By Josh Boyd
How often have you found yourself gazing out of a truck window while cruising down a county road, pondering how nice it would be to obtain permission to hunt a certain plot of hunting heaven?
These thoughts come as natural to a hunter as rising from bed on opening morning.
After all, being granted permission to access a new piece of property is as close to winning the lottery as most hunters will ever experience.
However, the stark reality is that in this time of ever restrictive land access, trying to get permission for hunting ground can oftentimes be a frustrating affair.
Many factors have led to the decline in the availability of accessible acreage, and a substantial number of hunters are left scrambling to find a location to hunt in the fall.
As challenging as locating private land access might be, opportunities still exist for those who are diligent in their efforts. With a dose of forethought and an emphasis on always putting your best foot forward, access can be obtained.
When seeking to gain access for a certain piece of property, an individual must remember that they’ll likely only have one shot and must make it count.
The golden rule when asking for permission is that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. There are certain key points that an individual can recognize and utilize to seize upon the moment.
With this day and age so intertwined in technology at every turn, many individuals feel that the simplicity of a phone call to a landowner will suffice. However, this can often be highly detrimental to your odds of successfully gaining access.
Speaking to a landowner face-to-face allows them to put a face with the name and makes for more meaningful conversation. It is far easier to convey the sincerity of your request in person than over the phone. Stopping at a landowner’s residence also shows willingness on behalf of a hunter to extend the effort for a visit.
It’s also important to remember that looking presentable is a valid quality involved with making a good first impression. While business attire is not necessary, it is advisable to dress in a manner that gives no reason for the landowner to question your integrity.
Upon arriving at your destination and making contact with the property owner, it’s important to be friendly, polite, and respectful, but also be to the point and concise about your request. A smile, introduction, and handshake followed by the reason for your visit and request is commonly all that’s required to set yourself up for success.
Unsolicited conversation at great length or longwinded rambling can often make an individual feel uneasy or even agitated if they happened to have been busy at the time of your arrival.
It’s important to realize that you are a visitor of the landowner at their residence and it’s key to be respectful of their time.
In making your request, it can also be of benefit to mention a willingness to assist with tasks around the property from time to time.
Whether it be mowing a yard, helping haul hay, or assisting in the cutting up of downed trees, this can easily set you apart from others who have potentially sought permission in the past.
Whether you receive a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to your request, it’s always vital to thank the landowner for his or her time.
Even an individual who has denied you permission before can have a change of heart should their garden come under siege from curious deer or wandering turkeys.
However, this will almost certainly not be the case if discontent was shown when permission was not previously granted.
It’s also important to avoid procrastination when seeking access to a parcel of land. Just as you have taken note of a particular property for its enticing qualities, it’s likely that others have made the same observation.
By waiting to seek permission until the season grows near, you’re putting yourself in direct competition with others who will also be making their rounds and seeking a location to hunt during that time frame as well.
Reaching out well in advance of the season firmly places your visit at a time of year that few others would be pondering such tasks.
By striving to always make a quality first impression and avoiding letting failed attempts discourage your efforts, the chances of obtaining land access becomes highly probable.
But what happens if even your best efforts go unrewarded? Where does an individual turn to save their season?
Luckily, other avenues of land access are available in most situations. While maybe not as ideal as being granted permission to a no strings attached piece of private ground, there are still viable options.
One such option is the acquisition of a land lease. Leasing of hunting ground, like many things in life, has a definite upside as well as downside.
One positive aspect of a hunting lease is the fact that only those named within the terms of the lease agreement will have the availability to hunt the property contracted.
In contrast, the price of leasing is often relatively steep in most regions. However, the financial burden can be somewhat reduced if multiple members are included as to absorb the cost across a greater number of hunters.
Additionally, public lands offer hunting opportunities that in some areas can be quite numerous. Although public land hunting in many regions is notoriously tough, a number of hunters value the challenges and learning potential that public land offers.
Hunting is a pursuit full of challenges at every turn. Overcoming these challenges is what defines a hunter and makes a successful day afield all the more rewarding. Securing land access is often the first of these hurdles that a hunter must conquer.
So throw procrastination to the wind and reach out to secure permission for the properties that you wish to hunt.
Putting off until tomorrow what you could have done today can easily result in a frenzied search for last minute land access.
With a smile on your face and a polite respectfulness as the pillar of your approach, set forth and make your one opportunity count!