I am cursed by not owning thousands of acres of hunting land. I am blessed with the ability to gain friends who do have thousands of acres of hunting land. The more people you befriend the more opportunities you will have to hunt. The two most valuable skills one must develop is how to SCOUT and how to gain landowner permission.
The greatest benefit we have in Canada is that most landowners (in fact most Canadians) are really nice. One does not have to worry about being shot when door knocking. But you will have to learn HOW to ask to gain hunting permission. I have made some amazing contacts and even developed some friendships in areas where I hunt.
In the county where my aunt lives I can get permission quite easily. People know me or even better know my family. I can use that to my advantage. I do hunt in other areas that people do not know me and when I make contact with landowners there it truly is a ‘cold-call’. That’s a salesmen term that means there is no referral from someone else and you will need to ask permission from someone you have never met before. This can be intimidating but those who master this skill will truly become a ‘rain-maker’ in the hunting party.
Almost 3 years ago Lyle scouted a group of snow geese on a lake during the spring. We had never hunted in this area before. We went to find out if anyone in the area had seen the geese feeding. There was a Hutterite colony near this lake so this was a good place to start (Hutterites are the largest landowners in Saskatchewan and Alberta). I have had people tell me that Hutterites are hard to deal with, I have found the opposite. We talked to the first young man we saw and asked who the ‘field boss’ was. It was this man’s father. He called his dad and we went to meet Mike. Mike, his brother, and a few of the older men of the colony were taking a break near the sheep barns. I jumped out of the truck and started talking to Mike. Lyle gets out and talked to a few of the other older gentlemen and handed out some of the snow goose jerky he had just made. Matt and Colton start talking it up with the younger guys. After we had talked with these guys for about 15 minutes, Matt proudly showed off his rotary machines that he had fabricated. After a great 30 minutes we had not only gained permission to hunt that day but we have developed a great relationship. Mike now calls me when he sees birds. Now that is a great deal!
ASK THE RIGHT PERSON
The goal is to get to the real decision maker. When I pull up to the farm yard I take a look at the shops/garages first. If I see someone I will ask if they know who owns the land where the birds are landing. Even if I already know ‘who’ owns it, I will still ask. When I knock on the house door and I get the lady of the house (or the farmer’s daughter..insert joke HERE) I will also ask them if they know who owns the field in question. I use this as an ice-breaker then I promptly introduce myself (with a last name of HUNTER I can usually get a conversation going). On smaller farms you can usually find the one that calls the shots fairly quickly. On larger operations you may have to talk to a few people before you locate the one who ultimately can give your an answer.
TAKE YOUR TIME
City people are always in a rush. During the harvest/planting season farm people are very busy. But the thing I appreciate most of rural Canada is people are more than willing to stop what they are doing and talk. If you truly want to make a friend spend some time and talk with the person. Ask them of the harvest, ask them if they have seen birds, ask them about how long they have been on the farm. I have talked 45 minutes with a talkative farmer before asking for permission to hunt. Depending on how far outta town you are, most landowners do not get many visitors. Do your best to get this person to like you and it will pay off. It’s always about the relationship
Once you get to know a few people in the area you can try the Name-Drop tool. It can be something like this.. Yesterday we hunted on The Jones family’s fields or The Smith family directed me to you. If you use this tactic make sure you don’t B.S. at all. People know their neighbours and you may already know where you have been hunting or talked to already. The only caution is make sure you name drop a family that’s respectable. Name dropping a jerk’s name may get you off to a poor start.
I make it a habit to NEVER door knock in camo gear. I wear street clothes under my camo gear all the time. . I want to look like a local or at least a regular dude. I don’t know about you but I do not wash my cammo much or if ever. It doesn’t look or smell good. When the farmer sees me pulling up with a truck and trailer, they usually know why I am visiting.
NEVER visit with blood on you. This may sound funny but dudes do this all the time. I realise farm people aren’t squeamish but why in the world would you look like a psycho killer? Remember that the lady of the farm may answer the door. You only get one chance at a first impression.
If you have a kid in your party bring them with you to door knock. Most people you will meet are family people and they will respect you for spending time with kids! This also works with any female hunters within the party. You wanna see peoples eyes light up, try this.
Always offer the farmer some goose/duck breasts. 95% of the people decline this in our area but you may be dealing with the 5%. I will run meat to these people at other times even if i am not hunting their fields. Remember relationship.
Call or visit the farmer after the hunt and thank them. I will tell them how many we shot. Most landowners wanna see those birds DEAD! This little trick will make you stand out above the other hunters. I like the phone call method since that gives me their number for future trips.
If you don’t get permission…thank the person for their time. Just because you didn’t get permission right then and there does not mean that you won’t in the future. Ask the landowner if he has seen birds in other areas, he/she may be a great lead in the right direction.
This is a snapshot of how I build up my landowner lists. In the rural areas word can get out fast about you. This can be in a positive way or a negative way…only you can dictate that.