Some Residents Have Been Painting Fence Posts Purple And Understanding It Could Be A Lifesaver

For hikers, campers, and hunters, knowing the laws and safety practices of the outdoors can be the difference between a lovely afternoon outside and life, death, or a long prison sentence. Still, in some rural states there are some laws and necessary know-how that even the most avid outdoorsman might be unaware of—and that could land them in hot water.

For instance, in many remote and rural areas across America—in states like Texas, Maine, and Arizona to name a few—you might find yourself running into a curious sight: a fence post painted purple. Quaint, unique, and stylish, it’s not exactly cause for alarm in the minds of passersby. But it definitely should be…

In the late summer or early autumn—right at the start of hunting season—you might see a curious thing if you took a stroll through the vast, seemingly uncharted areas of rural North America: people painting fence posts and tree trunks purple.

Journal Star

To the uninformed hiker or hunter, this might seem like a strange choice for property decór as the purple clashes with the yellow-brown of burned grass and the deep green of evergreen trees. But the paint job isn’t an aesthetic choice.

Michael Pearce / The Wichita Eagle

So what’s up with the purple paint? Rudy Fernandez, a corespondent for rural Texas radio station KEAN 105.1, recently explained the meaning behind the purple fence post. Knowing what it means can actually save your life.

“I’ve been out with a couple of my friends here recently,” Rudy said, “and they said, ‘man, what’s up with all these purple posts? People love the color purple!” So Rudy dropped a knowledge bomb on his friends when he replied.

KEAN 105.1 / YouTube

See, over the years, property owners with huge swaths of land don’t want oblivious hikers or hunters passing through the area to wander, inadvertently, onto their properties, which often borders huge patches of untouched acreage…

Fences around the exterior of their properties can warn hikers and hunters to keep out and stay away, but over time, even the sturdiest fences break down, leaving withered posts that are less than ideal blockades. It didn’t take long before residents came up with a way to overcome that problem.

Bear River Heritage

No trespassing signs! Slap a couple of those bad boys out and you sent a loud and clear message to hunters and hikers: Beat it! Get lost! Take a hike (in the other direction)! But those signs, like the fences themselves, were not invincible.

KEAN 105.1 / YouTube

So that property owners wouldn’t have to keep replacing wind-swept and sun-bleached trespassing signs or constantly repair decrepit fences, Texas passed a law in 1997 that offered a permanent, more sustainable solution.

Journal Star

The law took after one first instituted in Arkansas in 1987 under then-Governor Bill Clinton and was passed in nine other states: Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Maine, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Kansas. Rudy broke the edict down for everyone on his radio show that day…

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library / White House

In 1997, the state of Texas agreed we could paint a certain color on a fence post, and it could mean the same thing as…a ‘no trespassing’ sign,” Rudy said. Officials agreed on the representative color “posting purple” for a very particular reason.

KEAN 105.1 / YouTube

“Posting purple is a certain color that even color blind folks can see,” Rudy said. “The way that the law read for years was that you had to paint the top of the fence posts, near the gates, and all along your property lines.” But in its original form, the law had a caveat.

KEAN 105.1 / YouTube

According to Rudy, in Texas, you couldn’t just slap some purple on your fence post and call it a day. In the early years of the law, the purple paint had to be accompanied by the trespassing sign, too…which kind of defeated the purpose of the paint. So…

A decade or so after the law was passed, “hunters, law enforcement officers, and folks that were gonna be out in the country” knew what the purple meant. They knew it only accompanied a trespassing sign. So the law changed.

The University Star

Under the revised law, the trespassing signs were no longer necessary. In Texas, purple paint on a post had all the authority behind it as a trespassing sign—but that led to some problems.

Traveling hunters, hikers, and rural explorers visiting Texas—or people like Rudy’s friends who were enthralled by the purple paint on posts—had no idea what the purple meant without the trespassing signs!

And let’s face it: to someone ignorant of the law, a tree trunk painted purple doesn’t exactly scream keep out in the same way a fence with a trespassing sign might. Stumbling on to purple paint-lined property might be worse than you think…

Private property is private property, signage or no, meaning a person with markings might’ve had a bad experience with trespassers in the past. And in Texas, property can be defended with deadly force.

That’s why Rudy levied a warning: “If you see [purple paint],” he said, “it means no trespassing, no hunting. Abide by it—it’ll keep you alive in the Lone Star State, and certainly, it’ll keep you out of trouble.”

KEAN 105.1 / YouTube

The last thing you would want on a hunting trip is to take a wrong turn onto someone’s private property; especially the private property of someone once scorned by trespassers.

Check out the video below to revisit Rudy Fernandez’s information on purple-painted fence posts and no hunting purple: his tips might just keep you out of jail, safe, and alive!

Hopefully Rudy and others can spread the word on purple paint far and wide! What are some little-known laws that might come in handy for locals visiting your state?

Share this info on purple posts with your friends who like hunting and hiking below!

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