Every state has its share of public land accessible by hunters. Although many of these areas are extraordinary, there are several reasons why a hunter might prefer to hunt on private land.
For one thing, there is going to be less pressure on game animals, which also means the possibility of more mature animals on private land. Reaping the bounties of private land is definitely something that is constantly present in the minds of hunters, especially in states with fewer accessible public lands. But gaining access is not always easy. Here are five tips to gaining access to hunt private land.
Might you come across a land owner in a bar, at work or in the field, being a friendly face is the first step in gaining land access. Sometimes the most unlikely people are owners and foremen of the most hole-in-the-wall Shangri-La hunting properties. If you are a known hunter, but even more well-known for being a nice person and an upstanding part of the community, land access will fall into your lap easier than you think.
Be willing to help
You never know when you might run into an opportunity. Sometimes it’s in the form of a landowner with a nasty coyote problem – maybe even feral hogs tearing up his wife’s garden. Keep an eye out for these situations. If you lend a hand by shooting some pests, this can often turn into taking a deer of the property as well.
don’t be afraid to ask
Some hunting access is only a knock on the door, or even a phone call away. However, this ties in with rule #1 extremely well – be polite, friendly, and let your intentions be known. A good way to go about this might be to knock on a door, introduce yourself, and ask about their property. After some further information, express your interest to hunt there. If you are polite and straightforward, there is little chance they will reply with anger. And aside from the answer you get, at least you asked. That particular person may not let you hunt there, but perhaps they know of another property they can set you up with.
Despite the previous rule, it’s not always best to walk up to doors and ask to hunt deer there right off the bat. Sometimes it is best to start small. Maybe ask if you can shoot a few rabbits in their fields, coyotes in their hills or squirrels in their woods. If they agree to it, then you’ve got a spot to start a select pursuit. Any hunting is good hunting after all. Stop by and say hello whenever you can, and offer up some of the game you take. There is a good chance that this arrangement may grow into an opportunity of hunting more and more game on that property.
respect the land and the wildlife
Disrespect is probably the biggest reason why a hunter loses access to a property. And unfortunately this often ruins their relationship with the person, and sometimes it even ruins their reputation as a responsible hunter and guest. Respect for the land is key – this means a few things. Be sure to close gates, pick up arrows with sharp broadheads on the ends of them, and communicate well with the land owner regarding any happenings on the property. If that land owner finds that you’ve been dishonest, irresponsible, or deceitful, then you can kiss your hunting privileges goodbye. Treat the game that you take with respect as well. Do not leave carcasses around the property or refrain from taking due diligence in locating a wounded animal.
stay in touch
If you are successful in gaining land access, or even if you are put on hold for a particular place, keep your relationship with the landowner. Over the last few years, I have forged some really cool friendships from hunting, and most of those friendships are with the owners and caretakers of land that I hunt. Don’t just call or text the person to let them know you are hunting that day, or that you killed some game – give the person a call and stop in now and again to make some small talk, drink a beer, and tell some stories about how much fun you have on their land. Shake the landowners hand, and make sure they know how thankful you are for the access they let you have.
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