The new edition of Northwoods Sporting Journal found it's way to my mailbox yesterday, so today as I ate breakfast I cruised through it and found an interesting article, the subject of which needs to shared. Columnist Peter St. James wrote about a lawsuit in New Hampshire revolving around land use, and land owner relationships. The result of the lawsuit could have a terrible effect on outdoorsmen, and access to public land. Here are the main points of the article.
The set up.
*A land owner grants permission to a couple of hunters to use his land.
*Permission is contingent on the hunters shooting as many coyotes as possible.
*One of the hunters falls out of a treestand on the property, and sues.
*New Hampshire does not hold land owners liable for others lawfully using their land, provided a) the land owner warns others of dangerous condition on the land, and b) the land owner receives no compensation.
*The injured party is claiming the treestand was unsafe, while the land owner claims no knowledge of said treestand.
*The injured party is claiming the contingency of shooting as many coyotes as possible is compensation.
*The injury was never reported to the Fish and Game, which means there is no record of it ever happening.
*There has also been allegations that the injured party had consumed alcohol before hunting, and may not have had a hunting license at the time of the accident.
The way I see it there are lessons to be learned here. Aside from the possible ethical violation of hunting without a license, basic safety conventions were ignored. One can not fall from a treestand if wearing a safety belt. One should also thoroughly inspect any stand they will be using. I won't even get started on the alcohol allegation. Land owners need to pay attention, too. How things are worded, as we may find out, could make a difference. An enthusiastic "shoot as many as possible" could be misconstrued, and received as "if you shoot as many as possible". Hopefully this litigation will not end up being the motivator in posted signs going up across the state; a state that traditionally has allowed access to lots of fantastic privately held lands.