By Alex Comstock
Asking permission to hunt on a strangers land can be a bit uncomfortable and sometimes even intimidating. What do you say? What if they say no? Don't fret too much, the worst thing that will possibly happen is for a landowner to say no. But how do you go about it in the best way to hopefully gain access on a few properties? There are ways to go about it effectively, and ways that will almost guarantee you a denial. Follow these six tips to help your chances when attempting to gain access to hunt private land.
1. Clean Vehicle: Now I don't mean you have to run your truck through a car wash before heading out to ask permission. But at the same time, your vehicle is often the first thing that a landowner might see, whether that be them seeing you pull up while looking out the window, or if they are are outside working on the yard, etc. All I am saying is if that your truck is caked in mud, a landowner might jump to the conclusion that you won't be responsible or treat their property well. I find that most often a person that doesn't already let someone hunt their land will say no because they have had bad experiences with hunters treating their property poorly.
2. Dress Code: If your vehicle isn't the first thing a landowner sees, it will be you, and how you're dressed. What you are wearing can go a long ways in making a good first impression and ultimately help you in gaining permission. What I try to do is first off, avoid wearing any hunting clothing or camouflage. This can turn people off quickly. Also, don't dress like your going to a wedding. If you're over the top with your dress code, someone might think your a salesman and not even give you a chance. The best thing to do, is come off as a hardworking, down to earth individual. A pair of jeans/work pants, and a decent shirt can really help your case. I think having a little bit of dirt on your pants or hands can go a long ways with a farmer, as he can see that your most likely a hardworking person right off the bat.
3. Make Your Goal Known: It is important to make it known what you want to do, and how you would do it. If you want to only bowhunt a property, don't ask to "deer hunt", because a landowner might automatically assume gun hunting, and they don't want guns being shot on their property. Make it known you would only be bowhunting, and you will abide by any rules that the landowner decides to put in place for you.
4. Offer Work for Hunting: This is something to keep in your back pocket if the landowner your asking permission seems hesitant, and your not confident he/she is going to say yes. Offer up some work, whether it be yard work, helping with a project, etc. Offering to help with something, just to be able to hunt shows how bad you want the opportunity to hunt the property, but that you're also a good person who is willing to do something in return.
5. Be Genuine: The absolute worst thing you can do, is to want permission on a piece of property so bad that you aren't yourself or get worked up at the first sign of a no. It's not worth it, be genuine, likable, and don't leave and get mad as soon as a landowner says no, that's rude! Last week, I was out asking permission on a place, and I got a no, but ended up being at the farmers house for about twenty minutes talking about other guys that he's had to tell no, and some of the crazy stuff they've done such as call him names, and then storm off. He assured me that if they ever showed back up in the future, he wouldn't give them the time of day. I will probably be back there every year asking permission, and hopefully one year, the answer will turn into a yes.
6. Ask About a Neighbor: So you get a no, that doesn't mean you have to walk away defeated right away. Politely ask if the person might know of any neighbors that might allow a bowhunter, and many times that's how you will end up with permission on a place. I will keep doing this over and over, and you will find someone that will be open to the idea of hunting on their land.
If you're still in the need of some hunting land, go out and put these 6 tips to the test. Just remember, be yourself, don't be rude, and the worst thing is a no. I guarantee you that you won't get permission on any hunting land if you don't ask.