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Hunting Club Journal –
               The Science of Posting Property
                                                                                               by J. Wayne Fears

One of the best practices of land management, and one that keeps neighbors from becoming enemies, is the practice of "well thought out" boundary posting. Hunting on a neighbor’s property without permission, intentional or accidental, has caused some of the most serious landowner conflicts on record. Whether you are a landowner, or a member of a hunting club leasing land, it is a good idea to have a property boundary marking system and to manage it annually.

I have always considered boundary posting a necessity that serves three purposes. First it notifies those on neighboring land that I do not wish anyone to trespass on my land without permission. Second it notifies my guest when they get to the edge of my property and not to trespass on my neighbors’ property. And third if someone is caught trespassing there is little room for excuses if the property lines are well posted. It 

Posting land will not keep criminals off but it will go a long way towards keeping trespass problems to a minimum.
has been my experience that a well-marked boundary is seldom crossed by honest hunters. Even poachers are reluctant to cross a posted boundary when it is obvious the landowner/hunting club is serious about trespass.

Select live, clean trunk, hardwood trees for hanging posted signs in the woods.

Mark the Right Boundary

It should go without saying that the first part of a good boundary-posting plan is to have an up-to-date survey to use to post the boundary. Nothing will stir up a neighbor like putting up posted signs on his property. It is a good policy to meet with neighboring landowners and tell them of your plan to post the boundary. Invite them to come along when you put up your signs. Explain to them that one of the main reasons for posting the boundary is to keep your guests from straying onto their property. I have seen adjoining property owners go together and put their respective posted signs up along the line.

Post the Boundary for the Long Term

It is a lot of work to properly put up signs around a tract of land. Also, it is an annual job to check the signs. Knowing this, it is a good idea to put a little more work into the initial posting effort and make it a long term investment, requiring little effort for annual inspections. This means having a policy that considers the following:

· Select signs that will last for years

· Use large headed aluminum nails, for loggers’ safety, that are long enough to leave at least ½-inch of the head exposed to accommodate the growing tree.

· Placing signs high enough on trees, or post in open areas, so that it is difficult for vandals to reach easily

· Placing signs close enough so that you can see a sign from the adjoining signs

· Place signs on live, long living, hardwood trees

· Place signs on obvious travel routes such as old roads crossing the boundary, ridge tops, creek bottoms

· Clean brush, limbs, etc. from around signs so that they can be seen easily

· In open areas use metal posts such as T-posts and attach signs with stainless steel screws

Selecting Signs

A good rule of thumb for selecting signs is to get the best you can afford. Posted signs come in paper, plastic and aluminum. It has been my experience that the paper signs will not last more than a year, if that long. They look old fast and blow down easily.The plastic signs will last longer, I have gotten up to three years of good service, but the sun, wind and weather takes its toll soon after that.

Aluminum signs, 0.032 –gauge or heavier, make excellent long term boundary marking signs, provided 

Select signs that will show up good at a distance and will last for years. Look at them as a long term investment.

the paint is UV resistant. I use signs made by Art-Vertising Inc. (1911 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130) that are 0.040-gauge aluminum painted white with black lettering and many of these signs have been up 10 years and still look as good as the day I hung them. Also, Voss Signs (www.vosssigns.com) offers a good selection of aluminum signs.

The size of the sign is important in that it needs to be large enough to be easily seen at a distance. When you get smaller then 6"X12" it becomes more difficult for the signs to be seen in thick woods. Within reason, the larger the better, but remember you have to carry a supply of the signs cross-country when you are hanging them and weight can be a factor. Also, the larger the aluminum sign, the more expensive it can be.

Heated debates have been held over the best color for posted signs. Many landowners like hunter orange as it stand out in the woods most of the year, with the possible exception of fall during the fall leaf colors. Yellow is a favorite color, with the same problem during fall foliage colors. Red is a poor choice, due to the fact that many people are red-green colorblind and can’t see the signs at a distance. I like signs that are a white background with black letters. Before deciding on a color think about the vegetation color during the season(s) your signs will be working hardest for you and select a color that will stand out. Signs that blend in with their surroundings do little good.

Lettering on signs should be large enough to be read at a distance. I have seen homemade signs that had the message on the sign so small that someone had to get right up to the sign to read it.

Give some thought as to what you want your signs to say. Don’t invite trouble. Avoid signs that offend the neighbors or present the reader with a challenge. Offensive signs have caused gates to be torn down and camp houses burned. Think about how your sign is going to come across to the reader and don’t issue a challenge to vandalize. I have found that the words "POSTED KEEP OUT" work about as well as any threat.

You may want to have your name and/or phone number on the signs so that those wishing to contact you, such as getting permission to trail a hit deer or report a problem, will know how.

Here in Alabama it is not necessary to put up posted signs for your property to be legally protected against trespassing and it will not stop the criminal trespasser. However, practicing the science of posting will help keep your guest on your property, keep honest hunters off your land and will make prosecuting the criminal trespasser much easier.

J. Wayne Fears is the editor of HUNTING CAMP JOURNAL magazine www.huntingcampjournal.com and author of the book HUNTING CLUB MANAGEMENT GUIDE.

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Date Last Updated January, 2006