By: Amy Felhaber
As the hunting community grows, we are now seeing many individuals struggling to gain crucial land access. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have previous connections or family ties, chances are you ask permission each year. Whether it’s friends, neighbors or strangers, asking to use another’s acreage can be a daunting task for some. With this article I hope to give you some ideas about what works for me to gain access, as well as what hasn’t worked. As a reminder, these are personal suggestions and should always be evaluated by each individual in association with their own determinants.
When beginning the initial steps to get permission to gain land access for hunting, one must consider the following: What will I be hunting? Will I be hunting alone or in a group? How often will I be using the land? Start by asking family, friends and friends of friends if they have had success with any landowners. If you don’t have any luck, scouting your local area is a wise alternative for a starting point.
It’s always a good idea to start small when gaining access for hunting land. Whether that be starting with one hunter or using the land for one hunting season, it lays the groundwork for the landowner to build trust with you and vice versa.
Some tips and relevant questions to ask when introducing yourself:
- Introduce yourself and your intentions.
- Explain what you are going to be hunting, if you will have any partners and when or how often you plan on hunting.
If the landowner says yes, follow up with:
- What is the best way to access the land? Car, truck, ATV, by foot? Let the property owner know what your vehicle(s) look like and any other vehicle(s) to expect.
- Are there places on the land where they do not want a vehicle to be driven?
- Are there other hunters that are using this land to hunt as well? If so, what is there situation?
- If applicable, can dogs be used if/when necessary for hunting?
- Provide them with your contact information if any changes do occur.
- Always be respectful and listen to the landowner’s wishes.
If the landowner says no:
- Kindly respect the property owner’s choice and leave on a positive note. Who knows, this may keep the door open for land access in the future.
Always treat landowners who allow you access to their land for hunting purposes with respect, as well as the property. This means keeping them informed of your doings, obeying their wishes and remaining tidy. Make sure there is nothing left behind like garbage, equipment, empty cartridges/shells or old arrows for example. Remember to return the environment back to its original state. If applicable, be considerate to other animals who share the property premises; hunters should be on the look out for farm animals and pets if they are around. A final important regard can be notifying the landowner of your credibility as a hunter, explain that you have the proper documentation to be a hunter, and you have a valid license. This is a polite gesture, and gives reassurance to the property owner they have made the right decision in providing you access to their land.
It’s important to remember the do’s when it comes to asking for permission but it here are some very important reminders on the don’ts:
- Unprofessionalism. Be sure that you are conscientious of your language (swearing, jargon, false information) and avoid being crude or vulgar. Remember you are representing the hunting community and want to put your best foot forward.
- Don’t overstep your boundaries. This includes inviting unannounced guests or excessive hunting (hunting other categories of animals without permission).
- Don’t assuming that since you hunted there last year, it’s okay to do so the following year. Before the hunting season begins get in contact with the landowner.
- Shooting around/near the residence. Make it in your best efforts to keep your sights clear of the individual’s home. Also, consider the proximity of the residence when shooting.
- Engaging in any illegal activity. Either provoked by the landowner, or on your own terms. While some landowners may encourage you to “get rid of them,” remember that illegally killing or harming any animals in any type of way is never an option.
Remember, it is important to be considerate of property owners who do not wish to have hunters use their land. Leave only positive impressions with any property owners that you come across because not only are you representing yourself as a hunter, but the entire hunting community. Public or Crown land1 is also an option for those who are not able to access private property for hunting. However, it is a good idea to scout the crown/public land and know that is used by the general public for multiple purposes. Overall, always respect people’s private property and if using crown/public land do so in an ethical, legal fashion. Crown/public land is available at our leisure and we should acknowledge that by not taking advantage of the opportunities it provides. This is something that I myself have been doing for the past couple of years, as I’m searching for more hunting and fishing opportunities. The majority of my hunts have been from gaining access to land by asking permission and following these do’s and don’ts. These are my recommendations for Eastern Ontario but you may find that if you do travel out of province/state/country, these recommendations may not work. Always check local rules and guidelines before hunting. It always pays off to be prepared!
As always, I am open to positive suggestions, recommendations, and further discussion around this topic. I understand everyone has their own way of approaching these types of situations, and the information I have provided are tips I have associated with success in my area. Please share your ways of approaching these types of encounters; I would love to hear and learn about them!
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