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Hunting on private land

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A little courtesy goes a long way

Rights-of-way, such as power lines and railroads that cross private property are NOT public lands, and trespassing on these areas without permission from the landowner is illegal. Federal law prohibits hunting and possession of firearms on lands administered by the National Park Service, including the Appalachian Trail.

Ask permission first

Always ask permission to hunt on private land, whether or not it is posted. Even landowners who post are likely to say “yes” to people who show their respect for private property by asking first. Most rural landowners are generous people who will gladly help visitors.

Trees and other plants on private land are private property. It is illegal to cut or remove them, or to cut limbs or damage bark (such as from putting up blinds or tree stands, or cutting shooting lanes or trails) without the landowner’s permission.

Ask permission stickers

Some landowners use ask permission stickers on their signs. These symbols, a product of the New York State Fish & Wildlife Management Board in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), express the landowners’ willingness to allow access to their property to those people who ASK. The ASK stickers are available free from DEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 (call 518/402-8924).

A poor image of outdoor recreationists is one main reason why access to some private property is denied. If recreationists demonstrate courtesy to landowners and respect for property, the situation could improve. If, however, trespassing, littering and vandalism occur, access will continue to be denied.

What to ask

Be courteous, ASK:

•             Permission well in advance of your trip. Don’t show up on opening day, or at inconvenient times, or with a gun in your hand, or your snowmobile or ATV running in the front yard.

•             When you can go. Just because you hunted there in October, don’t assume you can go back the next year without asking permission.

•             What is permitted on the property. Do not park off-road vehicles, camp, damage vegetation, construct a permanent structure (tree stands, blinds or platforms) or store personal property without the landowner’s permission.

•             Where certain activities are allowed. Shooting may disturb nearby farm animals or neighbors.

•             Who is welcome. More than two or three people can be an unwelcome crowd.

•             About special concerns—if the landowner’s family is likely to be in the woods or fields and where the property boundaries are located.

And lastly, but very importantly, thank the landowner for his/her generosity. Show your appreciation by offering to share your game or buy a bushel of his/her crops, such as apples.

[Source: New York State Fish & Wildlife Service and Department of Conservation.]

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