• Hunt the Wild

Getting Access Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

I captured pictures of these bucks on a some private land I have access to through a farmer friend.

Welcome back everyone! This week I want to discuss a subject that I have found to be anomaly in the mainstream outdoor media for reasons I have yet to figure out. Hunting access is a crucial step to any outdoorsman/outdoorswoman success in the field and without it, your hunt is over before it even started. Since you often don’t hear about amble ways of securing admission to these desirable areas, I want to let you in on the do’s and don’ts of hunting access and the critical steps that may make or break your season. Follow along as I offer slick suggestions to gaining the permissions that you so desperately need.

Finding and locking in hunting ground doesn’t have to seem so far-off and downright painful and it certainly doesn’t have to cost money. There are a number of ways of approaching the dilemma but homing in on the best personal option for yourself takes a little time. What may work for some may fall short for many others. It’s important to take into consideration the amount of time you have as well as the amount of energy you spend will often dictate how successful you are in attaining entrance. Your options are as limited as your imagination. Let’s dig in!

Cold Knocking

When most people think about gaining access to hunting property for free, they generally lean towards the old school method of door to door knocking. This can be a very successful tactic in your bag full of ideas, but it does take an abundance of courage and quite a bit of leg work. If you decide to go with this method, you should present yourself to the land owner in a way that portrays hunters as respectful and responsible people. Start by doing some research online and find out the keyholders name which shows that you have done your homework. Shake their hand when they answer the door and state your reasoning for wanting to hunt their land like your livelihood depends on it. Confidence is surely key!

Snail Mail

A method that is seldom used. Simply type up a semi-formal letter stating your intentions, what you are offering in exchange for privileges and a statement of why so and so should let a stranger on their property. While sending letters to key holders always include a liability waiver. On some occasions this may hurt you because it can cause worry, but generally people want to know that they aren’t going to be liable in the case that you get hurt. This method allows you to quickly get in contact with a large number of people with minimal effort. I’ve found this to be a great networking tool as well. You’ll be shocked with the types of responses you get!

The Family Tree

Most likely if you hunt it’s because one of your family members introduced you to it, but you don’t have to be limited to their property or permissions. Use social media, family tree websites and family reunions to introduce yourself to your long-lost family members. Bring up the topic of hunting to both hunters and non-hunters and then slowly transition into how you are looking for a new area to hunt. You’re already one step ahead of anyone else who asks for permission no matter how distant of relatives. Playing the family card might just be the key you’ve been searching for!

Deer Damage List

Nothing is worse for a farmer than losing crops to the devastation of an over populated deer herd and you might just be the solution they are looking for. I have heard though word of mouth that each year the Department of Natural Resources creates a list of property owners facing obstacles with managing their deer herd. Although nuisance permits are often grated to these landowners, its important to note that harvesting deer takes time and for farmers that means taking away from their daily work schedule. A simple phone call, letter or face to face chat might just be the difference of you eating fresh venison vs. eating the dreadful tag soup. Although I have never tried this suggestion myself, I feel it could be a very effective approach to opening up a new property to hunt. You might want to start by visiting your states Department of Natural Resources website or by calling them directly to see if a list is available for your area. What do you have to lose?

Elbow Grease

It’s a fact that no one wants do chores nor do they want to pay someone to complete the work. Start by finding a handful of properties you are interested and then drive by to see if there is potential for work to be done. Does their grass need mowed? Does wood need to be split for the winter? Maybe their field is full of drift wood that needs to be picked up. Introduce yourself, explain your obstacle of trying to find hunting property and then offer your services in exchange for hunting access. Most people know that if you are willing to work to keep their property nice, then you will most likely not destroy it while out enjoying it. Who knows you might even meet a lifelong friend!

Finding property to hunt can be a never-ending project, but if you put in enough effort it will eventually pay off. Be respectful, state you claim in a well-educated manner and if accepted onto the property, always offer up some of your harvest to the land owner. It’s never too early nor too late to get started on your search, so get out there and see what opportunities await. Good luck!

Adam Bowlds


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