Turkey season just ended and deer season doesn’t start for five months. That is the window of time you have to find your next great piece of hunting property. It may not happen the first time you ask, and you may have to earn it — but five months gives you plenty of time to do so.
Free hunting permission is nowhere near as easy to acquire as it once was. A lot of the biggest and best parcels are being leased these days. That doesn’t mean you still can’t find a great piece of property to hunt that produces quality deer and turkey every year. You just have to adjust your thinking.
First of all, there are many great public lands to hunt in Indiana. So if you want to skip the process of obtaining permission altogether, you can do that. You can use these next five months as your opportunity to locate and scout a few places to hunt this fall. You can spend a lot of time hiking these public lands right now to figure out where you’ll hang tree stands in a few months.
Most of Indiana is private land. You can get permission to hunt good spots even if you don’t have family or friends with land, but you’re going to have to work hard if you hope to gain and keep permission on someone else’s land.
Obtaining permission to deer hunt a quality piece of private property is no easy task. In fact, it can be downright painful. Rejection after rejection, with reasons as diverse as, “I don’t allow any hunting,” or “Sorry, but there are already others hunting here,” to perhaps the worst: “I just leased it to a couple of guys from the city.” Ouch.
A friend of mine has been hunting the same piece of private property since he was a kid. Every year, he cuts firewood for the landowner. He does it before the landowner needs it, and always cuts more than enough to last the entire winter. He drops by in the summer to ask if there are any additional projects he can help with and never oversteps his bounds during the hunting season. Because of the location, the landowner often gets asked if he’d be willing to lease his land. He says no, and continues to let my friend hunt for free.
Why? Because he earns it.
It takes time to establish a relationship like that, but you can talk about your desire to do so up front. When you are making your ask, be sure to acknowledge you are more than willing to help the landowner in some way to compensate for their generosity. Landowners appreciate the gesture. They may or may not take you up on the offer, but they appreciate it nonetheless. This is a great way to establish a long-lasting relationship with a landowner.
If you already have a good piece of private property to hunt, you’re lucky. A lot of people don’t. If you’re on the hunt for your next great place to hunt, here are a few tips on where to look:
First, start close to town. I know there is something magical about being way out in the country, but suburban areas are loaded with deer. A 20-acre parcel of forest behind a shopping center can be a killer spot. I’ve taken a lot of deer out of woodlots in the back of subdivisions. You don’t need to acquire permission on a 500-acre farm. Use aerial maps, like onX or HuntStand, to locate pinch points or funnels. Look along rivers and creeks, and don’t overlook small acreages bordering parks.
With a little effort you can obtain hunting permission on a piece of quality land without paying for it. A lot people procrastinate. Don’t be one of them. Worrying about where you’re going to hunt in October shouldn’t be something on your mind in early September. Start looking now.
Develop a list of properties you’re interested in hunting then devise a plan to obtain permission to hunt at least one, or hopefully two. If you’re lucky enough to obtain permission, plan to do more for the landowner than they ask. Drop them pie at Thanksgiving, or maybe a small Christmas gift with a card. Start providing a service.
Make yourself valuable, so you’re not expendable.
See you down the trail …
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at [email protected] For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast on www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or anywhere podcasts are streamed.