Many hunters from across the nation will be converging on Kansas towns in the coming days for pheasant and quail opening weekend followed quickly by the rifle deer seasons. While some may have family farms to return to or other private leases to hunt, others will be trying their hand on public lands and looking to find other private land that may be available. The laws concerning where you can hunt are crucial when looking for that new honey-hole, especially for non-resident hunters unfamiliar with the nuances of Kansas hunting regulations.
Hunters may not hunt private land in Kansas without permission, even if it is not posted. “Criminal Hunting,” is defined as hunting private land or water without the owner’s permission in statute K.S.A. 21-5810. If you find private property that does not have signage saying “No Trespassing,” you still must determine the owner and get their permission before hunting the property. This is different than some states with earlier pheasant seasons that hunters may be accustomed to, such as North Dakota. Unless the land is clearly posted as public ground, such as Kansas’ “Walk In Hunting Area” land, you must have the permission of the owner before hunting there.
Where property IS posted, hunters in Kansas must carry written permission in their possession while hunting. Kansas statute K.S.A. 32-1013 states that posted property in Kansas, that has signs saying any variation of “No Trespassing,” “No Hunting,” or “Private Land,” requires all hunters who are on the property to have written permission. Verbal permission from the owner of the land, no matter how long you’ve known the owner or have hunted the property, is not enough and will result in trespassing tickets for your group. Purple paint on posts, fences, or trees surrounding the property also counts as “posted” property for the purposes of this statute. Essentially, if there are signs or purple paint on the property you are hunting, you must have written permission to show the game warden if asked.
If you receive a trespassing ticket, you have a few options and should consult with an attorney before simply pleading guilty and paying the fines. Nate Gilbert, attorney in Colorado and Kansas, grew up in Kansas and has defended trespassing charges for hunters in both Colorado and Kansas. Drawing on the experience Nate has in dealing with these charges, a consultation with Nate will help you determine your best course of action and whether you have any defenses available.