Hunting season is just around the corner, and it is never too early to start preparing. Part of that preparation includes gaining permission to hunt on the private land you’ve been eyeing. But what is the best way to convince the landowner to allow you access?
We have all been turned down for that hunting, fishing, or trapping spot for a multitude of reasons. With the private land base shrinking in some areas, it’s more important than ever to make a good first impression and build trust with a landowner from the first meeting.
So how do you gain the landowners trust? Hunters who hope to develop a relationship with private landowners can follow these basic steps to gain a positive and working relationship:
- Do not show up on their doorstep in the early hours of the morning to ask for permission for that day – definitely not a good way to start your relationship. Pay a visit to their house many days before you plan to hunt to look them in the eye, shake their hand, and introduce yourself. First impressions are the best impressions, but you only get one shot at that.
- Respect their rules! If they ask you not to drive in their fields or walk through their crops, then follow their rules. Land owners will be left with a bad taste in their mouths if anyone blatantly disregards common courtesies that may mess with their livelihoods. We have all heard stories about gates being left open only to have land owners chasing livestock because of a simple neglect of common sense. Don’t be that person!
- Be honest. If you say you are hunting turkey, then hunt for those gobblers only. If you plan on bringing a friend, let the landowner know. The quickest way to “get the boot” off of private property is to not be truthful to the owner.
- Work for your permission. Is the landowner putting up new fencing? Painting his house? Working on equipment? Offer to lend a hand. Nothing goes farther than an offer of free labor. Even though its hard work, you gain the owners respect, and you can scout at the same time! A win, win situation for all.
- Send a thank you note. A handwritten thank you goes farther than some think. It shows that you took the time to write them a personal thank you, and could gain you a leg up for the next time you would like to hunt on their land.
- Share your wealth! A bag of fresh game is a nice gesture and a great way to gain a working relationship.
All in all, set a good example for all hunters by using common courtesies and following landowner rules. In the end, any landowner provides not only a place to hunt but also vital habitat for wildlife. This is a win for hunters today and tomorrow.
Photo by: Dusan Smetana