Private lands left uncontrolled and not patrolled will soon fall victim to trespassers, poachers, thieves, and no goods. Every year landowners, hunters, and others roll into their recreational camps, retreats or Bug Out locations only to find evidence of vandalism, theft, and outright meanness.
James Wesley Rawles recommends to live in your survival retreat. For a lot of people that is not an option or at least an option they are willing to consider. Are there ways to protect your private holdings from prying eyes, fence jumpers, and road riders? In practice, even a little preventative action can go a long way toward securing your family’s survival retreat.
When I pulled up over the hill on my ATV to look across the long harvested soybean field I knew something was wrong immediately. A quick glance through my binoculars gave confirmation. Someone was sitting on hunting stand at the far end of the field who did not belong there.
I sat for a minute or two observing the guy hustling down the ladder, turning back to look, then scampering off into the woods behind the stand. He had either slipped in from a hunting club west of our lease, or else he got dropped off on the highway. He was long gone, but hopefully just the off chance of catching the trespasser on the property may deter him from coming back. Either way, I reported it to the landowner.
Private Property Security Basics
Mississippi has a law on the books that automatically posts all private land as off limits to trespassers or others without permission to be on someone’s property. We also have laws on the books against robbing banks and speeding down the highway. Such laws are only enforced if the offender is caught in the act or a report turns up the guilty party later on. Therefore, it is incumbent on landowners to control and patrol their own land as a deterrent to lawless behaviors.
A security assessment is a good way to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your property security efforts. You may discover gaps in the “firewall” that may allow uninvited guests access to your property. If there is a law enforcement officer in the county sheriff’s department that you can trust, pay him a few bucks to check out your property for security recommendations.
Fix the obvious things first like entry points. Are there good, solid gates blocking every entrance to your place from surrounding highways or county roads? Are these gates well maintained, chain locked, and posted? Do you check them regularly? Be sure to add highly visible “posted” signs along stretches beside roadways and borders to other properties not under your control.
If you don’t know your neighbors on all sides, get out there and meet them. They may make excellent friends, or they may the source of intrusions. Know which it is. Post other areas of easy access. It might be a power line or gas pipe right-of-way which is still your land not owned by the power company as some trespassers we caught declared. People often do not understand this or they just choose to ignore it.
Another is access is via a railroad track. We have had Louisiana hunters ride down the side of the tracks to our open power line right-of-way and sit there in their truck with rifles out the window. Other points include weak areas in barbed wire fences. Since our hunting land is a short walk from town, city folks have created crossing spots by cutting the wire fence or riding it down so they can cross over, even on ATVs. We have even caught them in the process of throwing rabbit dogs over the fence.
Once gates are locked and all the visible points to the property are blanketed with visible “No Trespassing” signs, then you can concentrate on out buildings, camp houses, or other infrastructure.
The old saying about it being impossible to keep out the highly motivated thief is unfortunately true. If they want to get into your camp house, trailer, or equipment shed, they will. Our camp house has been broken into twice in the last 15 years, each time over the Fourth of July weekend. We figured it was somebody from out of town on a visit. Each time they took a cheap microwave oven and an electric can opener. That is about all we leave behind.
The camp house next to ours was less fortunate. They left all their hunting clothes, boots, and gear. It was all taken. They left boxes of ammunition, flashlights, and knives. All gone. For some reason in this case they loaded up all the kitchen flat wear, pots, pans, and small appliances. Basically they were cleaned out. Take home stuff of value or get a good safe that you can mount securely to your wall.
Now it has been well over ten years since we have had any problems. Why? For one thing we killed the bright florescent night light outside on the power pole. It was a beacon from the highway that residences were there back in the woods. We figured that light was actually helping them see their way out with our stuff.
We also let the entry road into camp grow up on the sides so the houses could not be seen from the highway. Now it just looks like a gate going into farming land. The main entry gate is always locked even when we are there. It is amazing, but if we leave that gate open somebody is going to drive in there while we are there just to see where the road goes. This happens nearly every hunting season. Once they see people, they either scat or have some lame excuse about looking for somebody’s house. Three doctors wanted to duck hunt once, and another guy wanted access to the river to fish. Repel all such inquiries and requests. Tell them there is a resident living there all year long and they may not come back.
Certainly all dwellings should be securely locked. One member owner of our group postulated that it was better to just leave camp houses unlocked, but I have never been comfortable with that idea. I recommend leaving no lights on either unless you are on the property. Lock any parked vehicles and chain up ATVs before departing for even a short time.
It is terrible to have to live this way in America, but most folks who have been victimized have come to realize the realities of the society we deal with now. Some folks just do not respect private property or what you have worked so hard to obtain. Here is one other piece of advice for you to consider. I leave a loaded pistol on my camp house bedroom nightstand over night and with me during the day, just in case I am there when the unwanted come back.
Please share your ideas below for keeping your retreat safe.