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By far, my favorite way to hurt myself is exploring the vast expanses of deserts, mountains, and forests in the great state of Arizona on my dirtbike. I wouldn’t dream of heading out on one of these adventures without a buddy, ample water, snacks, first aid, protective gear, basic tools and survival stuff, like my trusty old SIG 220. In the southern part of the state, running into drug smugglers, rip crews, and their ATF -enabled weapons is a real concern. Even though statistically the “Boonies” are much safer than the city where I live, if we do run into trouble out there, we’re on our own . . .

Last week my best friend and I headed up to the Bradshaw Mountains about an hour north of Phoenix. The area is laced with old and new mining claims, dirt paths, forest service roads, and a few isolated homesteads. Usually, if we miss a trail marker, a closed gate and bright orange and black signs reading “Private Property” or “No Trespassing” clearly communicate the fact that we need to turn around. Some property owners however prefer to be a little more subtle.

Cresting a small rise on a trail numbered “89”, we had the choice to go left down a rocky creek bed, or right onto a rutted two track. With no marker apparent, I chose right. In my peripheral vision, I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a trash can lid, leaning on a bush, with what might have been some faint writing scratched in to it. We trotted up another 100 yards or so and passed an open gate made of corrugated tin and pvc pipe. At the next flat spot we were able to make a 3-point turn and thump back to the fork in the road. I stopped for a moment at what now looked more like a pizza pan and pointed out the inscription to my friend.


He thought it was funny. “Resistance Ahead”? To me, this was the artists way of implying that he had creative license to greet interlopers anyway he saw fit…

Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground has been on the books in my state for a few years now. To borrow from the movie “The Fugitive”, It extends to farmhouses, outhouses, doghouses, hen houses, whorehouses , businesses, vehicles, bicycles and anywhere a person may legally be if they are not committing an “unlawful act”. In a public place I have the option to escape or retreat, or initiate a “Mexican Standoff”.

But we were not in public anymore. With a flick of the wrist, we had flipped sides on the “Stand Your Ground” coin. A pie-plate and a shoddy gate were the only indications that a large chunk of my self-defense repertoire had evaporated.

Facing confrontation on private land, the property owner can reasonably respond to whatever threat he/she perceives. He could do nothing, or he could meet the trespassing, (and possibly) vandalizing, arsonist, thieves, with a fully-accesorized modern home defense sporting rifle. Whether I know it or not, as the unwelcome visitor, I am now afforded only the minimum right to self-defense. I must attempt to withdraw, or communicate my intent to do so, before I can legally defend myself.

Out in the sticks, discretion is definitly the better part of valor. I must accept the fact that I might have to suck it up, apologize, and turn my back on a pissed off stranger with a rifle. Yikes!

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  1. I love to hike and bike in remote places so I find myself in that situation on occasion. Fortunately most property owners are not paranoid lunatics and tend to see lost hikers and mountain bikers as … lost hikers and mountain bikers. I have never been met with gun … just an occasional offer to help myself to the toilet or water tap. So far.

  2. I think of politeness as an attitude and skill to be constantly nurtured, practiced and honed. Offense is a vast and relative field of give and take. Deference or apology can be the most rational and powerful defense in many situations. Once was hauling heavy load on gravel. Stopped to check tires and let dog out to pee. Sheep herder driving by stopped, got out with Mini Ranch and said; “get your dog back in the truck or I’ll shoot him”. I said ” sure, no problem” and did. I did not need to take offense at his concern even though I thought his introduction overly harsh. He had no idea how I was equipped.


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