by Barry Denton
View From the Backside
Cry Me a River
by Barry Denton
Living only 15 miles from civilization used to have its advantages. However, with the advent of the all-terrain vehicle no location is safe. Suddenly, all those town folks that were way too lazy to hike in the countryside now have access to it. These folks can throw their beer belly up on the gas tank and away they go.
We used to have the occasional hunter or hiker passing through, but not the daily onslaught that we have today. Our ranch is completely surrounded by National Forest land. That is no longer as desirable an asset, as it once was. In my book it devalues the property. I think the United States Forest Service (USFS) has become impotent since they opened up so many trails to the public.
I actually think the USFS thought people with all-terrain vehicles would follow their rules. Since that is not the case the ATV riders are going everywhere and wrecking everything they can because there is no consequence. The USFS is ill equipped to police an area this vast.
A good example is there was a great old adobe farm building adjacent to our private land that was used as storage. The building was typical with thick walls and a heavy roof. It was built around the early 1900s and showed very little deterioration. The ranchers that stored things there kept it up, even though it was on USFS land. This landmark and interesting piece of western history has been destroyed just recently. There is literally nothing left. They had to work at it pretty hard as it was a tough old building. Just think if those folks put their energy into helping things instead of destroying them. All that remains of the building are ATV tracks.
Each fall before the deer hunting season starts we always receive a few calls concerning deer on our land. These calls come from city folks that would like to hunt on our ranch. One of the calls I got this year was rather comical.
The first thing I was asked is why all the deer run off the Forest Service to my private land when being chased? Of course, the only answer I could think of was to tell them about our deer escape training program during the off season.
That is correct sir, all the wild deer in the area are trained to run onto private land when they see a hunter. This is a national movement amongst deer across the country.
The next thing the caller wanted to know was if he could pay a fee to hunt on the ranch. I told him I would be glad to work out a fee schedule for him. He could just send us payments during the year and by hunting season he would be all paid up. I also told him if he wanted to bring any family or friends with him to hunt they could pay too.
What I thought was fair would be for him to pay the land taxes for the year. I assured him that I didn’t expect him to pay the taxes on the house and barns. The caller did not go for the deal and I can not understand why.
The other thing that hunters seem to forget is that ranchers pay for the wells, windmills, and water tanks on public land. If we did not do this there would be no game to hunt at all, as there is no natural water above ground in this area.
The hunter is already using water the rancher provided at no cost to him. The other one that gets me is when you encounter a hunter on your private land and he says that he got permission from the owner to hunt.
Just because I’m wearing a grungy hat, dirty clothes, and driving an old beat up truck does not mean that I am not the owner. I have found that the greatest weapon against intruders is the camera.
When folks are trespassing or destroying property, take their picture. It really intimidates them and you can send the evidence to the sheriff. License plate photos are helpful as well. You know that if one shoots you, they will say to the judge that you shot first, with your camera of course.
You are probably as amused as I am when some city person comes to your ranch as a guest and discovers that your phone and internet service is intermittent at best. Many times they think your lack of services is “quaint”.
After you give them a ranch tour and explain to them how the place works they ask you what you do all day. The other one I always hear is that they did not know there were so many stars in the sky at night. While you explain to them how to locate the North Star and some of the other common constellations, they are just amazed.
Finally, they ask you where you learned so much about the stars. The third grade, if I remember correctly. These are also the people that do not eat meat because it is cruel to kill the cow for human consumption and it is not good for you. However, they have on a pair of leather shoes and carry a leather handbag. I explain to them that when they are at my house they are sitting on dead cow chairs, they are standing on a dead cow rug, and they just went for a horseback ride sitting on a dead cow saddle.
Do not get me wrong, I do not hate all ATV’ers, all hunters, or all city slickers. Just the stupid ones!