Contributors to this thread:
Letter to request private land access?
I have some nice hand written letters that I'm going to send out asking permission to hunt some land where I already public land hunt. They are concise, and include some basic info about me.
My question... should I include a picture of me?(2x3) photo?
further should I include a pic of me with the deer I got last year that I talked about in the letter? It's "tastesfull" just the next up of the deer and then me.
I figure it could turn off a anti hunter but anti hunters aren't going to let me anyway.
1.... NO PHOTOS
2... PHOTO of just me
3... PHOTO of me and a harvest
what's your vote?
Photo of just you. Some are ok with hunting but do not appreciate seeing the results.
A photo next to a 1995 dodge pickup out front of a trailer house, with you, with your leg in a cast, your pregnant wife holding a little baby and your elderly grandpa in his military uniform sitting in a wheel chair.
Unless they are absentee land owners that live out of state, why not ask in person? I think people would be less likely to turn down an individual on their doorstep than a letter. If you’re set on the letter I wouldn’t send a trophy picture.
Absolutely in person if possible, even if you have to drive a ways. Think of it this way: You are a salesman selling yourself. You are asking someone to give you thousands of dollars in value, and you are offering what in return? Can you brand, move cows, fix fence, provide some other service of value to them?
How many big sales are made by sending a random letter with a photo of the salesman? This is face-to-face work, body language, first impression (including your clothes, and vehicle). Might not hurt to wear a MAGA hat when you knock on the door, or at least a Stormy Kromer and well-worn Carhartt jacket.
I agree 200% w/Jaq. You are selling yourself. Body language is everything. If you don’t know their business (farming/ranching) don’t pretend. You will come off as a city slicker.
When I would ask for permission, I would bring my daughter along. (Less than 10 years old). It showed I was a family man. They don’t know you from Adam. They will have an idea within the first 15 seconds of meeting you. Wear neutral clothes ( nothing fancy or camo ). Throw on a hat with an American flag. If they are a Biden voter, you aren’t likely getting in anyway.
Dear Landowner I am writing to inquire about the possibility of gaining hunting access to your property at xxx. I live at yyy, work at zzz and have been hunting safely since 1999. If granted access I will treat your property with the utmost respect, and abide any any restrictions you deem necessary. I can be reached at (phone) or (email) and i am willing to meet with you at your convenience to discuss this. Thank you for your time and consideration Your neighbor Dana C.....
DanaC, if you really were my neighbor I would wonder why you didn't just stop by? If you aren't a neighbor, that sounds phony. Either way, I would question what you are hiding to prompt a letter instead of a knock on the door so I can gain a first impression. Maybe your Biden bumper sticker?
When I owned hunting property I would sometimes let door knockers hunt if they appeared to be standup citizens. I would never, ever give permission to a total stranger from a letter.....
I don’t let people hunt on our property, as we hunt it ourselves, but I make it an emphatic point to let those people that come to my house to ask, that I REALLY appreciate it that they came and asked, and oftentimes try to help them with some information that might give them a lead to some other areas to possibly get permission. I would bet that most landowners wouldn’t give much more than a fleeting glance at a letter similar to what you are proposing, soccern23. If it’s absentee landowners you’re talking about, it may make a little difference, but even there, a phone call (if possible) would still have a better chance of succeeding vs a letter. It’s just way too impersonal, IMO. Good luck to you however you go about it.
X-2 Huntcell, funny for sure.
the letter may work if you enclosed a signed check with the amount left out. That may get some action, but short of that who the heck is going to say yes to allowing a stranger to run around on their land, armed, taking for free what has value. The concept is patently absurd if the landowner lives on the land. Heck I phone before I’d mail a letter. Letters are for follow up not first contacts Get out there and make a personal impression and form a relationship.
Asking in person has my vote. If you are given permission, perhaps you could follow up with a letter that includes pertinent information and your appreciation .
I am on the side of the letter—I think people appreciate the low-impact approach. And it also gives evidence of some degree of forethought and restraint. Divulging information in the letter allows you to create an information/knowledge imbalance (in the landowner’s favor) that the landowner will find empowering, increasing their comfort level and likelihood of being receptive. But who knows. Another ticket may be absentee landowners. I have permission on three absentee-landowner properties, and these guys have never met me. Done by combination of phone/email/letter. Getting these permissions is almost a hobby all it’s own in eastern MA, where most town bylaws require written permission.
MN bowhunters used to have some sample forms on their website that also referenced landowner liability protection for letting people hunt.
If the folks are OK with hunting, don't have anyone else hunting the property that is usually the apprehension. Will I the landowner get in trouble if something happens?? Many states have landowner protection written into the game laws, allowing people to hunt.
Writing a letter worked for me. It was an older couple who lived in an old folks home but owned the farm next door to me. Every time I knock on a door for permission I usually forget to mention half the things I want to say. Good luck
No letter for me. I don’t have much success when asking in person either. But, I can definitely tell you from my experience in resource procurement from private landowners, a letter is not nearly as effective as face to face.
The one thing the letter would do is introduce you to the family. I might would consider a letter with a follow up with a week or so. But, I would word everything appropriately in doing so.
Good luck and God Bless
you'd have to ask me in person(probably successfully) I'd toss a letter
You should also leave out that you are pro wolf. It won't make any friends with the ranchers whose properties you are wanting to hunt on
Interestingly, and somewhat surprisingly, I get a response to the letter in the majority of cases, whether it’s a phone call, an email, or a response in the mail. Typically it’s a “no,” but that beats no response at all.
Letter worked for me on the farm I hunt 99% of the time. It led to a phone call, which led to a good relationship. Has been for 15 years or so.
I've tried other letters. Some with zero response, but some i get a response and a nice "no". Several have led to good phone calls and email correspondences that were really nice. Like T-roy mentioned, the ones that have responded have all thanked me for asking. I think people appreciate the time and effort that any sort of ask entails
Letters are time consuming though to personalize each one. But if you can make the time, I don't think they're terrible. In person is definitely preferable.
The reason I haven't done in person in some instances is when do you do it? If you live 2-6 hours away and you drive there to ask. . . .what if they're not home? When's the best time of day? I HATE to be interrupted during family dinner. Etc.
Then with farmers, I always hesitate to swing by during busy seasons. . . . calving, haying, bad weather, planting, harvest, etc. Hard sometimes to find the right time.
I definitely follow each season with a personal thank you card people appreciate it.
Jaquomo, I would not just 'drop in' on anyone. Many times, that's considered downright rude. The letter approach allows them time to think about it, respond, or not, and they don't need to explain if the answer is 'no'.
Of course, if you live in a more sparsely populated area, where folks all know each other, different approaches might be better. I don't believe it's 'one size fits all.'
When I ask in person and get turned down regardless of the reason or the tone in which it was delivered, I thank them anyway.
Thanks for the info and tips....
some of the land I'm looking at I am fairly certain that they don't live there year round. So trying to time it on an hour- 2 hour drive would be difficult.
As far as phoning them goes, well... it's 2021 I don't know their cell number. Most don't have landlines and most certainly don't have them at their mountain property.
I should try to go in person if in the area. But many drive ups/roads leading to say "private drive keep out" thus trespassing to ask permission to hunt won't work either. I figure letters are a long shot, but probably the best option. I included some quick info about me that eludes to good character. And I wrote the letters by hand. I think I'll go with just a simple photo of me, at least put a face to the letter.
Huntcell for the win!!! That kinda worked for me 30 years ago...still hunt that farm and will for a long, long time.
I agree with Jedediah...with absentee owners, a letter works wonders (I apologize for intruding on your day); it helped gain me access to a well known billionaire’s property. If you’re going to send a picture, one of yourself and you're hunting companion 10 year old daughter.
For phone numbers, try “fastpeoplesearch.” In some cases it lists cell number. For other contact options, try googling landowner name—sometimes a business contact (phone/email) will emerge. Then you do owe them a bit of an apology, for being a little creepy. But I’ve had that work on at least one occasion. Like I said, this is a sport all its own in eastern Mass.
I personally would never send a letter unless I couldn’t get ahold of them in person or over the phone. Always stop in in person if I can. Most farmers/ranchers like it if you stop in and visit. If someone tells you yes over a letter, they would have probably told you yes in person or over the phone as well. I would have to believe in person or over the phone would land you a higher percent of getting permission than a letter. Never had anyone tell me no in person, that I felt would have said yes over a letter instead.
Last year a buddy and I were hunting antelope, and we stopped to get gas. The lady working the register asked if we were antelope hunting, and I told her yes. She said the name of a local farmer that was just in, and told her if anyone wants to hunt antelope she should send them his way. I ended up arrowing an antelope there. Wish it was always that easy to get permission!
I say it depends where you are asking. If you live in an hr from NYC and want to hunt Westchester county or other highly populated area, where wood lots may be big at a few acres. Also if the people are more well off, lets say a letter may be best. If you are talking 85% of the rest of the area ya can be a neighbor than "ask in" person is without the best option. It may be 2021 but people are still people and like face to face friendly talk, good bad or ugly!! Shawn
I agree it's different across the country. The OP lives in Colorado. That's why I suggested a personal visit, because he is a transplant from New York and may not know any better. Rural life is different here than on the East coast.
My late rancher friend where I've bowhunted deer on the plains for 25 years once showed me a letter from someone asking permission to hunt. He was incensed that the guy didn't have the backbone to ask in person, couldn't believe someone would actually have the gall to send a letter without at least introducing himself. Then he said, shaking his head, "City people...".
you never fail to impress me...... Just to clarify, yes all of New York State is NYC.(sarcasm)
If someone is incensed at a hand written letter than I'm not sure I actually want to hunt their land or even be associated with them.
Sorry, NickNick, I've spent a lot of time in central and upstate NY, have gained permission there by asking in person, and yes, there is a difference in landowner attitudes between there and rural Colorado. I was honestly trying to help but apparently you know better.
The guy who didn't like the letter owned 60,000 acres of some of the best mule deer hunting in the country. FWIW. I got permission by asking in person and offering to help round up cattle for a weekend on my ATV. Turned into a great opportunity.
Do us a favor and let us know how the letter campaign goes, ok?
I would not be happy myself with a letter by the way. Grow a pair and walk up and knock on doors. I got permission on 13K acres in Kansas by doing just that. Shawn
I've written letters in the past with no success. I didn't like the odds of writing one but had failed multiple times to connect in person as they land owner was always out and about. I could not locate a phone number. Felt like a last ditch shot but was worth my time. I let them know I had tried to connect in person and would be happy to schedule a time convenient to meet, was local guy, had kids hunting with me, archery only, happy to help out around their land. Gave them a business card with my contact and they could view our company website if they wanted. Thought that may help verify I wasn't fly by night. I didn't get a response on either time I tried. I get it though. Figured it was worth a shot.
Shawn, there's a big patch of posted land up the road from me, the landowner is some lady in Maryland (I'm in central Mass.) Don't matter about the size of my gonads, walking up to her door ain't practical ;-)
Jaquomo is 100% correct. All the ranchers I know in Colorado or Wyoming would be suspicious of anyone that didn’t have the gumption to come meet them and ask permission while shaking their hand and looking them in the eye. Offering and being willing to help with fence mending, branding, rounding up, or about anything else is worth more than it’s weight in gold.
You can tell some the of the guys on here that are in sales and those that are not. Too many of you are looking at this as a one step process. If you want to send out a bulk mailing and hope one bites, it may work. But my guess is that most of you have specific pieces of property you want to hunt. To be consistently successful it will take time and effort.
1.Start with a nicely written letter. It can be handwritten or typed but the envelope MUST be hand written. No one ever throws away an envelope that was addressed by hand. 2. The contents of the letter should NOT directly ask for permission to hunt. EVER. Tell them who you are and that you would like to discuss hunting their property. But DO NOT ask to for permission. (Have I stressed this point enough?) This is an introductory letter. Let them know you are going to follow up at a later time and how you are going to follow up. That way when you call/meet they will have an idea who they are talking to. Don't ever be late with the follow up call/meeting. Let them know you plan to do this by phone or in-person, whichever works for you.
3. If neither of those are options for you, you may want to enclose a SASE for them to return to you with their phone number. I would also ask them to let you know a good time to call. This approach won't be as successful but it may work on occasion and is better than nothing.
Not everyone who gains permission does so by working on the farm. Many of us would be just as likely to get in the way as help. Know your skill set and like someone said in a post earlier, don't try to act like you know something if you don't. Phonies are easy to spot and it comes off as insincere. It will sink you immediately.
Nothing wrong with writing a letter. I sent out a bunch last year when I drew an Idaho deer tag. The majority never responded, a few called to decline permission but thanked me for the letter, and I got permission on 3 properties that would have otherwise been off limits. One of those was initially a “no” when he called, but after a short conversation he gave me access to many thousands of acres of his ranch.
I plan on doing the same for my SD turkey hunt this spring.
As for your question, I vote no on including the picture.
I’m a landowner. You want free recreation on my land. What is in it for me? If I let you hunt I want full info on who you are, where you live, vehicle info with license plate number, and where either law enforcement or myself can contact you if there is a problem. Each person is different when it comes to how you make initial contact.
Fellow here told me of 4 guys drove up to ask permission to hunt antelope. One got out and talked to him. Was given permission.
Next day the 4 came back and started to get out. He asked what they thought they were doing? Short of it was he had given permission to the guy who got out to talk to him, not the others who didn't bother. All 4 left.
I hunted a new parcel of land last fall. I didn't know who owned it. I asked the neighbor at the adjoining farm who owned the land. She texted him that I was interested in hunting and sent me his phone number. I called and told him that I had an interested in hunting his land and I would like the opportunity to meet him before he made a decision. He gave me permission on the spot but we agreed to talk the next time I saw him out. It worked out well as another hunter also hunted the parcel and we coordinated our efforts.
Another thing that I think matters is timing. Regardless of how contact is made, I think your chances are better if you start the process well in advance, if possible. I think your chances are better if you ask in, say, May if you can hunt in October. As opposed to asking if you can hunt that very evening, for example.
Powder, I was going to say something similar - none of these guys are in sales! Do it all: letter, knock on doors, lunch at the local bar, church, facebook/social media, etc. - the more you do, the more people you contact, the more land you will have to hunt on. BC
Networking for sure. There’s a guy in MA who got so good at this that apparently his network of “permission landowners” reached some kind of critical mass where new landowners were approaching him inviting him onto their property, due to referrals from his network.
I live in Pennsylvania closeto the New York border. I put a hunting resume together. It had personal/bio information, a copy of my driver's, Hunter education card, references and so on. That I would come meet to chat with them at a time that was convenient for them. I started in 2006. I have not sent one out in quite a few years. But it was one of the best things I did to gain places to hunt. Ed
I knock on doors but present the land owner with a resume of sorts. Describes my hunting history, my volunteer work with sportsmen's organizations, details on my truck, where I live and work, and a simple short paragraph on how I would treat them and their land. I have one based on suburban and one for rural areas. The suburban one just has a blurb on lyme disease.
Seems to be 'regional' as far as preferences go. Some places they'd rather meet face-to-face, other places they might be awful unhappy with strangers showing up at their door. I'm surprised that anyone would actually be annoyed at a polite letter, but 'different strokes', I guess.
It's a dream come true when you knock on a door and its a "real" rancher. Not saying you will get access but in general they understand the culture in MT and the need for hunters. The difficult ones are with smaller parcels or "play farms". They bought land in MT to have land in MT. Many are against hunting and want to see the wildlife on the land when they come to visit. They do not understand they need hunters around. They are not home often, many just come out a few times each year. That's where letters may have a place. I could see it working but its obviously a low success rate. That being said, it takes some time and consideration to put that together so I could see someone responding they would be willing to have a conversation. Good luck out there fellas.
What happened to your post?
I plan on doing it in person here in WY, for pronghorn, and focus on ranches that have livestock, but aren't big enough for an outfitter to bother with. then focus on doe pronghorn.
Wife and I will knock together, as we will both be hunting if we get a "yes".
Last year tried phone calls due to COVID, nobody called back and I didn't want to pester them with more calls.
the one spot we do have access came as a fluke. We had out deer cart in the truck while going to the local dump. Woman checking us in said "do you have tags for area xxxx", we did, she asked us to come shoot some of the antelope that eat the grass.
No pictures of success. I lost 2 spots by sending a thank you card with a picture of my deer. Both times I lost the land because of that. If I would have said thank you, I probably could still hunt it but because they saw success, they decided to lease or start hunting themselves.
I'm actually impressed and pleased that a person can still get permission to hunt good private property by asking permission. All that is written these days would make you think that is impossible
I agree do it in person.
Also I might add that as much as the land owner may like that you have a great marriage, were an Eagle Scout, have pretty children and would be the poster board for land and wildlife stewardship of his property you might want to address the liability issues of him letting you hunt his property
Just a thought?
So how did this letter writing campaign turn out? Any replies?
In my efforts this year, after losing my spot of 24 years, one intro phone call followed by a face-face meeting gained access to 15,000 acres of muley and whitetail hunting. Blew me away that he agreed so readily, but it wasn't leased to an outfitter and he liked me when we met.
The second target, a really primo muley spot adjoining the other ranch, required 14 phone calls since March (only 7 resulted in conversations) followed by a letter describing how/when I would hunt, along with my background. Basically a resume and proposal. That was delivered back in July. Finally gained permission yesterday when I closed the deal by agreeing to only walk in from the boundary of the other adjoining property, which is how I would hunt it anyway because of the prevailing wind. Have never met this rancher face to face, but he told me he has other property in a different unit I might want to consider next year.... So it can happen.
How did the letter effort work for you?
I think I sent 7 or 8 letters out.
1 went to a millionaire/maybe a billionaire, no reply. Another went to billionaire who was every bit of a billionaire... a reply of "no" from his staff via email(said he read it)
1... phone call back of an adamant "no"(anti-hunting). And somewhat veiled threats/reminders not to trespass, stating that they have a big issue of that. I thought it was kinda funny them thinking someone who would hand write a letter to ask would end up trespassing. But regardless, it was a decent "no" phone call and they asked about where I hunt/gave me some ideas nearby where I might find game.
2 more phone calls back saying "no". They either hunt it themselves/don't want to take the risk. And gave reports of game they've seen in the area.
The rest did not reply(about 50% replied back).
I have a bunch more of properties tagged for potential letters/contact, probably over winter. And figured I'd send another round of letters out to those who didn't reply. I am able to find property addresses easily, and more importantly the tax address for places that person actually lives. If I could find phone numbers that would be preferred but it's an age of cellphones.
Congrats on the score for the access. Ultimate plan for me to would be able to score a B list tag for private land. Longer season(plus a chance at more meat), and a great place to hunt once the public pressure pushes dear.
Your percentage of success at gaining access doesn't surprise me. I wouldn't give you access either if the above was your approach, let alone knowing your persona on here.
Good luck hunting public land.
The most uncomfortable, yet most reliable form of gaining permission is always in person or calling them. My dad handed me a stack of rural directories when I was a kid and told me to start calling farmers myself. He was surprised, when at age 13 I was acquiring thousands of acres of permissions by calling farmers or asking them at church if we could hunt. Never had any luck with letters, even in later years when I tried to buy a childhood hunting spot.
try sending a letter saying the following...
my name is ______________________ and this letter is to inform you that i will be hunting your land located at _______________________ starting _______________________. i will be hunting for the following species _______________________, using the following weapons____________________.
my phone number is ________________________. If I don't hear back from you by __________________, i will assume you approve.
thank you so much for your cooperation.
...at least this way you will most likely get a response.
Ricky there's landowners around here that would respond to *that* by siccing a lawyer on ya ;-)
RTCG, your suggested letter made my day! Thanks. LOL
Ricky, love it!
Thornton, yep, me too since I was a teen. Walk up, knock on the door and look them in the eye. That's how it works and no surprise you've been so successful at it. And in this world of cell phones, on both the ranches where I gained permission this year the owners are absentee, so I asked a neighbor for the cell numbers and reached them both to ask permission and set up a face-face meeting.
I killed my biggest whitetail on an investment farm owned by the owner of the biggest trucking company in the region. The tenant farmer told me who he was, and what town his corporate office was located.
So I drove two hours to his corporate HQ, talked his admin into getting me on his appointment schedule that afternoon, waited in the lobby for three hours, went into his office and got exclusive permission. A letter would have probably never made it past his admin.
Meat Grinder's Link
Same as Lou, Landowner I have been hunting on for 35+ years told me that someone wrote him a letter last spring wanting to lease his ground for hunting. Pissed him off and he never responded to it. He had another guy show up with his kids wanting to hunt Turkeys (while a flock of Turkeys were in the front yard) pleading to let the kids hunt and be a real PIA, he did not get to hunt.
For a good percentage of landowners, I would imagine that liability for your accidental injury or death would be a deterrent to allowing someone they don't know to hunt their property. Here in Indiana, our annual Hunting Regulation Manual contains a form for hunters to present to landowners they approach for hunting/fishing permission. The form references Indiana Code that protects landowners from such liability. I've attached a link to that form.
You might check to see if the state you'd like to hunt has something similar. Might just be the difference between getting permission or not. Good Hunting.
Photo with you and no camo! Maybe a pic with your kid(s) and a good letter. Kiss. Good luck !
If you got a letter tomorrow from some total stranger asking to use your back yard what would you do?
My answer is toss it in the trash.
If you got a letter in the mail from a total stranger asking to use your backyard and they included a picture would you believe the photo is real?
I wouldn’t. I would throw it in the trash.
Go meet the landowners face to face and sell yourself to them.
I bet I have knocked on hundreds of doors over the years. Yeah the number of times the answer was no out weighs the yes answers by a long shot. You just never know what the answer is on the next knock.
Well boys...... I just gained access to two different ranches for me and my boys with letters. Assuming our meet and greet goes well when we head over. I sent 6 letters last week and got 3 responses. Two phone calls and one hand written letter back to me. The handwritten letter was actually a "no" on permission but thanked me for writing and NOT knocking on the door as they are so tired of people bothering them and beating down their door. These places are all 6-7 hours away from my house and there is no way to drive over and knock on doors. They are all out working all day. You would rarely get in touch with anyone. I've tried. Letter was the only option. I had two very nice calls with guys and have meetings set up. I doubt we won't be able to hunt there after we meet. They basically said yes but would like to meet first and go over the land and expectations. Ya never know.
Looking at a property-owner website, and a parcel abutting state land (in MA) where I hunt is owned by someone from New Brunswick. I won't be knocking on their door...
1st choice in person, 2nd choice, phone. Only twice have I tried letters. For people that didn't live anywhere around, and had no listed number.
If you're young and obviously respectful IMO is the #1 time to get permission. A young respectful person is so rare for most people to see they can't help it. I'm serious. people know you've got nothing in life yet, and they like you. They can't help it.
Once you're well along in life it gets harder because you've had time to make a go of it yourself. But every year I still manage a piece or two when I put in the effort. I was surprised to get thousands of acres in Montana over the phone when I called. But I purposefully used tools to target the older age demographic that grew up differently. Permission is no easy task. The $ in fuel I have spent....
I don’t know if a letter is a good option. But it’s worth a try. I’ve given up on door knocking. Been told no, or someone else is hunting it, many more times than I can count.
Ole Scoob' is our nonresident hero. Every year he tells his stories, the amount of land he supposedly got permission on goes up.
I have had guys stop and tell me they were hunting my land starting opening day or even tomorrow. Tell me face to face they had spoke with me about hunting on my land as they were sitting in their stand on my land, and they had no idea who I was, nor did I know who they were. Had 3 different people try to kick me off my own land. Take all kinds