I will go out on a limb and say that probably everyone who ventures into the outdoors for the purpose of hunting, fishing or trapping has met someone with the misguided notion that the harvesting or taking of wildlife should be punishable by death. I bet that there are a fair number of us, myself included, who have actually been confronted while in the field and harassed or threatened in some way.
With the 2007 archery season under way and the firearms portion approaching fast, how would you react if your hunt was interrupted by someone claiming that you should not have the right to hunt? I am sure we all have different responses to this question, however, the last thing you want to do is react in a manner that turns you from the victim into the suspect of an assault or worse.
Fortunately for Missouri hunters, there is a state statute designed to protect us. Obviously if you are on private property trespassing laws also apply, but if you are on public land the statute covers you and reads as follows:
Interference with Lawful Hunting and Trapping-First Degree
A person commitís the crime of interference with lawful hunting or trapping in the first degree if (s)he:
1. Intentionally interferes
2. With the lawful taking of wildlife
3. By another; OR
4. Intentionally harasses, drives, or disturbs
5. Any game animal
6. With the purpose of disrupting lawful hunting or trapping.Interference with Lawful Hunting and trapping-Second Degree
A person commitís the crime of interference with lawful hunting or trapping in the second degree if (s)he:
1. Enters or remains in a hunting or trapping area
2. Where hunting or trapping may occur
3. With the intent to interfere with the lawful taking of wildlife.
Upon conducting a state by state search, I was able to find that 18 other states have some type of hunter harassment statute. Check with your state or local authorities for details.
Now that you know the law was designed to protect your rights, let me tell you from a law enforcement stand point how we would like to see the situation handled. Avoid getting into a verbal confrontation, which we all know will cause tempers to flare and possibly lead to a physical altercation. Ask the subject(s) to leave the area advising them of the interference hunting law. If they continue their actions and you have a cellular phone call the police to report the incident and ask for an officer to respond.
If you have a hunting partner also in the area summon him or her to your location as a witness. Up to that point, it is your word against the violators word. Remember all the details of your encounter, this makes your story more credible later on should you end up in court.
If you do not have a phone, you have two choices. Move to another location and hope you are not followed or return to your vehicle which is likely the marker they used to locate the area you were in. Chances are they are also parked nearby so you will be able to get a detailed description of their vehicle, including the license plate. Do not forget a detailed physical description of the violator, which includes age, height, weight, hair color, eye color and clothing.
As hunters we know that people are out there trying to slowly chip away at our right to enjoy the outdoors. Lets all stay in control and use the law to our advantage!