Several years ago, I lived in rural Jefferson County, Alabama. Our property wasn’t large, but our family’s property bisected what was before development a nice piece of hunting land.
Hunters were not the least bit amused when signs went up notifying residents and hunters that the property had been “Posted” and was no longer land that could be freely transited or hunted.
In fact, I was called out by a neighbor for being double minded. By his reckoning, my being any form of hunter and closing my land to other hunters was a sign that I was either lying about hunting or being an “elitist” out to deny “average guys” a place to hunt.
I’d forgotten all about that disagreeable neighbor until my recent trip to Texas and the dove fields outside Santa Rosa. No, I didn’t run into him there, but I was reminded of just why I’d decided to close off the Alabama land.
Empty shotgun hulls -in sizes other than mine- were underfoot everywhere around the milo field a landowner had generously granted permission to hunt. Ever wonder why landowners don’t like hunters? Jim Shepherd/OWDN photo.
The ground around my spot in the dove field was littered with spent shotgun shells. All gauges, all manufacturers, and all left where they’d been ejected. So thick in places that it was difficult to walk without one of them rolling under your boot. Laying everywhere despite the fact that there were trash barrels stationed all along the perimeter of the milo field.
So, I picked up my shells, and dozens of others that didn’t even fit my gun. Everyone in our group was using 12-gauge. But we picked up dove buckets filled to the brim with 20, 28 and 410 shells by the end of each session
That was the reminder of why I’d posted my own land. I’d picked up rifle and shotgun shells across the property, fished trash out of the small pond, and gathered liquor bottles, food wrappers and even household garbage before I’d decided enough was enough. Most of the time, I just put the trash into one of the 55 gallon drums I’d labeled “Trash” and put near the pond and a place where hunters used to park.
I also recalled a section of fence that was repeatedly cut, despite the gate being just a few yards away.
Is it any wonder that landowners aren’t excited at the idea of having to pickup trash and repair fences because some hunters don’t clean up after themselves?
It’s the same reasoning that’s led to the closure of some shooting areas on public land. Shooters might think it’s fun to bring everything from aerosol cans to televisions to the range for some “ventilation” - but many of them seldom consider the need to pick them up when they’re finished.
Not all hunters and shooters are chronic litterbugs or vandals, but enough are to cause problems for everyone else. There are a few simple rules for hunting, gun-handling and general conduct that everyone could observe that would make life better for everyone.
Yes, observe the safety rules, but don’t forget the golden rule: do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.