It was probably the most controversial topic of North Dakota’s 2019 Legislative Session— Should landowners have to post their property in order to make it off limits to others? That debate took place legislatively as a result of Senate Bill 2315.
It wasn’t the first time legislators and the public argued about what some call “Posted North Dakota”. Yet, after 5 versions of the bill, 13 committee hearings, and a staggering 69 times of legislators getting up to speak during floor debates; its final version died in the House on a vote of 44-48.
One thing was certain in the aftermath of it all— things weren’t going to get any easier for hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts. Out of the debate, an organization known as “North Dakota Lock Out” was born. Their mission is “simple”:
“… NO HUNTING – NO TRESPASSING – DON’T ASK, locking out private property acres to the public until the private property rights are restored in North Dakota!”
As a side note, when I last wrote about North Dakota Lock Out back in May, they had 583 followers. As of this writing, that number has nearly doubled to 1,081. And I’m guessing the number of acres represented by their most ardent supporters is significant.
As you’re likely aware, yesterday was the final day of the 2019 Deer Rifle Season. I’m not sure about other hunters, but I personally found more posted land this year than any of those I’ve hunted in the past. The public land in the area I hunt — together with the little bit of private that remains open — was hammered hard by hunters.
I wasn’t alone in noticing the larger array of “No Hunting or Trespassing” signs. One neighbor expressed his frustration to me. He had asked multiple landowners for permission to hunt their property. Many of them — who had granted him access in the past — turned him down this year.
There’s undoubtedly a number of reasons that landowners are fed up. But we only need to take a look at these five examples — currently featured on North Dakota Lock Out’s Facebook page — to see how the idiots of the world do one heck of a job messing it up for everyone else.
This is a calf that was shot, skinned, and its remains left in the owner’s pasture. There were vehicle tracks to the scene and apparently the offenders drove through a stubble field to make it all happen.
This one is self-explanatory, because it’s screenshot from a Facebook post. Did the moron who impaled the deer carcass on the fence post — which had a No Hunting sign — actually think this would improve relations with landowners? I’m guessing not. But it’s sure an idiotic way to express one’s displeasure.
This post doesn’t look like much, but it was an important one. It originated with the Wishek Police Department. They were on the lookout for someone allegedly poaching large game and fleeing the landowner. Due to the social media attention, they actually identified the vehicle and made an arrest.
This one was featured in a recent article for the Forum News Service. This bison was shot on private land in rural Medina. The landowner heard gunshots after 5pm on November 18th. The next morning she found the young bison mother dead and its calf running around wondering what was going on. Sunset in this area was at 5pm that day, which means hunters had until 5:30pm to hunt. Those are low light conditions. The landowner doesn’t believe it was intentional, but just a “stupid” mistake by someone who didn’t “know the difference between a buffalo and a deer.”
This is the remains of an eight month old calf. It was allegedly gut shot and then bled out. It was partially skinned and the right front shoulder completely removed.
Aside from the cost and frustration experienced by the landowners involved with each of these examples, they’re also troubling to the rest of us who have to suffer for it. Far too often, those of us who follow the laws are lumped in with the “degenerate hunters” who don’t.
It’s true— the unfortunate reality is that laws don’t prevent this kind of stupidity. Nevertheless, despite this reality, I truly believe the growing chasm between landowners and hunters over posting could have been avoided. It’s unfortunate for everyone that it wasn’t. As I wrote nearly three years ago, it’s unnecessary.
Supporters of North Dakota Lock Out have made it very clear. The only way we’re ever going to begin building a bridge over the current chasm between landowners and those of us who enjoy the outdoors is to take the initiative to support private property rights. We need to be on the side of those who own the property. Period. Like it or not, for some landowners, anything short of this puts us in the same camp as the degenerates.
Until hunters accept the reality of “Ask Before You Enter”, we’ll likely continue to find ourselves on the outside looking in.
PLEASE LIKE & SHARE!