Photo Credit: duallogicTrespass on Private Property: Misdemeanor: Up to $1,000 fine, 0-6 months in jail, 0-3 years license revocationMandatory 1 year license revocationIdaho Code 36-1603(a) states “No person shall enter the real property of another and shoot any weapon or enter such property for the purposes of hunting, retrieving wildlife, fishing or trapping in violation of section 18-7008, Idaho Code.” Idaho Code 18-7008(2)(a) states in part “A person commits criminal trespass and is guilty of a misdemeanor, except as provided in subsection (3)(a)(i) of this section, when he enters or remains on the real property of another without permission, knowing or with reason to know that his presence is not permitted”Idaho Code 18-7008(1)(f) states “”Permission” means written authorization from the owner or his agent to enter upon private land, which shall include the signature of the owner or his agent, the name of the person being given permission, the appropriate dates that the permission is valid and a general description of the property; OR another form of permission or invitation recognized by law.”Idaho Code 29-105 states “All contracts may be oral except such as are specially required by statute to be in writing.”
Most people think that you are required to get written permission from the Landowner or his Agent before hunting in Idaho. This is not the case, but it is a good thing to do. Most state Fish and Wildlife Agencies highly recommend that you get written permission because it can prevent legal headaches in the long run. Those agencies even offer a permission slip template that you can use. Idaho is a verbal contract state and because the 18-7008 statute does not SPECIFICALLY state that the permission must be written, verbal permission works.
I’ve hunted my fair share of private land and almost no landowner has wanted to do a written permission slip. Most of the old timers consider it a slap in the face to ask for their permission in writing. For these guys, their word is their bond, and a handshake means more to them than any permission slip. I even had a guy rescind my permission when I asked for it in writing. However, if you get oral permission instead of written, you are just opening yourself up to potential legal problems.
I know of a case where a landowner gave permission to a hunter for archery and rifle season. One thing led to another, in that case, and the landowner ended up crawfishing on permission. He did this after that hunter hunted all of archery, and even killed a nice buck in the rifle season. A couple days after the buck was killed that landowner called Fish and Game and falsely reported the guy. Now that guy is wrapped in a long court battle because of this. I believe he will prevail in the long run, but it has been an expensive fight.
I look back on all the times I’ve gotten permission, and this could have happened to me at any time. It’s a scary thought that it could really happen to anyone. If you cannot do a written permission slip for whatever reason, I would recommend recording the conversation with the landowner/agent. This way you have some protection if they crawfish later on. Idaho is a one-party consent state for recording, so you can record those conversations without worry.
There are many ways you can get yourself in hot water for “trespassing”. If you wound an animal and it goes into private, you cannot just retrieve that animal without permission. This is all on top of the obvious, where you just hunt on someone’s land without permission. You are responsible for knowing the boundaries. With today’s mapping services, there really is no excuse for not knowing if you are on private or not. Bottom line, if you are flirting with the private boundary, make sure you are 100% before you pull that trigger.