Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Asking Permission to Hunt Private Land

Thoughts on Asking Permission to Hunt Private Land

First let me say welcome! It was thrilling to visit the stats page for this blog and find readers in Germany and Russia. You live in stunningly beautiful countries, with wonderful and open land, and amazing hunting traditions that go back millenia. It is an honor that with such rich hunting legacies and traditions of your own, you would take the time to read an American's thoughts on the subject. On my mother's side, my grandma was an immigrant from Italy, and my grandpa was born here to Italian immigrants. Hunting was a way of life they brought from "the old country." Thus, even though Ishi and the native Americans were hunting here with the bow from the very beginning, and I consider myself as hunting within that tradition, the reality is that we European Americans will always be usurpers of that tradition to a degree. I do not feel that is case with you, blessed to live on land your forefathers and their forefathers have handed down to you.  I am humbled and grateful you would visit. Thank you for reading, and I can only hope for the privilege of hunting with you in your beautiful countries some day.

That's my grandpa up at top of this entry back in the 50s. I have that recurve in the basement still even though as kids we totally ruined it. I just can't bring myself to get rid of it. When my country had more civic life, more real connections between people, more social capital, large get together's at my grandpa's house were regular occurrences. By the time I was born, that had already begun to cease.

Where my great-uncles and grandpa are standing, there is a house today. When this photo was taken, behind my grandparents place there were about 5 or 6 acres of woods owned by a neighbor. No one complained as we kids played and "hunted" back there. There were no concerns about liability, no "keep out" signs posted. I am pretty sure grandpa hunted back there. He certainly hunted all over town, where wide open space was readily available.

That is no longer the case today where I live, just one town over from where my grandparents lived, and down the street from where my grandmother went to school. It is amazing to look back on the fact that as a child I lived in England, out in California, and have been virtually around the world, and yet as an adult I settled right back where I came from, and took up the same sort of life my grandfather had. He had three children, I have three children. He supported his wife and children and grandma stayed home with the kids. That is my lifestyle. It is what I am desperately trying to do for my own children: to live a traditional life with traditional values so that my children can experience a stability, sanity, and connectedness that I never had.

As much as I look to the past though for a more authentic, more real, and better way of life, times change and to an extent we must change with them (not our values of course!) If you are going to hunt suburbia in the US today, here is a fact: unless you own 6 acres or more with a water source on it or near by with plenty of cover there is no way to be successful on just your own land... assuming you own any at all. Lots of guys, especially in this economy, are not homeowners, and even if they are, their chances of seeing a deer on their own land on a regular basis are not very good. Public lands are notoriously difficult, especially for bow hunting. The only real solution is to be able to hunt private land.

But getting permission to hunt private land can be difficult; and it is especially hard if you are shy, want to avoid conflict, and don't like potentially difficult conversations. I hate these sorts of conversations, and thus I tend to hunt my friend's land, as opposed to asking strangers' permission. I consider this one of my weaknesses, and thus it is something I am working on rectifying. Some of these strategies have been gleaned from other places on the internet and hunting videos, and this list is by no means comprehensive. I hope readers will add suggestions in the comments section or send me a message. You don't necessarily have to be a hunter by the way to add suggestions about how to be brave and ask someone's permission. How do you get up the courage to start conversations with people? What strategies do you employ?

When it comes to asking permission to hunt, here are mine:

1) Be professional. 

You are asking a favor, and the property owner will start out thinking that there is no reason for them to say yes. To increase the chances of success you must have a solid presentation; the fact is the homeowner can and will benefit from your presence hunting his land and it is your job to let them know that. Does the landowner have a deer problem? Ask. "Pardon me, I notice you have a beautiful garden, and I am wondering if you have a deer problem?" Have a business card printed with your contact information for the homeowner to have. "Your Name: Deer Management Specialist." Inform the homeowner that there is absolutely no charge for your service, that you keep the meat from the deer you kill, and that is your payment, and that for every deer you take on his property, there will be some sausage or ground venison gifted to him (or her). This approach has gotten me a permission already. (I would only hand them the business card if you get the feeling that they are receptive though. Contact information could just be your email and your cell number)

Talk about safety in your presentation. Explain that you are using a bow and arrow, NOT a gun, and that there is no threat to life, limb, or neighbor. Explain that you will hunt from an elevated position, and if you miss, the arrow will simply go into the ground around the deer, and thus there are no acreage requirements for hunting on the land (this is the case in my state, check your local laws. This is good public policy, so if your state is stupidly restrictive, write a letter to your representative).

2) Be civil and know when to just walk away.

Don't get dragged into a debate. If the homeowner just isn't interested, or doesn't want to believe you about the law (this happened to me once... the guy just muttered: "that isn't allowed. No. That isn't allowed.") don't force the issue. Smile and move one.

3) Know the law

My state indemnifies from all liability homeowners who allow the use of their land for recreational purpose (hunting) from ALL liability. The permission slip is easy to fill out, and includes the hunter's conservation ID number and the slips are good for one year. Explain the law and know the statute.

4) You are selling something. Don't run from that.

You are not trying to take advantage of the property owner. The fact is deer management is incredibly important for the health of our herd. Management on your homeowners property will protect his vegetables (if he plants them) and his family from ticks and lime disease (which the deer carry around). At no cost to the homeowner, you are managing deer for him, and helping him keep his property up. You are also giving him some free meat (not a ton... but free meat nonetheless). That is a win win proposition. You are selling something, but something that costs the property owner nothing, and will give information and service that will be of benefit to him.

5) Be prepared.

Scared to start a conversation? Practice on your friends first. Once you've a got a permission or two under your belt, start to spread out. Take what you learned from your conversation with your friends, and pitch it to strangers.

6) Assess the conversation afterwards and ask yourself what could have gone better.

After having gone through the conversation ask yourself what you learned from the process. What could have gone better? What went well? Do you need to tweak your presentation at all for the next homeowner.

7) Commit to it. Do it. 

One of my role-models says this frequently, in what are often nearly life or death situations. To not decide is to make a decision. Either do this, or only have very few spots to hunt for an entire season. You need to just get up the courage and take action.

I hope you find these 7 steps to getting permission helpful, but I am not writing this blog to only help others. I am hoping readers can help me! Do you have ideas for how to get permission? What has worked for you?

Thanks again for reading!
The Suburban Hunter

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright Registered & Protected