If you’re a landowner, particularly of rural hunting land, you’ve probably had to deal with trespassers and poachers. They batter down the gates, drive over the fences, and otherwise make nuisances of themselves getting onto your property all while the government does very little to actually deal with them. It’s a huge pain, one that many landowners have to deal with.
One hallmark of that infuriating trespass is that poachers will often leave trail cameras scattered around your property, either hidden or out in the open, so that they can kill your game.
As such, it seems reasonable to remove said cameras; if you’re walking alone through your woods and see a camera you know not to be yours, why not take it down and prevent poachers from getting useful information about how to hunt and kill your wild game?
That, at least, is the thought process of many landowners who have to deal with poachers and was presumably in the mind of Hunter Hollingsworth, who removed a game camera he saw on his property in 2018, thinking it was one illegally placed there by trespassers. Here’s what Ag Web reports happened next:
Seated at his kitchen table, finishing off the remains of a Saturday breakfast, Hunter Hollingsworth’s world was rocked by footsteps on his front porch and pounding at the door, punctuated by an aggressive order: “Open up or we’ll kick the door down.”
Surrounded on all sides of his house, and the driveway blocked, Hollingsworth was the target of approximately 10 federal and state wildlife officials packing pistols, shotguns and rifles. And what was Hollingsworth’s crime? Drugs, armed robbery, assault, money laundering? Not quite.
Months prior, in 2018, the Tennessee landowner removed a game camera secretly strapped to a tree on his private land by wildlife officials in order to monitor his activity without apparent sanction or probable cause. Repeat: Hollingsworth’s residence was searched by U.S. government and state officials, dressed to the nines in assault gear, seeking to regain possession of a trail camera—the precise camera they had surreptitiously placed on his private acreage after sneaking onto his property at night, loading the camera with active SD and SIM cards, and zip-tying the device roughly 10’ high up a tree—all without a warrant.
Yes, really. He removed a camera placed on his land without his consent, so a platoon of jackbooted thugs showed up at his door like they were SEAL Team 6 taking down bin Laden.
What’s more, the government was acting “legally.” The Supreme Court, under the Open Fields doctrine, allows law enforcement and game officials to not treat private property like private property and instead enter it without the landowner’s consent or a warrant to put up such cameras as the one that turned Hollingsworth’s porch into a Fallujah doorstep.
So, what should you do? Bearing Arms, from which I heard about the story, has some helpful hints about how to deal with said government cameras:
But what if you find a camera on your property? What are your options?
I can’t tell you that. I can mention that some of my friends who were aware of this story made some suggestions that were amusing. One was to use the camera to take pictures of the male genitalia. Another suggested uploading geriatric porn onto the sim card.
I won’t tell you to do those things, but if you do and I find out about it, I’ll probably laugh my rear off.
Agreed. The government entering land without a warrant or permission to put up cameras is a brazen attack on property rights, one that must be fought back against. Property rights are, in large part, what made Western civilization what it is: here, the government can’t strip you of your rights or property because you’ve earned the disfavor of some temperamental bureaucrat or monarch. Or, at least, it couldn’t. Thanks to SCOTUS, it looks like those protections of property are being whittled away.