Pillory: Corner-Crossing Opponents

pillory, Montana and Wyoming corner crossing case, Fredric Eshelman, public access

Rattling back at self-serving snakes-in-the-grass.

If you’ve been following Wyoming’s corner-crossing debacle, you’re aware that the defendants are facing a $7.75-million civil lawsuit. If not, we’ll fill you in: that’s the value North Carolina plutocrat Fredric Eshelman claims his ranch was diminished by when four hunters used a ladder-bridge to cross from one corner of public land to another, entering only the airspace of his adjacent land. They didn’t even step foot on his barren rangeland. And while Eshelman & Co. are sipping tequila sunrises and stroking each other on their East Coast estates, four average Joes from Missouri are suffering the consequences of their elitist greed.

And they’re not alone. All across Montana, hunters, anglers, hikers, skiers, and other recreationists are denied access to their land, because of an unhinged interpretation of property rights: that a person’s shoulders, not his feet, can trespass across a few feet of private land. And worse, that said trespass warrants threatening signage, armed patrols, possible criminal charges—and now, multimillion-dollar lawsuits.

It’s time for the pillory. And not just for Eshelman, but for all his bourgeois buddies, too. We’ve had it with you high-strung high-rollers, blocking access to millions of acres of public land across the West. You’re worse than guys at the Molly Brown pool tables who would rather fight than play doubles. Learning to share is something most of us picked up in preschool, and it's high time you got with the program.

As sportsmen, we choose to live in rural states or areas that make up for in access what they lack in amenities. We have a sense of community here in Montana, and unlike land, that can’t be bought out. So as long as we’re here, we’ll be fighting every move to block access, and it’s just a matter of time until we run you would-be barons out of town.

Our proposed punishment: force these money-grubbing magnates to walk the fencelines of their properties and, if they survive the trek, enroll their land in FWP’s Block Management program. Then, during opening week of hunting season, they must stand next to the sign-in box and hand out hot chocolate and cookies to every hunter that stops by.