Friday, May 10, 2013

Blazing the Land to Mark Our Property Boundaries

Blazing the land sounds like I am setting fire to land doesn't it? Well, not literally, but perhaps figuratively. Mr. Fix-it and I want our adjoining property owners and their guests (read hunters) to understand where their property ends and ours begins. Blazing is a term used when people paint their trees in such a manner that you can see the 'blaze' all along the property boundary.  In theory people will understand that property is private property and if it is posted hopefully those people will not trespass.

We own just over 59 acres which is in two tracts separated by a dirt road. There is a seventeen acre tract bordered on three sides by three roads, then there is the 42 acre tract bordered on two sides by two roads. It is the other two sides that run through the forest that we recently blazed. Property along a road is easy to identify but when in a forest there are no lines and all the trees look alike! Blazing is the solution and what a job! 
land blazing

There is no easy way to blaze land. You must walk the whole property line. For us it meant walking down the center of a running stream (you can see the stream in the left corner of the above picture), climbing hills and ravines, and traversing several hills in the undergrowth of a forest. The whole process to blaze those two sides took us five hours but what a wonderful five hours! Just being a part of nature and enjoying that stream and knowing we marked our property very well is a good day. Mr. Fix-it and I will never forget our fun!

Tools required to blaze include: survey of the property, paint (the color your choice--we used 'Taxicab yellow'), 'Posted' signs, stapler, a paintbrush, range finder, and perhaps a metal detector to find the property pins. At first I thought I could get away with a basket that had wheels to haul all of our supplies. It did not take me long to trash that idea. Plan on backpacking all of your supplies. You cannot easily roll wheels over the rough terrain you will normally find when blazing a property in Tennessee. 

Property pins are normally rebar or fence poles. In our case all of our pins were 1/2 rebar. This information is noted on the survey. In the above picture you can see one of the property pins (it is where the yellow arrow points to). Just above the pin on the tree is the blazing our adjacent property owners had done to their property. This property is owned by some kind of corporation and is leased to a hunt club. There should be no reason why any hunters would pass this blazed property boundary and it is possible the hunters don't (does a bear poop in the woods??)--do you get my drift? I would hope that the hunt club owners/operators would brief the hunters as to what property they can hunt on and what kind of marking annotates the property, but I don't know if they do or not. To be on the safe side we also marked this tree with our very own taxicab yellow paint.  

Generally you mark the trees on the side facing away from your property. This is assuming you know where your boundaries are. We blazed two slanted yellow lines on the trees facing out from our property. On the back side of the trees we painted a dot so we would know the tree was the boundary from our side. If we found a tree with a property pin in it we painted a P for pin on our side so we would be able to find the pin easily the next time we had to walk the property. 

We were very fortunate with our new property in that we received a valid survey (less than ten years or so--ours is only five years old). I actually was able to call the surveyor who told me to look for his marks on the trees from when he blazed the property five years ago. He blazed the property using red paint. This red paint along with the adjacent property owners white paint made it quite simple for us to find our boundaries and all of the property pins. You can actually see some of the red paint on the tree I am blazing in the above picture where I am painting the tree. These were also the trees the adjacent property owners had blazed-primarily.  We wish we had known that before carrying the metal detector with us for a mile through the woods! 

In addition to blazing the property boundary if you do not wish for hunters and others to come on your property you must post a sign stating that fact. We used yellow signs like the one posted below. These signs should be posted to trees or other immovable objects about chest height every 150 yards. The signs should face outside of your property and not be obscured by trees. We posted these probably every 150 feet or so. Even if they by chance get ripped off the trees the fact that the trees are blazed will not allow anyone trespassing to have the excuse they did not know they crossed property boundaries. A good to know bit of information in the Tennessee hunting guide:

In Tennessee, state wildlife laws have always required hunters and trappers to obtain permission from landowners to use private property. In fact, it is advisable to get written permission to hunt and is required to trap. 

 Therefore, if your property is blazed it is clear it is a different property and most likely NOT the person's own property--therefore you should not--must not enter the private property without permission. On our land we will not give permission and have posted signs to that effect. Signs like this may disappear but ensuring they are posted on all entry ways to your property along with your blaze marker puts the onus on the trespasser-I would think. We have posted these signs and our two yellow stripes on all entrances to our property as well. 

Now that the hard part of blazing the inside of the big tract is done I am looking forward to finishing the blazing of the land along the road and on the 17 acre parcel. Blazing is really not all that hard and judging by how well our adjacent property owners have their property blazed I think it is most effective to help keep trespassers out....

of the garden....

Let it be on record Mr. Fix-it and I are not against hunting. We are against strangers traipsing all over our property with guns and these same people have shown they have little respect for the land or for the owners of the land. They seem to be on a mission and to heck with anyone who gets in their way. Many hunters may well be responsible but from what we've seen on our property this is not the case. There are many carcasses, shotgun shells, and trash and litter everywhere and also damage. It is not a responsible hunter that kills a deer only for the antlers. We have found evidence this is happening in our area and on our property. So as to prevent any confusion amongst not only hunters but the wildlife enthusiast the 'No Trespassing' signs are the way we have decided to handle the situation. No trespassing will clearly mean no hunting. Most responsible people will understand that and for the most part Tennessee has fairly responsible hunters in that they are safe and mostly law abiding. For those who are not law abiding, then no matter how much blazing we do or how big a fence we put up there would be nothing that would stop the trespassers-until they are caught. At any rate, this is how we have decided to handle the situation with our property. Any positive experiences with blazing private property would be greatly appreciated! I will not entertain negative ones from hunters and the like. It is not my problem you have been hunting the land for years and it is great property or whatever. We pay the taxes, we own the land, we choose how we use our land like any property owner can choose to use his or her land. 'Nuff said.      

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. What an interesting post Tina. I hope your blazing your boundaries keeps the trespassers at bay, and your property, safe and clean.

    Have a wonderful weekend ~ FlowerLady

  2. What a job! What lovely woods you have - and I can see why you'd want to protect them (and yourselves) this way :)

  3. This is all very interesting. I'm taking notes!

  4. You have become an expert on how to mark your property. I really hope this keeps hunters from trespassing, but I think there are always the "bad" ones who don't care about boundaries. Kind of like the guy across the street from us who owned the pitbull that chased me up the driveway. He said the dog was wandering around before we moved here and was going to continue to wander...too bad for us. Some people just don't get it!

  5. After all your hard work I hope they stay off your property!!

  6. Great article Tina, very interesting!

  7. I'm glad you are trying to make your land safe for all.
    Happy Mothers Day.

  8. You two have done a great job marking your territory! I hope those around you learn to respect your buying the land and making a new home there. In time you will have yet another fight on your hands though. The deer themselves will be your enemy when they eat your gardens. Be sure to keep the deer in mind when planting as they will enjoy your spoils...

  9. I have never heard of blazing. So, I learned something new today. We have hunters next door occasionally (we have a fence on our line). Even though we are not worried about the hunters coming over to our property, I am always a little concerned a bullet might, and I go inside when I hear shooting. Stay safe!

  10. Not enough trees here to blaze a border. Most people have a fence of some type in the country on property lines. Signs go on those. How fun to have such a space with area for wildlife. Word should get around that your place is not for hunting any longer. Wasteful hunting is such a shame. When we hit a deer last fall with our pickup, we were glad the game warden had a list of families who would appreciate the meat and it would get to them immediately. As for the litter, that's just uncalled for by anyone anywhere.
    You are really getting to know your new space.

  11. We lease hunting rights to a Private hunting Club. The fellow in charge watches out for everything, including the young man who shot a deer from the road one night and came back the next morning to retrieve his prize, only to be confronted by Mr. Ralph. It isn't the Lease Hunters that you have to watch for, it's the rogues who ignore laws. Fences are helpful; blazing is not practiced much here.

  12. Good for you and a lot of work for having to make people adhere to laws and common respect which is disappearing at an alarming rate...I had young adults constantly walking through my meadow because they were lazy and didn't want to walk around...after all it was a field....but my field....we confronted all of them and one young lady was confronted many times and was told we would have her arrested if she kept it up...she finally stopped. Hope your hunters fear would be that I would be walking my land and get shot...too many hunting accidents.

  13. Right, now I understand about the marks on the trees I walk past sometimes when we're out in the countryside. My children asked me once when they were very little and I didn't have an answer. Thanks to your very helpful post I can now explain to them why. Ta.

    Greetings from London.

  14. Good luck with this... and what a lot of work. I agree that, no matter what people are doing on the land, it IS private! And I guess I would be afraid of that stray bullet. Is there a hunting season? Or different seasons for different animals? Let us know how this progresses....

  15. Up here marking with yellow paint means the tree is coming down! The marked trees are in many of my photos at the State Park. The owners at the farm post their property but like you say, they can be removed. The brightly painted wooden stakes remain though. You really have a lot of property to work now. Much luck to you.

  16. hi Tina, such an interesting article. I think most property owners here use fences to mark the edge of their properties. I was interested to hear your unsavoury experiences about the hunters. At the moment it is duck hunting season, and there are complaints many hunters leave dead bodies lying around and have killed things that aren't ducks like swans, and have also killed some duck species that are endangered. We don't have a strong gun culture as you do, and I hope the law allowing this slaughter will be repealed.

  17. I come from a family of hunters and fishers, and I know they are not all created equal. I also know what you might be up against, and I wish you success. If you continue to have problems after marking your land, I am sure it could be easy to find out who might be trespassing. Most of the time, not always, your adjacent property owners know who they have given permission to hunt their land, and maybe having the hunters name might help. If your rural areas are like ours, there are few secrets and few deeds go unnoticed.