You don’t need research to tell you that it’s becoming increasingly harder to get on private land for hunting. Door-knocking experience alone tells the true story. Unfortunately most of your hunting occurs on private property.
According to the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 79 percent of all hunting days took place on private land. This clearly shows you why gaining access continues to be important to your hunting efforts and the continuation of the hunting heritage. Think outside the box as you begin your attempt to secure hunting property.
Everyone likes a deal whether it be winning the bid at an auction or trading others for an on-par swap. More than likely you have a skill or schooling to fund your existence. Consider using that occupational expertise as a trade for hunting access. Farmers, ranchers and recreational landowners all use professional services. From auto repairs to legal counsel, there are many vocations you can trade for hunting access. Compare what a guided hunt or hunting lease might cost you and then do the math on what seems like a fair exchange before you offer.
As you review properties for hunting possibilities, survey for additional sweat-equity chores you could perform in exchange for hunting access. Fence repair, weed control, outbuilding upkeep, junk removal and other dirty jobs may be your gate-opening break.
Some of my past friends have helped out at harvest time, performed snow removal, babysat cattle and even undertook predator control to boost wildlife numbers. Think of the jobs you routinely dodge and seek them out as you attempt to gain hunting access.
SETTLING FOR SECONDS
You certainly want to have a spot set aside for the hunt opener, but in this day and age you could be turned down. Instead of hanging up your hunting gear inquire about late-season hunting opportunities. Family and friends often get first rights to hunting properties, but after the opener a landowner may grant access, especially in the closing days of the season.
As you parley late-season access outline your intentions to help reduce antlerless populations on a property by taking additional does and fawns. Landowners receive plenty of offers to have bucks removed from a property, but many experience overpopulations and your sincere intention to remove the main problem could go a long way into an access invitation.
PAY TO PLAY, BUT ECONOMICALLY
Unfortunately it’s becoming increasingly more common for hunting to be a pay to play activity, particularly when discussing land access. If your other efforts fail it may be time to form a small consortium of hunting pals and consider leasing land.
The price of a hunting lease varies depending on the quality of the hunting, targeted species, the size of the property and if it is in a prime location. States like Texas, Illinois and New Mexico all have seen increases in the amount of private land under hunt lease agreements. You could get by for as low as $5 an acre or the price could soar to more than $50 per acre. Regardless of the final price tag, it may be time to stash some cash and partner with friends to secure your own piece of hunting heaven. Authenticate it with proper paperwork.
There’s no debate amongst the hunting community about the difficulty of finding properties to hunt. Ease the debate tensions by offering property owners a return for the hunting favor.