Chesapeake Energy has become the principal player in the largest land boom in America since the 1850s California Gold Rush, amassing acreage positions that rival those of any U.S. energy company. Its strategy is clearly spelled out in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission: “We believed that the winner of these land grabs would enjoy competitive advantages for decades to come.” Chesapeake isn’t nearly as transparent about its methods, however. Reuters reviewed hundreds of internal Chesapeake emails, thousands of pages of documents and dozens of lawsuits in seven states, and interviewed contractors who cut deals for the company. What emerged were tough tactics in acquiring land that some analysts say push ethical and legal limits -- and that even some of the company’s own contractors considered dubious. Features detailed examples from Texas, Ohio and Michigan.