The Secrets to Gaining Private Land Hunting Access
While many whitetailers are content to hunt public ground, television host and outdoor personality Melissa Bachman will try hard to gain access to private land when traveling to hunt. She has a few tricks up her sleeve that anyone can employ – should they glass a prime alfalfa field in a creek-bottom or spy a distant patch of hardwoods that should be teeming with deer.
“The first thing I look for is concentrations of deer before I ever ask for permission. Many times that consists of a spot that doesn’t or can’t be hunted, like state or federal parks. I want to find some kind of refuge of some sort, and then I’ll consult my plat book. At that point it’s a matter of digging a little deeper to find neighboring landowners and then knocking on their doors.”
Hunters familiar with this tactic in the Midwest and the East might be in for a shock should they travel west because of the prevalence of absentee landowners and those that own huge tracts of land.
Don’t be discouraged if you have to sleuth a bit more to figure out just where the landowner resides, because the extra work might discourage others and lead to a quality hunting opportunity.
“Another trick I use to find hunting spots, whether they border a refuge or not, is to simply network. If I’ve identified an area I want to hunt, I typically show up a few days early and will pay special attention to cafe or gas station conversations. My father has the gift of gab, and I learned from him that it never hurts to strike up a conversation. Even if the stranger you start to talk to doesn’t own an acre, they may know a rancher willing to let you hunt. The key is to come off as an average person, not some trophy-obsessed hunter.
“Once I get lucky and find a landowner willing to chat, I always let them know that I won’t drive on their properties, even with a four-wheeler. I want to be as low impact as possible and let them know that I know they are doing me a huge favor.”
No matter what type of private ground you’re allowed on, if it’s owned by someone else, it is a good idea to show gratification. It’s a simple act that is always appreciated and may just solidify a relationship with a landowner for years.
Coming Next Week: Greg Miller tells us Attitude is Everything.