Many of you reading this I’m sure would rather have a root canal than walking up and knocking on the door of an unfamiliar landowner to ask permission to his or her property. Indeed it can be a nerve wracking endeavor because you really have no idea how this landowner will react. Maybe you caught them during a family meal. Maybe they just had an argument with their spouse or a long day on the farm. Truthfully though, landowners are by and large friendly people, who when approached in the right manner often reward the courteous hunter access to their ground.
There are certain things a hunter or fisherman can do to put the odds of granted permission in their favor. First things first, you should treat asking permission like a job interview or asking someone on a first date. It is always best to ask the landowner face to face but sometimes a phone call may be necessary if the owner is gone for a period of time and unavailable. Always identify yourself and where you are from.
You want to be confident with your best foot forward, polite and presentable. A grungy, unkempt look will immediately put a landowner on his guard. One thing I have always done is to remove my hat if I am wearing one upon knocking on the door. The landowner will see the hat in hand and this shows a sign of respect and politeness.
We all know that sometimes a landowner can be stubborn and reluctant to budge. In this case it might be a good idea to observe his property on the way in. Look for clues such as a political sign representing a certain candidate, or the fact that all of his tractors are John Deere. Maybe even the fact that he raises hogs or chickens and someone in your family raises them also. Finding common ground that you can knowledgably talk about with the owner can put them at ease and heighten your chances for permission. You should never talk about something if you have no clue what it is about. In this case, maybe ask a question to pry into the owner’s knowledge about a certain subject such as, “I see you have some beautiful horses behind the barn, how long have you raised horses”?
Observe the Land
Sometimes it is a good idea to do a little research and observe the owners land respectfully before asking permission. This will help you gain a better understanding of where you wish to focus your hunting efforts and be prepared to discuss land features you may have seen. For example, you could mention to the landowner, “I observed a few turkeys out strutting down past your gate in the bottom of the alfalfa field”. This immediately tells the landowner you are aware of the property and if you gain permission, he or she may even open up about other potential locations to try. If the land is posted heavily this doesn’t always mean the owner won’t grant permission to a courteous individual. Also, the answer “no” for one species might not mean “no” for other species. I personally know landowners who always say no to deer hunters but are willing to grant permission for waterfowl, turkey, coyote and pheasant.
Driving and Parking
If permission is granted, you should always clarify where the owner wishes you to park or drive. Make note of places they would like you to avoid and always use your best judgment when driving. If the terrain looks wet or unstable, even if they let you drive on it, the best bet is to stay off of it with your vehicle to avoid physical and unsightly damage to the property.
To sum all of this up the best thing to keep in mind is a confident, polite attitude and presenting yourself in the best light possible. People who ask permission are the face of the hunting community to landowners, especially landowners who do not hunt. If permission is granted, the owners land should be kept in the same condition it was before you entered, if not better.
• Landowners are often very willing to grant permission if you are taking a child hunting.
• It’s a good idea to repay the landowner back as thanks for granting permission.
• Helping the landowner out with small tasks every now and then will solidify trust and friendship.
• If permission is granted, be sure they know your vehicle.
• It’s always a good idea to check with the owner every time you wish to access their land.