7 Ways to Deal with Deer-Hunting Neighbors | Deer & Deer Hunting


The phone rang just after dinner. One of our favorite clients had finally arrowed Ol’ Whatever They Called Him, the 160-class buck he had been watching for the past three years. He had hit the buck “a little back” and the hunter was despondent. “Would you bring Radar and give me a hand tracking him?” I said sure, and we grabbed our tracking dog and headed out the door, after calling the game warden to give him a heads up. He returned the favor by reminding us that our client and his neighbor to the south were at war with each other and the neighbor would not take kindly to any line crossing. Wow, a 160-inch buck lying out there somewhere and no chance of recovering him if he went south. What a mess. How the heck could a war with a neighbor have gotten this far?

Sadly, we see it all of the time. My son Neil and I have been in the wildlife consulting business for the past 25 years or so and managing neighbor relations is one of most common topics we discuss with our clients. Believe me, a war with a neighbor is the last thing you want in a hunting property. It can easily get out of hand and can absolutely take the joy out of hunting. Our clients are constantly asking for advice on handling troublesome neighbors and/or trespassers. The trouble is, by the time it comes to our attention, their problems with neighbors have gone too far to fix. If ever the axiom, “An ounce of prevention …” were true, it’s in the realm of avoiding a war with your neighbor.

1. Get to Know Your Neighbors

One of the best ways of getting along with your neighbors is to know them before you ever meet them. Part of doing your due diligence before buying or leasing a piece of hunting property is to investigate the neighborhood. Grab some tax maps and find out who you will be bordering. Is the neighborhood loaded with junkyard dogs chained to 55-gallon barrels out back? Is the front yard littered with wrecked cars? Does the garage have dozens of racks of 1½-year-old bucks decorating the doorway? Does a sign reading “Happiness is a Steaming Gut Pile” greet you at the entrance to their camp? These, of course, are all red flags. And when it comes to neighbors, the rule of thumb is generally the fewer the better. You will have many more issues with 12 neighbors than with two.

Arrange a meeting with your local game warden and/or sheriff. Explain that you are one of the good guys, plan on obeying the law, and will work with them and never against them. Explain that you are interested in buying a property in a certain area and tell them what you are planning to do with the property. They will know who the chronic troublemakers in the neighborhood are and tip you off if you are headed for trouble. If they tell you you’re headed for trouble, walk away from the deal or at least proceed with caution. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Maintain Good Fences

A little over 100 years ago, Robert Frost wrote that line about fencelines between neighbors. He and his neighbor walked the stone wall between their properties every spring to repair the damage done during winter. Lines are important and have a great deal to do with how you and your neighbor will get along and interact.

Frost and his neighbor may have had a “you hunt me, and I hunt you,” relationship but that was a long time ago and is pretty much a thing of the past. For starters, it is dangerous to not know who is on your property and why they are there from a hunting perspective. And it’s impossible to manage a deer property with people traipsing all over it. You are going to have to post it against trespassing. And how you post it will have a lot to do with how you and your neighbor get along.

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If you want to have good relationships with your deer-hunting neighbors you should think it through a little before you grab a fist full of posters and head for the woods. This will often be the first impression you make on your neighbors. Your goal is not to be the meanest dude on the block, or to look like a landowning neophyte. You want to come off as solid and sensible. Keeping your posters on the right side of the line will start you off on the right foot with your neighbor. His have been up a long time before yours and he knows it. Your posters might raise some eyebrows but you don’t want them to be a red flag and label you as a land grabber.

7 Ways to Deal with Deer Hunting Neighbors
Trespasser captured with Cuddeback CuddeLink camera system. Photo courtesy of Daniel Schmidt.

Landowners are generally very possessive about their land ownings, even those they are not using. Respect your neighbor’s lines with your posting. Nothing looks worse and identifies you as a land rookie as tacking up a sign on every other tree. You might think super dense posting sends a strong “tough on trespassers” message, but it will do little more than tell the world that you don’t even know how to post. Typically, new owners over-post their properties. Before you post, ride around the area and have a look at how the locals post their properties. Put yours up exactly the same way, no more no less, and use high-quality metal posters with backer boards. Anyone who has ever posted their land will recognize that you are serious about identifying your lines — serious without being obnoxious.

And one more little trick. Posters announcing the property is under the watchful eye of remote cameras have proven to be great deterrents. Poachers and trespassers hate remote camera technology. Having the neighborhood know it’s under constant surveillance won’t hurt you a bit. You don’t need to announce it on every tree but a little camera warning in every pull-in area will go a long way and set the tone for your first official conversation with the neighbors.

3. Stop by For a Courtesy Visit

The new posters will give you a perfect excuse to call on your new neighbors. Stop by and introduce yourself. Tell them you are posting your property for safety and security reasons. Don’t push too hard on the quality deer management side of the equation because some landowners oppose the concept out of custom and/or tradition. Offer to walk the line with them and adjust any posters they feel might violate the line. If they take you up on your offer, be sure to have any surveying information with you should a difference of opinion arise. Usually the guy with the best documentation wins, but the survey should be the last word. Hopefully you have already learned the lines and know where all of the evidence is. The mission here is to make friends with the neighbor and send an “I’ve got my landowning act together” signal at the same time.

Tell them you are going to be doing a lot of hunting on the land and you have put out a lot of scouting cameras to help you keep an eye on comings and goings (of both deer and humans). Tell them you have cameras watching the roads and other access points and you will be happy to share pictures if they ever have a problem with trespassers or break-ins. In other words, tell them you are employing cameras for both security and game management purposes. Don’t show them where they are, it’s best to have them believe they are behind every tree. The objective here is to position yourself as a good neighbor who “trusts but verifies” when it comes to securing his property.

While you are on the subject of boundary lines, tell your neighbors it is fine by you if they enter your property to track and recover a wounded deer. Offer them a permission slip to recover wounded deer that has all your contact information on it. Hopefully, they will get around to doing the same. Tell them you would appreciate a call if they should have to enter your property to recover a deer because the cameras will probably pick them up, and letting you know they crossed the line will save everyone a whole lot of trouble. This sends the signal that you are an OK guy, but on top of the trespassing situation.

See also  .257 Roberts for Elk Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Elk Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the .257 Roberts a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for elk hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the .257 Roberts is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the elk, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the elk in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop .257 Roberts Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a elk in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .257 Roberts within the ideal range of suitable calibers for elk hunting?” our answer is: No, the .257 Roberts is UNDERKILL for elk hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber .257 Roberts Animal Species Elk Muzzle Energy 2040 foot-pounds Animal Weight 720 lbs Shot Distance 200 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a .257 Roberts? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .257 Roberts round is approximately 2040 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male elk? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male elk is approximately 720 lbs. [Click Here to Shop .257 Roberts Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in elk hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for elk to be approximately 200 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .257 Roberts. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the elk being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .257 Roberts is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk - and to this question, the response again is no, the .257 Roberts is UNDERKILL for elk hunting. [Click Here to Shop .257 Roberts Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting elk to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

If your neighbors don’t reciprocate on recovering wounded deer, don’t put them on the spot with an “ask” just yet. Give them some time to think about it. They might need to get to know you a bit more before offering permission to recover game on their side of the line. If a recovery event should arise, by all means contact them and ask permission, but don’t put the pressure on them the first time you meet. Get to know them a bit before asking for the courtesy. This is more of a judgement call than an automatic thing, letting them offer the courtesy is generally a better idea.

4. Be a Good Neighbor Yourself

Now that you are up and running it’s important to be a good hunting neighbor. Nothing annoys a neighbor like a newcomer crowding him by hunting the line or otherwise interfering with his hunting program. Just because he hunts the line doesn’t mean you have to. Keep your stands back from the line. A good rule of thumb is out of sight, out of mind. He will know you are there when the shooting starts, you don’t need to remind him of it every time he walks the line or hunts a line stand. Plus, it’s unsafe to crowd the line.

I 00019 scaled 7 Ways to Deal with Deer-Hunting Neighbors | Deer & Deer Hunting
If a neighbor’s food plot is close enough for you to see, it’s generally close enough to influence deer movement on your side of the line. Cuddeback photo by Dan Schmidt.

Don’t mess with the natural flow of things. Your neighbor might use food plots to feed and concentrate deer. Hopefully they are well in from the line and you won’t even know what his plots are attracting. But if they are close enough for you to see, they are generally close enough to influence deer movement on your side of the line. It’s fine to take advantage of this movement, but try not to negatively impact his deer hunting by doing so. It’s one step from hunting his line when it comes to hunting ethics. Nothing is more annoying than seeing a line of orange clad hunters keying in on the food source you worked so hard on last summer. He can’t stop you if you are on your own property, but he sure can get mad at you. Never, ever shoot onto another man’s property.

5. Learn How to Deal with Bad Neighbors

Up to this point we’ve been all about sending the right signals and being a good neighbor, the assumption being, if you are a good neighbor maybe he will be as well. I’m sad to report that the majority of our calls are about how to deal with problems with bad neighbors. You know, the ones who run all over your property, never let a buck grow up and on occasion, the type of guy who won’t even allow you to cross the line to track a wounded deer. I’ve given you all kinds of suggestions for preventing neighbors from becoming problems, but not much for dealing with them.

That’s because it is almost impossible to generalize and make absolute recommendations about how you can and should deal with a bad neighbor. You can put up a giant blue tarp or plaster the area with posters across from where he is camped out on the line. Or change your access road or catch him on hidden cameras or move your food plots or put up a fence or cut down a specific tree. We sometimes tell them, “Sell and get out,” but that’s not why you’re reading this article. That’s not why people call us every week, if not daily, to ask what to do with a problem neighbor. Problems are easier to avoid than to fix. If we can say one thing for sure, you really have to know your neighbor if you are going to fix your problem with him. Take solace in knowing that you are not the only person having them.

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We used to recommend leading by example. Pass around plenty of pictures of a full meat pole and plenty of game camera pictures of big bucks. “See what can happen if you let the little ones turn into big ones.” This is where you really get to know your neighbor. Sharing big buck pictures and success stories can work wonders, but only if your neighbor is smart about it. If he blabs about your success all over town you are likely to have half the town running all over you. Every friend who drinks a beer with the neighbor will be getting invited to come out and hunt next to the big buck factory. If he’s tight lipped and plays it smart, he will learn from your success and start working with you not against you. He just might start letting young bucks grow and begin monitoring fawn recruitment and herd health. He will embrace sound management practices and begin to hunt accordingly. We’ve seen it go both ways. Bottom line: Read your neighbor and divulge your information carefully.

6. Drop the Hammer — Only If You Have To

Sometimes you have no choice but to drop the hammer on that neighbor who just won’t toe the line. It might be him, but it could also be his brother-in-law. You’ve heard enough of his fake deer recovery stories to know he is a chronic trespasser and/or poacher. You know for sure he is baiting ’em up and baiting is flat illegal where he is doing it. He might as well be robbing a bank. And that’s exactly how to view it — your neighbor is stealing from you. It’s illegal and it must be stopped, now!

Drop a dime on him and call the warden! Don’t confront him. That’s the job for law enforcement. If you don’t know who’s doing the violating take a picture of his back tag, get his ID or license plate and get away from him. Don’t press the issue, you might get more than you bargained for. But do press charges!

Sooner or later, with most bad actors you are gonna get the law involved. Once you get to the point of calling in the law, you must understand you are past the point of no return. We deal with this all of the time. Client after client refuses to press charges on poachers or trespassers.

7. You Can’t Ignore the Problem

Not following through will serve only to perpetuate the problem. If you go through the trouble to get the law on it, you have to follow through. This is where most people go wrong. They try to treat game wardens and sheriffs like they are councilors. “Having a little talk” is not what the law enforcement guys are interested in doing. They didn’t go to counseling school. They came out to arrest a poacher or trespasser. They write tickets and arrest people. If you are going to involve the law, be prepared to follow through. Otherwise you are wasting everybody’s time and the problems will continue. And believe me when I tell you that word of an arrest gets around fast and the locals will know those signs on the lines mean what they say: “Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted!”

This article is a tribute to our dear friend and longtime contributor Dr. Craig Dougherty. He first offered these tips in 2016. Craig left us in 2019. His wisdom remains in print and online at northcountrywhitetails.com.

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Sean Campbell’s love for hunting and outdoor life is credited to his dad who constantly thrilled him with exciting cowboy stories. His current chief commitment involves guiding aspiring gun handlers on firearm safety and shooting tactics at the NRA education and training department. When not with students, expect to find him either at his gunsmithing workshop, in the woods hunting, on the lake fishing, on nature photoshoots, or with his wife and kid in Maverick, Texas. Read more >>