A few weeks ago, my column touched on asking permission to fish or hunt private lands. I was surprised by the number of responses I received. A few people expressed their own surprise at the number of successes Iíve had. The majority of the messages, however, all asked the same thing, ďHow do you actually go about asking for permission to access private land?Ē
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the first step is to actually ask. Remember, if you ask, the answer might be no. If you donít ask, then itís definitely no.
While itís true that Iíve successfully gained access to well more than 100 different pieces of private land, Iíve also been denied access to four times that many. Donít be afraid to hear the word no. After all, landowners are under no obligation to let us use their property. In many cases, theyíre just looking for a reason not to. For that same reason, I always try to ask for permission in person rather than over the phone.
There are two reasons for my doing it that way. The first is that itís a lot harder for someone to hang up on you while youíre standing on their porch. The second is that it gives the landowner a chance to get a look at the person whoís doing the asking.
Let the landowner judge in person whether you appear responsible enough to be let onto his or her property. This means youíll want to clean up a bit, and perhaps leave your teenage nephew with the purple Mohawk and the piercings in the truck. Farmerís tend to be a bit wary of folks like that toting shotguns while wandering near their prized beef cows.
Youíll also want to avoid arriving too early or too late in the day as well as during meal times. Interrupting a family dinner, or worse, waking them up in the morning is a sure way to be denied access to their property.
When the landowner answers the door, make sure you introduce yourself, clearly state your intentions, and explain why you have the experience to be trusted on their property. Once youíve been given an answer, say thank you and be on your way. Whether the answer is a yes or a no, always be polite and mind your manners. Just because you were told no this time, does not mean that will always be the case.
Stay and argue with the landowner, however, and you will certainly not be welcomed back. If you were told yes, then what are you waiting for? Youíre wasting valuable hunting and fishing time. Just remember to leave their land exactly as you found it.
Doug Berdan is a columnist and outdoor humorist who also writes under the pseudonym Remington J. Crockett.