This time of year, I enjoy slowly driving back roads glassing agriculture fields for deer. I do so because I simply love watching deer, but also to identify areas with high deer density and specific bucks worth pursing. These are areas I’ll try to gain permission to hunt.
The window for conducting these back road scouting trips is rapidly closing as crops are becoming too tall. Soon the deer will be hidden from view. This means if you hope to identify and learn about areas you want to hunt while scouting from the road, you need to get out and do it now.
I keep a log of my road trips. I mark down how many deer I see in specific locations and what those deer are. The other night, I entered a note that I watched a group of five bucks in a bean field behind a shopping center. I don’t have permission to hunt that property, but now I know I would like to, so I’ll begin the process of trying to obtain permission.
Obtaining permission to hunt private property seems to become harder each year. When I started deer hunting 20 years ago, I could hunt every farm within a few miles of my house. Hunting had yet to become the marketing game it is today. While a lot of private ground is being leased these days, there are still folks out there who will let you hunt on their property if the circumstances are right.
Some of these circumstances include their general perception of hunting, whether or not they have family hunting the land already, and probably most importantly, their initial perception of you. Remember, first impressions are everything.
Trying to figure out who owns the land and how to get in touch with them is often a challenge. Your best bet is to pull up to the nearest home and politely ask if they know who owns the land in question. Chances are they will either be the owner or will know who the owner is. If they’re not the owner but do know the owner, be sure to ask for contact information. Otherwise, it can be tough to find a phone number or address. If asking at a nearby house isn’t an option for figuring out ownership, then a county plat map is a great tool. These maps tell you who owns the land, but do not provide contact information.
Once you have the contact information of the landowner, you need to plan what you are going to say and ask for before you make contact. Chances are, you are not the first person to ask them for hunting permission this year. You basically need to present a sales pitch on why they should allow you to hunt their land.
Don’t be afraid to offer to help out around the property. It is the least you can do if you don’t want to write a check for hunting permission. Take some time during the summer to help out with any chores the landowner may need done. And offer to work on the habitat. Doing so benefits you by creating a better wildlife property, and it helps the landowner by increasing the value of their land.