by Pete Hanebutt, NDFB Public Policy Director
I grew up hunting and fishing. It has been a family tradition for generations and will continue with my kids, my nieces and nephews, my cousins and many other members of our far-flung family. Everyone has their favorite type of hunting or fishing: I’m mostly a bird hunter while my brother pursues big game in many states, now that he’s retired. Our oldest brother is more of a fisherman, but he has the ocean conveniently close to his house, which may influence his pursuits. Many of my best memories in life involve hunting or fishing with family and friends. The stories we tell and retell at family gatherings are often based on a hunting experience. It’s usually a funny story of someone getting wet, or a story about a dog rather than a story about any game harvested. But the food put on the table through hunting and fishing is also important in our family. Recipes are swapped and we’re a little competitive within my family regarding who can make the best meal from what we’ve managed to take in the field.
Another multi-generational tradition within our family is our belief in the principles of Farm Bureau; particularly our belief in private property rights. I have a canceled check from my grandfather’s Farm Bureau membership dues long before any of my generation were born. My dad was on our county Farm Bureau board, and Dad’s cousin was on the board in their home county. Growing up in Indiana my hobbies and my Farm Bureau work never came into conflict, but that was a state where hunters couldn’t presume the right to trespass.
In North Dakota traditions are different and this often leads to conflicts between hunters and landowners, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve lived here almost 10 years and I’ve never had a conflict with a landowner while hunting. Moreover, I’ve never had any trouble finding a place to hunt. My boys and I find ample opportunities on state and federal land, PLOTS lands, and private land throughout the state. I’ve never had a problem finding out who owns a given piece of property and asking permission to hunt. I truly believe this is where the conflict develops between hunters and landowners. Based on customs unique to North Dakota, many hunters never had to learn to ask, so basic graciousness between hunters and landowners has not been a part of the equation. Landowners have become jaded because of a small segment of hunters, and a small segment of hunters have become too comfortable in not showing graciousness toward the landowners who provide habitat for wild game.
This fall I’ll be hunting with friends and family throughout North Dakota and several other states. I’ll be asking permission whenever I need to, and I’ll be building good relationships with landowners along the way. My boys and I will be building wonderful memories that will last long after I’m gone, and I hope to one day share our traditions with my grandchildren.