Some ways to gain hunting access behind those posted signs
One spring turkey season ends and another will begin soon enough. Deer. Duck. Fall turkeys. You name it.
In these COVID-19 days of "social distancing," you might need to make some accommodations to the following advice on getting permission to hunt private property. Then again, ever hopeful, an e-mail or simple phone call incorporating some of these tips can work.
One common complaint by those who hunt less or even quit is the lack of hunting access. Truth is, you might have to work for it these days. Stay humble, put in the effort and you might find new turkey hunting ground where you can also hunt deer, ducks, small game (and more).
1. Who Owns It?
At times, you also need to double-check the full ownership picture as possible hunting properties are concerned, no matter what real sources might say. Study courthouse records. What is the history of the place? Who really owns the land? Who calls the shots? Is ownership fragmented? In transition? Who neighbors the property? Who holds access to it? Is the place posted? If so, maybe you can score the only permission available to hunters there.
2. Bring Your Dog
Got a well-behaved hunting dog? Take your canine buddy along when asking permission. Sometimes, this alone can prove to be an icebreaker. Unless the person doesn't like dogs, or is allergic to them. But hey, it's worth a try.
3. Road Tripping
Are you a road-tripping sort of hunter? Sometimes a key long-distance contact can mention your name to a landowner they know. You can follow up by phone or e-mail and sort out the details. Arrive there cold, with out-of-state license plates during a road trip, and you might nullify any hope at hunter access. Imagine what it might be like for that property holder.
4. Trust Factor
Gain their trust. Maintain the connection. Season to season, call the landholder up, and/or drop by to say hello. Offer to help with farm chores. After hunts, offer them some venison or other wild game.
Some of the best hunters I know have key contacts like this, and they get on private land, which often holds some of the best opportunities around for unpressured turkey hunting.
5. Direct Access
In the good old days, you scored hunter access permission from landowners directly, right on their property. Off-site places and situations such as roadside diners, town meeting places, grocery stores, yard sales, and even Friday night at the local hangout, also provided the landowner connection you need. (At least that's the way it's always worked ...)
Just yesterday though, in response to the current coronavirus pandemic, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife advised the following in a news release regarding the upcoming spring turkey season: "At this time we encourage you to contact landowners via a phone call and avoid meeting them at their house."
Either way you choose to do it, now and in the future, consider this research toward your goal of getting hunter access.
6. Who Are You?
Explain who you are, and what you’ll be doing. Once access is gained, develop and maintain a relationship. Describe what vehicle you’ll be driving when you hunt. Find where your rig should be parked. Make the person giving you permission, or helping you gain it, as comfortable as possible.
7. Point Man
Like your canine buddy, an intermediary can help.
This go-between person can be your good-will ambassador, especially if they’re of respectable standing in the community, and might initially contact the landowner for you.
Sometimes this contact might even accompany you to the property owner’s location for a direct introduction, replete with small talk and good wishes to seal the deal.