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Jimmy from Cottage Grove

Can you hunt the ditch in minnesota?

33 posts in this topic

I was down in the windom area this weekend hunting a few wma's. I thought I was told one time that you couldn't hunt the ditches in minnesota. I ran into a group of hunters at our hotel that said that all they do is drive around and hunt ditches. So I don't know who to believe.

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I always thought the same thing, because in SD it is legal and they spell that out in the regs. This year I have noticed a couple of instances in the reg book where they forbade "ditch" hunting in MN, early goose for example:

"Taking geese from public roads and their rights-of-way is prohibited in the

Metro Canada Goose Zone during the early and late goose seasons."

yet I can't find if it "always" illegal.

You'd think that they would be more clear on this either way (legal/illegal) They do clearly outlaw "ditch" hunting for big game.

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I'd suggest calling the DNR and the Sheriff's office where you hunt.

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It depends on the area. Some ditches are an easement that the property owner still has the rights over, not the township, county or state.

From what I remember hearing in the past, there are many cases of this in the western half of the state. If you plan to hunt the ditches in an area, it's best to do a little homework to find out if you would be trespassing or not.

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thier prolly over at talcot sitting in the ditch blinds which is legal

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Pretty sure you can hunt in ditches in MN, Angelic, what you have listed includes the metro zone so that's probably why you cant hunt the ditch there.

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Pretty sure anyone hunting ditches is going to break one law or another before the day is thru. No discharging of firearms over a public roadway, and trespassing to retrieve wounded/downed game. The "public" area of a ditch is a few feet wide and there for would require shots to be very limited.

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You can go into private land to retrive wounded game, but you must be on foot and unarmed...

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The rule prohibiting shooting over the roadway is specific to big game. Waterfowlers and small game hunters can and often do shoot across section roads. There are laws against careless discharge of a firearm that still apply that protect motorists. The point is to always be sure what is beyond your target before pulling the trigger.

Ditch hunting in farm country can be some of the best and safest hunting out there.

When hunting big game the bullet will often travel through the deer, so if it does, or you have a clean miss shooting at a deer on your side of the road, the bullet is still going to cross the road. So, I never saw the need for the rule on top of the "careless discharge" rule we already have-but you can never be too safe. Hans

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First I'd break out a copy of the regs and point it out to them in black and white. If they still resist and don't let you in, you call the sheriff or DNR, done deal.

WRONG!!!!

If the property owner tells you to leave his property, you must do so immediately. Done deal!!!!! No Law Enforcement officer can force a property owner to allow someone to retrieve any game on their property after the hunter has been told to leave.

All a LEO can do is try to be a mediator and talk the property owner into allowing the retrieval. If you have any doubts on this, you can talk to your local CO.

On the flip side, if I'm not mistaken, a LEO can enter someone's land to retrieve an animal, but do you really think they will want to field dress and drag an animal you shot?

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Actually, you're wrong, you have to read the regs carefully. You may, without permission, enter land that is not posted to retrieve a wounded animal that was lawfully shot, but may not remain on the land after being told to leave.

The act of the retrieve is placed at the beginning of the regulation, with the exception posted at the end. You can't remain there if told to leave, but you certainly can remain there to fulfill the first part of the law, retrieving your animal. That is why it is listed first.

It's actually against the law for you to leave the animal you have lawfully shot on their property. It's a trespass just like walking onto their land without any reason would be.

No landowner can prevent you from retrieving game that you have lawfully taken that ended up on their land. Even if a sheriff or C.O. would have trouble with this, if it ever made it to court, case law and the legislative intent of the statute swing heavily in your favor.

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Actually, you're wrong, you have to read the regs carefully. You may, without permission, enter land that is not posted to retrieve a wounded animal that was lawfully shot, but may not remain on the land after being told to leave.

The act of the retrieve is placed at the beginning of the regulation, with the exception posted at the end. You can't remain there if told to leave, but you certainly can remain there to fulfill the first part of the law, retrieving your animal. That is why it is listed first.

It's actually against the law for you to leave the animal you have lawfully shot on their property. It's a trespass just like walking onto their land without any reason would be.

No landowner can prevent you from retrieving game that you have lawfully taken that ended up on their land. Even if a sheriff or C.O. would have trouble with this, if it ever made it to court, case law and the legislative intent of the statute swing heavily in your favor.

Your post said non posted land but What about Posted land??

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Let me first say that I recant some about what I said earlier. LEP7MM is correct, I was not concerning when a landowner says you can't be there. Sort of. If that happens, the statutes say you have to get off. Case law does not. I did some more digging into the statues, and case law, and here is what I've got.

For Minn Stat § 97B.001 (subdivision 3 provides for a landowner telling you to leave their property. Subdivision 4 provides for property that is legally posted. I could paste all of that, but it's easier to summarize.)

Minnesota statute § 97B.001 is the trespass statute that deals with hunting (defined elsewhere in the statutes under the broader "outdoor recreation." It provides that "Except as provided in subdivision 3, a person on foot may, without permission of the owner, occupant, or lessee, enter land that is not posted under subdivision 4, to retrieve a wounded animal that was lawfully shot. The hunter must leave the land immediately after retrieving the wounded game."

If it's not posted, you can go get your game, unless you are asked not to. Then LEP7MM is right, a Law Enforcement Official would have to be called, and they could enter to retrieve your game, or negotiate with the landowner. The statutes do not give you the right to go get your game if it is posted, you then have to ask before attempting to retrieve it. If they say no, you would again have to involve the LEO.

HOWEVER, case law (how the courts have interpreted this statute), goes against this literal reading. In State of Minnesota v. Corbin 343 N.W.2d 874 (Minn.App.,1984) The Court of Appeals held that this statute permitted hunters to enter on unposted agricultural land to retrieve wounded deer even though landowner had orally notified them not to do so. The court also said, "We note that this interpretation allows limited entry on unposted agricultural land to retrieve a wounded animal after an oral notice not to do so, but would prohibit a similar entry on unposted nonagricultural land. Because the statute generally defines a more protected status for agricultural lands, an anomaly is created...If a landowner wishes to avoid this temporary intrusion on agricultural land, the owner should post the land, pursuant to Minn.Stat. § 100.273, subd. 6."

So basically...it all boils down to this:

The Minnesota Statutes (legislation where the DNR gets its laws from spell it out clearer than the DNR regs. So the "wiggle" room this lawyer thought he found in the DNR regs was put to rest when I read the statutes. But in the courts interpretations of the statutes, at least in the case of unposted, agricultural land, even with a oral denial of permission, you can enter the land to retrieve your game. And remember, just leaving that animal there constitutes grounds for a trespass claim by the landowner as well.

My best advice (for what it's worth) is if the landowner says you can't retrieve it, call a LEO and try to work things out. If it is posted, you have to ask permission, no matter what. If they say no, call a LEO. LEP7MM is right in that a LEO could enter their land to retrieve your game.

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Wallygator and LEP,

Thanks for the concise clarifications. This is pretty much what the LEO told my brother. It was a decent 8 pt. buck that he had shot and the LEO said based on his knowledge of this particular landowner, the landowner probably tagged the deer for himself.

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No problem wallmounter. That's what we're here for. We want to make sure the best/most accurate information is passed on. But we can never rely on HSOforum forums as our only source for regulations or information. In cases like this, our Law Enforcement community is the best source of info here. I based my comments on info relayed to me directly from many CO's.

On another note, the initial post inquired about ditch hunting in MN and the door was opened into deer hunting. Let's keep in mind this is the pheasant forum and I apologize to the OP for this straying off topic.

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I agree, and I definitely spoke a little too soon in my first post, sometimes you have to remember to do the research first...and I would be quick to point out that even though case law seems to lean in the favor of the "hunter" in this situation, unless you have money to burn and a lot of time on your hands for the next few years, I wouldn't rely on that as my defense. This would lead you down a long road of litigation, with no end immediately in sight. Instead, be open and talk to people. Some 90% of all cases never go to trial because they are settled, and this should be a lesson to the rest of us for everyday life.

Talk to the landowner, be courteous. Most people will respond to courtesy with courtesy, put yourself in the other guy's shoes. It's amazing where this approach will lead you.

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Originally Posted By: Shoot2Kill

First I'd break out a copy of the regs and point it out to them in black and white. If they still resist and don't let you in, you call the sheriff or DNR, done deal.

WRONG!!!!

If the property owner tells you to leave his property, you must do so immediately. Done deal!!!!! No Law Enforcement officer can force a property owner to allow someone to retrieve any game on their property after the hunter has been told to leave.

All a LEO can do is try to be a mediator and talk the property owner into allowing the retrieval. If you have any doubts on this, you can talk to your local CO.

On the flip side, if I'm not mistaken, a LEO can enter someone's land to retrieve an animal, but do you really think they will want to field dress and drag an animal you shot?

So I wasn't wrong was I......

Why would the LEO be field dressing an animal I shot? If he's entering the property don't you think you'd join him and get it out yourself with him standing by? I highly doubt any LEO in their right mind would just let you stand there while he drug your deer out.

Good info to know in this post though....

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shoot2kill, your wrong in the sense that how the legislation is written. but interpitation though suggests that if you were taken to court in past, the court would favor your action. the only thing that i would wonder is that if he didnt let you on his property, then the animal would be wounded or dead and therefore his property, and he would have to have the proper registration to take this animal right???

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You sort of answered your own question in reference to my point.

Most LEO's won't field dress your animal to "make it lighter" to drag. They would rather try to find a common ground where the hunter would be permitted to retrieve the animal. If not, then the property owner may be issued a permit in order to take posession of the animal.

The best thing to do is be civil in your approach. Flashing the reg's book in a property owners face is sure to ruin your odds of retrieval. Not to mention the events leading up to the potential altercation could create a bad impression on a property owner who sits on the fence between being anti hunters or pro.

One thing we do agree on is the good info being posted. Hopefully this leads to more successful hunts this fall.

Good luck everyone.

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We had a very lengthy post on this topic about a year ago. The bottom line is, if you go out with the attitude that you are entitled to hunt every ditch, you are going to be trespassing at some point.

Unless you are willing to research the various roads and surrounding properties at the courthouse, you have no way of knowing which ditches are public and which are private, and how wide the roadway really is.

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Jackpine-

I have been waiting for someone else to come to the same conclusion I have.

THOUSANDS of acres of PUBLIC lands to hunt and people would rather walk the ditch.

In addition I don't like the image it gives hunters.

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