If you do not own land or do not have public land nearby, knocking on doors and asking permission on private lands might be your only option for finding good hunting ground. If you are like me and have recently moved into a new area, starting from scratch is a reality you have to deal with. Being that my main property is four hours away, I sought out hunting land close to where I currently live so I could take on new challenges and hunt on a more consistent basis without having to plan a trip way in advance. I gained access to land less than ten minutes from my home. Below are a few of the strategies I learned about how to get permission to hunt private land
Utilize GIS Mapping Tools
Most states have a GIS mapping tool which lets you see a landowners’ name and property line, among other bits of information. With all the social media and information out on the web today, you can do research on potential landowners long before ever knocking at their front door. When viewing a property, I look for elevation changes and nearby resources like food and crop fields. If a series of acreage doesn’t have what I want, I move on. Pine trees and other coniferous trees are easy to spot from a satellite view. Tall grassy areas or pasture-like sections of land can even show major trails from the aerial photos.
It is extremely difficult to get permission on great looking land because it is just that, great looking land that people already hunt. Where I live, there are very few large woodlots of continuous timber. I look for 10-25 acre parcels that border larger tracts. I find those landowners that own land more for non-hunting purposes, yet, they have great bucks roaming around without even knowing it.
You will never get permission, much less keep it, unless you prove to be respectful. Never speed into a driveway with a loud or disturbing entrance. I always appear neat and clean as well. If I get permission, I always ask if I can hang stands, trim branches if necessary, and set up trail cameras. Those questions might sound silly, but some landowners might not know what equipment you intend to use, or that you even use a tree stand. You do not want a landowner walking their property to find you trimming massive limbs without permission. Landowners appreciate being asked all questions you might have regarding the use of their property. Asking questions will help them understand you do not feel entitled to do whatever you please.
Don’t Appear Too Eager
I always try to come off as more interested in just spending time outdoors. Aggressively talking about shooting a limit of turkeys or huge bucks doesn’t always look right to people. Keep in mind, non-hunting landowners may have had a negative run-in with a hunter in the past that has shaped their thoughts about hunters that may carry over to you, regardless of your intentions. In today’s day and age, the hunting community needs all the positive looks it can get.
I always offer to help landowners with odd jobs. Keeping permission isn’t too hard when landowners quickly find out you’re willing to work a little bit to keep permission. Helping to cut or stack wood or fix a downed fence, could be examples of help they may need.
These five points of emphasis have been helpful for me over the past few years in an area where I previously knew nobody. Now I have great relationships with the landowners. The winter months could be a good time to begin your search via GIS mapping. Make note of worthy properties and then begin knocking on doors soon thereafter. Permission to hunt private land is still granted these days, you just have to get out there and ask for it.