By Mark Kenyon
While driving home yesterday from the grocery store, I received this text from a friend …
“Don’t want to brag, but I just picked up 1300 acres to bowhunt”
Just a week before that, I received a similar message…
“I stopped by the landowner of that farm I sent you a picture of, I got permission to bowhunt it.”
And these are just a small sampling of the many messages I’ve gotten from this friend over the years, regarding the new properties he’s picked up to hunt.
This friend, we’ll call him Rob, is the perfect example of what all of us should be doing. And that is working our tails off, year round, to pick up new properties. Why? Because you can never have too much hunting ground.
The Importance of Location
The old real estate saying “Location, Location, Location” is as relevant to hunting as it is to selling houses. When it comes to hunting success (especially for mature whitetails), in the end, it really does come down to location. If your hunting area doesn’t have mature bucks living on it or in the area, no matter how smart you hunt, you’re just not going to have much success. That said, if you want to start seeing more mature bucks, the first step you need to take is to start hunting in areas that are home to more of them.
Why Should I Be Constantly Looking To Get New Hunting Ground?
If you don’t have an area to hunt that can produce mature bucks, it’s time to get working on finding one or many such spots. But even if you already have permission, own or lease ground that holds mature bucks – you should still work on adding additional properties to your collection. Why? Three reasons:
Available Bucks: Having multiple hunting properties allows you to still have a chance at a mature buck, even when one or more of your properties are lacking. Even if you have a property that can or has held mature bucks in the past, you never know what might happen on any given year. If your goal is to kill 4.5 year old bucks, and your one hunting property gets hit with EHD and kills all the shooters, you’re in a tough spot. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Instead, spread out your hopes and dreams over several properties and you’ll have a better chance that each year at least one of the properties will be a winner.
Pressure: Probably one of the biggest reasons to have multiple properties to hunt is because it allows you to spread out your hunting pressure. If you hunt all season on the same piece of ground, you’re sure to educate the local deer to your presence. For this reason I only hunt some properties during certain parts of the year, and allow other properties to sit unpressured until the ideal time to hunt them. This keeps some properties fresh, while still allowing me to hunt most the year. If you want to consistently kill mature whitetails, you’re going to need to carefully pick your times to hunt certain areas, and having multiple options will greatly help you do this.
Wind/Access: Speaking of pressure, to keep deer from catching on to you, you obviously need to hunt with safe wind directions and have stealthy access/exit routes to your stands. If you’re stuck with one property, you may be limited to only hunting certain days or times. If you have multiple properties, you should ideally have options for all winds and all times, allowing you to keep pressure low and hunting success probability high.
Turnover: This is an unfortunate reality, but if you have permission on a property or lease one, you need to be prepared to eventually lose it. Losing permission/access to ground is a common issue today, and one that causes frustration for thousands of hunters. That said, it’s just the way of the world now, and we need to do everything we can to plan ahead for it. Don’t be stuck in a position where you lose permission on one piece of ground, and then are stuck with nowhere to go.
How Can I Get More Hunting Ground?
This is the million dollar question. Most of us want more properties to hunt, but how can we actually go about getting them?
Of course, we can buy ground, lease ground or just go hunt public land – but the majority of folks can’t afford to pay for ground, but would still like to hunt private land.
That said, the simple answer to this conundrum is hard work. Pounding the pavement. Knocking on doors. If you want to get permission to hunt on new ground, you’re going to need to actually start asking folks. This is a process that a lot of guys fear or don’t want to take the time to do, but it’s necessary.
And guess what? Now is the perfect time to start.
As my friend Rob has done, we need to be working hard all year round to secure new properties. Early in the year is the best time to start, as properties may not have been “claimed” yet for the fall. Knocking on doors to get permission is a tough gig, and many times you’ll be denied. In Michigan, my assumption is that if I knock on 10 doors, I may get one yes. But so it goes.
The key is just sucking it up and doing the work.
There are a whole lot more ideas and tricks that my friends and I use to gain permission on new hunting ground, but we’ll save those for another day. For now, I just want you to focus on the fact that it’s incredibly important to gain access to new land each year, and secondly, in order to do that, you need to come to terms with the fact it’s going to take a lot of hard work.
If you don’t own a bunch of property, but still want to have a consistent opportunity at mature bucks, you’re going to need to take a page out of my pal Rob’s playbook. Work hard, all year round, to gain access to new properties. That means doing your research, pounding the pavement, and knocking on doors. While the idea of knocking on perfect strangers’ doors may send chills down your spine, I promise the excitement you’ll feel after getting permission on a new piece will be well worth the anxiety.
Trust me … You can never have too much hunting ground.
This topic of gaining access to hunting properties, whether that’s via purchase, lease, permission or on public land, is one that I know is top of mind for most hunters today. There seems to be no greater challenge to serious whitetail hunters than getting on good ground. For that reason, I’m currently working on putting together a comprehensive resource detailing everything there is to know about getting on new ground. We’ll be covering information and tips for purchasing, leasing, getting permission and hunting public land – in thorough detail.
If you’d like to be notified when we release this resource (which should be sometime early this spring), just sign up for our email newsletter and we’ll send you an email when it’s launching! You’ll see the email newsletter sign-up box on the right side, under the “Are You A Whitetail Addict?” header.