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Negotiating Hunting Access
Tips about landowners
Landowners can distrust hunters and the public. Gates left open, litter strewn across their land, livestock, signs, buildings shot at, and more. Landowners do not have to grant anyone access to their land. It is the same as if someone pulled up to your house and asked to camp in your back yard. Respect that and do not challenge it if they say no.
Most landowners like hunters and most of them hunt, as well. They want to be more than just asked. They want to be asked right. Give them a reason to want to let you hunt their land. Be polite! Be sensitive to their concerns. They are liable for the things that happen on their land. They donít know you from Adam, for all they know you could be an overzealous lawyer looking to sue their property out from under them.
Pay attention to the land and what is going on. Donít ask permission to hunt during harvest time. Know what type of farm or land use is occurring. Know the difference between winter red and Barley. Know the difference between beef cows and dairy cows. Understand the difference between a working apple orchard and an abandoned one.
Most landowners constantly are working their tails off just to keep their land functioning. Understand this and donít be afraid of offering to lend a bit of a hand or at least fully recognizing the amount of work it takes to maintain most farms and land.
Be courteous and understanding of a landownerís personal, political and religious views. It would be wise not to show up to a farmer's land in your Porsche with PETA stickers all over it asking for hunting access.
In general, land owners are just like anyone else and they are as diverse as anyone else. Be polite, be positive, be respectful, and be reasonable.
Find possible areas
Plan one or more scouting trips at least a month in advance of the season opener.
Post want ads in Grange halls, Co-Op buildings, Cenex shops, Farm supply shops. Be specific and include multiple ways to contact you.
Some people have posted requests on Craigís List or taken out ads in papers to seek access.
Do your homework before you go out. Research the plat maps available on-line at county assessorís offices. Get names and phone numbers of the owners and do a little recon before you go knocking on doors, oftentimes the home that butts up against prime hunting land is a rented house where the owner or farmer may live down the road a bit.
See if the area you want to hunt has coyotes or a coyote problem. Offer to do some predator control for the landowner in the non deer season. This can provide bonus hunting opportunity for you and also do the landowner a big favor.
Look around areas (especially westside) where a landowner has put up significant deer fencing around trees, gardens, plants, etc. this will signal that a landowner has a deer problem. You may find someone who may not have any problem with a little bit of predation.
Talk to the landowner
Whenever possible, ask for hunting permission face-to-face well ahead of the time youíd like to scout and hunt. When you meet the landowner, be polite and sincere.
Inform them of how you got their name, address, and the like.
Wear regular clothes, full camo or 1000 sq inches of hunter orange is annoying and discourteous.
Some lands are posted for specific reasons. Perhaps a land owner who has posted their land would have no problem with a bowhunter or a hunter targeting a specific species like Bear or Cougar.
Give them detailed information about you. Information about where you live, your vehicle info, insurance, anything that will assure them that you are an open and honest person.
land owner well in advance can lead to a seasons of hunting mostly without
other hunters on the same land. My hunting partner and I have completed 2
straight seasons alone in '08 and '09 both pheasants and turkeys. Also land
owners appreciate these contacts.. (posted anonymous)
Others in your hunting party
If you plan to have kids hunting with you, have them tag along when you ask permission. This shows the kids how to conduct themselves and can improve your chances of getting permission. Landowners will understand your desire to show kids the tradition of hunting.
If there are a couple of guys in your hunting group they must all greet the land owner. There is nothing more unnerving than a truckload of guys with guns driving up a driveway and they all stay in the truck.
Landowners will tend to allow small groups of people access. Donít count on a landowner allowing a hunting party of 12 guys to hunt their land.
Be honest and realistic with the landowner, if he allows you and another hunter to hunt the property, do not assume that you now have the ability to bring in another 6 guys to the area.
When going on to the land
Treat the land as though it were your own and your only source of income.
On the day of the hunt, park where the landowner directed you,
If it is not too early, let the land owner know you have arrived.
If you are hunting with a dog, make sure the landowner agreed to that.
Be very aware of standing crops and any other areas that the landowners had identified as out of bounds.
Donít spook livestock.
Be aware of fences. If you see where branches are pushing down a barbed wire fence or a fence needs simple mending. Do your best to repair it and notify the land owner what happened and what you did. Fence mending is a laborious task for land owners, any help in that regard is worth gold.
Be aware of gates. Leave them as you found them -open or closed.
When nature calls, bury your waste.
Pack out every single bit of trash you create. Bring a large trash bag and do some additional litter patrol for the landowner. Leave it cleaner than you found it.
Donít drive off roads and trails unless allowed by the landowner. If in doubt, walk!
Take care not to spread noxious weeds. Clean your equipment and vehicle undercarriage. If using horses, feed certified weed-seed free hay
Time and Species
Agree on what game you will hunt and when you will hunt.
Never assume permission to hunt for any other timeframe than the one you asked to hunt.
Never hunt species that the landowner hasnít specifically given permission for.
Be specific about what you will be doing
If you are putting up a tree stand, digging a pit blind, or altering the land at all, let the landowner know exactly what you are doing and get their approval.
If you are camping overnight on the property ask permission about lighting fires if you desire a campfire.
If you are successful, ask if you should bury the gut pile.
After hunting, take a moment to stop and say thanks. If youíve been successful, ask if the landowner would enjoy some of the game meat. Ensure that you comply with WA regulations when giving game meat to the landowner. If the landowner is a hunter, offer up the backstraps (tenderloins), this means a bunch to another hunter.
Send the landowner a thank you card after the hunt. Donít forget them at Christmas time or in the off season.
Offer your services of labor in the off season or if you are in a trade that can be useful for the landowner. Even if they think you are just a green horn city slicker, the offer of help will ensure a positive relationship and experience.
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