with "my" posted land! The Gov't tells me I can only plant or must plant X amount of wheat!"

Are you receiving a Federal agricultural subsidy? Seems like if you are you have no grounds to complain about them telling you what or how much to grow.

"The state tells me I can't dam a portion of my creek! The state environmental dept says I can't dump raw sewerage out onto "my" land."

These are good analogies. It's because water, like deer, are a finite resource. Baiting deer onto posted land is alot like damming a public waterway, in my view.

"I tried to enter my land in the CRP program. It didn't qualify! Had I been able to put it in CRP, YOU could hunt it openly!"

I commend your effort. That sort of accommodation is the sort of thing I had in mind. If the public won't accommodate you, I can see why you'd post your land. I have no complaint.

"It screams 'If I can't hunt, neither can YOU! Even if you do have a place!'"

Seems to me that if the deer belong to the public, but the public can't access 'em, then the public has no obligation to make the deer available to people who can. Ultimately this is going to be a problem, as I noted before. The three trends: population increase, reduction of public land, and posting of private land, are not sustainable unless you change the laws in your state to make game animals private property. Was I to bet on who'se gonna win this zero sum game, I'd bet on the most populaous demographic unit.

@Chad

"What would you think is a fair price to compensate the state for the denial of that public resource?"

I have no idea. I hate to take that route because whenever the gov't starts talking about money, either as a fee or as a compensation, the ooze starts to creep in. I also think that posting land is not of itself a bad thing. It's the posting and hunting it, or posting and leasing, that strikes me as intrinsically an infringement on public property rights, because it sets up in effect different rules for the use of public property -- one set of rules for the wealthy or landed, and one set of rules for the unlanded or unwealthy. In a long run, that's a formula for disaster. At least according to my understanding of history.

"Would it be a sliding scale based on acreage and/or quality of habitat? Would the money be earmarked for aquiring additional public land?"

Acquiring land for public use strikes me as a good idea. If there is an "intrinsic right to hunt," as Bubba says, then even people who don't own property have a right to hunt. Making more public land available for that strikes me as a good thing.

I think charging a tax on hunting leases on the order of 10% of the gross and dedicating that to purchasing and setting aside public land for recreational use would be a good idea. That way you wouldn't step too hard on the toes of small landowners who just want to shut out the world while they hunt.

It also seems to me that a whole lot of the problem can be indefinitely suspended if the Federal Gov't would stop giving away use rights to public land when the use degrades the land for sporting purposes, and if states would stop auctioning off state land. At least, that would solve some problems here in the west.

Patrick

This whole comment thread has confused me. What does posting have to do with anything? The law would not do anything if you simply posted your land. You have to have an enclosure. Deer and elk do not read. Further, it seems to me, that if you had 40 acreas, and had a 2 acre fence, you could allow access to the 38 unfenced acres.

Further, if you had 2000 acres and fenced that in, you could still hunt it. You just can't let anyone else hunt it.

The animals belong to everyone, that is the law. Not allowing them to leave your property, is ok according to this law. You just can't run a business off of it.

Bubba

Mike

Let's step back.

"...I would vote for any state legislator that would deprive you of your priviledge of hunting the public's deer on your posted property..."

First, I abhor high fence operations! There's just not a whole lot I can do about it except complain when I get the chance!

On the above statement about electing a specific "state legislator"!
I am saddened that rather than look at another's good fortune, you would stoop to stripping them of their windfall because of your own narrow mindedness!
Your "public" deer access my "posted" property of their own accord. From this point forward, every deer I see on my "posted" property is "trespassing" and will be shot on sight! Would that work for you?
Ahhh! The state won't keep them off my "posted" property, yet, they are telling me I can't shoot them! Hmmm! Looks like another Gov't "Catch 22"! Can you guess what the state will tell me if my "private" livestock wander onto "public" property, posted or not?
You, Mike Diehl, are a troubled person!

Bubba

Mike Diehl

"I am saddened that rather than look at another's good fortune, you would stoop to..."

I'm comfortable with it. As a matter of personal ethics, I think my position is the stronger one. Good people who have good fortune don't use it to hose their fellow citizens.

"From this point forward, every deer I see on my "posted" property is "trespassing" and will be shot on sight!"

Good luck with that.

Bubba

"As a matter of personal ethics, I think my position is the stronger one."

Your personal ethics tell you to deprive me of the right to hunt free range animals on my property merely because I won't allow the public to access "my" property.
What kind of personal ethics wish ill will upon fellow humans?
The problem is, you want to force your mores on me!

AND, you never did answer my question! You are telling me that you would actually vote for a state legislator with no other intent than to ...deprive me of the right to hunt... "public" deer on my "posted" property?
Let me restate that, "...deprive me of the right..."? Your "personal ethics" allow you to arbitrarily deny me the right to hunt my "own" property!?
C'mon Mike, how is that in any way right? You feel that you should be able to deprive me of a right? Who died and made you GOD!?
I'm glad we don't live in the same state!

Bubba

Mike Diehl

If you have a *right* to hunt publically owned animals, it follows that everyone else has that same *right.* In which event, your land tenure is even more vulnerable than I have imagined it to be.

"What kind of personal ethics wish ill will upon fellow humans?"

Your kind of personal ethics. You've openly admitted that (1) you don't care about whether or not the public have access to their game, (2) you don't care that you're among a growing number of people who have dispensed with two centuries of American values in which open access to land for hunting purposes was the standard, and (3) you don't care that in the long run your conduct forces a conflict between demography (increasing population, presumably we wish to keep hunter recruitment high), and declining access.

If the basic problem of growing population vs. limited resources & reduced access isn't mitigated in some other way, would I change hunting rules regarding posted land in order to protect the American tradition of hunting, and to keep that tradition as broadly accessible as possible? You bet I would. I'd do that faster than you can say "Deep in the heart of Texas!"

that doesn't say enough. It would be easy to get around that rule. if you live in Colorado.

Bubba

If I could figure out how your argument held water, I might have to agree. You seem to focus "only" on the fact that the deer are "public" property. The threads of your argument go way beyond that fact and encompass many, many other facts that you are failing to address.
I might be stepping on your rights to access a public asset, but aren't you stepping on my right to privacy by trespassing on my property!? Which is the greater tort?
You would endeavor to restrict my hunting rights, what about my legal wishes and desires?! Are they to be denied me because you are incensed that a free ranging deer entered my property and I shot it, legally!?
I'm sorry Mike, I'm just afraid that ethically, your desire to restrict my personal space just because of Mike Diehl's "strong" feelings is rather morbid.
You might feel "strongly" about your side of this argument, but your side, legally at this point, is NOT the "stronger" side.

Bubba

Mike Diehl

Bubba -

My argument is that there's a potential problem here. One of growing population and degraded public land and increasingly posted private land.

Either we concede that a lower percentage of the population will hunt in the future (which, in my view, probably spells the long term end of the tradition), or else we assume the proportio of the population that hunts will remain about constant.

If that happens, it's more people with less space to hunt. That's a formula for a pissed off voting block.

We seem to agree that animals are public property. Now, you own land. I'm *gonna* own land (probably, things are looking good by the plan I have). We can just sit back and say: "Ha. Tough nuts for you" and *HOPE* that pissed off voting block doesn't take note of the fact that they too own those animals, or we can do our best as part of the hunting community to mitigate the problem.

Constitutionally, there's no doubt in my mind that landowners have the right to say who gets to go on their land. Constitutionally, however, there's no guarantee that you or I or any particular person gets to hunt. Therefore the electorate *could* change the rules to ban all hunting on posted land. Since posting land in order to hoard access to yourself violates two centuries of American tradition (open access to game owned in commons), I don't have a problem with that. And if it ever comes to the point where I don't own land & don't have access to huntable land, I'd go for that.

As Chad Love noted, there are probably less dire alternatives for making hunting accessible to those who wish to hunt. Doing nothing, however, isn't one of the alternatives that will work, IMO.

Mike Diehl

"..but your side, legally at this point, is NOT the "stronger" side."

I do not agree. If you can show me somewhere a constitutional implication that you have the right to hunt, you may have a point.

I agree that you can stop anyone coming onto your land. I don't agree that the citizenry has to allow you to *hunt* on your land. The animals don't belong to you. The public can make any rules regarding where and when and which animals may be taken that the public wants to make. If the general response of landowners is "screw you I got mine," I would not blame the public if they reply "no, screw YOU, now you don't."

Bubba

Mike
"The public can make any rules regarding where and when and which animals may be taken that the public wants to make."
At this juncture in time, the wildlife biologist are the one's who determine "where-when-which" animals are taken since they are the ones who, not only generate the data, but also acquire and interpret said datum! Game regulations are not presented to the public annually to be voted on for the following years rules and regs. Sorry, but the public falls a little short here.
The only people that seem to be upset about this subject are, well.... YOU!! You seem to be the only one I've heard whine about me having access to something that moves about freely! Should I be upset because the land owner next door has a greater concentration than my land.
Not one other blogger I have read has agreed that a land owner should NOT be able to shoot deer on their "posted" property!
YOU, feel you have a strong argument. Sorry Mike, YOU are the only one. That makes you, at this point, the minority, so I suppose this would be my way of saying ..."no, screw YOU,"...!

Bubba

I think Ya'll oughta come down to Texas where almost all land is Privitly owned we use the lease system. You pay for Trespass privilges. You still hunt during the State Season and have to have a state license. If you are caught on someone eles's land without permission, you are breaking the law and can be prosecuted. We call it Poching. What none of seem to understand about high fence areas is that once you HF your pasture you have a population problem. Our Whitetails will over populate an area and become stunted. We have few large preditors. We also have very few hunting accidents. None of you has ever tried hunting a 1000 ac high fenced patch of South Texas Brush or you wouldn't think it was canned hunting. White Tails have gotten very expensive to hunt but then so is Hunting Brown Bear or anything else in Alaska. You guys need to quit thinking small. The Laws you propose apply to everyone not just one little guy. You cannot legislate Ethics but you can teach it.




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