Soybean Business: Hunting Liability 101

This story first appeared in the October-November 2015 issue of Soybean Business, the magazine of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. Click here to read more articles from Soybean Business

Minnesota boasts about 1.29 million acres of public hunting land and nearly 27 million acres of farmland. Because that farm ground and nearby pastures, groves and ditches provide habitat for upland birds, waterfowl and even big game, hunters often look to farmers and landowners for access. Before giving permission, here are some things to know to protect yourself.

  • Landowners need to keep their land reasonably safe for hunters
  • Landowners need to warn hunters of all reasonable dangers, even if the dangers seem open and obvious
  • Landowners should make sure that their land is free from dangerous conditions as much as possible
  • If dangerous conditions (deep holes, steep slopes, barbed wire fences, streams, slippery rocks) cannot be remedied, landowner should warn hunters about these conditions
  • The landowner has a heightened duty of care to hunters who pay the landowner for access to their property, so use extra precaution in these situations
  • Landowners must even warn trespassers of risks of danger on their property if the landowner knows or should know that a trespasser is on the property
  • If the landowner knows that people frequently trespass on the owner’s property, then the owner should confront those trespassers and warn about dangers. The landowner should involve law enforcement in these situations
  • No trespassing and warning signs for specific dangerous conditions should be placed on the property
  • Work with your insurance agent to maintain sufficient liability insurance and understand what risks are insured and which are not insured
  • Consider placing land in a separate legal entity like a corporation or limited liability company to limit liability in the event of a claim. Be aware of loss of homestead property tax benefits in these situations