Hunting and Outdoors

POSTED KEEP OUT!—5 Tips to Protect Your Deer

Hunter posed with whitetail buck and Knight muzzleloader.

I grew up in western Pennsylvania where fences and property lines didn’t mean much during deer season. Occasionally, you would run across a sign that read “No Does,” but those were the days before game management when hunters believed shooting a doe was nothing more than eliminating a chance for another buck the following year. Today though, property owners protect fence lines for many reasons. First, the owner hunts and doesn’t want competition. Others practice sound whitetail management and do not want a yahoo coming around and shooting less than mature deer, while others are simply tired from experiences with rude or unsafe “guests.” While I sigh at the sight of posted lands I used to hunt, I respect the owner’s decision. If you find yourself looking to post or protect your property from unwelcome hunters, here’s the Shooter’s Log‘s top five tips.

Hunter posed with whitetail buck and Knight muzzleloader.
You want to keep the big bucks for yourself. Monitor your private hunting land with game cameras.

Prosecute

If you are serious and plan to go through the trouble of researching local and state laws and then properly posting your land, you need to follow through and hold violators accountable. Trail cameras can provide the necessary photographic evidence along with time and date stamps. No, it is not a slam-dunk, but a visit or two from the game warden or local law enforcement and the word will spread.

Post

Check your local laws and ordinances for guidance. Likely, you’ll have to post about every 50 yards, which is a lot of work depending on the size of your property. On occasion, signs may disappear and you may receive a few dirty looks once scouting begins in earnest or during the season. You’ll have to remain vigilant to ensure proper posting though.

Natural Barriers

You may be able to plant natural borders comprised of shrubs and unfriendly plants to discourage hunters on foot in high traffic areas. Granted this tactic is not quick, but over time, you can effectively shut off roadside access. Plan accordingly though and make sure the shrubbery will still do the job when other flora has shed its leaves. Another consideration is to be sure it is not an attractant. You do not want to attract deer to the property lines—especially those in areas with high hunter activity.

Keep it Secret

If there is a bigger liar then a fisherman, it is a whitetail hunter. If you see a big buck, mark it “Top Secret.” When you harvest a big buck, swear it was on you brother-in-law’s property to anyone not a game warden in the pursuit of official business. If you are not married, get married quickly and swear it was on your brother-in-law’s property… I suppose you don’t have to arrange a quick marriage, but have your story in place ahead of time—all except for the data on the tag of course. Do not run afoul of the law; check it in a county or two over though just to be safe and legal.

Introduce Yourself

Most people carry a cell phone with a camera. You can always video record the trespasser or vehicle as proof later. Usually that, and a few well-chosen words, is enough to keep them from coming back, but the documentation will be key in case they do. Remember; be careful when confronting strangers or unscrupulous brothers-in-law. You are alone and everyone is armed. Instead, give them a friendly warning and escort off the property. Afterward, you can report it to the authorities later if you so desire.

How do you monitor and safeguard your hunting land? Or have you ever mistakenly wondered onto private property? What happened? Tell us your best hunting stories in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (38)

  1. Well, seems there are a lot of people that are from lawyer La-La land. In west Texas, New Mexico & Arizona land. Ranchers make their own law to this day. I lived, worked & hunted in all these states. Don’t believe me, just ask Texas Shield. Again, land owners own the deer & other so called Exotic animals on their land. And they will tell you that on no uncertain terms. They sometimes charge from $ 100.00 – $1200.00 per shot / per gun a day.

  2. True. With the exception of axis deer. They carry the same classification as livestock. Texas feels the state owns all the wildlife. I was just referencing that rules change crossing state lines.

  3. I saw a post referring to wild game not being the landowners property. That may apply in some states, but not in Kansas. Kansas is really clear on it and it covers big and small game. If you are hunting on one section of land with permission and spot a deer on someone else’s land that is border property, you can not shoot it unless you have permission from the other landowner.

    1. This is true . But not to which I was referring. He was referencing a TX law saying its okay to shoot to kill when it come to defending property and livestock. Game is not livestock.

  4. Wow, well as you can see here, pretty much nation wide trespassing is a hot button issue with landowners.
    Now i know in some areas landowners make money from leases or trespass fees. I am willing to pay per day trespass fees that are affordable to hunt some western lands.
    Back east where we farm the best way i have found to get to hunt private property is ask permission.
    Offer a helping hand with farm tasks or offer a service you can provide that you see a need for.
    please dont think that by offering a hand fixing a tractor or something, one time that you have lifetime permission.
    Most farms are always shorthanded and the cost of ownership is high and everpresent. So should be your friendship and support to the landowner.
    Offer to share dressed packaged game. The last thing we need is a bloody animal that needs immediate attention. But a couple pounds of backstrap or some sausage or jerky sure would make a nice gesture.
    Best of luck and happy hunting. Just please stay legal and let your landowners know you respect them and the land.

  5. I was a telephone Inside Plant tech in several counties in West Texas. Many of those counties were fully own by one family. One of my outside plant colleagues liked to fish on the Middle Concho river. He entered the river from a public road with a friend in a small boat in drifted down the middle of the river though private property. State Law states that river is public but, ranchers don’t always agree. One ” Older Rancher” told my colleague 4 separate times that he was trespassing on ” His Water way”. I told my friend that he should go somewhere else to fish as the old man ” Rancher ” just mite shoot him, even if my friend was rightfully there. 5th time my friend and his bud went on the river, the old rancher shot and killed both in the boat. My friend had 23 bullet holes and his friend had 12 bullet holes.
    The old rancher was deemed insane. And not held by authorities at any time…
    Morale. Always, Always ask! Be nice and comply the land owner. Even if your right. It’ not worth getting shot over. My 26 year old friend & colleague left 4 young children an wife, because ” He Was Dead Right”.
    So, To Vector16.
    Please use caution, don’t over react…

    1. Not over reacting. Just stating a fact. Maybe even trying to keep one of you out of the state pen. That old man may have been insane but still your buddy was still in the right. If the rancher would have been sane, he would have also been hanged.

  6. Paul797 made a good point. In many states there are various degrees of trespassing. They can range from simple to armed and carry different sentencing requirements, which can be from a misdemeanor to a felony. Then some states feel that deer roaming on private property is the property of the property owner. Now this next sentence is a little extreme. If you take into account some states allow the property owner to protect themselves and their property with deadly force. Then they are protected by the Castle Doctrine. Personally I would not do this unless it was necessary.

  7. well said Vector!! To Many hunters pull that crap that I didnt know I crossed a property line.. I deal with that every year and being a land owner / hunter Sucks! I have had more of my hunting days ruined by having to police my place because of non caring hunters.. I have my place Posted when I dont even have to, to try and stop the BS! I have cams out and caught known hunters on my place and the game warden has been involved.. If you dont have a prosecutor thats willing to pursue charges theres not much you can do, even when you want to prosecute them! Ive had police involved which thank god they are somewhat friends to try and help police the place, it only leaves you one choice and thats confronting the hunters yourself.. As farm owners know, thats not the best way to deal with things because its only gonna lead to someone getting hurt or worse killed.. I dont think any landowner wants that! Tresspassing is not worth it.. Do what you are supposed to do! Get permission, if you cant one year, try the next.. If not move on and find another.. You might fair better there than the other place!

  8. Please pardon me for responding to my own post. I wanted to add this.
    When i ponied up and bought our farm twenty plus years ago, everyone in the area roamed about as they pleased as most of the other landowner were elderly and not aware or cared.
    I was new to the area and the first two years i introduced myself in a friendly manner and asked them to not hunt my place anymore as i wanted a quite alone to hunt.
    All but my Amish neighbors complied with my wishes. In my area the young Amish men are the biggest violators, everyone complains of them. To this day i still have one day a year ruined by them and several times things have gotten ugly. I hae quite a bad rep. Because of that but hey i tried easy first.
    We struggled alot over the years to keep the place. We have farmed, raised a family, and tried to have our own quite slice of heaven.
    Dont be a hater, our place was up for sale when we bought it. If you cant or wont pony up and buyyour own or lease then you hunt public land or not at all. Sorry if thats tough but thats the way it is.

    1. I agree with you Joe Kerns. It does seem strange how people believe they can just hunt and fish someone else’s property. I have experienced the same thing, it included hunting, fishing, and even grazing horses. I try not to be jerk about and have a normal confrontation with them. Sometimes they are crossing over to recover a deer and I really don’t have a problem with that. But I live in Kansas and they can get really strict on hunting trespassing.

    2. If you have a river or a stream running thru your land and there is a someone in an inner tube or boat fishing, Too bad. You may own the land on either side but, you do not own the water. That is a Nat’l law. If they are coming ashore or fishing on a pond or lake, that’s another story. But rivers and streams are fair game.

  9. I would like to make a couple of points.
    I am a small farm owner in NE Ohio. In ohio you must have written permission from the landowner to hunt private property you do not own. There is no requirement for private property to be posted. You are required to know where you are at all times. That is what you call personal responsibility.
    I also hunt in the western US every year. We hunt National forest and BLM land. In the western states like CO and WY for example, there is 0 tolerance for trespassing. You are required to know your location at all times.

    1. Are you the guy that took an Elk off my land and tore thru my corn field? You cost my almost the entire crop!

  10. All land in Mississippi is automatically posted by state law and anyone entering must have permission from landowner, which helps. I still put up posted signs and patrol it on my ranger. Word has gotten out that I will run anyone off my land and I have not had any trouble in years. Have pissed off neighbors but could care less.

  11. I have actually seen a sign posted that read “No trespassing, violators risk being shot”. I don’t know how effective or legal that sign was, but it sure as hell got my attention!

  12. WOW is all I can say. A lot of the information in peoples responses will have you putting yourself in a dangerous situation for no reason. Also I would ignore the last section with the exception of one sentence. Here is how you handle the situation of unwanted hunters on private property. 1) Fence and post your property to local legal requirements. 2) Know and become friendly with your local law enforcement or game officers. 3) If you see someone trespassing/poaching on your land, IMMEDIATELY call for back up of some sort. Call law enforcement if you can and wait for them. If you aren’t going to call them then at least call a friend or loved one to let them know something is going on, and if they don’t hear from you to send help. You don’t want to be found dead days later. Remember if they’re hunting illegally on your property then you are going to immediately place them in a fight or flight situation upon contact, and they are ARMED! To this point no contact without law enforcement present is probably going to be your best option. If that’s not feasible then proceed with EXTREME CAUTION! Yes mistakes can happen. I myself had to confront an armed hunter who was on my fathers property, who had permission to be there, but I had no knowledge he was going to be there or was allowed to be. When I did this calling for backup via phone wasn’t an option as cell phone service isn’t good on the property. However, I had my firearm, my brother who was also armed, and a friend who we armed for the encounter. Three guns vs. one shotgun was the best we could do under the circumstances. After having him exit the stand and getting the story straight and checked via text messages, everything was good. Unfortunately for the young man (17ish) it was his first time hunting alone and me getting him down and patting him down as I was trained in the police academy shook his nerves so bad he left soon after. Moral of the story is everyone went home with only the holes we came with. In every case not putting yourself in a dangerous situation is your best option. 4) Prosecute the ones who are illegally hunting on your property that you put the time and money into preparing for hunting on. Any aid, like trail cameras, will improve your case should it go to trial.

    Nothing contained herein is meant to constitute legal advice.

    1. Ummmm….you patted him down at gun point? You are damn lucky he didn’t call the cops on YOU and have YOU arrested. You only have the right to ask him to leave…you do NOT have the right to detain him and violate his 4th Amendment rights.

    2. He was, as far as I knew, committing the crime of armed trespassing. I asked him to leave the stand and to allow me to check him for weapons other than the one he left in the stand. We never pointed, or had our weapons in our hands for that matter, at him. We never violated any law or his rights. You sir are a moron.

    1. Been to MISS. I was told by multiple land owners that if I wanted to go kill some wild pigs all I had to do was knock on their door.

  13. I believe it was several Sessions ago that Texas authorized “deadly force” in the protection of property & livestock. Besides being posted by sign, three purple strips on trees etc indicate the same meaning. Most Texas judges feel that perpetrators that get hurt during the commission of any crime is a self-inflicted wound.Poach here in Texas and you may end up a dead a the deer you hunt..

    1. That deadly force law on protection of property and livestock, you might want to look into a little deeper there chief. Protection of property does not include someone trespassing on a small portion of property while hunting for whitetail. The deer and other game are not your property.

      The law is for when you catch someone trying to steal your truck or is shooting lead at your backhoe while on your property. But please don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and put up your sign that states “trespassers will be shot on sight” like they did in the late 60’s thru the early 90’s. That that also states to the DA, in the event that you take someone out for pissing on a tree on your back 40, is that this is premeditated murder in the first degree.

      If someone is shooting at your cattle or is burning your feed that fall into the law. Not the other that I described.

  14. I have the problem. The property is posted. During deer season the property has to be patrolled. I know a lot of you may have some advise, but my property borders federal Indian land and their property. My trespassers are Indians. For some strange reason they think they have the legal right to hunt the property. Fortunately the game warden service started checking the property and fishing licenses, since there is a pond. This is the first year after 4 years of drought there is a manageable deer.
    Since I live in Kansas, it is the hunter’s responsibility to know whose property they are on.

    1. You just might have a problem on your hands doing that. A shotgun at 60+ yards makes a loud bang but does not really do anything. A 30-06 coming from the opposite direction in self defense in a way to hunt where ever the hell you want to without any pesky land owner getting in the way, LOL

  15. Some post their land to avoid law suits from the possibility of injuries on their property. Not all states have the same laws.

  16. Property rights are just that. You have the right to say who and cannot hunt your property. Had a good friend, now deceased, put NO HUNTING signs up every year. Every year, they would be torn down and he would catch his ‘good neighbors’ hunting his land. Went to his place one year, put signs up using an extension ladder, about 10 feet off of the ground, signs read; NO HUNTING ALLOWED, PERIOD, THIS MEANS YOU! Violators will be prosecuted. His ‘good neighbors’ filed a complaint with the local Sheriffs department. Go figure.

  17. trail cam do you no good if no one know its your land. If someone asks if it okay to hunt your land, tell them fine after a couple weeks into the season after you get your buck. Don’t be an ass and have signs up all overt hat say no hunting. let others in on it and don’t be a dick to people that are just starting out by sending them to no mans lands as a joke. That gets old and you may end up regretting it. Some people hunt for food while you might hunt for a head on your wall.

    1. I have utmost respect for property rights. But I feel vector16 makes a fair point. I don’t usually wait for the biggest, but my season ends when my freezer is full, even if the doe I dropped is followed by a nice 8 point. You want that trophy buck, he is yours. I want the knowledge that I went into the wilderness and brought back enough meat to get my family through the winter . nothing more.

    2. Vector is only right to a degree. I agree with him that being a jerk is a quick way to make a problem where it didn’t exist before. But having the decency to stop by my house an ask permission is necessary. Anything else is just being a thief. I am always nice the first time I meet a tresspasser. The next time I prosecute. I don’t take the law into my own hands, and I am not going to be stupid enough to shoot at someone. But I will prosecute, and to be successful prosecuting, you need to have the fence marked clearly and often.

    3. If you have a fence that is even better. Be sure to mark on the fence which side of the property is yours. I have been hunting and saw a fence, I wanted to be respectful of the private property so I did not jump it. As day was ending we set up camp and found that we were already on the wrong side of the fence. Thank god there was a sense of humor and we had a couple extra cold beers. The owner of the property told us that he did not mind us hunting on his property but if we were to harvest one that he would want the neck meat. That was a fun trip and we are welcome to come back and hunt his property anytime because we kept our word and then some.. He marked clearly on those signs after that which side of the fence was private property and which was Nat’l forest.

    4. a property owner has the right to say who, wut, where.. That owner pays property taxes, researches and takes care of that place. If you dont like the stipulations to hunt there u can always buy your own property or hunt public land. Its attitudes like yours that cause landowners to post their property and make other hunters look bad.. If you get permission to be there, be happy that they did so!

    5. I used to think the same but after shots being fired within 50 feet of my back door by poachers, I won’t tolerate that anymore. It’s happened 3 times in the recent past. Never again .

    6. If some one is shooting 50 ft from an occupied structure they are breaking the law anyway. Poachers are the problem as well. Its wrong to say people like me anyway if that is to whom you are referring.

      I hunt on public land as I am sure many of you shoot on public land. Not all areas are marked. If someone is on your land and they are hunting its important that you clarify with them that they are on private land and not just be an asshole with a gun telling them to leave. Everyone that is out there with a license and a tag do harvest some meat for the winter is not trying to break any laws. There are occasions when other hunters will cross onto private property because its not marked on the maps they are referring to in hand. That is just the way it goes. If you are one of those people that has land and are so uptight that cannot even ask someone if they have a license and tag and then direct them off of your property if you don’t want them there then the hell with you. People make mistakes and sometimes do not see signs.

      If you do ask if they are licensed and have tags and they do be nice because invading your space in not their intent.

      If they do not have a license and a tag then that is a poacher and they deserve what is coming to them.

      Just remember that not everyone that might travel onto your land is a bad guy some just may have made a wrong turn or made a mistake.

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