Somebody owns the land, and you’d like to hunt it.
by Steve Hickoff
Sometimes you can secure hunter access from landowners directly, right on their property. Off-site places and situations such as roadside diners, town meeting places, grocery stores, yard sales, and even Friday night at the local bar, can also provide the landowner connection you need. You might run into the property owner, or a neighbor who knows that person. Consider this research toward your goal of getting hunter access.
Explain who you are, and what you’ll be doing. Once access is gained, develop and maintain a relationship. Describe what vehicle you’ll be driving when you hunt. Find where your rig should be parked, and if it’s okay to use your Yamaha Grizzly ATV or Rhino Side-by-Side vehicle. Make the person giving you permission, or helping you gain it, as comfortable as possible.
An intermediary can help. This go-between person can be your good-will ambassador, especially if they’re of respectable standing in the community, and might initially contact the landowner for you. Sometimes too this contact might even accompany you to the property owner’s location for a direct introduction, replete with small talk and handshakes to seal the deal.
At times, you also need to double-check the full ownership picture as possible hunting properties are concerned, no matter what real sources might say. Study courthouse records. What is the history of the place? Who really owns the land? Who calls the shots? Is ownership fragmented? In transition? Who neighbors the property? Who holds access to it? Is the place posted? If so, maybe you can score the only permission available to hunters there.
Are you a road-tripping sort of hunter? Sometimes a key long-distance contact can mention your name to a landowner they know. You can follow-up by phone or e-mail, and sort out the details. Arrive there cold, with out-of-state license plates during a road trip, and you might nullify any hope at hunter access. Imagine what it might be like for that property holder.
Gain their trust. Maintain the connection. Season to season, call the landholder up, and or drop by to say hello. Offer to help with farm chores. After hunts, give them some of your venison or turkey breast.
Some of the best hunters I know have key contacts like this, and they get to hunt private land, which often holds some of the best opportunities around for un-pressured wild game.