Good fences make good neighbors

Well, this afternoon, it being my day off, I was standing in my living room watching leaves fall and trying to make up my mind whether to unload the dishwasher or go outside and play with the dog, when suddenly, there’s a knock at the door.

I answer the door, and here are two bowhunters, and they are obviously irate.
I said, “Can I help you?”, and the older one demands, “Do you live here?” I’m thinking Hello, what have we here? I said, “Yes, I do.” Okay, pal, the ball’s now in your court. Then the guy says, “Who put the fence up around the woods back there?”, pointing to my “back 40”. I said, “We did. My wife and I.” Then the younger one says, “What gives you the right to put up a fence around public land?”

At this point, I could have gotten nasty, but I didn’t. I said, “Come on in here, fellas. You want a cup of coffee?” I think that startled the daylights out of them, right there. So they came in, a tad bewildered, and I told them to have a seat. Cream and sugar? The older one took a cup, the younger one didn’t. I should mention that my wife and I bought this property, 15 acres, a goodly percentage of it pine and spruce woods, last year. After finding snowmobile tracks all through it last winter, we decided to fence it. It’s very good deer country, since there’s always tracks back there and we can hear them crashing around in the underbrush at night. Anyway, we just recently put up this four-foot high wire fence with a “No Trespassing” sign about every five feet or so.

So anyway, I ask these two their names, and we’ll call them Ted and Bill. Once they were comfortably settled, I went to the desk and brought out all the paperwork concerning the property. I showed them the deed, the property description, the plat book, etc., etc.; and even showed them through the windows where the surveyor’s posts were still stuck in the ground, proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that “Yes indeedy, I absolutely do own this property.” Then I said, “I realize that nobody has ever fenced that before, and so it’s been mistaken for public land for years, and I also realize that it’s been used as a public recreation ground for years. And now I come along and buy it and fence it off, which spoils your fun. And I’m sorry about that, fellas, but we have plans for that parcel. For one thing, we want to put more trees back there, and I just can’t have you guys snapping off $2500.00 worth of seedlings with snowmobiles just because you’ve ‘always’ run through there.” By now, they’re not mad, they’re listening to me politely. Then I said, “We also don’t want naybody hunting or trapping back there, because we want to make it as pristine as possible; and with our dog running around back there, we don’t want her in danger of getting shot, or God forbid, one of us, since we go walking back through there every day. And maybe one of these days we might have some livestock back there. If I fence it off now, folks will know where the boundary is, and then I can safely put some horses or something back there.”

So we chatted for another 45 minutes or so, then they got up to leave, we all shook hands, and I told them to stop back by the house again, any time they felt like it. I also asked them to tell all their friends that this property was off limits; but I said if we did get some horses, they could bring their kids by some time and we’d give them all free rides. The younger guy seemed to like the sounds of that. They left with an understanding of why I had fenced the area, and I was left wondering how it all could have been a lot different and a lot worse if I’d done something like yelling, “This is MY land, Buckshot, and I’ll fence it if I damned well want to!” and slammed the door in thier faces. I’m glad I didn’t, even though they had me a little hot to begin with. These weren’t bad guys, just a couple of hunters who were suddenly fenced out of what they thought was public land, that they’d hunted on for years. I guess I just wanted them to understand that even though it wasn’t public land, I didn’t fence it off just to be a Blue Meanie—I had a couple perfectly good reasons for that fence. All in all, it was a very interesting afternoon. They arrived hot and spoiling for a fight, and when they left, we were all sort of semi-friends. And all it cost me to remain calm was 90 minutes of my time and a cup of coffee. I dunno; maybe I ought to become a diplomat.

Sounds like you had quite the afternoon… and stopped something that could have become ugly… Yep… you definitely have my vote for diplomat lol

We are, each of us angels with only one wing;
and we can only fly by
embracing one another

i must say that i rather admire the way you handled the situation.

i don’t mean to put you a category which you might not belong in, but, from your post, i gathered the impression that you’re new to the area, and not a member of the hunter culture. though i myself do not hunt, most of my friends and neighbors do, and i accept it as part of my local culture.

it can be incredibly annoying when a newcomer to the area starts preaching about the “barbarity” of hunting, and agitating to get public lands fenced off to hunting. some people seem to want to move to the woods to get away from suburbia, but don’t truly want to live in the woods - they want to bring their suburbian culture with them.

if only more people would take the same effort you did, the world would truly be a better place.


by the way, where is your new parcel of land?

Three cheers for diplomacy! I think there is at least a 2% chance I could have handled the situation as gracefully as you did.

Turn around right now and face the wall. ASSUME THE POSITION!

Now, let me pat you on the back!

Good show, old boy! (Young man, woman, girl, whatever!)

I’ve been on both sides of that. Well, in a way. I love dirt bikes and ATV’s and jeeps. I love to ride and rip up some mud and dirt. But I’m also a die hard environmentalist. Oxymoron? Well, let me explain.

I love to ride and see and go places on a dirt bike or on an ATV. But I don’t just ride hell bent for leather. I understand, as an environmentalist, that just driving pell mell through the brush isn’t right. There are trails for ORVs and specific places for these types of vehicles and I stick to the trail. I’m a trail blazer in my own way but raping the landscape isn’t one of my things.

As a property owner in the city I’ve learned the value of a good fence. When I bought this place there was only a four foot, chain link fence separating my property from my two neighbors. Out in the boonies this may not seem bad. In the heart of the city, it sucks.

Every time I went outside, into my back yard, I had to contend with the “psycho neighbor from hell”. She whistled at me. Gestured to me. What a twisted bitch! I installed a six foot tall, solid, wood fence. It was the best 5K I’ve ever spent. Once I’d blocked off not only my own yard but those to the east of her she finally moved out.

Good fences do make for good neighbors.

The moon looks on many flowers, the flowers on but one moon.


I think the posted signs every five feet is a little much, but hey it’s your place. The hunters definitely sounded impolite, those are the type of guys that give the rest of us hunters a bad name.

Good thing you fenced it. there’s a little quarrel in rec.hunting over the question of whether or not one should shoot any dogs they see chasing deer. Some think it’s their god-given duty to kill them, others are of the school that the local constable/animal control/game warden should deal with it. I’m in the don’t shoot-'em camp.

please tell me this story is true, because if it is, you may have just changed my life.

thank you

Good job, mon. You look like a diplomat to me.

The U.N. needs more people like you.

You say “cheesy” like that’s a BAD thing.

I have two questions for you hon…
Are you and American??
and if you are… could you run for President? You would most definitely have my vote!

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing, does the painter do good
things.” --Edgar Degas


No, really. Wow.

I’d like to believe that you have inspired me to similar acts of tact and good judgement. We’ll see.


The overwhelming majority of people have more than the average (mean) number of legs. – E. Grebenik

I just want to add my kudos to all the previous ones. You handled that with tact and compassion that are an example to us all.

Wow Pickman’s Model, you kick ass…well, actually you don’t…I mean…don’t take this bad…not that you could, being you…anyway, bye.

Signing off pathetically.

Only humans commit inhuman acts.

(tritely echoes above praise)
See, Pickman? You contribute mightily to this motley gathering.
First, your handling of it: think that maybe your training and daily work helped in that? It is soooo hard not to let in-you-face dictate a like response. You talked the situation out and averted needless confrontation. Hot dang, are you telling us that reason and respect work!
Re fences, yeah, they can help immensely w/ civil human relations. I live in an historic district that was more than marginal when we moved in. It’s now edging perilously toward yuppiness (damn! there went the neighborhood…) but at first there were the usual problems w/ drug dealers, gang bangers, etc.
We built a beautiful picket fence around the house. But FIRST we built a wood and decorative wrought-iron bench for folks to sit on at the bus stop out front. We raked out garbage, seeded grass, planted flowers and made a nice parklike place for all the bus riders to sit.
It was amazing how the people who used the bench stopped to kibbitz—and sometimes help!–when the fence started going up. There were, and are, a few problems, but the vast majority of people respect the fence line now and leave our property along.
–>sounding fatuous<—but fences are only respected to the degree the parties involve respect each other.
Dang, Pickman, but you’re spreading an alarming amount of maturity and good sense around! This just might be catching…

“The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.”

Great job!
– Sylence

And now, for my next trick, I will talk in spooky half-references.

Pickman’s: You rock. What a great way to handle things! I don’t know what I would have done if I were in your place.

I like to hear things like this. A couple of summers ago, i worked for my University’s Watershed Institute (devoted to restoring the native coastal chapparal areas here). Anyway, a part of our job was to brush trails that bike people had created where they shouldn’t have.

Some of these bike people just did not understand, we didn’t put those branches and logs on the trails for our health, we did it to cover them so other bike people wouldnt go down them. These new trails erode fast, and become gaping gullies that can (in the case of one trail) turn into small canyons 20-30 feet deep and as wide). There are plenty of good trails that they can use.

We got so frustrated on one trail we all decided to haul a rotting oak log onto the “trail” head, and scattered smaller logs around further down the trail so they would get the point! Sigh people, when you go off roading stay on the trails, DON’T make your own, you’ll just raise the ire of the people who have to brush the trails you have made.

‘The beginning calls for courage; the end demands care’