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How to Navigate Public and Private Land While Tracking

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October 10, 2016

by: Tom D. Spisz, Bowtech Prostaff

Hunting season has begun and the chase is on.  The season can be rewarding, frustrating, or even troublesome.  You get a shot on the animal you are pursuing, it runs off, and the tracking begins. It may not have necessarily been a bad shot, but it didn’t drop it where it stood.  You’re following the blood trail and come to a marked post or sign that reads no trespassing, so what do you do?  You know you will be leaving your hunting property, public or private.  Do you proceed to track (running the risk of being caught without permission on another’s property), stop tracking, or call the land owner?

Each state has different laws when it comes to tracking an animal that goes onto another person’s property.  If you are not familiar with the laws in your state, I recommend looking up your local Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) and educating yourself on the local laws.  Dealing with a state officer or private land owner can be hard and often time consuming, which means you run the risk of the animal spoiling before you can finish your track. Better yet, take the time to find out who owns the property around your hunting location beforehand. Introduce yourself and ask permission to cross onto their property if you shoot an animal and it crosses over. During that time get a contact number so you can inform them if it does happen. This is out of respect for them in case they are hunting too, or other people are hunting their property.

In today’s modern technology, we also have the ability to map out the topography using GPS.  There are numerous phone/tablet apps that all detail property lines, some even include the names of the land owners.  I recommend taking the time to download an app or get a tablet that holds offline maps with property lines, then have it readily available when you’re hunting.  Unless property lines are heavily marked you do not always know if you may have crossed one.  Again, before you do anything investigate your state laws to see what is legal.

Have a great season, be safe, and use the resources that are available to help in a successful hunt.