Guide to Private Land Crossings
“Hold it right there, boys!”
The crafty codger had them dead to rights. The pair was all but trapped among the thicket. Tall pampas grass, cattails and cottonwood trees lined the river bed hindering any hope of a clean escape.
Extending outward from the rider’s nose was a Remington Model 870, 12 gauge pump. The friendly end was held by the rancher, presumably the fellow who owns the land upon which these two explorers were trespassing. George’s view looked like the end of a 28 inch blue steel pipe, with a vent-rib and knuckles. Poor Steve watched helplessly, wondering what would happen next.
“I think we’re lost,” George managed to articulate, trying to stay calm in the face of what was turning out to be an awkward moment. “If you could just direct us back to the county road….”
The sour-faced old man marched them towards his house at the point of his shotgun, ignoring their apologies and protests. Both men wondered if they would ever be heard from again.
This scenario sounds like something from a wild-west movie, but it actually happened to two of my good friends. They were eventually released, but not before a lesson had been burned deep into their memories.
Land owners can be testy and if their property has been treated with disrespect by hunters or ORV users, some may paint all unauthorized visitors with one broad stroke of the brush… even if we are just well intentioned adventure riders trying to connect the dots on a GPS route or Gazetteer. The fact we are on motorcycles doesn’t usually bode well because our presence may be evidence enough that we had to cut a fence or open a gate to get in. Some owners, like the gentleman my pals encountered on Oklahoma’s South Canadian River, are looking for vengeance, even if for someone else’s deed. If you meet one of these, Lord help you if you did snip your way in.
My two pals’ plight suddenly pops into my head as I see a four-wheeler carrying a man with a brown cowboy hat and a serious expression plowing its way towards us through the sand. My friend Eric Parrow and I are east of Tucson in the Arizona desert, trying to boonie-bust our way across wild country. Our path winds through stands of majestic saguaro and barrel cactus, towards Redington, some 20 miles distant as the crow flies. Desert access is easy here and it seems reasonable that we should be able to navigate across this expanse using our GPS and a little ingenuity. We come across gates from time to time, but most are to keep cattle contained within thousand-plus acre ranches and not really a problem. Few places are posted “No Trespassing.” Folks in these parts are used to the occasional traveler respectfully crossing their property. Unfortunately, the questionable “road” we had taken turned north while our desired route was east. A dry river bed seemed like a reasonable alternative and according to our GPS, it would take us nearer to our destination. Adventures, by nature, are full of surprises that can alter our plans… often for the better, but there are no guarantees. A fence was slung over the river bed, apparently barricading us from further progress. Going back would have been discouraging at best and it was unlikely we could have made it to the dirt road before dark. We had made our decision…
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