Gaining access to hunt private ground calls for a little luck, but this advice will help, too
Each season it becomes harder to gain access to private land deer hunting. If you are not a landowner or blessed with family members and friends who are; you are at a serious disadvantage on finding prime real estate. With the intense competition between hunters; it is ever increasingly becoming more difficult to persuade private landowners to grant strangers land access. However, do not call off the search just yet. The following tips have proven extremely helpful for me and countless others who have resorted to the door-knocking approach. Remember, a first impression means everything. Here is how to make it a good one.
1. Get a Head Start
This is not the time to procrastinate. One way to really up your odds of success is by getting an early start. Most individuals will make the mistake of waiting until right before the season begins to start asking around. Do not be one of those people. Do not hesitate. Make sure you are the first to ask your local landowners.
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2. Do Your Homework
It is very important to know who you are asking, before you ask them. It is much more presentable and respectable if you call them by name upon arrival. It is also important that you get the inside scoop about their history and personality.
It also does not hurt to know how long they have been there and the history behind the farm. Ultimately, learn who they are and what they do before you approach them. Have a good idea as to what they will say before you ask any questions.
3. Make it Personal
Closing the gap between yourself and the individual is half the battle. Most people will likely be reserved when they first open the door. This is the time to break through all walls and barriers. First, introduce yourself and tell why you are there. Then find a common ground to make the conversation more personal between you and the individual. This helps to calm their nerves because it gets them talking along with you.
Another way to make the encounter more personal is to bring a child along. If the person sees that you have family values, they will be more apt to consider your inquiry. If you show up and act like an 80's punk rocker; your odds will likely head south in a hurry.
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4. A Touch of Charm
It never hurts to lay down a little charm to aid in your efforts. Guys, if the landowner just happens to be a lady, bring a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates. Think I'm joking? Give it a try. It works wonders.
Now girls, the same concept applies if the landowner happens to be a male. Just don't bring him flowers or chocolates. Try something a little more masculine.
5. Provide a Reference
Think of this as applying for a job. When going for an interview, the employer always asks for references. Applying for a piece of hunting ground should not be any different. Even though they will likely not ask for one; it only betters your chances by offering it. A key way to electrify this already hot tip is to make sure these people know who your references are. And make sure they like each other. This provides your source with much more validity since the landowner knows them on a personal basis. Also, provide a previous landowner that gave you permission as a reference.
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6. Give a Little
It is very likely that someone else will already have hunting rights to the property you ask about. Even so, there are a few ways to slip in their (respectfully) alongside them. If you see the conversation is heading in this direction; swiftly but kindly counter with a different proposition. Make the gesture that you only want to hunt part of the farm, not all of it. This way everyone gets their piece of the pie.
Another idea would be to hunt only during a certain season. Many hunters only hit the woods during gun season. Or they only prefer to chase a certain game animal. If this is the case, agree to only hunt during times (such as during bow season or seasons pre-existing hunters will not be in the field) where your presence will not conflict with others.
When it comes to asking farmers for permission; there is one response that plagues outdoorsmen more than any other. Perhaps it's an excuse. But a response that is very likely to fall upon your ears is, No, I do not want someone to shoot my livestock. This is the perfect time to be a bowhunter. At this time, you should come back and say this will not be a problem since you would only be hitting the woods with stick and string.
7. Surrender Your Services
Roll the sleeves up and get your hands dirty. Do not be afraid to offer to help out if you or those who you are asking believe that everything comes with a price. In all actuality, it is the least you can do if you do not want to write a check for a lease. Take some time during the summer to help out on the farm or around the property. Allow this to help repay the debt.
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8. Ration the Reward
More and more people are being won over by the taste of wild game. This healthy, cholesterol-free meat is truly second-to-none. Therefore, offer the landowner half of any animal that is harvested on their land. If they go for it, it is a win-win situation. You both get something out of the deal.
9. Cull the Coyotes
Rest assured that no farmer likes coyotes. Check that, rest assured that no one at all likes coyotes. Grant it, I do enjoy hunting them. However, I do not take any enjoyment from seeing them walk passed my trail cameras with a fawn, turkey, or newborn calf in their mouth. This being said, offering to eliminate the wild canines from the area could be a key factor in sealing the deal on a good piece of property.
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10. Don't Waive the Waiver
The last and final tip is arguably the most important of all. Nowadays, lawsuits are as common as any legal act. Therefore, most landowners shy away from those asking for permission because they want to avoid such bad encounters. Make it obvious that you are willing to sign a legal document that states you will not sue in the event should you obtain an injury while hunting on their turf. Also, if you have them in your state, share with landowners the laws that protect them from such things. If the landowner is on the verge of saying yes, this will generally prove enough to solidify the deal.
Editor's Note: This was originally published on August 14, 2017.
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