I have been very lucky to have punched my archery tag in Ohio the last two years on opening day. This has been a blessing and a curse. Last year I sat on the couch and twittled my thumbs and waited for my buddies to ask me to film. I read post after post on social media of people hunting the rut and watching bucks chase and slobber over does. I was miserable, I had a good buck on the wall and in the freezer but I wanted to have the excitement of hunting the rut.
This year after I killed my buck I decided that I was not going to miss out on another rut. I decided I was going to bite the bullet, pay the money, and hunt Kentucky during the rut. But a problem arose, I had no property to hang my stands. I have not hunted another state since before I could drive.
So I knew I had two options. I asked every person I had ever met if they could give me any leads on property that was not already leased out or accounted for by another hunter. I sent text after text and reached out to people on social media, to no end. I finally decided that I would just go and try to find the places I had hunted with my uncle as a youth.
It had been over a decade since I had been in this part of the country and none of the land owners remembered me but, most remembered my uncle. Out of a dozen places I stopped to ask, three land owners gave me permission and I now had permission to hunt a little over 500 acres of prime whitetail real estate and the only thing I was out was the gas money.
Ok, so here is the meat and taters of how I went about receiving this permission…..
Where to ask for permission?
ANYWHERE!!!! Luckily in eastern Kentucky if you see a piece of property that looks like a good piece of hunting land you can stop at any house in sight and get a friendly face that will most likely know who owns that property and how to find them. Ask anyone and everyone for permission to hunt their land. Do not be afraid to ask, my best piece of advice I can give you is that the absolute worst thing a land owner can do is tell you no.
Treat your encounter with the land owner as a job interview.
If you show up to a job interview in your Night clothes with unkempt hair and dirt on your face, chances are you will not get the job. Same is true for land owners and their land, if they feel as if you don’t respect yourself, why would you respect their property? Speak to them kindly and with a smile and let them know they can trust you.
Their land, their rules!
Do not expect a landowner to bend their way of life to you and your hunting. Let them know upfront that you will make it as easy for them as you can and you will be no trouble to them. Make it clear up front that you know it is their land and you will follow all rules they put in place.
Offer to help!
Most land owners in the Midwest who have enough property to whitetail hunt also have chores to go with that property. Offer up front to help them with whatever chores on the property you can, whether it be clearing trails, fixing fence or feeding livestock. (Golden rule of hunting private property, leave the land than you found it.) Most times offering to help will help the landowner understand how much you want to hunt and sway them in your favor.
I am not promising that this will guarantee you hunting property but doing these things have helped me this year. And the ones that let you and you follow up with these things will help you build a lasting relationships with land owners that will let you hunt their land for years to come.