Get permission to hunt private land

Traditionally, hunting on private land gives you better odds at bringing meat home than public land, but permission isn’t always easy to come by.

We’ve had a pretty wet growing season, and hunting season looks pretty good for elk, deer and antelope in most hunting areas. With the increased moisture this spring and into the summer, deer and antelope fawns and calf elk have had an easier time than last year’s crop. Populations of big game animals are up in most areas in the state.

But even with the good growth of big game food, a lot of deer, antelope and elk have learned to do their foraging on agricultural lands. That, in turn, means there are quite a few farmers and ranchers who would like to see the populations of wild critters get knocked down a peg or two.

If you can show these landowners that you’re responsible, ethical and safe, you might find a good place to hunt this season.

The first step to showing you’re someone the landowner can trust is to ask permission in person at a reasonable hour well before the season starts. Though that might seem obvious, you’d be amazed at how many people knock on doors or call on the phone at 4 a.m. on opening day. That won’t do much to impress a rancher.

If you dress in non-camo clothes without holes or beer slogans printed on them, drive to the ranch before the season starts, and meet the landowner in person, he’ll be more apt to allow you to hunt on his land than if you wait until the last minute and show up in your stained, ripped hunting duds.

Once you get permission, your audition isn’t over. Close the gates as you go through. Avoid areas the landowner wants you to stay away from. Pack your trash out with you. And check in with the owner when you leave. Not only will this let the farmer or rancher know he was right in trusting you, it’ll make it easier for others who come after you to get the OK.

Knock on some doors now, and you’ll have a place to hunt in September.