Courtesy to landowners
Access to private land can be a challenge for Idaho hunters. Yet each year, landowners restrict access to their property because of conflicts with hunters. Trespassing, litter, property damage, and discharging firearms close to livestock or buildings being the main reasons. Unfortunately, the careless actions of a few are causing access to quality hunting to disappear for the rest. Whatever the reason for complaint, most circumstances boil down to a lack of common sense and lack of respect for landowners and their property. It’s important to remember that your actions represent all hunters. Always be the best ambassador of hunting that you can by treating the landowner as you would like to be treated and their land as you would like yours to be treated. Getting permission to hunt private land may seem daunting, but the extra effort is worth it. According to a survey of rural Idaho landowners, 88 percent will allow hunting on their property if hunters ask permission first. However, how hunters behave before, during and after the hunt will determine if they are allowed back.
Before the hunt
Hunters seeking permission are required to get written permission from the landowner, preferably before the season begins. A permission form is available in Big Game Season and Rules booklet, at Fish and Game offices, and at any county Sheriff’s office. Other methods of permission are still legal, but written is the best. But before asking, sportsmen should consider the landowner’s perspective. Hunting season falls during a very busy time of year for farmers and ranchers, as many are rushing to get their fall work completed before winter. A steady stream of phone calls and hunters appearing randomly at their front door takes time away from getting work done and can be overwhelming.
When asking, be polite, friendly, and ask during reasonable hours. Calling or knocking on a rancher’s door at 6 a.m. the day you want to hunt is the best way of getting turned down. If you haven’t already obtained permission before the season begins, a face-to-face meeting at the landowner’s house a few evenings before you plan to hunt is usually appropriate. A little courtesy goes a long way, and those hunters who plan ahead and ask permission in advance are usually welcome.
If allowed to hunt, both hunters and landowners should clearly understand what “permission” is being given. For instance, is permission for a single day or for the whole season? Is permission only to hunt deer, or is it for elk or just upland game birds? Also, are you asking permission just for yourself, or will others be hunting with you? And never assume because permission was granted last year, that the same applies this year.
Never assume anything. Iron out all the details with the landowner in advance. Landowners want to know who’s on their property, and some even manage hunter numbers by setting a limit. The limit makes for a higher quality hunting experience, and helps the landowner keep track of who will be on their land and when.
If your request is denied, don’t take it personally. Be understanding and remain polite, whether or not the landowner explains the reason for the decision. Remember, your courtesy and show of respect may affect the outcome of future requests.