Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared a couple of stories about things I’ve found during my frequent trips into the woods. Among those: A recliner that someone decided to dump, and the carcasses of two deer that I suspected had been killed illegally.
Some of you sounded off via Facebook, others chose to send me emails. No matter how you chose to interact, I appreciate the fact that you took the time to share your point of view.
And I appreciate the fact that many of you feel like I do: We’re all in this together, and a few slobs in the woods threaten the open-access tradition that so many of us take advantage of.
One man I’ve known for years opined that backwoods dumping of unwanted household goods was a predictable consequence, given the way landfills operate. His take: When you make people pay to throw something away, some of those people are going to take the easy way out.
He’s likely right. And that’s sad.
I received an email from another reader who showed exactly how serious the problem has become in his neck of the woods … and the options he has.
The email was titled “Why People Post Their Land.” Here it is:
“I am a landowner in Searsport and have enjoyed hunting for the past 65 years. So that other people may also enjoy the sport I have never posted my property.
“Because of my age I like to hunt areas where I can take my ATV, but will not use the machine if it will damage the land. When the snow came before Thanksgiving I left the ATV in the barn and hunted close to home.
“The last day of hunting I walked to one of my lots where I have a blind, only to find that someone with an ATV had torn up the road, leaving deep ruts. This person also used my blind, left trash in it , and removed the chair that I use during deer season.
“It is inconsiderate hunters like this that make land owners post their property. It appears that the culprit was local so I am concerned about more of this behavior in the future. Anyone who is aware of people who don’t respect others’ property, please talk with them and explain how difficult it will be to hunt if all the land is posted. If the abuse continues I will consider posting my land.”
The emailer signed the message “Upset land owner.”
Lt. Jeffrey Currier of the Maine Forest Service’s Division of Forest Protection checked in and pointed out that the MFS wants to hear from those whose lands are being degraded.
“Regarding your most recent blog entry discussing illegal dumping, please have any readers who contact you regarding dump sites call the Maine Forest Service at 1-800-750-9777,” Currier wrote.
“As you know, we recently managed the Landowner Appreciation Cleanup Day, in which Forest Rangers and volunteers cleaned up over 130 sites statewide. As always, we investigate illegal dumping and prosecute violators if we have sufficient evidence.”
Good news there, no doubt about it.
And finally, reader Chip McKnight of Orrington checked in to say that his recent trips afield have been sobering, to say the least.
“I have a truck and a new found disrespect for disrespectful hunters!” McKnight wrote. “This article came at a perfect time for me. I just visited one of my turkey/deer hangouts with my 3- and 6-year-old on Sunday and around the edge of one field, which is at most 180 yards long, I found no less than two lawn chairs, one section of camo blind material caught in the branches, some of those felt deer scent wicks hanging from limbs and five — count ‘em, five — locations where people had cut every branch up and down a tree to a height of 20 feet for a tree stand.
“Not to mention, [they] cut every limb between their tree and the field! And, not surprisingly, there wasn’t one tree stand in any of them!,” he wrote. “This was on private land open to hunting (not for long I’m guessing). To add insult to injury, I drove by Monday morning to see a crew of three walking into the same place and one of them was dragging yet another chair behind them.
“This one was a fancy plastic patio type that is sure to explode into 40 million shards when the mercury touches 32 degrees!”
So there you have it. I’m not the only one seeing things in the woods.
And I’m not the only one who’s fed up.
The question, I guess, is this: What do we do about it?