The law tries to keep a balance between the rights of regular people to enjoy land and the rights of landowners. If there is no fence, the land has not been improved, looks unoccupied and has no posted sign, then someone can assume the land is public for the use of anyone. Under the natural squatter law, the community should use land for productive purposes. Unused land returns to communal ownership.
Adjacent to our property is vacant land, about 24 acres. The land has old logging roads and trails. There are a number of abandon tree stands on the property. A friend of mine once hunted on this property. He no longer hunts there because of the homes next to the land.
The homes are on ‘estate lots’ which means larger than 3 acres in Walton County. The range is from 3 to 10 acres. Our sparsely populated development, 9 homes, connect with the unused land.
There’s one paved road that leads onto the 24 acre plot of land. At the end of the road is one house; the road is about a quarter of a mile long. It connects with Georgia Highway 186. This one road runs parallel with the road we live on.
The trails on my property connect with the trails on this vacant land. I’ve run on them for nearly two years, since we moved back to Georgia. By running the trails I can connect with the single paved road running parallel with our road. There is zero traffic and great for running. Until this past weekend.
The owner of the property seems to have given permission to a couple of guys to hunt on that land. These fellows work Monday through Friday and will hunt on Saturday and perhaps an occasional Sunday. My primary running on these trails is Monday through Friday. On weekends I’m more likely to be shooting in a tournament or running in a race. During hunting season I’ll take time off from my routine and go hunting on my father-in-laws property – around 900 acres. A few of my neighbors have also enjoyed the trails and short walks through the woods.
In Georgia, ““Wandering, strolling, and walking around a private property which doesn’t have expressed prohibition to enter it do not amount to trespassing unless the person enters the property with unlawful purpose.” (1)
Sadly these hunters have now posted “No Trespassing” signs all over the property. The signs are posted immediately next to everyone else’s property. Now the land is for the sole pleasure of a couple of guys.
I can still run through the woods on my land and the easement along the paved roads that encompass the signed off hunting zone. That modified run isn’t as nice.
I’ve had trail cameras up on my property since I’ve lived here. In nearly two years I’ve seen two deer. A small buck that got shot last year. A doe I’d see every morning. Last week, I saw her, dead, hit by a car on 186. There’s plenty deer nearby. However, those deer stay in the more forested nearby areas.
In a couple of weeks bow season opens here in Georgia. The two “hunters” will be sitting in the once abandoned trees stands. Their attire will equal that of a Special Forces soldier. Their faces will be covered with green and black make-up. And for the first time in a year they’ll be taking aim with a bow. What is more worrisome is that gun season isn’t too far away. I expect any deer that might show up will be perfectly safe.
Not long ago I watched as one of these marksman as he tried to kill an armadillo with a 22 rifle from 10 yards. He missed and needed to try again wounding it on the second attempt. He let the poor creature hop around in pain for 5 solid minutes before in finally expire.
One evening I heard the same fellow fire off 24 rounds as he worked to rid his property of another armadillo. The possum on a half shell was eventually scared enough to run away.
I suppose the land is convenient for these hunters. They only need to drive their ATV about 200 feet to reach a tree stand. I expect loads of big game hunter selfies and probably a phone collected video of their tree stand experiences. In the meantime, the wilder animals of the woods will pretty much be able to safely enough free corn.