For today’s article I’m going to vent on a pet peeve of mine – ATV riders and lack of respect for private property.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story, there is a piece of family property that was willed to my father at least 20 years ago from a distant branch of the family. (This is not the same property that the hunting cabin was on).
For several years after dad died we (adult) kids were not even sure where the property was, but about six years ago I took it upon myself to find, post, and establish a presence there as a hunting and general enjoyment property. The problem is that for several decades, unbeknownst to us, the place had become grand central station for local ATV riders – both adult and adolescent.
The road is clearly gated (and requires gas company access to well heads) but over the years people have gleefully made their own trespass entrances and completely disregarded “No Trespass” signs.
Despite signage (and now purple paint) virtually every time I have been there over the past 5 or 6 years I have turned away various numbers of ATV riders advising them that it was private property and I didn’t want them there. Every time there were (apparently insincere) apologies and professions of “not knowing” (you drove past several signs, and didn’t you think that gate was there for a reason?)
I have given a handful of local guys permission to hunt and was hopeful that they would help me keep an eye on the place and deter trespassers, in addition to spreading the word that the property was not a public racetrack. But to apparently no avail. ATVers continue to trespass and some even right in front of my game cams (and thus near my blind). A couple of years ago one of my cams was vandalized to boot.
Last weekend my game cam caught an ATV rider actually flipping the bird to my camera. The clear challenge and lack of respect has me now starting to feel unsafe on my own family property. And I’m PI$$ED.
I go to the woods to relax, to enjoy the quiet, to watch wildlife, to hunt, to pick berries, and just enjoy nature. My daughter has even done part of her grad school studies on various tree plots there. But those roaring machines and their disrespectful riders destroy any peace that I try to gain from being on the property. The lack of respect for private property – which apparently comes with the purchase receipt for these damnable infernal machines – is completely maddening.
I’m not saying that ATV’s don’t have their legitimate uses – as farm tools, as transport to get a deer stand to and from a property, for deer carcass transport, etc. But it seems to me that the majority of ATV owners just joyride, tear up the landscape, and make incredibly annoying noise. There seems to be a sense of entitlement to whoever’s land they lay their eyes on – which is galling in the extreme.
It’s not that I want to completely wall the place off from the world – there are over 100 beautiful acres. As I’ve said I have given hunt permission to several local guys who respectfully asked and who keep up contact with me. I will be especially pleased if they take the opportunity to introduce grandchildren to respectful and responsible hunting while using our property.
I wouldn’t even really mind if people enjoy the place “on foot” for birdwatching and other conservation-minded activities – IF they ask me. I’m trying to become a good steward of the land. My daughter has stated that the trees (including sugar maples) are especially healthy and vigorous. That makes me happy. “I” can enjoy the place on foot, so that’s what I’m asking of others – as long as they ASK PERMISSION first.
Besides giving the photos to the local police, I’m not sure what else to do about the damned ATV trespassers short of paying thousands of dollars to fence everything in. I can’t just drop a tree over the road because the gas company still needs access. A guy from a neighboring property has offered to help block off the “extra” entrances so that may help for awhile. But how long before the jerks just make new entrances? It’s become a constant source of stress for me. Not good for a property that I was half-thinking of building and retiring on.
I’m sure there are other property owners that are feeling my pain. And I “hope” that there are responsible and respectful ATV owners out there who are angry that the jerks spoil it for everyone. But right now I’m NOT feeling terribly charitable. *insert grumpy old lady face*.