Private water access rules?

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Private water access rules?

Postby Brent » Wed Oct 20, 2004 5:07 pm

One of my frequent hunting spots is shore on a little lake a friend's aunt owns frontage on. Its undeveloped and she has some nice cover- its been a great duck hunting spot.

All of the shoreline of this lake is private- and only one other person duck hunts on it. A considerable amount of the lakeshore is owned by a guy who uses the land for rifle deer season, and beyond that is never there.

Naturally, he has the hottest duck spot on the lake.

Is it lawful (I'm in Michigan) for me to hide my canoe in the reeds off shore from his property and hunt from there? This would be about 15 feet from the actual solid shore- the reeds extend to about 30 feet off his land.

All opinions would be helpful-

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Postby CLUTCHfan » Wed Oct 20, 2004 5:32 pm

I would explain the situation (that you have permission to hunt a different part of the lake/shoreline ) and ask for permission. I find that other hunters are usually pretty good about letting other people use their property. Especially if you're not hunting what they hunt, or hunt in a different spot.
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Postby WIUPgamer » Wed Oct 20, 2004 9:20 pm

I recently moved to Wisconsin from the U.P. I learned to hunt ducks in the U.P. of Michigan. I still go up for the opening weekend and a few other times each year. I try to stay well versed on the regs for both states.

I agree with CLUTCHfan in that it is always a good idea to stay on a neighbors good side. Legally though you have the right to hunt off the shore of private property. You can not hunt within 400' (or is it 450') of a dwelling, (even if it is just a camp used for two weeks a year). Nor are you allowed to enter the property to retreive game you shot over the water. I don't know if your dog can though...probably not.

If I were you I would talk to the property owner to give him the heads up. You might get lucky and he'll let you step on shore to get birds or take a leak. Having hunted in Michigan for many years though, I know there a lot of those out of town hunters who don't like anyone shooting guns around there property anytime before deer season. So be prepared to have the guy get upset. You just never know with some people. I'd talk to him anyway but be prepared for any reaction he may have and take the high road. If he does get upset just tell him 'Thanks anyway, I just thought I'd ask. I'll be sure to stay off your land.' and leave.

Then go anchor in the weeds off shore and slay them ducks if you don't care what he thinks...like I said you are within your legal rights to hunt there if you stay in the water and off his land. If you do care what the guy thinks then either don't hunt there or do it when you know he isn't around. One thing you don't want to do is get in to a cofrontation with him if anyone has a gun. Esspecially if you are alone. It's always a good idea to have a witness on your side. I'd even bring a hunting buddy along when you go to talk to the guy in the first place. Most people are ok, but one nut can ruin your day, week, or life.

There have been several instances in the U.P. over the past several years, where a confrontation in the woods or field lead to someone lossing their hunting privledges for life. In some of those cases it was the land owner confronting multiple, reckless trespassers, who lost. It doesn't matter who is right or wrong when its two or three people's word against one. In the absence of other evidence the LAW will go with the group.

A safe bet would be to call your local warden to clarify the law too. That way you can find out how the local ticket giver interpets the law. Plus, if things go sour with the land owner, and you hunt the area anyway, the warden knows you checked into it and he will be less likely to come out and bother you when the land owner calls in to report you.

I hope this helps.
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Postby Brent » Thu Oct 21, 2004 4:25 am

Excellent thoughts- thanks a lot.

Locating him might be a problem- I think he lives downstate somewhere. Of course this is the proper thing to do...its just so darn tempting to try it this Saturday a.m. even if I can't get in touch with him...

But again, thanks a lot for the input.

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Postby WIUPgamer » Thu Oct 21, 2004 8:35 am

Check with the local warden to make sure I'm not wrong. If I'm right and you are pretty sure the guy won't be around, then hunt it. Just don't go on shore. I think the county plat book gives names and addresses of property owners, even if they are from out of the area. It should list enough info for you to locate the guy's ph #.
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Postby quackerkiller » Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:14 am

im pretty sure as along as your boat/feet/blind are in the water your not on his property use less they own out to the harbor line or something like that.
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Postby Cobra » Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:54 pm

I thought/was told that a judge ruled a couple years ago that a shoreline owner actually owns and controls hunting (not fishing) rights in a pie shaped area to the middle of the lake making it trespassing to hunt it. Have some written permission to hunt parts of some private lake and those landowners believe that it is the case also.
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Postby ducknutz » Wed Oct 27, 2004 7:47 pm

This is a quote for the Michigan DNR's web site. You do need the opermission of the property owner that owns the frontage even if you are not anchord. Heres the quote.

G. Right to Take Game - Generally

The right to take game is a private property right vested solely in the property owner. This is unlike the right to fish which arises by the establishment of public water through its use, as well as the waters capacity for use in transportation and travel, and from the fact that there is no private ownership in the fish or in the right to take fish from public waters. Being a private property right, the taking of game is lawful only with the permission of the property owner.

The picture is best summed up by example. The public has a legal right to fish from a boat during open season on public waters, but this right would not include the shooting of ducks from the same boat without permission of the riparian owner, even though the shooting season was open. This violates a property right.



H. Hunting and Trapping on Submerged Lands - Riparian Rights

It has been well established in Michigan, that the owner of lands bordering on a navigable stream or lake, with the exception of the Great Lakes, owns the submerged lands to the thread of the stream, subject only to the easement of navigation which the public may have thereon, and that he also owns the ice covering the surface of the water over the submerged lands and any interference with these rights constitutes a trespass.

The right of trapping is a property interest and the riparian owner of lands has the exclusive right to trap. In an enforcement action against a trespasser the landowner is entitled to the remedies available under Part 731, Recreational Trespass.

As a waterfowl hunters it is your responsibility to gain permission when hunting on public waters surrounded by private land other then the Great Lakes.

here is the web address to this document. http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-15 ... --,00.html
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Postby Cobra » Thu Oct 28, 2004 5:54 pm

Thanks ducknutz.
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