Nebraska Reminds Hunters to Ask Early to Hunt on Private Land

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Its still early in the year, but experienced hunters are already making contacts with landowners and lining up their hunting spots for the 2007 fall hunting seasons.

The two keys to finding hunting opportunities on private land are asking permission and cultivating a good relationship with the landowner prior to opening day. Most landowners say they allow hunting on posted land if the hunter takes the time to ask permission.

In the past some landowners have been reluctant to allow hunting access to their land because of liability questions. But to help encourage landowners to make their land and water available to sportsmen for recreational activities, Nebraskas Recreation Liability Act (Article 10, Chapter 37, Nebraska Game Laws) limits the landowners liability toward people who may be injured while using that land for recreational purposes.

The act says a landowner has no responsibility to keep his premises in a safe condition for the benefit of sportsmen unless he charges the sportsman for access. If the landowner simply allows a sportsman to hunt, fish or use his property for other recreation, he does not extend assurances that the premises are safe for recreational purposes and he isnt liable for any injury to the person or property of the sportsman.

However the landowner does have an obligation, under the act, to guard or warn the sportsman against a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on the land. By the same token, the act also stipulates the person entering onto the land or using the land for recreational purposes must exercise due care while using the land for his activities. In other words, the sportsman is responsible for his actions on private land, even when he has permission to be there.

It is a different story if the landowner chooses to charge sportsmen to use his land. In this case, the act in no way limits "any liability for injury in any case where the owner of the land charges the persons or person who enter or go onto the land."

In essence, the act allows landowners to give permission for people to use their land for recreational purposes without being liable for accidents that may occur, and it also puts the burden of responsibility on the shoulders of the sportsman for his activities while using the land.

Even with all the provisions of the act, which was enacted to help the sportsman, the sportsman must still be aware of his responsibility to create and continue favorable relationships with landowners. Sportsmen must remember they are guests on the landowners property and act accordingly.

Sportsmen must police their own ranks to cement sportsman/landowner relations. Each sportsman must refuse to condone game law violations or unsafe hunting practices among his hunting partners, friends, or acquaintances. He should participate in educating young sportsmen in hunting and shooting skills and respecting landowners rights and property. A single thoughtless or careless act can easily destroy many years of building by others. Insist on safe hunting practices, adherence to all game laws and respect for landowners when you hunt or fish.