I’m not a huge fan of cold weather, but I’ll admit that there’s one thing I do love about this time of year; the sound of gunshots emanating from the woods and pastures around my home, reminding me that I live in a place where the right to keep and bear arms is treated as a positive good and a settled fact and not some social ill that needs to be eradicated.
I’m not so crazy about the packs of hunting dogs that will occasionally come barreling through my property, but at least they generally stay away from my chickens while they’re hot on the trail of the closest deer. Better yet, those four-legged trespassers aren’t going after local hunters, which is more than can be said for a two-legged interloper on farmland in Ohio’s Portage County.
Richard Page was hunting on his five acres in the rural county last weekend when he ran across a woman on an adjacent property decked out in a blaze orange vest with a gun of her own; one not used to harvest a deer, but allegedly to threaten Page and other hunters.
“She was not on her property even,” Page recalled, telling us her name is Luanne. “She was on the neighboring farm’s property.”
That’s when Page says he became the hunted.
“I have nothing else to do with my time,” the neighbor yells in the video. “So good luck with that!”
And then a gunshot — the woman can be seen in the orange safety vest raising a pistol in the air and firing.
“She’s got, obviously, strong feelings about it,” Page said, “but that doesn’t give her the right to come out and harass people that are out and enjoying themselves.”
After firing the bullet, Luanne is heard telling Page, “F— you and your hunting. Get the f— out of here.” He tells us he then ran for his life as she shot at him, even leaving behind his own vest. However, he recorded it all so he could report it to police.
According to WKYC there is an active investigation on the part of the Portage County Sheriff’s Office, which is good to hear. Page has video evidence of his encounter, and if he knows the woman’s name my guess is he could probably pick her out of a lineup as well. Page also says he’s not the only one who’s been the subject of Luanne’s harassment.
He likes living off the land, but tells us he can’t because the neighbor is trying to protect the deer at the expense of humans.
“She knows who we are,” he adds, “and she’s still shooting at us.”
Ohio law states residents can hunt on their own property as long as they own five or more acres, which Page does. According to him, other area landowners have also been harassed by the woman.
I don’t recommend that anyone harass hunters on their own property, but it’s egregiously stupid to do so by firing a gun; either in the air or at them. If Page was indeed Luanne’s target, he would have been well within his rights to stand his ground on his property and return fire. My guess is that Page, like every other gun owner I know, has no desire to take a human life, and he decided he could extricate himself from her presence without putting himself at risk or having to use his own gun in self-defense.
I can understand why Page reacted the way he did, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what would make someone stand out in the woods during deer season and try to disrupt neighboring hunters at gunpoint. Like I said, I’m not thrilled to have packs of hounds periodically tearing across my land chasing deer every fall, but I’d never do anything to harm them or their owners. Even if I was opposed to hunting, I might put up a “No Trespassing” sign, but what my neighbors do on their property is their own business. I don’t have to like it, any more than they have to like what I do. That’s one of the joys of living in a rural area; the freedom to use your land as you see fit, at least within the bounds of the law.
When my Amish neighbors decided to build a place where they could host weekly auctions, I didn’t complain though I knew there’d be more noise as a result. When they decided to add first a country store and then a hardware store on their property, I didn’t lodge any protests. As far as I’m concerned, they have every right to make a living off their land, and who am I to object?
Obviously, not everyone feels the same way, and NIMBYism isn’t just a disease found in more developed parts of the country. Donning an orange vest and firing off rounds while screaming at hunters to get the f**k away may be an extreme version of the “not in my backyard” mentality that infects some folks, but I’d argue it’s not all that different than those who file lawsuits or force zoning changes to prevent their rural neighbors from plinking on their property. Okay, yes, one is a criminal act and the others are not, but ultimately they’re just attempts to prevent people from enjoying and using their own land for lawful purposes. Luanne doesn’t have to like hunting, but if she enjoys her own freedom I suggest she stop firing shots at her neighbors and go volunteer at an animal sanctuary instead. That would be a far more productive use of her time and energy, and has the added bonus of not risking felony charges and prison time for trying to save the local deer population from ending up one someone’s dinner plate.