Access to hunting land is becoming more and more difficult for many people across the country. The good news is, there are still land owners out there who are willing to let hunters in. But, you may have just not found them yet!
I’ve put together a few tips that can be helpful when looking for a new place to hunt this fall so you can ease land owners’ minds so they let you on their property. Don’t wait until the season is ready to begin! Get out there now to make some new friends and start building relationships. A big part of someone letting you on their property comes down to trust, helpfulness, safety and respect. This is a HUGE first step with any land owner – they must see these sincere qualities in you.
Many times people ask how do you find such landowners? What I’ve done in the past is go to your local
Farm Service Agency and ask for a plat book. This lists landowners’ names and their land broken down by maps. Find places you think may be good for deer, ducks, pheasants, etc. and give them a call. You may get turned down a few times, but keep trying! If you get someone on the fence offer to go meet with them, help them out, etc. This can go a long way! Another great option is to start out in the winter by offering to do some predator control on coyotes, fox, etc. Some people may not let you in for deer right away, but most of the time they want to cut down on the predator population and this could be a great foot in the door.
Once you find someone who is interested, these are some of the most effective ways, in my opinion, to gaining access to hunting land.
- Trust– If you’re looking to come and go on a person’s property in order to hunt, you need to build trust. This goes for a wide range of things, but make sure if the rules are for just you to hunt, abide by that. Don’t sneak in friends or family. If they say it’s just for you follow those rules.
- Helpfulness– When you’re out hunting, you may come across an area where the fence needs to be fixed or a gate is broken. If possible, fix them in the field. If not, be sure to tell the landowner what you found and offer to help. Paying for a hunting lease may not be an option for everyone, but one thing anybody can do is offer their assistance and help. Ask if there is anything they need help with. Another great idea is to bring them packaged wild game or fresh fish. Put together a little “thank you” basket during the holidays of items just to show your appreciation. It’s not about the cost of the items you put inside the basket. It is a way to show your appreciation.
- Safety– If you’re hunting with a firearm, make sure you’re always setup a safe distance from their house or livestock. Even shooting near someone’s property in the opposite direction can make some people upset. Get ground rules before you hunt and find out if there is a certain distance they want you to stay from their home. These are easy things you can get sorted out before a hunt begins, so there are never any misunderstandings.
- Respect– Having respect for someone’s land, property, and animals is incredibly important. There are simple rules to live by. Treat their property as if it were your own. If you come to a gate, always leave it as you found it. If it’s raining, don’t rut up their roads by sliding around in the mud with your vehicle. Lastly, stay on their field roads! Most people will be extremely upset if you decide to drive wherever you please. If you get an animal down and need to drive somewhere, ask first!