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Jaspernuts

Public right of way?

45 posts in this topic

If a drainage ditch for a field meets up with a road is that considered public right of way and can it be hunted? I have heard conflicting views on this.

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I dont believe that one can hunt the whole drainage ditch if it runs across a field. I would ask permission and be on the safe side for sure.

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we've been told by co's two differing opinions on drainage ditches; high watermark and down is public right of way, and from the inside edge top of the bank down is public right of way. either way, if your not wading in the water, a farmer owning the adjacent land to the ditch will probably ream your @ss if your on "his" ditch where i grew up.

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Right of way is defined in terms of total feet. Generally a right-of-way is 66 feet, which would translate to 33 feet each side of center of roadway (which assumes the road is in the center of the right-of-way, which is not necessarily a given).

Some RoW may be larger, some may be smaller, but 66' is a generally accepted measure.

So...that 33' out from center of the road could end up as the bottom of a ditch, could be the far side of a ditch, could be on the inside slope of a ditch if the road and ditch are particularly wide.

You can figure if there is a fence, that that is on private property, and possibly marks the private property edge; if there is a row of power line poles, that they are likely in the RoW...but are also likely the edge.

But you can't define it by whereabouts in the ditch you happen to be...that will vary greatly. Whether you are in the bottom of the ditch, or the high side of the ditch, or anything about a 'high water mark' doesn't matter a bit.

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jarrod, what field of work are you in....sounds like a surveyor?

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Great explanation Jarrod(spent a few years on a survey crew myself), but if I understand the question correctly, he's referring to ditches that "T" into the road passing under it through a culvert and continue on winding through farm fields. We were wondering the same thing a few years ago while pheasant hunting SW Minnesota. I never did check into it. Some of these ditches are quite large and obviously man made. I wonder who built the ditches and how they were paid for? Couldn't you drop a canoe in where the ditch crosses the road? Or walk it when it's froze over in the winter?

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Yeah, I went back and reread the original post, and I think I misunderstood the question. In that example, I think the water needs to be navigable in order to be considered public...and the land on each side is considered private property...it would be tough to make that work...

The ditch itself - without water - would not be public, but navigable water connecting a right of way with a larger body of water could very well be.

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I don't know how the law reads but if I dig a ditch across my property and it contains navigable water, how does that make it public?

I always thought only natural waterways were considered public waters.

Bob

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Maybe that’s the answer Bob. It not only has to be navigable, but it also has to be a natural waterway.

I think there is still a gray area there because what is considered natural? It seems that many small creeks or run off areas could be altered by the land owner for flood control turning it into navigable waters.

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I don't know the answer, but most of those ditches are labeled as county ditches on maps. I'm not sure who paid for them or maintains them, but I would doubt that some if not most of it was paid for by the county. Also a lot of those straight ditches used to be winding creeks, so if someone pays to have a navigable waterway moved is it still a navigable waterway? Hopefully someone out there will know the answer.

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There is a lot more to it than just connecting up to right-of-way. Navigable waters were decided in the original surveys based on their size, public benefit and being capable of commerce or once a non-navigable water has been adapted for public use. But the fact that public money ect. has gone into a ditch project does not mean that it has be come public property. Lot of time right-of-way is dedicated or purchased for specific purposes and the land owner retains many rights to the land. Even the most clear cut situations can be argued from both sides with 2 or more lawyers.

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I was looking to purchase some land in Todd county,The county surveyer I was talking to recommened I watch out for ditches on the land,Because the owner of the ditch pays in their taxes the upkeep of the ditch.

I believe Harveys advice is correct when in doubt get permission!!

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There is no way to know for sure if a ditch is public or private, without doing a fair amount of research. For that matter the same can be said for road R/W. A ditch or road could be in an easement or it could be dedicated to the public. If either the ditch or road is in and easement then the easement is for the express purpose (stated in the recorded document for the easement) ditch or road, and nothing else.

An example is if the city has a sanitary sewer easement over a piece of property, the city can not just build a bike path over the same easement, they would have to get another easement.

Navigable waterways are a completely different animal. Historically if a waterway was used for commerce (shipping, floating logs and in some cases even trapping for examples)then the waterway was navigable. Today even recreation is being added in some cases to being considered navigable. If the waterway is navigable the bed belongs to the state and the property line would be the Ordinary High Watermark, if it is not navigable the property line would be the Ad Medium Filum (middle thread or middle of the river/ditch) and there are cases that the line is actually the Thalweg or the deepest part of the channel. And if you add in Reliction (Alluvium), Acretion, Avulsion and Revulsion then you might have boundary lines that are not where you think they really are.

Basically Riparian rights (rights of a land owner that is abutting a moving body of water is a field that requires lawyers and surveyors. If the body of water has been meandered that would change things. And there is noway to know if a body of water has been meandered without more research.

To me if I just had to hunt a ditch or road R/W I would be asking the person who owned the abutting land permission and if he said no, I would take it at face value. To me it would not make much sense to go out of my way to prove to someone that something he thought he owned was really public. Even though he might not have the right to tell me I could not hunt, it would just be a confrontation the next time one tried to hunt the piece of property (even with proof that the piece was public) and while hunting I am all about avoiding confrontations.

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Living in SW MN I can very honestly say, ask permission. Please don't be that guy that just goes into a county ditch and start shooting. That is one of the better ways to make a landowner not allow hunting on their property ever again.

I'm not saying anyone here does this, but there are people out there who do and it ruins it for the rest of the hunting community. Good example of the 2%-ers ruining it for the rest of us.

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Obviously if your unsure then get permission, but lets be honest, I've been told by a number of landowners that I'm on they're property or "so and so's" property and I know for a fact I'm not. I think the point is obtain as much info as you can. Stop by the city or county offices in the area your planning on hunting and obtain plat maps. Look at ariels and drive the area before hand if possible.

Mr B sounds like he knows what he's talking about and although his explanation is clear, it seems it would be difficult to determine what type of situation your dealing with and a guy would just be better off finding some place else to hunt.

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I have some of those "ditches" on my property. I own and pay taxes on those "ditches". They are maintained by me the land owner. They were put in by me or the previoues land owner and not paid for by anybody elses money.That does give me the right to say keep off and out. ASK FIRST, that way you won't have be in trouble with anybody. When you ask you may also get a pointer on where else to hunt laugh.gif, then again maybe you won't. But you will get told something else if you don't get permission. frown.gif

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Well, I have to say I am torn ! There is nothing better than to get the dogs out, hunt a field / ditch and NOT have to look over your back or feel you are doing something wrong. I have grown up road hunting for roosters, It is how I started to chase the these wiley birds and it is ALOT of fun. I took my 5 year old son out yesterday. I am going to teach him the proper way to chase these birds (any game for that matter). I have a place not far from our house, I have some property to walk, we ask alot of permission and we get birds, over the years this area has gotten more and more populated, but nonetheless, there are a million birds around. We start our day and see one coast into some heavy swamp grass, with fear of wet feet at 9 am we roll on. Dad (me) spots a rooster in a ditch, this ditch is over 500' feet from the farmsted, along side the dirt road, no crops, no posting, I pull up and park, the youngster is all jacked up when I hear farm equipment on the closet farm, I remember this thread from last week and in hopes of doing the right thing, given my kid an education (in hunter / farmer relations) and to avoid any confrontation from anyone. I second guess myself, load the gun and kid back up and pull into the farm to ask permission, more or less letting them know our intention. Well, my son and I were greeted with a smile and a smirk of NOPE, we don't let hunters on our land. I smile, and ask why, this guy proceeds to go on this rant of how he doesn't owe me an explaination. Well, he is right and it isn't what I was looking for anyway, I say thank you for your time and we pull out of his yard, we drove back the way the ditch was to find 3 roosters in there. My son and I look at them and move on, now I have to explain to my son what just happened. It is simple, he didn't want us out there, we need to go find other birds and other land.

Sorry for getting long winded, but what's up ? Don't get me wrong, I don't own that land, on land I own (and I hunt) people ask permission and I go with or I give them a "go get'em boys" I feel I didn't need permission in this instance, but I am not going to cross the line and take a chance, I read the star and trib yesterday, where they were talking about all the rules and the reg book and how that keeps hunters from the sport or to give up on the sport, too many do's and don't's and how you have to be a freakin' lawyer to figure it out, I think that is a problem. I couldn't sleep last night at the thought of those birds flushing over my 13 year old lab and my 5 year old son and I am frustrated. We did end up getting our 2 birds a 1/4 mile down the road in a WMA, wet feet and smiles, ya gotta love it grin.gif!!! It isn't about shooting the birds (to me anyway) I wish I knew of a way to brighten that farmers day, I think on thanksgiving he is going to get a fruit basket, on the basket is going to be a note "not ALL hunters are so bad, givem a chance" It is no wonder farmer / hunter relationships are on the outs ! I would never follow a ditch (into a feild) from a road right of way. SOMEONE OWNS IT !! end of story. I would love to put post a picture of our birds we shot (I don't know how), to show you the look on my sons face, in hopes that farmer happens across this. Maybe it will help the next guy !!!

GOOD HUNTIN' / shoot straight / be safe / get permission !!

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We would love to see your pictures, and it just so happens that at the top of the photo sharing page is a post that explains how you can post pictures on this site. Sounds like we will soon have another ethical hunter in the ranks soon. Congrats and good hunting.

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Quote:

Well, I have to say I am torn ! There is nothing better than to get the dogs out, hunt a field / ditch and NOT have to look over your back or feel you are doing something wrong. I have grown up road hunting for roosters, It is how I started to chase the these wiley birds and it is ALOT of fun. I took my 5 year old son out yesterday. I am going to teach him the proper way to chase these birds (any game for that matter). I have a place not far from our house, I have some property to walk, we ask alot of permission and we get birds, over the years this area has gotten more and more populated, but nonetheless, there are a million birds around. We start our day and see one coast into some heavy swamp grass, with fear of wet feet at 9 am we roll on. Dad (me) spots a rooster in a ditch, this ditch is over 500' feet from the farmsted, along side the dirt road, no crops, no posting, I pull up and park, the youngster is all jacked up when I hear farm equipment on the closet farm, I remember this thread from last week and in hopes of doing the right thing, given my kid an education (in hunter / farmer relations) and to avoid any confrontation from anyone. I second guess myself, load the gun and kid back up and pull into the farm to ask permission, more or less letting them know our intention. Well, my son and I were greeted with a smile and a smirk of NOPE, we don't let hunters on our land. I smile, and ask why, this guy proceeds to go on this rant of how he doesn't owe me an explaination. Well, he is right and it isn't what I was looking for anyway, I say thank you for your time and we pull out of his yard, we drove back the way the ditch was to find 3 roosters in there. My son and I look at them and move on, now I have to explain to my son what just happened. It is simple, he didn't want us out there, we need to go find other birds and other land.

Sorry for getting long winded, but what's up ? Don't get me wrong, I don't own that land, on land I own (and I hunt) people ask permission and I go with or I give them a "go get'em boys" I feel I didn't need permission in this instance, but I am not going to cross the line and take a chance, I read the star and trib yesterday, where they were talking about all the rules and the reg book and how that keeps hunters from the sport or to give up on the sport, too many do's and don't's and how you have to be a freakin' lawyer to figure it out, I think that is a problem. I couldn't sleep last night at the thought of those birds flushing over my 13 year old lab and my 5 year old son and I am frustrated. We did end up getting our 2 birds a 1/4 mile down the road in a WMA, wet feet and smiles, ya gotta love it
grin.gif
!!! It isn't about shooting the birds (to me anyway) I wish I knew of a way to brighten that farmers day, I think on thanksgiving he is going to get a fruit basket, on the basket is going to be a note "not ALL hunters are so bad, givem a chance" It is no wonder farmer / hunter relationships are on the outs ! I would never follow a ditch (into a feild) from a road right of way. SOMEONE OWNS IT !! end of story. I would love to put post a picture of our birds we shot (I don't know how), to show you the look on my sons face, in hopes that farmer happens across this. Maybe it will help the next guy !!!

GOOD HUNTIN' / shoot straight / be safe / get permission !!


You should of told the guy that you plan to hunt the ditch and was wondering if it would be ok to go into his land a bit. I wonder what he would of said to that. I have been hunting ditches since I started hunting 20+ years a go. Nothing better than a nice looking dicth next to some cut corn grin.gif

This topic comes up every year on these boards so rather than debating it I contacted co's and county sheriffs. They both told me the same thing....have fun, there are a lot of birds out there! grin.gif

As far as the other ditches you speak of...no clue. Contact the county and the local co's. They will have the answer you are looking for. A bunch of guys on here debating will never give you the correct straight answers. When dealing with the law consult the law.

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Actually, sherriffs and COs don't actually know all of the complicated real estate laws. In some cases, the road is an easement for the purpose of travel only on township roads making ditch hunting illegal if the land is posted. This is a very compicated issue and not all road ditches can be classified as legal to hunt nor can they be classified as illegal to hunt. The best thing to do is get permission, that solves everything. A little leg work before the season and you will have no problems finding places to hunt. If you wait until the season and are trying to hunt and obtain permission at the same time, you should realize that it will be that much harder. No excuses for not putting in your preparation time.

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Quote:

Actually, sherriffs and COs don't actually know all of the complicated real estate laws. In some cases, the road is an easement for the purpose of travel only on township roads making ditch hunting illegal if the land is posted. This is a very compicated issue and not all road ditches can be classified as legal to hunt nor can they be classified as illegal to hunt. The best thing to do is get permission, that solves everything. A little leg work before the season and you will have no problems finding places to hunt. If you wait until the season and are trying to hunt and obtain permission at the same time, you should realize that it will be that much harder. No excuses for not putting in your preparation time.


Actually, sherriffs and COs are the ones who are going to give me a ticket if I am doing something wrong. So as long as they tell me I can do it then I guess the question is answered.

Hunting ditches can be great when alone. I especially like the ones next to cut corn. I do use my discretion though. If someone has a crp field up to the road I generally will not hunt that as my dog will have the tendency to want to get in the field that is why ditches along cut ag fields is the best route and the safest. wink.gif

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Giving you a ticket and paying the fine or doing the time are different things. The sherriff and COs are not judge and jury. They only enforce the laws to the best of their ability based on their understanding or interpretation of the law. It's ultimately up to the judge and/or jury to decide if they were correct in their interpretation.

We ALWAYS have the right to question the officers' judgement. Never forget that.

Bob

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Let's see if this works ! Guys, I went to school for wildlife management, I FOLLOW THE RULES !! I LOVE WILDLIFE and RESPECT IT ! I respect farmers and property, wether it is mine or especially when it isn't, I pick cans and liter up on the dirt roads that I see, I have even come out of ditches with more garbage than birds smirk.gif more times than I care to remember. I did talk to the farmer, there was NO reason he said no, other than someone had to have pee'd in his cheerio's at one point in time, The only reason I even bothered to talk to him is, as My son and I were about to go, the equipment fired up, so I knew he was around, I told him I had spotted a bird in the far ditch (at least 500' from his yard) and I wanted him to know we would not be shooting this way and those were our intentions. He didn't have any land (huntable) to offer and there was no possible way to mistake a tresspass violation. I am thinking it was all on the up and up and I wanted to get my son wise in the way to conduct yourself, that asking permission yields good results even if you are turned away. I kinda glad I asked. I have a feeling this stinker would of come a yellin' . NOW, If I was alone (minus my 5 year old son) I might have handled this different. I KNOW THE LAWS, I would of initiated the 911 call and we could of settled it, but what does that solve ? I was just getting at, there is NO clear line in the Public ROW it is ALL how it is viewed from land owner, hunter situation. I find it best to not look over my shoulder that what a farmer might think they saw, I know some don't give a rip about it, IT HURTS THE REST OF US (real HUNTERS) when that occurs. PLEASE ASK ! the worst that can happen is they say NO, if shooting a bird is that important, pull down the road and shoot a pop can (pick it up of course) and stop and buy a chicken on your way home, heck they are already cleaned grin.gif

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Fantastic attitude CEDES, we need more like you. For some, it is all too important to get that bird. Leaving the legality argument aside for a minute you bring up a great point. Just to improve hunter/farmer/nonhunter relationships, it is ALWAYS best to ask.

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Dawg-- Thank you for seeing my point grin.gif I concur, with what you said also, even when you are certain you are doing the right thing, if it can be taken a different way, you better believe it will be. In fear of sounding holyer than now blush.gif If hunters would take the little extra effort (not the "A" type personality) of it is MY RIGHT and the farmer would take a little extra effort and see for the better of the community (and their farm) it would benefit to have hunter / farmer / relationships, not to mention the youngsters !!! and the future of the sport (hunting and farming)

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