Often when hunting, the animal can travel a fair distance after being shot. Even where the shot placement was ideal, deer, elk and other big game can run over 100 yards before finally laying down. Birds such as pheasant or ducks can sail under momentum alone or swim up on opposite shores that you may not have access to hunt. Can you retrieve these animals without violating any game laws in your state?
Colorado hunters must make a reasonable attempt to contact a landowner before entering onto private property to retrieve downed or wounded game. Colorado Revised Statute 33-6-119 requires hunters to pursue game that they believe they have wounded or downed and take the animal into their possession. However, this statute also requires the hunter to make a reasonable attempt to ask a landowner for permission before entering onto private property if the wounded or downed animal goes on their land. Failure to get permission can result in receiving a hunting violation for trespassing. Trespassing tickets carry a penalty assessment of 20 points, meaning you will likely have your hunting privileges suspended after a hearing with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission.
This can place hunters in a precarious position, especially during early seasons when it is still warm and hunting in more remote regions. If landowner information is not readily available or the landowner is unavailable, a trail may be erased or game meat may spoil if the hunter is not allowed to immediately purse his game. What can a hunter do in this situation? What counts as a reasonable attempt to contact the landowner?
Kansas hunters may pursue downed or wounded game onto private property without asking permission from the landowner. Kansas Statutes Annotated 32-1013 allows a hunter pursuing wounded or downed game to enter onto private property in pursuit of that animal, provided that he or she is not asked to leave by the landowner. Any hunter who remains on the land after being asked to leave by the landowner may be issued a trespassing ticket.
If you are issued a hunting violation in Kansas or Colorado after pursuing your wounded or downed game, you should consult with an attorney about possible defenses. Hunting and Fishing Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert has defended trespassing hunting violations in Colorado and Kansas for hunters, fishers, and outdoorsmen. Consulting with Nathaniel will help you evaluate your options and raise your defenses to the Court.