Charges are pending following a heated confrontation between a landowner and a group of waterfowl hunters in North Dakota’s Eddy County.
The incident took place on the morning of Friday, Oct. 21, and was recorded by Jacob Sweere of Madison Lake, Minnesota, in a now-viral video.
The group of hunters had set up a spread between a cut bean field and a cut cornfield. They bagged several birds, but it wasn’t long before the owner of the cornfield drove up and began screaming at the group.
“I was going to hunt here this morning, but I heard you guys were coming,” he said. “I own the fucking land. Now that you’re here, I can’t hunt here. So you know what, fuck you!”
The group of hunters consisted of both local and non-local hunters. One of the local hunters said he’d secured permission from the owner of the bean field, but the owner of the corn field argued that they were trespassing because the leaves from their blind were touching the leaves of his corn.
At various points during the 31-minute video, the landowner suggested that they all could have hunted together if the hunters had talked to him before setting up their spread.
The hunters spoke calmly throughout the confrontation. The landowner left and came back several times, and before long he called the game warden and demanded the hunters be served with tickets. After hanging up the phone, he offered to let the group hunt in that spot if they “give me half the price of your fine.” At another point, he offered to let them hunt on the bean field if they paid him $300.
James Myhre, district game warden for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, responded to the incident, according to the Grand Forks Herald. He listened to the landowner and told the hunters they may be charged with non-criminal trespass. However, he said that any charges would have to “pass the smell test” and be approved by the Eddy County State’s Attorney Ashley L. Lies.
When the hunters told Myhre about the landowner’s offer to leave if the hunters gave him half the cost of the fine, Myhre asked, “Is there a way you can send me that video?” When Sweere responded that he could, Myhre said, “Perfect. I think that would be good.”
North Dakota’s hunter harassment law states, “An individual may not intentionally interfere with the lawful taking of wildlife on public or private land by another or intentionally harass, drive, or disturb any wildlife on public or private land for the purpose of disrupting a lawful hunt.” It further states that this prohibition does not apply to “landowners or operators interfering with hunters on land owned or operated by that individual.”
Violating the hunter harassment law is a class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of thirty days' imprisonment, a $1,500 fine, or both. Myhre told the Grand Forks Herald that the investigation is still ongoing but that any charges will likely be filed next week.