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.