Fenced In!

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I thought the term fenced in only referred to animals and prisoners until it happened to me.

Barb wire fence

It was mid October in the foothills east of Fresno California. Two friends and I were deer hunting from an old military jeep when we came upon an open gate. Most of the property nearby was fenced in and private, so we did look for no trespassing signs before we drove through the gate. No signs, but we knew the property was private and that we shouldn’t hunt it without permission, still we continued anyway.

We were three young kids who loved to hunt and followed the rules most of the time. We mistakenly felt that we could get away with hunting this ranch and not get caught. We hunted for a couple of hours, saw a few deer, but didn’t get a shot, so eventually it was time to leave. On the way back, we saw a truck parked behind the gate that we had to go through; the only entrance and exit to this property.

With no place else to go, we drove up to the gate, which was now closed and locked! The man on the other side asked, "Do you know you’re on private property?" We gave him some lame excuses, like, well the gate was open and we didn't see any warning signs. This didn’t fly with the rancher who replied, "Stay right there, I’m going to get the Sheriff." He left us fenced in with no place to go and no real options.

We had our cowboy fence pliers with us, but the fence around the gate wasn’t such that we could take it down to cross over. So we drove away looking for some place to get off the property through the fence. As we drove around the ranch, we saw places to take the fence down, but none with access to a road to escape on. It didn’t look good and we felt fenced in inside the property fence line.

About that time, one of us noticed a road below that would take us out of the area if we could just reach it.

old jeep

The only way to the road was around a steep hillside and through the rancher’s fence on the other side. The question was, how can we get the jeep around a side hill so steep that any vehicle would definitely rollover in the attempt.

We came up with the bright idea of having one of us drive the jeep around the hillside, with the other two keeping the jeep from rolling over, by holding onto ropes tied to the uphill side of the jeep. It worked quite well and took only a little tension to pull the jeep’s uphill wheels back down whenever they would rise. Sort of like an outrigger. Now that we’d traversed the hill, we still had to get through the fence to escape.

To those of you not familiar with fence pliers, they are a multi-use tool

Fence pliers

used mostly by cowboys for stringing and repairing barb wire fences. First, you pick a desirable crossing, and pull the staples holding the wire in place off of at least four fence posts. The idea is to slack the wires enough to lower them to the ground and drive over them. In this case, two of us stood on the wires as the driver drove the jeep over the top, finally reversing our fenced in status.

The nice thing about this method is that nothing gets destroyed or damaged. After crossing, the wires are reattached and the only evidence left is what sometimes appears to be ghost tire tracks crossing through the fence. We weren’t out of the woods yet; there was still a very steep, rocky hill to descend to the county road below. After a lot of maneuvering and a flat tire repair, we finally made it out.

I still wonder what the sheriff thought when he and the rancher arrived back at the gate to find no trespassers waiting behind the gate, or any place inside the property, and with no evidence of anyone having been fenced in.

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