Maintaining Landowner Relationships
Over the last several years I have gained, and lost, some great hunting ground. Property ownership changes for many reasons that are out of the hunter’s control. Maintaining landowner relationships has become a very important part of hunting, not only for me, but for many hunters across our great country. I very much appreciate people allowing me to hunt, so I do everything I can to keep them happy. Sometimes a simple gesture can make a big difference. Here are some of the things I do throughout the year to maintain landowner relationships.
A few days ago, I was franticly pulling my camo on at the back of my truck, preparing for an evening hunt. I had worked a full day, picked up my kids, and dumped them off at my house. Needless to say, I didn’t have time to dilly-dally. As I grabbed my bow, I noticed a pick up stopped up in the road, about a hundred yards from me. It was the land owner’s grandfather, out checking the farm. As much as I wanted to take off hiking to my stand, I decided to walk up to the road and let the man know who I was, and what I was doing. Even though I lost a few minutes in the stand, the visit was well worth it. I had a pleasant, quick visit with a super nice guy, I found out where some deer were coming out, and I got invited to hunt another year. Walking the other way could have ruined the landowner relationships I have.
Make Their Life Easier
Most of my hunting ground is used for agricultural purposes. It is important for farmers to work the land as efficiently as possible. I have spent a lot of hours doing odd jobs to help maintain friendships with land owners. Picking up sticks and rocks, mending fence, or clearing brush will go a long way when it comes to keeping a hunting spot. Several times I have taken a break between the morning and evening hunt to watch a grain auger. Giving a farmer a ride from one field to another will help out more than you think.
Stay Out of the Way
I’ve witnessed friends and other respected hunters lose great spots over the naive mistake of parking in the wrong place. A farming operation is no different than any other business when it comes to time and productivity. Blocking a gate with a vehicle or parking an ATV in the way of day to day activities costs the farmer time and money. Remember, you don’t have to be there, but the cattle do have to be fed. It’s always a good idea to let the landowner or renter know when you are planning to be there. Ask them if there are any spots that they prefer you stay away from, where the livestock are running, or if there is anything else you need to pay special attention.
Leave the place in as Good or Better Shape Than You Found It
Rutting up a gate way or a field is a sure way to loose hunting rights. Farmers and landowners spend a lot of time and money keeping their places in top shape. Running over crops or spooking cattle can equal immediate removal from the property. This could mean a lot of extra hiking on your part. It will not go unnoticed if you walk the extra mile and come dragging the big one out in the pouring rain! Oh, and by the way, make sure you latch all gates exactly the same as you find them.
Don’t Over Stay Your Welcome
“Fish and visitors stink in three days.” I’m not saying that you should limit yourself to three day hunts. Just be mindful that most likely you will be hunting in an area where they live and work and possibly impacting there daily routine. Don’t let your presence become an annoyance over time. Remember, it is a privilege, not a right for you to hunt someone’s land.
Show Your Appreciation
Landowners want honest, trustworthy hunters to help balance the wildlife on their ground. When the hunt is over, whether you are traveling or not, make an effort to contact the landowner in person to express your appreciation for letting you hunt. They are your friends. Don’t base the relationship strictly on hunting. Keep contact throughout the year and volunteer any skills that you have to help them out.
Do you have any strategies for landowner relationships that may be beneficial to others? Please share them with us in the comments.
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