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1.) Bob Peck - 10/30/2015
I don't who said this to me but the words have been stuck in my head for a few decades now. Sadly, it's proven to be true so many times.

Some of the people on this site have hunted with me on this 70 acre patch of excellent Blue Ridge Mountain land that I call home. They can attest to it's abundance of wildlife from turkeys to bobcat to whitetail and now black bear. I first got introduced to the owner (a commercial pilot) 8 years ago. He was never on the property and at the time it was 170 acres which I had all to myself. The introductions to the landowner came from a friend who is a Realtor who specializes in selling farmland. The proposition was simple. Keep the roads clear, remove obstructions from the two creeks running through the property, educate the trespassers, post the land and ensure timber thieves didn't make off with the bounty of white oaks blanketing the place. In exchange, I had the keys to the gate and free run to do whatever, whenever. Never saw the landowner ever again.

Then he sells 100 acres to a young couple who own a hardscaping business. It's his prerogative. It's his land and why he bought it in the first place. I run into this young couple one spring all camo'd up as I'm hauling out 1 of 2 turkeys I've ever shot with a bow. "We're the new owners of the property up there on the hill." they tell me with great excitement. "Nice" I say under my breath. "There goes some awesome whitetail habitat." I wanted to say "Do you know how many whitetails I've arrowed up there?" but why bother. They're homesteaders and I learned they don't hunt.

"I wish you well." came out of my mouth but I'm sure it wasn't very convincing. "If there's anything you ever need, here's my number." knowing full well they'll never call and I may not answer even if they do. I wasn't mad. I was depressed at being awakened from the fantasy that this was my place. It never was.

The commercial airline pilot sells the remaining property to a retired Sgt. Maj. who oversaw 19,000 Marines in Iraq. His area spanned from the Jordanian to the Syrian border and every city from Fallujah west. Love the guy. We bonded instantly. He lives and works a civilian job in Texas and plans one day to return and build on his 70 acres. He understands the deal and signs right up. No problems. I hunt and maintain that 70 acres just as I did when it was 170. Then the guy who owns the meadow in the middle of the property who no one has ever seen decides to build his dream home in the meadow. To be truthful, I saw it coming. Last winter there were HUGE marks at the property corners in orange surveyors tape. Uh oh ... aerial surveying. That can't be good. Suddenly I am walking by heavy machinery on the logging road and can see this construction from one of my treestands. I reason (and it proves to be true this year) that during the day the construction will divert deer traffic to the perimeter where I hunt anyway. At night, they'll do what they always do and bisect the meadow. See where I'm going with this? I'm in denial but my rational mind knows exactly what's happening.

Two years ago permissions were granted to some family members to bowhunt the remaining 70. What am I going to do? What can I possibly say? Nothing. These family members proxied permissions to a few others in the family with only one caveat. Check with the guy who maintains the property (me) before going on the property. Imagine sporadically seeing more unknown humans on your trail cameras than deer. Imagine these humans "scout" the property like I did so long ago and by now know every rock and tree and short cut. Imagine having to make decisions on where to hunt when you hunted wherever the heck you wanted to and based it on conditions. Now I have to think ahead and confine myself. Imagine not knowing the hunters or their abilities with firearms. Bows are one thing, a 30-06 is another. I do the best to coordinate and get along. I present a happy cooperative face and it's not an every day, every hunt worry but it's wearing on me. They're family. Technically they have more right to hunt than I do but still ... who has done all the brush hogging and chainsaw work for all these years? Who helped the cops bust timber thieves?

Still ... I've shot 3 deer this year but the writings on the wall and many of us have been there. When you don't own the land, you don't own anything.

Don't feel sorry for me. No. No. I have 1.5 million acres of Blue Ridge Mountain public land less than 3 miles from my house. It's hard, strategic, don't-mess-around, come prepared, you-could-die, takes-hours-to-get-in-and-out hunting but still ... 1.5 million acres. Guess I'll stop my crabbing and hit Google Earth. Thanks for listening. :-)
2.) Swamp Fox - 10/30/2015
Well the good news is you don't have to worry about competition from Luv2...That Pennsylvania state line is like a force-field...That's what he keeps telling me, anyway. He's like a boy in a plastic bubble. Can't get out. :wink
3.) Swamp Fox - 10/30/2015
4.) bluecat - 10/30/2015
5.) Hunter - 10/30/2015
Bob, great read as always. Brings back memories! I grew up hunting a lease in the Florida Everglades. Spent all my teen years and early twentys there. 12 sections of wild wilderness that I roamed and learned like the back of my hand. I can still remember the sick feeling when it was bought up by the U.S. Government to be part of the Big Cypress National Park. I still hunted it after they opened it back up as a management area. But like your situation, having to compete with strangers for your favorite spots was depressing.

But, there are many great memories I have. It was the only years I got to hunt with my dad. He would never do any management hunts.
As they say, change is the only constant in life.
6.) Jon - 11/02/2015
Damn Bob, I know how much that property meant to you and how gorgeous is is first hand. No worries, things always work out somehow.
Maybe, just maybe you'll pop the biggest one yet on there this season.
7.) Alex - 11/02/2015
[QUOTE=Bob Peck;35924]I don't who said this to me but the words have been stuck in my head for a few decades now. Sadly, it's proven to be true so many times.[/QUOTE]
I know who said it to you :-)
8.) Wild Bob - 11/02/2015
Bob, sorry to hear of your predicament.

I can relate somewhat to your frustration / disappointment: I grew up in the Hudson Valley region of southern NY and watched helplessly for years as habitat was developed or locked up. We were constantly looking for new places to hunt; from my earliest memories until I moved away from the region when I turned 22, that was a constant theme. Over that 15 year period of time, my brother-in-law and I had a number of properties to hunt that seemed like they were made in a dream. Of course we didn't have the time and energy invested in taking care of those places that you doÖ But none the less, for a couple of die-hard hunters we became awfully attached to hunting those places. It hurt to loose access to those places.

Truth be known - those negative experiences; watching land become tied up and inaccessible, contributed heavily to the paths Iíve chosen to take in my life. Access to decent hunting grounds has dictated where I've lived in the southeast and also where I live now. To say that those choices have had a large impact on my career and family would be an understatement! (The one huge factor that I have to be extremely thankful for is that I have a wife that understands me, and is willing to honor what I loveÖ) I have family members that still live in the area where I grew up, and to this day, they give me grief for moving away and choosing the life Iíve chosen.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, there is no totally escaping our societyís hunger for &*%^ing up the greatest natural areas Ė Iíve learned that and Iím trying to except that (as your saying goes, when you donít ownÖ). That mule deer buck I just killed this past weekend; there is a project called the XL Pipeline that is set to go right smack dab through that area. There will still be hunting there; but will it be the same, with more roads and easier access? I highly doubt it.

Itís a tough reality we hunters face, and as much as I hate to admit it; I only see it getting tougher for the next generations that choose to hunt, no matter where they live. Hang tough and good luck with it. - That's what we do!
9.) Bob Peck - 11/02/2015
[B][COLOR="#0000FF"]When's the last time you captured a bucket truck driving through your prime hunting location?[/COLOR][/B]

 photo 151026AA_Frame3265_zpss54vksag.jpg
10.) Bob Peck - 11/02/2015
[B][COLOR="#0000FF"]Or how about bowhunters who definitely don't have permission to be on the land?[/COLOR][/B]

 photo 151021AA_Frame4447_zpsz0oi6jq2.jpg
11.) Bob Peck - 11/02/2015
[B][COLOR="#0000FF"]Or maybe some guy deciding to walk his dog? Pretty sure I know who this is.[/COLOR][/B]

 photo 151021AA_Frame13947_zpsvticpkx0.jpg
12.) Bob Peck - 11/02/2015
[QUOTE=Alex;35959]I know who said it to you :-)[/QUOTE]

Ah yes. It's all coming back to me now. :-)
13.) Swamp Fox - 11/02/2015
Time for a trip to Kinkos for some laminated signs...
14.) Bob Peck - 11/02/2015
[QUOTE=Swamp Fox;35971]Time for a trip to Kinkos for some laminated signs...[/QUOTE]

Time to install a second gate. Just to give everyone some context these images are taken about 1/4 mile in and nearly at the end of the access road. There is no other way to reach this point on the property. If you're in the picture it's not by accident.

The original gate out by the road is kept open for the construction crews working on the house as there is a section of shared road into the new home site. The second gate won't stop the walk in trespassers but ... in the instance of the bowhunters in that one picture ... 2 days prior to the pic I taped a note to the stand the guy is carrying out telling him I'll have him arrested if I catch him.
15.) Swamp Fox - 11/02/2015
Other than for ATVers, I think a sign on the road (where the field meets the woods) or at any other evidence of trespassers (such as treestands) would be better than a gate --at least it's less work.

Not the usual Posted sign...Better to signal that video is/has been taken. Signs left on treestands also work. I've done it twice.

I have at least one good story about dummy cameras, too...LOL

Fortunately, I haven't had much of a problem with trespassers in my career.
16.) DParker - 11/02/2015
[QUOTE=Swamp Fox;35977]Other than for ATVers, I think a sign on the road (where the field meets the woods) or at any other evidence of trespassers (such as treestands) would be better than a gate --at least it's less work.[/QUOTE]

Sure, that's one approach. But I say, go big or stay home.

17.) Swamp Fox - 11/02/2015
We need Luv2 to come on and fill us in on the latest in tripwire paint bombs too, LOL
18.) BULLZ-i - 11/02/2015
19.) Bob Peck - 11/02/2015
[QUOTE=BULLZ-i;35984]IT'S UNFORTUNATE THAT THE ORIGINAL LANDOWNER DIDN'T OFFER OR ADVISE YOU HE WAS SELLING ANY IN THE FIRST PLACE TO GIVE YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE STEPS EARLIER TO BUY OR DENY. YOU AT LEAST WOULD HAVE HEARD IT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH.[/QUOTE] Oh I knew it was for sale. My real estate friend who made the original introductions to both landowners filled me in straight away. At $30,000 an acre, buying was immediately out of the question. It's good land, hunt-able land but not THAT good. It's proximity to Staunton, VA is what makes it pricey.

The dirty little secret in Virginia is the rich folk that inhabit Northern Virginia (most of us consider that part VA a different state) make their fortunes in DC and then buy up a good portion of rural Virginia.
20.) Bob Peck - 11/02/2015
[QUOTE=Swamp Fox;35977]I think a sign on the road (where the field meets the woods) or at any other evidence of trespassers (such as treestands) would be better than a gate --at least it's less work. [/QUOTE]

I'm convinced the bowhunting trespassers were construction workers or friends thereof. When I showed that picture to the foreman he briefly had the "Oh shitake." look on his face as he then denied he knew the guys in the picture. I haven't kicked a trespasser off that property in the last five years.

[QUOTE=Swamp Fox;35977]Not the usual Posted sign...Better to signal that video is/has been taken.[/QUOTE]

These signs are posted and spaced around the entire perimeter of the property. It's the very first thing I do when I enter into an agreement with any landowner. There's a sign at the original gate too but as I said it's now left open to allow the crews to gain access to the home site project. I'm not the type to lay down and take it. Some interloper messing with my hard work and hunting will regret it. I use law enforcement assistance, ghilly suits and technology. :-)

[QUOTE=Swamp Fox;35977]Signs left on treestands also work. I've done it twice. [/QUOTE]

I did this with the guy packing out the climber. The one thing I did learn (the hard way) is to allow time (2 weeks) for the trespasser to remove the stand. If you don't allow the time and just take the stand they steal or destroy my stands. In other words, a lose/lose. I'd rather wait until our local game warden is available to remove the stand than do it myself. Does this stop the idiots from stealing and destroying? Heck no but when it's time to prosecute I have pictures of the offenders to give to the law.
21.) Swamp Fox - 11/03/2015
If I waited for an NC game warden to be available, I'd still be waiting. They don't like to get their shiny shoes dirty. They're probably the best-dressed game wardens in the country. I think they're jealous of the snappy Highway Patrol uniforms, though, which are even spiffier.

If NC wardens can stop somebody out on the blacktop, though, they're all over it. As long as they know the "perp's" vehicle is still parked where they can find it, LOL. Asking them to monitor something, walk though the woods, leave the vehicle behind, or investigate after the crime is a lost cause.

SC wardens wear boots and tend to be the real deal, although some of them like to play buccaneer with the Coast Guard and drug dogs a little too much.

I haven't had any dealings with Virginia wardens in a long time.
22.) luv2bowhunt - 11/03/2015
That sucks Bob. I've seen a bunch of good land turn into developments and get sold to landowners who keep it closed to everyone else. With your charm and good looks, you're bound to find some other totally sweet righteous deal that gives you incredible hunting privileges that will fill the rest of us with envy and eventually, total disdain for you. :wink