You finally got permission to hunt that prime piece of hunting land, now you need to be a good caretaker.
For a lot of hunters, the emphasis is usually on finding a good piece of hunting land to set up on. Short of leasing a property or buying it on your own, you're going to need to face it: You need to get in touch with a landowner that is receptive to your hunting needs, and hope things work out.
This can be a daunting task, but it does happen. If you stay calm, polite, and persistent, odds are you'll find some luck eventually.
A lot's been written about this process, but a big part of what comes next has been glossed over. How can you keep them welcoming you back? What can an outdoorsman do to make sure that this hard-earned agreement will result in many years of hunting pleasure?
Wild Game Meal
Landowners aren't always looking for some deer or turkey meat, but it sure never hurts to offer. Dropping by after a successful hunt with raw meat in a plastic bag might not be all that pleasant, but a prepared meal, pre-cooked and packaged in a reheat-ready dish, is a really nice gesture.
This is an even simpler way to share wild game goodies. Jerky can be made in a dehydrator, smoker, or in the oven on low heat. Spice it up with your favorite recipe, or ask what flavors they enjoy and try to match their preferences.
Be ready to get some work done by cutting, splitting, and stacking some firewood. You've got a good perspective on things and can tell when trees need to come down. Not everyone has a fireplace or a wood stove, but those who own decent hunting land that live on it usually have alternate heat sources, and can almost always use more firewood.
Thank You Card
Include a gift card to a nearby gas station or grocery store, because that's a better way to say thanks. It may seem like a bribe, but you could even offer cash for permission to use their hunting land. You'd likely be spending a lot more if you were paying a mortgage or leasing the land.
This can be a win-win situation since a farmer needs their livestock to be safe and their land to stay productive. Taking out some hole-digging fur bearers or predators could be great way to make them happy. Just make sure you're still following the same guidelines you were given for the initial permission. Which leads to the final suggestion...
Don't Even Dream of Breaking the Rules
It's a simplistic piece of advice, but if you don't follow the landowner's rules to a tee, you're doing it wrong.
Using a four-wheeler or other vehicle when you aren't supposed to, pounding nails into trees, leaving gates open, hunting too close to the homestead, or inviting others when it was only you that has permission to hunt are good ways to screw it up. Ask about rules, and strictly follow them, no questions asked.
Please check out my book "The Hunter's Way" from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my webpage, or on Facebook and YouTube. Go to Rack Hub and use the coupon code Craiger for a new way to display those antler sheds!
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