Fall is officially here, and still shows no sign of acquiescing. The leaves, almost unperceivably, are beginning to give up the vibrant, dark green hues of summer. First passing through lighter shades of green, some are starting to pass on to yellow.
The oaks are starting to give up their acorns in earnest. That’s good for the deer. Hunters are starting to prowl. That’s good or bad for the deer depending on who you ask.
It’s also bad for us, Jennifer and me. Last year we had a run in with our some of our “neighbors” over their decision to dishonestly hunt on our property. We are fully expecting some sort of confrontation this year. Then there is the matter of someone else putting a stand up on us. That needs to be addressed as well.
This past Sunday, another situation arose which requires some sort of addressing. Just as Jennifer and I were about to leave out with the dogs on their afternoon walk down to the creek, someone drove down the road by our cabin. They were barely visible due to the amount of foliage between us and them, but we could tell they were on a 4 wheeled ATV with a roof on it. We actually heard them yelling before we saw them.
We waited for them to get on down the road before heading out in an attempt to stay clear of them. I thought they were headed down across the creek. We know everyone that lives down that way, if not by name then by sight. We didn’t actually see these people, but we thought that maybe they were just out for a drive. People seem to drive down here even though it is an extremely rough and steep road with no outlet.
So we started out. Maybe 50 yards from our driveway, we heard dogs barking – dogs as in more than one. All of our dogs perked up with surprise. Surprise changed to anticipation in about 1.2 seconds. Apollo headed down the road toward the barking. I had Jennifer take the other dogs back to the cabin and I went after Apollo in an effort to avoid a confrontation.
He was standing just around the first bend in the road. I rounded the bend just in time to see a dog charging him. Apollo ran back to me and the charging dog came to within feet of me, barking with its bristles up.
I resisted the impulse to draw my Beretta and end the encounter, even though the dog was lunging and barking. After all, it was the owner of the dog who was at fault, why hurt the dog until it actually bit me or mine? Luckily, the dog didn’t get close enough to bite me. I picked Apollo up and stared the other dog down until he no longer seemed a threat. I turned to walk back toward the cabin which only renewed the aggressor’s attack.
The ATV was nearing, and with it came two more dogs. Apollo decided it was time for a tactless retreat, worming his way out of my hold he ran off toward the cabin, with some of the aggressive dogs in pursuit – so much for loyalty. I saw him make it to the cutoff to the driveway well ahead of the pursuing dog or dogs. I started to turn to the two people on the ATV. My intention was to tell them that they had better get to their dogs before their dogs got to mine.
My intention was thwarted when I heard a male voice say “Watch out for the bullet.” To get the full effect, one must remember that around these parts, people speak a little slow with a little southern accent. Also, change “for” to “fer”. Not knowing what was meant by that warning, I turned around to see that the man driving the ATV was now standing next to the ATV. The surreal part is that he was holding a revolver at a more or less 45 degree angle from the ground and a 45 degree angle from me. He was about to fire it.
Even though it was obvious that neither I nor the dogs were the intended targets, I lost my cool. I yelled at the man not to fire the weapon because people lived all around. The woman with him said it was just to bring the dogs back. The man said something to that same effect. I just kept yelling for him not to fire. The man got on his ATV and proceeded on his initial course – leaving me to deal with his dogs without so much as an apology.
I started up the hill to the cabin. A few steps into it and his dogs came running, barking at me as they passed. Back at the cabin, Jennifer had put our dogs up.
The couple did not come back for any kind of apology. Jennifer and I went down the road and found that the ATV had gone down to the waterfall, disregarding four (4) “No Trespassing” signs clearly marking the decaying road leading to it, not to mention all of the other “No Trespassing” signs along the slightly less decaying road leading to those four signs.
I wanted to go find those people and ask them just what they were thinking. Here they were, driving an unlicensed vehicle down a private road where they have no standing, with aggressive, unrestrained dogs of which they have no control, and unholstering and preparing to fire a weapon off into the air while standing on my property.
But, I refrained. I could see my pursuit of them turning into a hillbilly version of the George Zimmerman debacle. So I did nothing. Last year when a bullet came whizzing through the wall of our cabin, the sheriff’s office wouldn’t even come out to take a report since it was obviously “an accident.” So I didn’t even bother reporting this one. Maybe I will stop by the SO later in the week if we make it to Marshall.
The day after the incident, Jennifer and I followed the ATV’s tracks to the highway. We surmised that the couple must have turned onto our road from the highway. As we were walking back, we ran into a neighbor. He offered some idea as to who was driving the ATV, as well as where they came from.
At this point, I have to decide whether to do nothing at all, or to turn it over to the sheriff’s office. I feel that I should at least report the incident to the SO to have a record of the incident in case these people come back.
Also, Jennifer and I are looking into ways to politely and safely approach trespassers to inform them of their transgression and to deter them from returning. Each law enforcement jurisdictions handles trespassing differently. However, in my previous employment, I could usually issue a trespass warning to a person, then have them arrested if they returned. Some jurisdictions required a written warning, some required a verbal warning in front of an officer.
The use of a chain or gate on the road is not an option as the “private road” through our property is an easement for the people who live behind us. Just to be clear, I would not be seeking a trespass warning or trying to have someone arrested for merely driving down the easement. However, there is a secondary road that ends on private property. That is where the problems all occur. Any ideas or suggestions from those of you who have experienced this same problem would be appreciated.