Hunters need to learn the art of getting permission

The onset of August always seems to kick me into high gear. Perhaps it's the teacher in me, knowing full well that school will soon be back in session; but as an outdoorsman, this month also signals the last call whistle for me to take care of everything that needs to get done before fall hunting seasons roll around.

I begin to hit the bow range a little harder. My evening drives for scoping out the neighboring alfalfa and soybean fields become a little more frequent. Checking and readjusting game cameras is suddenly a more critical task than it has been in recent weeks. My mindset intensifies, knowing the seasons are looming near.

That's why August is also the month most likely to find me knocking on farmhouse doors in an attempt to secure permission of land access for pursuing my beloved outdoor interests.

I'll be the first to admit it — asking permission to hunt can be somewhat uncomfortable, intimidating and nerve-wracking, especially if the person from whom you seek this permission is a total stranger.

But if you can get past that initial adolescent-esque fear of rejection, it will soon become clear that there’s really no harm in asking, because in reality, you've got nothing to lose.

Gaining the green light to that prime dove, deer or goose hotspot is an art form, and though every landowner is different, there are some things you can do to increase your odds of hearing a "yes" instead of "no" after popping the big question.

First, place yourself in the landowner's position. If you paid the taxes on the property, what type of person would you feel comfortable allowing on your land? Think long and hard about this, and then become that type of person.

Arrive in casual, well-put-together attire. Don't look like a slouch and don't show up in full camo. Park somewhere that is out of the way of any farm equipment that may be in use.  Approach the landowner with a polite, courteous smile and introduce yourself. Share where you are from, what you do for a living, and express your appreciation for his or her time; then ask for permission to hunt.

If you have kids, a wife, or a cute, lovable hunting dog, bring one or all of them along to show you are a reasonable human being that others can tolerate. Tell the landowner that you would respect any stipulations he may have about when to hunt, where to park or any zones that are off-limits.

If he says no, thank him for his time and tell him you completely understand and respect his decision. Don't be discouraged- having his name on the deed gives him that right, so wish him a good day and move on with a cheerful smile. It is likely the landowner will appreciate you having the decency to ask in person and may consider a change of heart if you try again next year.

If he says yes, show your appreciation with enthusiasm. Be sure to sort out any special preferences he may have, tell him the make and model of your vehicle, and let him know when you plan to be there. Seal the deal with a handshake and a great big THANK YOU.

After the hunt, it is a nice gesture to follow up with a thank you note, an offer to share any game you harvest, or even express your willingness to lend a hand with a few farm chores. This can go a long way in developing a long-lasting relationship with the owner of the property on which you just scored your bag limit.

Gaining permission may ultimately fall at the discretion of the landowner, but it doesn't hurt to do everything in your power to sway that decision in your favor. When all else fails, be pleasant and don't give up. Sooner or later, things will work out and you'll be given the go-ahead to a privately owned piece of real estate.

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