One of the essential things I do to ensure that I have a good next year is nurture the relationships I have with the land owners that grace me the opportunities to hunt their land.
Where I live competition for prime fields is steep. Chances are that others have asked for the same permission I am asking when I knock on a new door. It is also likely that someone else will be asking after I leave.
I want the land owner to think of me separate from all those other guys. I want him to know I value his willingness to share the land he controls.
Now you and I have both read or heard guys suggest that you offer to do some chores or offer them a part of your harvest. Although I am certain there are some who appreciate those efforts, I don’t know any of them. Unless you own and drive a combine most farmers I know aren’t interested in having a novice like me stopping by asking to do chores. Also, none that I know are excited by a gift of dead birds.
Let me share with you a couple of things I do that I sincerely believe has improved the farmer’s perception of me and his connection/loyalty to maintaining my status as a privileged trespasser.
First the obvious. Clean up after the hunt. No left over trash or shell casing in the field.
Second, let him know how you did. Stop by after the hunt and tell him thank you and share what the harvest consisted.
Third, and this is a big one for me, I prepare a meal and bring it by their home. Nothing fancy but something I think he and his family will enjoy. My favorite is duck-bacon-mushroom-pepper Shish Kabobs. They are tasty, easy to make, easy to transport and in my experienced appreciated by most.
Another favorite of mine is Goose Chili. Made in a crock pot and taken over a few minutes prior to the Minnesota Vikings Kickoff rarely gets me chased off.
Lastly, keep your land owners on your Christmas card list. Enclose a photo of you, your dog, and perhaps some birds so they associate the card with the “nice hunter who came by and asked to hunt our field”.
Simple gestures like these above done once or twice during the season will leave a positive impression with your host. That impression is one he may very well share with his neighbors and friends. Your signature gestures may even earn you even more preferential access then you realize.
In addition, your efforts to nurture these relationships will improve the impression land owners have of other hunters who seek permission. Not only lifting your image, helping all sportsmen.
All boats are lifted by a rising tide!
And until I see you in the field; be safe, be good, and be LUCKY!!
Dave Proffitt, Owner of FOWLEDupWATERFOWLERS.com