How Do I Get Permission To Hunt Private Land?
I am borrowing a post written by Brian over at heyBJK. His blog is growing rapidly and he is a very conscientious outdoorsman and family man. He put together a great 'How-to' for hunters looking to get permission to hunt private land. Here in Southern California, hunters should heed this advice because this doesn't just apply to hunting deer. This applies to any kind of hunting. I know it is tough to get owners of privately owned property to give you access to their land. I know it from experience and have had enough doors shut in my face. I have also had plenty of success in just asking, offering my time and being cordial. Here is some of that Brian had to say. I only highlighted some of his insight. You should read his entire post here:
Have you ever driven by a tract of land and thought, man, I'd like to have the opportunity to hunt there? I'm sure most of us know of property we'd like to be able to hunt, but can't because it's privately owned. In reality, the only thing standing between you and potentially new hunting opportunities is asking permission. I'm going to provide a few pointers that can help make that process a bit easier.
Start now and leave the camo at home. You should start making contact with landowners early in the year. It might seem like a minor thing, but asking several months in advance shows that you're thinking ahead and is more respectful than knocking on somebody's door two days before the season opens. This also gives a landowner time to think it over, if necessary, and get to know you better. Some people might be more open to the idea of letting you hunt on their land if they're not being asked to make a spur-of-the-moment decision.
Always be polite and respectful. This really goes without saying. Your request should be made politely. Using "sir" and "ma'am" never hurt anyone even though it is less common now. If you are turned down it is very important to remain polite. Remember, you are representing hunters in general and you want to leave a good impression no matter what answer you receive. It has the potential to open doors later. If you receive a definite "no", don't argue or keep going back to ask again. It's part of being respectful.
Be prepared to give some information. In some ways, getting permission to hunt private property is a bit like a job interview. At least you should think of it in those terms. You may be asked what you do for a living, where you live, how long you've been hunting, if you've taken a hunter safety course, or possibly even for personal references. If you don't receive permission during that initial contact, ask if it would be okay to leave your name and number. This is especially important if the landowner is going to consider your request.
Bowhunters can have an advantage. You may talk with landowners who are hesitant to allow gun hunting on their property. Maybe they have concerns about livestock, pets, or just don't want guns being fired on their land. If you are also a bowhunter, you may be able to secure permission to hunt that way. Some people don't have the same concerns about bows that they do with guns.
It's not a one-way street. If you do get permission to hunt on private property, don't just be a taker. One of the nicest things you can do is offer to assist with work on the land. This is especially true with farmers and ranchers. I don't mean you have to be there every weekend, but maybe there is fence to be repaired or wood to be cut or painting to be done. Offer to donate some of your time in exchange for the hunting privilege. When I was in school, my brother and I helped a farmer bale his hay during the summer as our way of thanking him for allowing us to hunt on his land. It was hot, nasty work, but worth it. Even if the landowner doesn't need or want your help, you can still offer to give them part of your meat. For those who enjoy wild game, this is a nice gesture.
Some definite no-no's. If you get permission for yourself, do NOT show up with a couple of hunting buddies in tow. Nothing will annoy a landowner faster than you presuming you have the authority to invite others. If you want to bring another person along, you need to discuss that up front and have it worked out from the get-go.