Two weeks ago was the last Saturday for youth waterfowl weekend, so the end of the hunting season is coming up quickly. I’ll chase quail another time or two, but that’s about it. I’ll take a weekend off to sort gear, and then on to the next hunting challenge: Finding good land for the fall. Here are five strategies that have worked for me, and this is the time to get started.
1) Contact local land conservancies
Land conservancies hold conservation easements on private lands, and have vast networks of local landowners who are working to keep their lands free of development. Three years ago I wrote a personal letter to the executive directors of nearly 15 local land conservancies to introduce myself and simply ask if they knew of farmers and landowners who might allow me hunting access. I went 1-for-15, but that one relationship has been a big winner.
2) Monitor Craigslist
I troll it every morning for hunting leases. Most of the land listed isn’t suitable, but I did land a small lease one year I found on Craigslist. Just be prepared to move quickly, because you’ll have to jump in front of everyone else who has the same bright idea.
3) Parade your children
Crass, yes, and very effective. “Just trying to find a place to take my kids,” has melted the heart of many a farmer. Load them in the car, and herd them up the driveway.
4) Be alert to ordinary conversation
I always have my antenna out for folks that might have access to land. Right now, I’m looking at a beaver swamp that’s next-door to the jeweler who is fixing a broken ring for Julie. During small talk at the jewelry shop the subject of deer and hunting came up and she said, “Well, you should hunt behind my place. Deer everywhere.” I always have a comeback for that. And it pays off.
5) Find a parking place near tough-to-access public land
Scout promising public lands and then drive around with an eye towards access. I’ve gotten lucky with landowners willing to let me park off their property and walk into public lands far from posted access.