Tips For Gaining Access to Hunting Land

By Cody Larrimore

blue sky

There’s no denying that getting permission to hunt quality land can be as challenging as going after wild game itself. But much like when stalking an animal, if you use smart strategies as you plan your approach, you are going to increase the odds of getting that permission letter signed. I thought it could be helpful to share a few tips and tricks I have learned from friends, family, other hunters, and old-fashioned trial-and-error that might help you get access to a few new farms this year. After all, hunting season is just a few weeks away for most.

For starters, when looking for permission we first need to identify the general area we want to hunt. This can be done using the help of Google Maps, Google Earth, plat books, inspection of the state record books and other ways.

Once you identify the area you want to hunt, take a day to drive around that area to find the specific properties you are interested in, and locate the addresses and (if possible) the landowner’s names. Once you’ve located the properties (and hopefully the landowners’ names) you are ready to approach them to ask permission to hunt.

Here are some tips for making the approach:

Choose a nice day – Approach landowners on a nice, sunny day. If you are like me (and pretty much everyone else I know) you probably tend to be in a better mood on sunny days. There is also a chance they will be outside doing yard work. Landowners are going to be better mood on nice days too, and therefore will be more likely to be receptive to your requests.

Go in advance – Landowners are more likely to say no if you show up to their door and expect to hunt that day.

Bring no more than two – Do not show up with multiple guys, trucks, dogs etc. and expect to get hunting access. In fact, don’t ever show up with more than you and one other person. Most landowners don’t like big groups of hunters showing up on their property. Just imagine if you or your spouse were home alone and four or five burly guys wearing camo showed up at your house unexpectedly and came pounding on the front door. Depending on your tolerance for such things, it could make you uneasy. And making someone uneasy is not a good first step towards getting a permission letter signed.Father and son

Bring a child or your spouse with you – Landowners may respond better if they see you are a family man or woman and share their values. And let’s face it; they may also be less likely to turn you down if you have a cute little kid with you. Nobody wants to disappoint a child right?

Don’t be a liability – We live in an era where rampant lawyers and lawsuits make people think twice about giving people permission to hunt their land, because they’re afraid of being sued if some type of accident were to occur. You should anticipate this objection and make sure you are well versed in liability laws before you knock on anyone’s door. Also, make sure you have a clear, simple and strong legal liability waiver statement as part of your permission form.

Look presentable – Showing up in a clean vehicle and wearing clean clothes shows that you have a respect for yourself and your property, and in turn, will be more likely to show respect for the landowner’s property.

Look relatable – Do not show up in city clothes. If you are asking permission in the country and vice-versa. People often relate better to those like themselves. So if you are asking to hunt in the country, you should show that you understand and appreciate the country way of life.

Be professional – Although hunting probably isn’t your occupation (unless you are one of those lucky hunting show guys on The Outdoor Channel), you can still act like a hunting professional when approaching a landowner. This can help your chances also. Some ways you can be professional include:

  • Show you have done your homework. By showing aerial photos, topographical maps and other information you may have collected, you can clearly explain to the landowner why you think their property is a promising hunting ground. This will show them you are serious, passionate and professional. Make sure you compliment their farm as one of the very best you have identified.
  • Make up a simple business card and present it to the landowner. Include your full name, your complete contact information, and perhaps even list any memberships you might have with professional conservation groups or hunting associations. Including the make, model and license numbers of any vehicles you might be driving when hunting can be good information to include also.

Build a network – Ideally, you want to secure permission on multiple tracts of land. Doing so allows you to choose the best location to hunt on any given day during the season – based on weather conditions, hunting pressure and other important factors. One of the best ways to do this is to ask one landowner if they know any other landowners nearby that might be willing to give you permission to hunt. (Note: you should do this if the first landowner said either yes or no to your request.) You should be courteous and ask the first landowner if they are OK with you using their name as a reference when you speak to the people they refer. Make sure you respect their wishes. Not doing so could come back to bite you. If you are given permission to namedrop by letting the second landowner know that a friend, neighbor or family member of theirs referred you to them, they are more likely to trust you and sign your permission form.

Show True Appreciation. – When you do get permission, make sure to show your gratitude. There are many ways to do this. For example, you could offer to help out around the farm at times when the landowner needs an extra set of hands. You could give a nice Christmas gift or gift-card to show your thanks. You could watch over their house when they are out of town. Whatever it is, make sure you do something nice for the person who has done something nice for you. If you have found a good spot to hunt, chances are others will find it also. If you can develop a strong relationship with the landowner and genuinely show appreciation, your chances of keeping exclusive permission to hunt their land in future years get much greater.

I hope you have found one or two of these ideas helpful. If you have other ideas, comments or stories about getting permission to hunt, we would love to hear them! Please feel free to share your thoughts or feedback in the comments section below.

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Charles is the editor for 248 Shooter a midwest based gun news and gear review site as well as Online Content Director for On Target Magazine. He is an avid student taking classes from top tier trainers around the country. Charles shares his love for training as well as experience and opinions on some of the most talked about gear and products used by competitive shooters, military, leo and civilians.