Are you on the hunt for more turkey hunting permission? One of the biggest hinderances to turkey hunting success is access. Being able to find a place to go is a huge hurdle that’s hard for many hunters to overcome, especially in areas where public land is limited. Fortunately, there are things you can do about it.
Good turkey hunters are also constantly looking for new hunting ground. They aren’t making more land, and it’s already hard to come by. Plus, you never know when you might lose access to an existing hunting property. Several factors can pull the rug out from under you. They include increasing hunter numbers (in some areas), urban sprawl, habitat destruction, land sales, leasing opportunities, and myriad other things.
Fortunately, while it’s very hard to gain permission for deer hunting, it doesn’t seem to be quite as hard for turkey hunters. This is because fewer hunters pursue turkeys, and landowners can’t make as much off turkey leases. Still, you might need to heed the following advice to secure that access you so desperately want.
1. Begin By Identifying Potential Turkey Hunting Hotspots
Just as with deer hunters, the best turkey hunters do things differently. For starters, they hunt where turkeys live. They know what to look for from e-scouting and in-person perspectives. It begins by studying the many helpful map layers in HuntStand Pro. There are some turkey-friendly terrain features to remember. They include: rivers, creeks, bluffs, bottoms, open fields, wheat fields and cattle operations. In addition, look for mature timber (for roosting), edge habitat (for nesting cover), and more. With the 3D Map feature (shown above) you can even “walk” through a property and note the elevation changes and specific terrain features. And you can do it from the comfort of your home. It’s incredible.
Great turkey hunters see and recognize great opportunities when they see these features. They can pinpoint a good property via an app or map with a high degree of success. In time, whatever your experience, you will be able to do this as well. HuntStand can help shorten the learning curve substantially. Then, once you’ve selected some target properties, it’s time to study landowner data.
2. The Correct Contact Info & More
No need to guess who owns the land. Fortunately for HuntStand Pro users, in mere seconds, they can look at the Property Info feature and get the correct landowner contact info, including name(s) and mailing address. In addition, you’ll learn total acreage and perimeter. This makes knowing what door to knock on much easier.
HuntStand also helps show potential access to private properties that are adjacent to public properties. Gaining access to such properties increases the land you can hunt, and can even make properties more huntable due to the ability to approach from a different direction.
In addition, HuntStand also helps identify good entry and exit routes. While these might seem like deer hunting terms, they apply to turkeys, too. You can’t hunt turkeys that you spook while walking into an area.
Furthermore, certain HuntStand layers, such as the 3D, topo, and hybrid options, can help hunters determine which areas of a property might be best. This is important if you’re tasked with sharing permission, which might entail dividing up property access with other hunters.
3. Spend Time Networking
Networking is important. Spend time talking to locals. Hang out where farmers and landowners frequent. Such places include cafés, diners, feed stores, and other popular hangouts. You’ll get to know the right people and will even develop relationships. That said, this can take months and years—not days.
4. Know Who You’re Asking
Once you identify people you’d like to ask for permission, it’s important to know who they are prior to asking them. It’s much more presentable and respectable if you call them by name upon arrival. Start the conversation off and ease into the ask. Don’t charge right into it. Also, if you don’t already know them, it’s important you get the inside scoop about their history and personality. This will help you direct the conversation.
5. Start Early
Don’t wait until the last minute to start asking permission. You’ll likely be behind others if you do. Once landowners offer access to one or two people, they’re less likely to continue giving it. This is especially true for smaller properties.
6. Draft A Script
While it’s important to not be robotic, it is good to have an outline of what you’d like to say. This is even truer for those who get nervous when talking to others. Memorizing a rough script to go by can keep you on track, or even get you back on track if you lose control of the conversation.
7. Adapt Throughout The Conversation
While it’s good to have a script, you must be able to adapt throughout the conversation. Sometimes, these take unexpected turns (for better or worse). You need to be ready to call an audible and respond appropriately no matter the direction it goes.
8. Make The Right Impression
It’s extremely important to make the right impression. Being polite and respectful is incredibly vital. Failing to do so will likely lead to a failed ask and no hunting permission. For those who understand good communication, it’s also important to “mirror” your tone, words, and body language to the individual you’re talking to. Unless they are very up tight and negative, mirroring should help them be more comfortable around you.
9. Wear The Right Clothing
Those who are looking to gain permission should dress the part. I advise against wearing full camo. That can seem presumptuous, or suggestive that you’ve already gained permission. Instead, if possible, match your clothing to a similar style as the landowner’s. This too will help comfort them. Generally, this means casual clothing, so don’t dress up or down.
10. Mind Your Vehicle
While you shouldn’t worry about the make, model, and year of your vehicle, it’s certainly important to clean it up. Driving up to their house with mud and muck caked everywhere is a bad impression. It will make the landowner think you drive through ag fields and won’t be mindful of their property.
11. Bring A Youth Hunter With You
It’s a proven fact that hunters who plan to help youth hunters have higher odds of gaining permission than adults who are only there for themselves. So, if you guide others, bring a young hunter you plan to help. Or, if you’re helping a new adult hunter learn the ropes, bring them along and explain the situation. If you aren’t planning to guide anyone else, a well-behaved puppy or dog can help break the ice and put a landowner at ease, too.
12. Explain Your Role As A Hunter-Conservationist
Landowners who aren’t familiar with the true nature of good hunters may not realize how much we do for conservation and protecting wildlife. Explain to them your part in this role, and that their property could help benefit all wildlife.
13. Make The Ask More Personal
Closing the gap between each of you is critical. Most people are reserved. This is the time to break through barriers. Find a common ground to make the conversation more personal between you and the individual. This calms their nerves before popping the question.
14. Add Some Charm
As previously stated, know who you’re asking. Consider bringing them a gift. Flowers or chocolates work well for women. Food, such as baked goods, or jerky, work for men and women alike. Gift cards are great, too. If you know the landowner well, you can even bring something that’s even more personalized to them.
15. Offer To Cull Predator Populations
Some landowners have problems with coyotes, and they don’t like them. If this is the case, you might be able to offer predator removal for access to other species. Sometimes this is what’s needed to secure permission.
16. State The Obvious
One of the best reasons landowners should permit hunting access is because good hunters keep an eye on the land. They also clean up trash as they find it, keep an eye out on livestock, and do other things to help the landowner. Talk about this when asking for permission.
17. Offer Legal Protection
One of the numerous reasons landowners don’t grant hunting permission is a fear of accidents, injuries, and legal proceedings that follow. Today, hunters have an answer for that. Now, you can get affordable hunting land insurance that covers both you and the landowner at an affordable rate. This is open to hunters who own land, lease it, or hunt by permission.
“[This hunting land insurance] is for any hunting land,” said Lindsay Thomas, National Deer Association chief communications officer. “It doesn’t have to be a lease—it can be land you own or have permission to hunt. You can get a policy that covers you and the landowner. You’re just talking a few hundred dollars for a big piece of land.”
“Right now, it’s $52 in addition to your basic charge to cover the landowner,” said Linda Walls, NDA senior customer service representative. According to Walls, your policy can even have $1 million per occurrence of general liability coverage, a $2 million general aggregate (which is the one-year life of the policy), $100,000 fire legal liability coverage, member-to-member coverage, and guest liability coverage. Also according to Walls, the policy has no hidden exclusions for claims involving firearms, treestands, ATVs, limited watercraft, and other hunting-related things. In addition, there is no deductible on general liability. And the application is simple.
“If you’re knocking on someone’s door, and saying you’d love to have permission to hunt their land, they might say they’re worried about liability,” Thomas said. “You can say, well, I’m getting liability coverage that will cover myself and you as well. Show them the details and that it was designed for hunting. It’s a great selling point to a hesitant landowner.”
On top of the insurance offer, you can also sign a contract that includes a waiver ensuring you won’t hold the landowner liable if something happens to you while hunting the property.
18. Give A Good Reference
Think of this as applying for a job. When going for an interview, the employer always asks for references. “Applying” for a piece of hunting ground shouldn’t be any different. Make this reference someone they know (and like), or a previous landowner you hunted on.
19. Provide Your Information
Landowners need to be able to trust you, which includes knowing as much about you as possible. They also need to know how to reach you. The best way to do this is to give them your contact info. Provide this in a professional manner, such as a business card, for the best impression.
20. Depart on a Good Note
Sometimes you’ll receive hunting permission. Other times you won’t. It’s important to depart on a good note either way. Be gracious no matter the outcome. If you brought a gift, hand it to them anyway. Being able to hear “no,” while behaving gallantly, might lead to a “yes” in the future.
21. Write Some Letters
While asking for hunting permission in person tends to be better and more effective, it’s important to write letters, too. These can be used to ask for permission and can even save time and gas money. You can even reach out to more landowners by using this method. That said, keep in mind the above factors for letters, too.
Letters should also be used to thank landowners once access is secured. A kind, hand-written thank you note leaves a great impression, and will likely boost their view of you.
22. Give Back To The Landowner
Don’t be afraid to offer your services. Now is the time to get your hands dirty and work on projects they need help with. It’s the least you can do if you don’t want to write a lease check. Take time during the summer to help on the farm or around the property.
23. Share The Bounty
More and more people are being won over by the taste of wild game. The healthy, cholesterol-free meat is phenomenal. Offer the landowner half the meat harvested on their land. You both get something out of the deal.
24. Maintain Good Relationships
Those who hope to maintain the hunting permission they’ve secured will need to work to do so. Don’t just ask the landowner and then avoid them. Keep the line of communication open. Call them before going to their property. Talk to them about other things other than hunting. Be personable.
25. Maintain Good Relationships With Neighbors
It’s just as important to maintain good relationships with neighboring landowners and hunters. A dispute with neighbors can get you kicked off the property you have access to. So, refrain from trespassing, disrespecting neighbors and hugging property lines. In addition, avoid taking too many turkeys (even when tags permit it), and disregarding others who have permission to hunt the same property.
All things considered, it’s critical to be on top of your game when asking for turkey hunting permission. In the end, make sure you’re making it a symbiotic relationship between you and the landowner. While they’re granting you access, explain to them the ways you’ll make it worth their time, and the ways in which you can benefit them by being on the land. Smart turkey hunters call that a win-win.