Summer fun is still midstride, but hunting seasons will be bearing down upon us before you know it. In fact, some seasons are little more than a month away and if you’ve got that hunting-itch but don’t yet have a good spot to hunt nailed down, time is definitely wasting.
Research from organizations like Southwick Associates repeatedly reveals that access is one of the biggest challenges facing sportsmen today. With that in mind, unless you own your own land, searching for a place to hunt really isn’t something you can afford to concern yourself with just now or when you need a new place to hunt, but rather should be an ongoing search every year, always working leads to improve your odds of finding decent spots to recreate.
Here are several strategies for improving your odds.
Reach Out to Rural Family and Friends – “It’s not what you know but who you know” has never been truer than when it comes to finding a place to hunt. Landowners will be much more likely to grant access to people they know or people who are personally introduced to them by someone they like and trust. But don’t just show up at your long, lost cousin’s country home and ask them to hunt. Be a good friend or family member and make them important to you in other aspects of your life. Offer to help them around their place and don’t go in expecting them to provide access for free if it is something they have been able to charge for from others. Offer to pay your way as well. Hopefully they will let you slide or cut you a break, but be willing to replace the income they might otherwise lose by providing you a place to go.
Join a Conservation Organization – Love to turkey hunt, get involved in your local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. A duck hunter? Join Ducks Unlimited. There are several nonprofit and for-profit organizations that reflect every hunting interest. Wherever your interests lie, get involved with a group that works to support that cause. By working side by side with these people on fundraising and projects you will make like-minded friends who might one day invite you to join them or have insight on somewhere to hunt. NOTE: Don’t go to your first event and start asking people if they will take you hunting. That can be perceived as very rude.
Work Social Media – Got a Facebook page, Instagram, SnapChat or Twitter? Build a social media network of hunters and shooters and get active on conversations and networking. With people all over on social media, you stand a good chance hearing about leases or hunt clubs looking for additional members, land for lease opportunities and even other locations that are good for hunting. You can also do real-time searches for people posting about hunting opportunities in some of these apps.
Search Classified Information – No, not top secret information, but listings in the classifieds, and one of the best places to start online is with Craigslist, which breaks classified listings down by area. Because they are free, that is now one of the first places many people go to list opportunities. Don’t forget traditional sources like the local paper classifieds as well. Many today are also listed online and for those traditional minded landowners or hunt club managers, this is where they are apt to still turn when it comes to publicizing the need for members or land for lease.
Go Public – This is an obvious one, but you’d be amazed how many public land opportunities are out there that people in an area aren’t even aware of. Research the public hunting areas owned and operated by your state on your state’s DNR website or go to the federal level checking out opportunities on larger public tracts as such as the United States’ Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFWS)opportunities on national wildlife refuges.
Go Army – Or Navy, or Air Force or Marines. Did you know a federal statute called the Sikes Act requires military bases with suitable habitat to maintain natural resource management plans that require hunting and fishing as part of the management where it does not conflict with the primary base mission. And many of these bases are open to the general public where everyone can pursue trophy whitetails in the Midwest, moose in Alaska, bighorn sheep in Arizona, elk in California and an entire host of other game across the country. For a listing of just some of the bases that offer hunting opportunities, check outiSportsmen.net. Our nation’s military bases have millions of acres of land available for hunting.