BDN outdoors editor John Holyoke received this email from Terri Titcomb, who shared a letter written by her husband, Stephen Titcomb, explaining why he welcomed hunters, hikers and campers onto his land. Stephen Titcomb passed away in 2016, and his wife finally decided to share his thoughts recently.
“I love reading your column and each year I think about sending this letter on to you as hunting season approaches. Guess this is the year!” Terri Titcomb wrote. “My late husband wrote this and adamantly believed in not posting our land. Just wanted to share it with you and your readers if you see fit.”
Here’s how Stephen Titcomb looked at the land-access issue:
A sign at the entrance to my woodlot reads “WELCOME, although motor vehicles are not allowed, feel free to walk.”
I was brought up in New England in the 60s and taught to hunt at an early age. I roamed the woods with or without a gun, exploring, hunting and learning to appreciate the land. Growing up I rarely saw “POSTED” signs and was able to walk on most land. So when I bought my first piece of land, a woodlot, I vowed it would never be posted. Now, over 30 years later, my woodlot is still not posted and it has been one of the best things I could have done.
I’ve always believed that if you post your land the honest people, who you would like to have on your land, will respect the posted signs and stay off your land, but if you don’t post your land they will be there to help you monitor the activity on your land.
I’ve had a hunter climb down out of his bow-stand to apprehend someone breaking into my camp. If I had posted my land the offender would have broken into my camp and there would have been no one there to stop him.
Last year I hired a fellow to come up and dig a well for me and at the end of the day when I asked him how much I owed him, he said “Nothing!” I said, “What do you mean nothing?” He said, “I’ve hunted up here for years and I appreciate that you’ve never posted your land, you don’t owe me a thing.”
Whenever I run into someone enjoying the woods and they find out I’m the landowner, they thank me and mention how appreciative they are of the “Welcome” sign. I’ve met and made many friends on my land and now they are bringing their kids to hike, hunt and camp (they always ask for permission to camp). One fellow I met in the woods logs for me now, and now he is bringing his son up in the woods and teaching him how to run the skidder. His son shot his first deer on my land and I’m happy to know another generation is being taught how to recreate and respect the land.
I sure am glad I never posted my land! It’s given me much joy to meet the people who also enjoy my land and who have helped me maintain it.
Stephen Titcomb, Blue Hill, Maine