As the highly anticipated 2019-20 firearms season for deer is upon us, trail cameras are yielding photos of this year’s trophy bucks and grandpa’s old “secret spot” has probably been touched up and re-brushed to aid in the element of surprise. But one unfortunate tradition comes to mind: trespassing. 

Trespassing is an issue almost old as time itself and has been the root of endless feuds, disputes and the main subject of debates for ages. 

Though most hunters are ethical, respect the laws and make sure permissions are in place, sometimes temptation can overcome ethics in the quest for the next big trophy piece. 

No matter the circumstances or reasoning, trespassing, even in accidental situations, can potentially have both civil and criminal consequences. 

Be wary of your surroundings, scout ahead of time so you know the area(s) you are hunting. Laws, rules and regulations should always be followed when it comes to the boundaries of any area a hunt is conducted in. 

Boundary flags are usually used to mark areas where fences or property lines are not present or visible — typically with fluorescent-colored plastic strips, which resist decomposing and are largely weatherproof. 

Topography, waterways, snowfall, limited visibility conditions and the absence of daylight all can cause a person to be disoriented or unsure of one’s exact location — handheld modern Global Positioning System devices are affordable and commonplace in many hunters’ repertoire and virtually every modern smartphone has a GPS function. 

However, simply being aware of approximate distances or landmarks on any given path of travel can usually prevent most accidental or unintentional boundary crossings, which can potentially lead to civil or criminal issues. 

And, never underestimate the power of a brief conversation. Often times a simple knock on a door, handshake and basic introduction to ask for permission to hunt can potentially solve numerous issues before they even start. 

Additional information regarding the specifics of trespassing laws and regulations can be found at dnr.mo.gov and www.mdc.gov. Both websites feature numerous sections of state laws and regulations on hunting, trespassing specifics, how they relate to property owners and downloadable material for hunters and land owners alike.

To report trespassing and/or poaching, local residents, legally licensed hunters and ethical outdoorsmen and women are encouraged to contact the Missouri Department of Conservation at 876-5226 or local law enforcement.

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