Picture this: you are driving down a gravel road on the way to a public hunting spot. A ten-point buck runs out of the ditch, across the road, and onto private land. Do you just toodle on down the road and hope you’ll find something on similar on public land? Or, do you find a way to hunt the deer? Hunting private land is great because you don’t have to worry about competition from other hunters. Here are a few steps to take to improve your chances of getting permission.
How to Find the Owner
To find out who owns the land the first thing you want to do is stop by the nearest farmhouse. Oftentimes the farmer lives near the property, and you can get permission right away. Even if you don’t find the landowner it is likely that neighbors know them and can give you the contact information. If I can’t find a neighbor or the owner use Beacon.com, which is a free site that lists the names on the deed for each piece of land broken down by county and state. OnXMaps also offers a 7 day free trial that provides similar information.
How to Ask
Once you find the landowner’s contact information you have a few options. If I can find their street address I prefer to meet them in person and introduce myself. When I go their house I also bring a letter in case they are not home. I had a friend recommend letters, and I have found them to be effective. Letters allow you to explain yourself fully. Additionally, the landowner can read the letter on their own time and call you back when it is easiest for them. I will call and leave a message if the only thing I can find is a phone number. However, I believe taking the time to meet them in person or write a letter shows more class and increases your chances.
When to Ask
The best case scenario is to ask for permission well before the season starts. There are a few reasons this is advantageous. First of all it is likely that other hunters will ask for permission. Many farmers do not hunt and will give permission to the first person that comes to the door. So, chances are by the time hunting season rolls around some other hunter will already have the place locked down. Second, it looks a little less desperate and unplanned to show up in full camo on the first day of season when there have already been five hunters knocking before you. Asking before the season also allows you to set up stands, trail cams and salt blocks if you are early enough.
Essentially, be considerate of the farmers time. Hunting seasons land during harvest and planting. As a result it can be difficult to get a hold of landowners, and they are likely too busy to respond to phone calls. Keep working hard. I will have three more tips coming out in a couple weeks. Thank you, Stu
Bio: Stuart Hoegh hunts every major species in Iowa. He has guided salmon in Alaska and now runs his own fly fishing guide service near Bend, Oregon (threebrothersoutdoors.com).