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Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question

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Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question
Suppose you were to build a blind on a public waterway where they are allowed and the construction did not violate any state or federal laws/regulations. Further, suppose you built it from quality building materials and kept receipts and a record of the man hours logged during its construction. Were some miscreants to destroy the blind and you had proof would you be able to win a case against them in court, perhaps small claims court (<$6000)? In other words can one seek payment for damages to personal property left on public land?

Again this is truly hypothetical but I'd like to hear thoughts or experiences in such a situation. Thanks.

Eric
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
If all was done legally with proper Corps/TVA permits and in compliance with state & local regs, then I would say yes.
It would be no different than some trashing a boat house or pier connected to your land.

It sure sounds like felony destruction of property to me.


Carl
Mobile, AL
DHBP Member since 1998

"Life is too short to drink bad beer."
Disclaimer: This post and/or report is not a substantiation of or reflection on the true accuracy of the present surveying methods. It is only a report on or comment concerning local observation and/or results. Your results and observation may vary based on your location, local water conditions, food supply, weather conditions and migratory patterns "
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
Carl

TVA does not require permits for duck blinds. Their regs state if one is deemed to be a navigation hazard it will be removed by TVA, but no permits are required.. I don't think local county/city officials would issue a permit either, since the builder doesn't own the property. So basically it is an unregulated structure, as best as I can tell. So does that change things?

Eric

Last edited by:

Eric Patterson: May 29, 2019, 4:49 PM
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
Eric,

Many of the big public impoundments here in Ohio hold blind draws prior to the season. Being "awarded/assigned" a blind location entitles the holder of the draw permit ( who places a refundable fee with the DNR ) to build a blind in the location drawn, for the season. Usually there is a date specified for removal of the blind once the season is over. So I'm using that scenario to qualify the "allowed" portion of your scenario. Aside from any policies governing occupying someone else's blind, setting up in a boat blind near an assigned location, etc, I would assume that it's straight up vandalism to deliberately destroy one of these blinds, and you could pursue legal action if you had proof of such. Don't know if the State would help you pursue your case, other than to verify your right to have placed the blind on that spot. I've never been interested in doing this, as the birds tend to be "in & out" of such areas anyway, and the lack of mobility with permanent blind locations is usually a detriment.

On some of the sloughs I hunt off the Ohio River in Indiana waters, I have run into rare occasions where someone has come in and slapped up a makeshift blind (usually an iron fencepost and chicken wire affair with some grass panels zip-tied on) in a spot I imagine they thought looked "ducky." Don't believe I've ever seen any identification identification on one of these (as per Indiana law). Such blinds are usually the sign of an overzealous rookie hunter who has no idea about how to hunt the River, as fluctuations in river levels will render these blinds un-huntable & useless the majority of the time. That's probably why such blinds disappear quickly, or why I never see them occupied.

I will say that I don't run into many - if any - guys who make an issue of who got there first or are bozo's about setting up on top of someone else, so I feel very fortunate in that regard. Then again being retired allows me to do my hunting during the week where I have areas pretty much to myself. The River's a big place.


MLBob

"Art is like an ill-trained Labrador retriever that drags you out into traffic." (Annie Dillard)

....Here's to Joe Wooster, who made me realize that the useful could and should be beautiful; and who firmly believed that decoy carvers were the last free men in America.

https://www.facebook.com/KOOIdecoy?ref=hl

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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
 In other words can one seek payment for damages to personal property left on public land?

I suspect this falls into a very gray area. Each case would probably have to be judged on the individual merits of each case.

For discussion, say the public land involved allows primitive camping for which no additional fees are collected nor are there designated camping sites. One erects an expensive tent and associated high dollar camping equipment. One leaves for the day, for what ever reason and comes back every evening to spend the night. Is this any different then the fella who erects a hunting blind, spends his days there and goes away every evening?

How about if the person leaves for a longer period and comes back say only on the weekends? How about if he is gone for a month before returning?

Certainly some one leaving for the day should have a reasonable expectation that his property is secure as is. Leaving property unattended for a longer period might be considered abandonment.

How about a person leaving un-attended property on a public street? Isn't this essentially what one does when he parks his car on the street? In this case, if the property were to be destroyed or vandalized, one would simply seek restitution from your insurance carrier and let the authorities take care of the rest.

Again, in the case of the camping equipment, one would make a claim with his home owners policy for restitution. (ignoring deductibles for sake of discussion) I believe most policies cover your possessions while "off premises". Granted, there may be limitations, and the value of your "well constructed blind", may exceed the normal "off premises" limitations.

I guess my conclusion would be; If I can purchase insurance to cover the said circumstances, then yes I would also expect to be able to successfully seek restitution thru a small claims court. So,,,,,,, maybe pose the question to an insurance agency and get their response?

Take care, Huntindave McCann Smile SHELL ROCK IA “As sailors grow older, the wiser ones move to smaller boats.” —Thomas Firth Jones, Multihull Voyaging
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
If you know who destroyed it, your 1st call should be to law enforcement for the area where it was located. What you are describing would be Felony criminal damage to property if it happened in Minnesota and the prosecuting authority would seek restitution for your loss assuming the perp pleads guilty or is found guilty by a jury or a judge if the jury was waived. If the perp hasn't got the $$ or nonexempt property to pay restitution on a felony conviction (there will be plenty of probation time in which the court will expect that it be paid and to enforce the restitution order) you would be wasting your time and money to commence a civil lawsuit.
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
I doubt if any law enforcement agency would be interested but the scenario does qualify for a civil action. In Tort law the offender (tortfeasor) has a responsibility (duty) to act in a reasonable manner - he intentionally breached that duty and caused you harm. If he has some assets to protect it might be interesting if you brought an action against the responsible party. Damages to include your legal fees, Your time at going labor rate and materials plus 20% handling and the distress caused to you and your family
???
Doubt if your insurance carrier would do anything as it would be difficult to argue an insurable interest in a structure built on public property that can be used by others. Conversely it would also suggest liability if someone got hurt in the blind.
???
If you file a police report you can deduct some or all of the loss. I was swindled a few years back and could not take the Tax deduction until the state filed charges.
??..
I'm not a lawyer - just deal with them almost daily. Kinda like the Holiday Inn Express thing.
Good Luck and keep use posted.
??.
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes" - Thomas Jefferson
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
You ask if you can sue - you can sue a turnip in court for whatever you want. Translation - you can sue anyone for anything. Doesn't say anything about winning however.

I look at it a little differently. Should I erect an ice fishing house on a public lake and used quality materials and kept a log of my hours put into it and some hosebag destroys it and I can prove it, Hell yes I can sue them in court for destruction of my private property on a public waterway. Don't see the difference in this situation verses what you describe.

Destruction of private property on public lands is not a legal question IMO.

Mark
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
Mark W wrote:
You ask if you can sue - you can sue a turnip in court for whatever you want. Translation - you can sue anyone for anything. Doesn't say anything about winning however.

I look at it a little differently. Should I erect an ice fishing house on a public lake and used quality materials and kept a log of my hours put into it and some hosebag destroys it and I can prove it, Hell yes I can sue them in court for destruction of my private property on a public waterway. Don't see the difference in this situation verses what you describe.

Destruction of private property on public lands is not a legal question IMO.

Mark


Mark the only difference I see right off the bat is, the fish house is a permitted piece of property. One has to specifically purchase a permit to be able to leave it out on the lake. One reason for these permits is to control abandonment of these structures and the resulting litter.

With personal property left on public land, one mans treasure may be another trash and or eyesore. Who determines this, if there are no specific permits paid for and issued for the personal property in question? The ice house has a paid for permit, the blind does not. Should they, will they, be treated differently? I don't know the answer but it would not surprise me that they would.

Please know that I'm not "arguing with you" it's just a discussion, you said you didn't see a difference, just pointing out one I see.

Take care, Huntindave McCann Smile SHELL ROCK IA “As sailors grow older, the wiser ones move to smaller boats.” —Thomas Firth Jones, Multihull Voyaging
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
While permits are required to leave houses out overnight, a permit does nothing to prevent theft, damage, etc.... The permit does nothing to protect you should you want to go after someone for damaging your house.

Suppose for a minute that you put your ice house out in the morning, went to the bait store mid afternoon for an hour and came back to a destroyed house. You could after the person who did it if you know who it is. Hypotheticals but made for a point I guess.

Mark
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
I think it boils down to who owns it once it's erected. If it's your property, I would guess you could file complaints with the police or sue to recoup losses. There are a couple of questions which may lead you to that answer:

If you aren't in the blind, does the TVA consider it available to the public, or is it for your exclusive use? In other words, can you post it? If you can post it, that implies ownership.

Does TVA require that you remove it at the end of the season because it's your property, or can it stay indefinitely? It seems unlikely that the TVA would permit what they may consider personally owned equipment to stay permanently.

The worst of the bunch is if John Q Public climbs in to hunt or just party, and it collapses and they are injured or killed, are you liable? How about a member of your own hunting party?
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
It would take a local judge to ultimately decide but I think it you were within the law, its felony destruction of property.


Carl
Mobile, AL
DHBP Member since 1998

"Life is too short to drink bad beer."
Disclaimer: This post and/or report is not a substantiation of or reflection on the true accuracy of the present surveying methods. It is only a report on or comment concerning local observation and/or results. Your results and observation may vary based on your location, local water conditions, food supply, weather conditions and migratory patterns "
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
If it's built on public land, could it be possible that it then becomes public property and therefore at that point it would be considered destruction of public property and the responsibility of the destroyer to replace or pay to have replaced that which he destroyed?




Benjamin Pendleton
Northeast N.C.
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
Does your boat become public property when cruising down a river? How about your car driving on a public highway? Your camper parked in a national park?

It is your property.

Mark
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
Mark W wrote:
Does your boat become public property when cruising down a river? How about your car driving on a public highway? Your camper parked in a national park?

It is your property.

Mark


I wouldn't use those examples as analogies because the car and camper are registered as motor vehicles, the boat most likely is as well. A better analogy would be a tree stand you build to hunt deer on public property, made out of 2x4's, 1x12's etc, rather than a store bought metal one. Is that your property? Maybe in some states, not around here.
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
SJ Fairbank wrote:
Mark W wrote:
Does your boat become public property when cruising down a river? How about your car driving on a public highway? Your camper parked in a national park?

It is your property.

Mark



I wouldn't use those examples as analogies because the car and camper are registered as motor vehicles, the boat most likely is as well. A better analogy would be a tree stand you build to hunt deer on public property, made out of 2x4's, 1x12's etc, rather than a store bought metal one. Is that your property? Maybe in some states, not around here.



This is what I had in my mind.

I know here in NC it states that if you build a tree stand on public property then it becomes public property and can be used by anyone on a first come basis. But I don't believe it states what would happen if someone destroyed it.




Benjamin Pendleton
Northeast N.C.
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Re: Hypothetical Blind on Public Waterway Question In reply to
First--sorry for your troubles. It sucks to put work into something and have it trashed.

I suspect a lot depends on how blinds are regulated in your jurisdiction. I confess I had never considered until now the idea that a building permit might be required for a duck blind, but that's mostly because in the places I hunt, blinds are mostly temporary and informal affairs. Technically, where I hunt, any permanent blind on tidal waters or on a "great pond" would probably be an illegal structure in the shoreland zone, though I have never heard of that being applied.

You can't be the first person to have had this happen in your jurisdiction. What does your local game warden/conservation officer say?

"At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant."
— Aldo Leopold