Maybe you’ve watched flock after flock of greenheads tuck into a neighbor’s slough, or watched a Boone and Crockett whitetail buck hop a fence onto a stranger’s property during your daily commute. Even when there’s no public access to hunting hotspots, you still have a chance at an exclusive opportunity to hunt just by being bold enough to ask for permission. Stop in and have a conversation with the landowner, but follow these guidelines to ensure the interaction goes well.
Be direct and follow through
Knock on the door, introduce yourself, and ask if the landowner would be willing to let you hunt on their property. Tell them when you plan to hunt, what you plan to hunt, and whether anyone will be joining you. If the arrangement you’re proposing involves only you, don’t show up with a couple of buddies later and expect a warm welcome. Keep the terms simple and stick to them.
Take no for an answer
Sometimes landowners have good reason to reject your request. Maybe they’re hunters themselves or have an existing arrangement with another hunter. Maybe they’re against hunting altogether, or they’ve had a bad prior experience with another sportsman. Be gracious about it; tell them you understand and appreciate their consideration. You may find that respect and politeness can win them over, even if their initial reaction is negative. But if they’re steadfast in their decision, accept that and move on. There are other places to hunt.
If they say yes, ask how they’d like you to proceed
Maybe they’re particular about where you should park or how they’d prefer you access a spot. Maybe there’s a specific area on their property that’s off limits or a property line you should know about. Some landowners are particular about certain species they don’t want you to hunt, or in the case of deer, they may want you to target only those over a certain age or with a specific rack size. Let them establish the rules and then adhere to them to the letter.
Pick up after yourself
Leave no trace you were even there. Shut and lock gates behind you (assuming they were shut when you arrived). If you’re using an existing deer stand or other permanent structure, make sure you leave it clean and tidy. Pack your garbage out with you when you leave.
Although you shouldn’t be ashamed of a successful, ethical hunt, celebrate it humbly and privately. Not everyone is an outdoorsman, and seeing a dead animal can be off-putting to the landowner or their family if they don’t fully understand or appreciate hunting.
Leave a thank-you note
A gift card or a bottle of the landowner’s preferred spirit goes a long way, but even a simple handwritten note sincerely thanking them for their kindness can leave a lasting impression and help ensure you’ll be welcome back next season.