Public Land Etiquette Question

shall12matt

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I was listening to Randy's podcast today about hunting etiquette and I got to thinking about a recent trip I made to a large piece of National Forest land in WY. I arrived at a trail head before shooting time and saw a truck and camper parked there. Knowing the trail was about 3 miles long and that there was thousands of acres of land, I proceeded to get ready. As I was getting my pack on, the person from the camper quickly walked past my wife and I and headed down the trail. I was hoping to chat with him about his plan for the day but he never stopped. A few hundred yards down the trail I ran into him and asked what his plan was so that I could avoid him and not ruin his hunt. He got upset at this point and sort of claimed that he had "dibs" on the trail being he parked his camper there. After talking for awhile we went our separate ways down the trail but he was still unhappy.

My question is, was in the wrong for continuing down the trail? I can see the issue from both sides and was wondering what other people that hunt more in Western states thought. Let me also add that many of the other trail heads had rigs parked on them and that the day before I was back in the same area and ran into two other groups of hunters.
 

NYSKIER

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I am from out east but I've hunted out west the past few years. I don't think you were wrong in continuing down the trail. You made an effort to talk with the person which I think is the right thing. Just because they are parked in from of the trail head they do not own all access to the land. Yes it's an awkward circumstance but maybe next time say, "I'm going to be heading up this way today I just want to let you know because I don't want us to be in each others way" Some people are nice and curious and appreciate that and will work with you others not so much each case is different but I think you were ok hunting there.
 

Nameless Range

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No you weren't wrong. In the past just up the road from my house I've dealt with some dip$#!ts who think because they camp at the mouth of a gulch for a week that it is their gulch. Even going so far as to confront my and my family when Xmas tree hunting. I do think there are instances where following someone onto a piece of public land can be distasteful, like when its a 320 acre ridge or some such thing, but a trailhead going into a large area? Nope. Hunt as you desire.
 

jryoung

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When you blow right by someone without inquiry, when it is clear they are headed down the same trail it's likely you are going to be frustrated and angry especially if you think "dibs" somehow applies.
 

PrairieHunter

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Plates on camper were from what state?

And yes you were good to go. Trailheads are places where more than 1 vehicle should be expected during hunting season or any season for that matter.
 

MTTW

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If you think dibs applies to trailheads you would have a lot of frustration ahead of you. Many times these camps are set up a week before season. If the guy doesn't want to talk then just do your thing, and consider being an hour earlier the next day.
 

Greenhorn

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I've run into people before on trails lots of times, some humorous encounters. In my opinion, my plan is my business and your plan is your business. Good luck changing my mind, or blowing by me if I'm heading somewhere.
 

Southern Elk

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I agree with Greenhorn about my plan being my business. I don't care where you are going and I don't want you asking where I'm going.

To the OP, I don't think you did anything wrong.
 

wllm1313

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If I had a nickle...

Walking in on a bull that someone is obviously working, setting up decoys within 50 yards of another guy, or putting up a tree stand right next to another stand those are ethically dubious and often dangerous activities. Parking at a trail head is not, often the trail head is just the only public access point in a massive area. Plus are you hunting the trail, no, in reality you are going to walk up it a bit cut off at some point and then likely never see the guy again. I've showed up at a trail head, with 10 rigs including 2 horse trailers and then never actually saw another hunter.

I think you absolutely did the right thing, and I think chatting with the guy so you avoid each other is the polite way to handle it.
 

Southern Elk

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Not trying to hijack this thread, but I had a situation this season and I'm curious what you guys think.

I was hunting with another HT member and as we were leaving the truck another truck pulled up. We started hiking in and shortly noticed head lamps behind us on the trail. We were hiking at a normal pace, but it was obvious that these guys were trying to pass us. At one point, they had to stop and one of the guys was coughing uncontrollably from trying to move so fast. We eventually moved over and let them pass, since we were not interested in racing anyone. Turns out it was a young guy (early 20s maybe) and who we assumed was his dad. He was killing the old man trying to get ahead of us.

So my question is, wasn't it kind of a dick move racing around someone that was ahead of you? Especially when we weren't dragging around.
 

Greenhorn

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So my question is, wasn't it kind of a dick move racing around someone that was ahead of you? Especially when we weren't dragging around.
Nope, you should have just started walking faster, and maybe crop dusted them.
 

wllm1313

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So my question is, wasn't it kind of a dick move racing around someone that was ahead of you? Especially when we weren't dragging around.
Walking up the trail to each there own... if you were off trail and they came racing up behind to beat you to the ridge that's a dick move.

In your situation what's to say that the 20 year old was hustling because his dad was dragging as$ in the morning and he wanted to be at a certain point at a certain time and would have moved at that speed regardless if you had been on the trail or not...
 
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Walking up the trail to each there own... if you were off trail and they came racing up behind to beat you to the ridge that's a dick move.

In your situation what's to say that the 20 year old was hustling because his dad was dragging as$ in the morning and he wanted to be at a certain point at a certain time and would have moved at that speed regardless if you had been on the trail or not...
I agree with this statement. There is a difference between trail and off trail etiquette.
 

Southern Elk

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I guess it was just something that I wouldn't have done unless the people in front were moving slow or waved me around. It was obvious that he was moving faster than normal to try to get around us. He was obviously putting the hurt on the old man. Maybe that's what rubbed me the wrong way.

And in a fitting end to the story, we weren't even headed to the same spot. We didn't see them again that day. They were seen again a few days later at a different trail head while my buddy was packing out his bull, so their methods hadn't paid off for them.
 

MTGomer

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I’ve had two encounters in the Crazies with opposite results.
One- i got to the trailhead just ahead of a couple other guys. I went and asked them what their plan was and said I’d go the other way to stay out of their way. I was willing to do this even though I already had a plan. Quite rudely and confrontationally, they said it was public land and they’d do what they want. Fair enough. Both of these fat assholes would still be fat if they lost 40 pounds. I had just got back from spending 8 days hunting sheep. By the time I was ready they were a ways up the trail I came there to hunt, so I headed up it too. It is public land. I quickly caught them as they gasped and wheezed up the incline, passed them, then ran into 5 raghorn bulls about an hour later that I watched for a while before busting me and running off. I’m sure these guys would have gladly shot two of them. They could have had the bulls if they’d just have been decent to me and I would have went the other way.

Earlier that same year in archery season I caught up to another pickup in the dark as we were both pulling up to the same trail. I got out, asked the guy what his plan was (there is plenty of county from this trail for two guys) Like me, he had never been to that exact spot and didn’t have much of one.
We decided we would walk out the trail and up the ridge together atleast until daylight then make a plan. Right at daylight we spotted two raghorn bulls. He was new to hunting elk and he said he’d love to take either of them, so I started calling. Within minutes they were coming in on a string. Unfortunately he missed. Him and I have gone hunting together since and are friends to this day.

There is certainly nothing wrong with you hunting from the same trailhead as someone else. (Assuming it’s not like a 60 acre BMA).
 
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Nameless Range

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Interesting perspectives.

On the one hand I see Greenhorn’s side. Where you’re hunting is no one‘s business but your own. I think that’s absolutely true.

On the other I appreciate just coordinating with someone so you both get some solitude.

I can imagine a scenario where someone trying to do the latter would view someone with Greenhorn’s perspective as rude, though I don’t think it is. It’s just a unique situation to put yourself out there only to be denied information.

That said, to Southern Elk, though you can’t know how they’d act otherwise I’d say there’s a high probability it was a dick move. If you’re just faster than someone that is one thing, but to purposely race them feels removed from my own personal definition of hunting. I’m no speedster, but if I were hunting with someone who wanted to race past another hunter or group of hunters just to beat them to a location I’d bow out. I hunt to avoid people as much as anything, and I know that competing with other hunters and winning that competition is an attribute many good and successful hunters have. Maybe that’s why I’m no great hunter.

Not that this is what racing necessarily means, but the thought of blowing past a father taking their son or daughter out hunting, just to win the race, grosses me out. I suppose one could say it would be a valuable lesson for them too. I personally get enough competition in other aspects of life, and don’t want it involved in my own hunting.
 

shall12matt

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Thanks for all the replies. I feel better about the situation and probably let it bother me too much at the time. Karma may have been on my side that day as when I got to the end of the trail I ended up shooting a nice buck.
 

Greenhorn

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the thought of blowing past a father taking their son or daughter out hunting, just to win the race, grosses me out. I suppose one could say it would be a valuable lesson for them too. I personally get enough competition in other aspects of life, and don’t want it involved in my own hunting.
That would certainly qualify as a dick move, can't say that I've ever done anything like that, but have heard of such stories.
 

RobG

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I generally try to find out where they are going so we don't get in each other's way. Most of the time they act like I'm trying to steal their hunting spot.
 

elkduds

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the person from the camper quickly walked past my wife and I and headed down the trail. I was hoping to chat with him about his plan for the day but he never stopped. A few hundred yards down the trail I ran into him and asked what his plan was so that I could avoid him and not ruin his hunt. He got upset at this point and sort of claimed that he had "dibs" on the trail being he parked his camper there.
It looked like a camper but it was actually a tool box. You showed more courtesy than that guy deserved.
 
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