Brian Schanilec: Proposal would change hunting forever

After reading the Herald editorial (Jan. 13: "North Dakota land should be closed") I was alarmed to see the "no trespass law" supported by your editorial board. This law would forever change the great tradition of hunting in our North Dakota culture.



After reading the Herald editorial ( Jan. 13: "North Dakota land should be closed" ) I was alarmed to see the "no trespass law" supported by your editorial board. This law would forever change the great tradition of hunting in our North Dakota culture.

I am a fifth-generation farmer and landowner in North Dakota. I am also a very active hunter, and have had tremendous hunting opportunities growing up in this great state. The "no trespass law" will make freelance hunting ineffective because hunters would have to obtain hunting permission for each parcel of land they hunt that isn't posted.

Freelance hunting is where hunters follow the game. A good example would be following the waterfowl migration. Some may hunt waterfowl in a field one day, and two counties away the next day. Oftentimes, hunters won't know their next field until the evening before.

Many hunters freelance hunt coyotes, but seldom know which field in a 40-mile radius will host the animal.


Many residents and non-residents hunt in North Dakota to experience this freelance hunting. Can you imagine the economic impact to our state if most freelance hunting goes away? The argument that technology will fix the problem of identifying hunting rights to specific properties isn't working. From what I can see, technology gives hunters the name or entity of the property owner faster, which many times is not the person controlling the hunting rights to that given field. With such a high percentage of absentee landowners, technology doesn't help. I wish you luck when you try to call one of my landlords, who is an attorney in Houston, Texas.

When I encounter posted property, there is a name on each sign. That name, in almost all cases, controls the hunting rights on that property. In my experiences it is easier to obtain permission when you have a name to start with. I control the hunting rights on quite a bit of private land. By posting a portion of my land it gives opportunities to many. I control my posted land with signs and manage accordingly. The balance of property means I do not get phone calls during all hours of the day.

Nearly 100 percent of the property I control has hunting done by guests of some magnitude. People are able to reach out to me because my name and address is on every sign. I have so many youth hunters that have harvested their first deer, duck, or goose on ground I control. The number of father-son or father-daughter pairs I've hosted is very rewarding. Where are these youth hunters going to hunt if they do not have connections? We need to promote our youth hunting.

With access to land getting harder to obtain, our tradition is even more threatened with this "no trespass law." If all land is posted automatically, we will be seeing fewer father-youth pairs.

It is ironic you mentioned a couple of other states in your editorial. I own property in a few states. In Minnesota I have a property that is a popular hunting spot. I used to get harassed nonstop before and during hunting season. Many of these calls were done inappropriately and many way too late in the evening.

I consulted with my Minnesota neighbors and on their suggestion, I put up "no hunting or trespassing" signs and all the calls stopped. From this experience I have learned that additional signs solved the problem. I have no problem posting the land I control by putting out "no hunting or trespassing" signs.

When does North Dakota need to do what other states do? Neighboring states that have a "no trespass law" have many of their hunters coming to North Dakota since they don't have a place to hunt in their own state. Those states have destroyed their hunting heritage, making it cost prohibitive. They also are desperately trying to rebuild their resident hunters and are having great difficulty due to many hunters coming here to spend their hunting dollars.

Hunting is a unique sport not to be compared to house intrusion and property theft. When my house is left unlocked accidently, there is no intruder in the "parlor." When I accidently leave the keys in the ignition of my vehicle it is still in the driveway the next morning. The Herald editorial board is comparing apples to oranges. A law drafted in Bismarck isn't going to stop a person with criminal intent.


Brian Schanilec, of Forest River, N.D., is a landowner, hunter and member of numerous sportsmen's clubs.

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