Perception, how do we look?

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Wildgoose

Full Member
May 15, 2012
515
198
Middlesex
There’s been a lot of discussion on the forum lately about knives and the law, including the way it’s enforced.

Which got me thinking, what If I was on the outside looking in? How would I react to meeting me in the outdoors?

The scenario:
In October 2013 I was on holiday in the Highlands with my (now) wife.
I’m from London, my wife from Australia, both about 30 years old at the time.

My wife loves photography and was starting out in astrophotography, I love wildlife and all things outdoors.

We had 3 dogs at the time, 2 Belgian shepherds and a cocker spaniel. One of the Belgians wasn’t particularly friendly but was controllable with the right handling. He is very protective.

One night we decided to take a drive out a bit to look at the stars and get some imagery if possible. We loaded the dogs into the van (caged out) because we couldn’t leave them in the cottage (owners rules).

We drove for a while and found a lay-by. I’m not sure if this was parking or a entry to a gate, but it seemed ok to stop there given the hour.

We got out and walked about 30m from the van leaving the dogs inside. We had no camera kit out of the van at this stage and were seeing if we could see anything worth trying to capture.

A vehicle appeared over the crest of a nearby hill. It had a lamp fitted to the roof and was scanning the area. I said to my wife that they might be lamping and she may hear a shot being fired. I’m not a hunter but know that this is something that happens.

The lamp then hit the van. We were still stood in the pitch black field. The vehicle approached the van and I saw a male get out. I didn’t want the big dog to bark or cause a scene so I called out “alright mate!”

I approached and we met half way in the field. I said something like “hello, sorry if I shouldn’t be parked there, we are just looking at the stars” the male looked at me a bit suspiciously and repeated “looking at the stars?, really?”

At this point my wife said that we were from near Heathrow and we don’t get clear nights. Her Aussie accent is friendly and the male seemed to soften a bit.

The male said that there had been a load of livestock theft in the area so he was checking the fields.

I was dressed in my outdoor gear, lowa boots, crag hoppers and a green wind proof smock. I was probably wearing a green woolly hat and buff too. No camouflage but certainly drab enough to stay hidden if I wanted too.
I would have had my penknife with me and a sure fire torch. I also had a night vision scope, a commercial model that I bought because I find it fascinating.

there’s a camera and tripod in the van, along with the usual van kit - first aid kit, blanket, big coat, torch etc. this is all out of sight though.

So the question:
you find me on your land in the circumstances above, or you are a gamekeeper or you are a police officer-

What would you make of me?
 

Wander

Settler
Jan 6, 2017
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Here There & Everywhere
Given the circumstances you describe, given how you are dressed and what you have with you, and given you do not have a camera in your hands, and given there have been livestock thefts, I would be suspicious and ask you to leave my land by the shortest route and that I would escort you whilst you do so.
Without you knowing I would also make a note of your car registration.

If there hadn't been any livestock thefts then it would depend on the time. If it was early evening I would probably let the two of you be and wish you well. If it was late evening I would probably ask why you are there. If you said to take pictures of the night sky I would probably ask you questions to gauge how genuine you are - if I thought you genuine I'd leave you be and wish the two of you well. If suspicious I may suggest you leave since it could be dangerous at night in case you lose your way or miss your footing or because you could alarm livestock. And I'd also take note of your car registration.
 
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Wander

Settler
Jan 6, 2017
750
933
Here There & Everywhere
It is a valid question though - how we may appear to the general public.
I wonder what some people would make of the 'Edged Tools' section of this forum. There are times, even to me, that it seems to give over to knife fetishism. Someone wanting to make a point would have a very easy time of it. In wanting to see ourselves as the arbiters of responsible knife ownership and use there are times when, to the general public (and it is their opinions we would aim to influence), the 'Edged Tools' section could make us open to a tremendous amount of accusation and ridicule.
Same goes for public appearance. Looking a bit too military does no one any good.
None of these things are illegal, of course, but they could bring suspicion and unwanted (maybe even unwarranted) attention from the Police if someone decided to make a report.
 

slowworm

Full Member
May 8, 2008
1,361
368
Devon
What would you make of me?
I would probably ask you to name a few starts or point out a planet.

I can understand the nervousness of the farmer. There's an awful lot of rural crime about that is very unlikely to get much of a response from the police.

Personally I'm more worried about people who don't seem to know what they are doing. Those that light fires and have no idea how easily they can spread for example.
 

Wildgoose

Full Member
May 15, 2012
515
198
Middlesex
Absolutely, I completely understand why he approached and why he may have been nervous. I wanted to portray no threat or do anything to cause a reaction but I was there, in the dark.

we couldn’t have named any planets. My wife was literally just starting out and our technique was point the camera at cluster or stars, set to bulb and try a few long exposures. So more suspicious
 

demographic

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
4,448
457
-------------
I work as a site carpenter and if I'm really busy and especially during winter my van ends up being a right mess. Bits of wood, fixings and some tools not put away right.
Anyway, every once in a while I pull pretty much everything out the back then put em all back in the right order.
I can either do this in the street or somewhere nicer.
So I drive out somewhere quiet, park up and get on with it.
I never flytip but halfway through the procedure I have a mass of gear in a heap behind my van and to anyone passing by it could look like I'm flytipping some very expensive kit. Then I put it all back in my van and any stuff I want to get rid of just goes into a binliner in the back of my van and then into the skip at work.

I've had a few funny looks and am fairly sure one person took a photo of my numberplate.

So far I've never seen a van saying No Van Tidying yet and I always take everything (plus I sometimes pick a bit of litter up from the area cos, well why not) back with me. Its just in better order.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,355
2,134
McBride, BC
Here, it would depend so much on the situation.
Try sneaking around through a ranch looking for deer that you are legally licensed to harvest. It's trespass and you will be made to understand that you are in the wrong. From time to time there's been a little cattle rustling. There are so few roads here, it's really hard to drive around and not be seen by someone.

Out the other side anywhere you can go on crown land, I see a tent, a guy cooking food over a little open fire in a rock ring, a couple of dogs, I might wave to him in passing. If he has a Klingon Bat'leth in the tent, I don't care. The only rule I know if is that you can't stay in the same place for more than 2 weeks. If he wanted company, people to chat with, he should be in the pub.

Canada must have knife laws of some sort. I have no idea what they are and no intention of looking into them. Be discrete. Be sophisticated and mature. I won't even wear my red hunting vest ( with shell holders) into any local businesses. Not because there's at least 2 or 3 small knives in the pockets.
I'll take it off in the parking lot if I need to.
 

TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
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Exeter
I'm not knocking them - I couldn't do their job , But Farmers I think are eternally wary and cautious of anyone. Their land is their land - its their livelihood , I know many of us will think we arn't doing any harm in just walking across some land or hanging out in a small wooded copse chilling without express permission - but ultimately its trespass.



I'd be fairly wary and cautious of someone walking through my back garden, so I can only sympathise with rural farmers almost paranoid attitude to strangers.
 

Wildgoose

Full Member
May 15, 2012
515
198
Middlesex
I work as a site carpenter and if I'm really busy and especially during winter my van ends up being a right mess. Bits of wood, fixings and some tools not put away right.
Anyway, every once in a while I pull pretty much everything out the back then put em all back in the right order.
I can either do this in the street or somewhere nicer.
So I drive out somewhere quiet, park up and get on with it.
I never flytip but halfway through the procedure I have a mass of gear in a heap behind my van and to anyone passing by it could look like I'm flytipping some very expensive kit. Then I put it all back in my van and any stuff I want to get rid of just goes into a binliner in the back of my van and then into the skip at work.

I've had a few funny looks and am fairly sure one person took a photo of my numberplate.

So far I've never seen a van saying No Van Tidying yet and I always take everything (plus I sometimes pick a bit of litter up from the area cos, well why not) back with me. Its just in better order.
A great example, something completely innocent but to a passer by you are apparently fly tipping.
That said, if you were dumping your tools I’d let you leave then tidy them up for you ;)
 
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gra_farmer

Full Member
Mar 29, 2016
832
508
Kent
I'm not knocking them - I couldn't do their job , But Farmers I think are eternally wary and cautious of anyone. Their land is their land - its their livelihood , I know many of us will think we arn't doing any harm in just walking across some land or hanging out in a small wooded copse chilling without express permission - but ultimately its trespass.



I'd be fairly wary and cautious of someone walking through my back garden, so I can only sympathise with rural farmers almost paranoid attitude to strangers.
Your absolutely correct, I used to be farmer, 7th generation with the land, and I have honestly lost count of the times I have been threatened by the general public when I stop and question them about walking over land.

With livestock and arable systems, the land is our factory floor, where we earn our living, and having general public walk/ride/drive over crops or dump rubbish; killing of livestock by dogs or people having a go at butcher sheep and cattle in the fields at night....all of it is devastating. There are very valid reasons why farmers are wary.

I no longer farm directly for a number of reasons, and the the attitude and lack of respect of the general public is high up there....for the record I pretty much drew the line under farming, after being shot at on a number of occasions by trespassers.

Most recent example, is that I caught a walking couple that jumped a gate to help themselves to a pear harvest. As they were already in there I said that could take what they had in the hands and go, I got verbal abuse....

As landowner advice, just ask first, it wouldn't matter what you were wearing.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,853
1,070
64
Florida
As a landowner who grew up a country boy/farmer/logger (one of the points of view you asked for) I can say that I too would be suspicious and question you, especially if Imdidn’t know you personally. Whether I’d be understanding and let you continue those pursuits would be entirely dependent on the how satisfied I was with both your answers and I thought you could do so without inadvertantly causing harm (accidental fires such as have been mentioned and other similar harm)

As a retired cop my official stance would always be to either order you off the property (it wouldn’t be mine to give you permission but it would be my duty to insure no trespassing) or alternatively to take further action: if it were the second or more time I had caught you trespassing I would either issue a ticket or make an arrest.

As gra_farmer said, it wouldn’t matter what you were wearing. At least not in the countryside as you described: in a suburban or urban environment I’d be more suspicious of someone dressed in drab clothing. Likewise the implements you described wouldn’t set off any suspicions, however if I noticed the sort of tools that might facilitate criminal activity that would be different (things like crowbars, fence cutters,etc.)
 
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henchy3rd

Full Member
Apr 16, 2012
415
270
Derby
From experience..In the uk we are legally allowed to use reasonable force to throw Someone off our property only after a verbal warning to leave.
But we are not allowed to harm or assault them?
 
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Wildgoose

Full Member
May 15, 2012
515
198
Middlesex
some really great replies guys thank you.

to throw a spanner in the works - in Scotland there is a freedom to roam and so long as you cause no damage you can walk pretty much anywhere.
Wild camping is allowed too and we could have pitched up a tent if we wanted.

I have to much respect for landowners to argue and if a polite and reasonable request was made for us to leave I would, even though we wouldn’t have to.

@santaman2000 - as a cop would you have considered a search of my person or vehicle
 

TeeDee

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Nov 6, 2008
7,829
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Exeter
From experience..In the uk we are legally allowed to use reasonable force to throw Someone off our property only after a verbal warning to leave.
But we are not allowed to harm or assault them?

In the UK iirc Trespass is a Civil offence.


Any physical action taken against the individual(s) could be interpreted as physical assault.

In this day an age, of ' me too ' and a lack of witnesses to corroborate my pov in an interaction with a trespasser I think the best tool would be a phone camera and start recording as I ask the trespasser to leave the property by the shortest least harmful route possible.
 
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Winnet

Forager
Oct 5, 2011
170
42
Aberdeen
In the UK iirc Trespass is a Civil offence.


Any physical action taken against the individual(s) could be interpreted as physical assault.

In this day an age, of ' me too ' and a lack of witnesses to corroborate my pov in an interaction with a trespasser I think the best tool would be a phone camera and start recording as I ask the trespasser to leave the property by the shortest least harmful route possible.
Does that cover England only? Up here in Scotland we have a slightly different law around right of access.

G

Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk
 
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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,355
2,134
McBride, BC
Find the land owner. Show up dressed in a respectable manner and ask for permission. My people were farm people (homestead 1884). I leave gates as I find them. I wanted permission to hunt migratory waterfowl ( Canada geese) which were crushing and shitting on his pea crops.
He owed the bison ranch of which I ate 7 of them over the next 15 years!

Excellent shooting opportunity to the exclusion of all other people. Even a clean place to stash my 44 decoys out in the fields. How about that?
I have sniper grade snow camo. The geese were so surprised when I let the air out of them.

Ask permission first. You never know how it all might turn out over the years.
 

Lean'n'mean

Nomad
Nov 18, 2020
420
172
France
There’s been a lot of discussion on the forum lately about knives and the law, including the way it’s enforced.

Which got me thinking, what If I was on the outside looking in? How would I react to meeting me in the outdoors?

The scenario:
In October 2013 I was on holiday in the Highlands with my (now) wife.
I’m from London, my wife from Australia, both about 30 years old at the time.

My wife loves photography and was starting out in astrophotography, I love wildlife and all things outdoors.

We had 3 dogs at the time, 2 Belgian shepherds and a cocker spaniel. One of the Belgians wasn’t particularly friendly but was controllable with the right handling. He is very protective.

One night we decided to take a drive out a bit to look at the stars and get some imagery if possible. We loaded the dogs into the van (caged out) because we couldn’t leave them in the cottage (owners rules).

We drove for a while and found a lay-by. I’m not sure if this was parking or a entry to a gate, but it seemed ok to stop there given the hour.

We got out and walked about 30m from the van leaving the dogs inside. We had no camera kit out of the van at this stage and were seeing if we could see anything worth trying to capture.

A vehicle appeared over the crest of a nearby hill. It had a lamp fitted to the roof and was scanning the area. I said to my wife that they might be lamping and she may hear a shot being fired. I’m not a hunter but know that this is something that happens.

The lamp then hit the van. We were still stood in the pitch black field. The vehicle approached the van and I saw a male get out. I didn’t want the big dog to bark or cause a scene so I called out “alright mate!”

I approached and we met half way in the field. I said something like “hello, sorry if I shouldn’t be parked there, we are just looking at the stars” the male looked at me a bit suspiciously and repeated “looking at the stars?, really?”

At this point my wife said that we were from near Heathrow and we don’t get clear nights. Her Aussie accent is friendly and the male seemed to soften a bit.

The male said that there had been a load of livestock theft in the area so he was checking the fields.

I was dressed in my outdoor gear, lowa boots, crag hoppers and a green wind proof smock. I was probably wearing a green woolly hat and buff too. No camouflage but certainly drab enough to stay hidden if I wanted too.
I would have had my penknife with me and a sure fire torch. I also had a night vision scope, a commercial model that I bought because I find it fascinating.

there’s a camera and tripod in the van, along with the usual van kit - first aid kit, blanket, big coat, torch etc. this is all out of sight though.

So the question:
you find me on your land in the circumstances above, or you are a gamekeeper or you are a police officer-

What would you make of me?
So let's see now. I'm a farmer who stumbles upon a couple of suspicious characters in a field at night , Livestock has been rustled in the vicinity & these two individuals have a van & a couple of herding dogs ( I know the farmer probably didn't know about the dogs but I would have known & I would also be able to tell you if they were Malinois, Tervuren or Groenendael :rolleyes:) These 2 indivduals also appear to be scouting the area equiped with a night vision instument claiming to be star gazers.
I guess I'd invite them back to the farm for a cup of tea & a slice of Victoria sponge cake & we could have a good natter about dogs & stars & our position in the universe.
 
Last edited:

Wander

Settler
Jan 6, 2017
750
933
Here There & Everywhere
In the UK iirc Trespass is a Civil offence.

Yes, that's absolutely right.
Which is why it's pretty much a non-law.
That's because, as a civil offence, it is up to the plaintiff to bring a case against you. And, in a civil offence, you are not required to give your name or personal details to anyone (not even the Police). Which means that unless the landowner knows you if you refuse to give your details there's not much they can do. It's worth pointing out that if you have a knife on you then it could count as armed trespass, which is a criminal offence. And if you are cutting wood or lighting a fire that could be seen as criminal damage or arson - again, criminal offences.
I must admit that I've taken advantage of that 'hiccup' in the law myself (not that anyone has ever asked me to move on, but I knew that I was trespassing and there was not much anyone could do if they saw me - my guess is that, like going over 30mph in a 30 zone, it's something we have all done).
Conversely, I am also a landowner and I realise that anyone could use that against me. And I know I'd be pretty much stumped at that point. How would I feel about that? Again, if it was just someone walking across the land, or sitting having some lunch (as I have done in my confession above), I'd leave them be. If it was some other activity, such as camping, I would approach them. If they had a fire going then they would be told to leave.
As was also mentioned above, mobile phones make it all a lot easier to produce evidence; and I would have taken pictures before approaching anyone, and would be using the voice recorder on the phone during any conversations. And I would do that regardless of whether I was the trespasser or landowner.
 
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