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How to Maintain Hunting Access and Success with Communication


by Jerald Kopp | Oct 03, 2021 | Lifestyle, Strategies

It’s no secret that, in many areas, it’s harder than ever to gain access to private hunting property. While there are reasons such as urban sprawl and exorbitant pricing, there is also a lot of competition. In response to the latter, seeking free permissions is alive and well.

Regardless of price point, you hear and read a lot about ways to go about securing private deer hunting spaces these days. Most of them have much to do with working hard, putting your best foot forward, and using the resources around you like asking friends and family- even friends and family of friends and family. It can be a tenuous exercise.

Once you have a section or two secured, it can be easy to forget the little things needed to maximize and even keep your hallowed whitetail dirt. The same good manners and common sense that helped get access in the first place can become an afterthought.

This is not a time to rest on your laurels. Getting lax can be the kiss of death for private land deer hunters.

To that end, there are things you need to tend to in the offseason. I’m not talking about the typical offseason chores and activities deer hunters do (or intend to do) like shed hunting, summer scouting, food plot work, and even habitat improvements. Instead, it has more to do with communication and relationships. Ultimately, it’s about maintaining hunting access and success by displaying common courtesy around the property you’ve been given the keys to. The simple things matter. Here are a few of them.

Landowner Check-In

Whether you pay to hunt or not, don’t forget to touch base with the guy or gal that hosts you in the first place. Drop by for a visit, even gift them with a bottle of wine or other libation; or, it can be as simple as picking up the phone to say hello. If you haven’t already done so, tell them about the deer you’ve seen and shot. They may not own the deer, but they’ve made it possible for you to hunt them.

For one, it’s just a nice thing to do. It also reinforces your appreciation for the opportunity. Remember that he or she can always decide to revoke your privileges or take on different hunters at any time. Minimize the chances of such events with kindness and communication. At the very least, it might prevent you from losing your hunting parcel at the eleventh hour when it’s too late to find another. It helps to be a known quantity, instead of a faceless hunting guest. Even if you don’t know the owner, get their contact information and reach out.

Offer Your Services

Show your appreciation by offering to help with your hunting host’s chores.

When it comes to your hunting lease, club, or in-kind host, take it a step further by serving their needs. Offer to help with farm or ranch work, such as fence repair or livestock feeding. For that matter, offer to mow or weed the garden. This is particularly appropriate for the landlords that let you hunt for free. Like anybody else, landowners have an unmanageable to-do list and will appreciate the thoughtfulness. Even if they don’t need anything, ask again at a later date. It shows you’re truly interested in helping. Good faith.

Make Known Your Plans

The next time you get the hankering to hit your private hunting grounds during the offseason, notify your host. Even when you’ve agreed on year-round access, pick up the phone and tell them when you’d like to come out. You never know, it might not be the best time for them. Explain what your plans are too. Hanging stands in a new area or checking trail cameras may seem benign to you but communicating when and how you plan to use another’s property is sensible - and it will be appreciated.

Communicate with Your Hunting Partners

Okay, this one has nothing to do with your host but it does have something to with communication as it relates to your private hunting digs. Do you share your private grounds with one or more hunters? If so, don’t wait until mere weeks before the season to check in with them. It will go a long way towards avoiding miscommunication once the season starts. Now is the time to establish or reiterate rules and expectations.

You don’t want any last-minute surprises like finding out a fellow lease member has set a stand 50-yards from an area you had plans for. This one goes for long-time friends, as well as milder acquaintances. If you share the hunting dirt, take time to communicate.

Meet a Neighbor (or Two)

Meeting and communication between hunting neighbors can go a long way toward hunting enjoyment and success.

In terms of hunting relationships, there is none bigger than your hunting neighbors - even when you don’t know them. Free-range hunters share deer populations with others. Still, many private ground hunters don’t know the folks across the fence from Adam. As lease members or in-kind guests that are present almost exclusively during hunting season, it can be hard. Regardless, there is usually built-in contention, often in the absence of facts. "I think they are hunting my fence line". "They’re shooting any buck that walks". "They’re so loud". The list goes on.

Try to get to know them.

The offseason is a great time to do it if you can. As long as you are congenial, there is much to gain and nothing to lose.

The key is to stay visible during your summer scouting or work weekends. For example, flag them down from the fence line for a visit. Go over and knock on the door to introduce yourself. Get information about adjacent hunters from your landowner or tax records and contact them.

Meeting your neighbors can be the basis for establishing or continuing a successful relationship, even if you don’t share the same hunting philosophies. If you do have the same goals, the sky is the limit for improving your deer hunting prospects. If nothing else, having "Joe to the west’s" contact information will come in handy if you need future permission to track a dead or wounded deer across property lines.

Final thoughts

You’ve already turned a potential no into a yes by securing private hunting land. That’s no small deal and a real gift. Take the time to enhance your hunting situation in the offseason by tending to the relationships associated with the property. Most of all, do it with simple communication - well-placed gestures and actions. It will go a long way toward making good memories in the deer woods for years to come.

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Jerald Kopp

From drop tines to blood trails, sight pins to cross hairs. We not only highlight hunting strategies, but also the lighter side of the outdoor lifestyle – the nuances that make it fun, memorable and part of our DNA.

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