By Cassie Gasaway
If COVID-19 ended your plans to go door to door seeking permission to hunt private property, don’t fret. Try writing instead.
Letters let you follow social-distancing rules, gather your thoughts, and present a convincing case. Some people feel nervous or intimidated when asking strangers if they can hunt their property, but a letter can calm those fears.
To write an effective letter, make it personal. Hand-write the letter, and specify your story, goals and intentions. Use the outline and sample text below to create a persuasive six-paragraph letter.
After a greeting that uses the landowner’s name, explain who you are and where you’re from in the first paragraph. Also acknowledge the Coronavirus pandemic, and your social-distancing efforts. Be friendly, direct and brief. Limit yourself to a few sentences:
Hello Mr. John Doe,
My name is Cassie. I’m 28 and live down the road with my husband. I planned to stop by your house to talk in person, but I wanted to respect COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines. I hope this letter finds you and your family happy and healthy.
Next, explain why you’re seeking property to hunt. Maybe you’re a beginning bowhunter, new to the area, or expanding your hunting options. Whatever your reasons, everyone respects transparency, so be honest. Tell them how you found their property and contact information, and make your ask. Be straightforward to ensure they understand your request. Share what you know about the property. If a neighbor told you no one hunts there, try to verify the information. If you know few other details, say so.
My husband and I just moved to the area, and we’re looking for a good place nearby to bowhunt. We started searching online and noticed your property. We looked up your name and contact information in the county’s public records. We don’t know whether you, a friend or family members hunt your property, but thought we’d ask. We’re avid bowhunters, and we’d love to get your permission to hunt there.
Then, transition into your respect for rules. Share that you’re responsible, respectful and trustworthy, and that you’ll follow all landowner-specific rules. That could mean limiting yourself to shooting does, hunting only designated weekends, or notifying them before each hunt.
If granted permission, we’ll abide by state and local rules, and follow any rules or requests you make. We’re safe, responsible and ethical bowhunters. We make smart shooting decisions, we wear protective gear and safety harnesses, and we care about wildlife, wild places and private property.
Next, describe how often you want to hunt the property, but realize it’s at the owner’s discretion. Detail which animals you plan to hunt, and that you’ll limit your take to whatever number they state. Be as specific as possible. If you notice lots of deer on roadways or in gardens or crop fields, let them know your hope to harvest some deer to reduce crop damage and vehicle collisions. If your main goal is providing lean protein for your family, tell the landowner you’ll restrict yourself to a doe or two.
We hunt public lands near home and in other states, and we work full-time, so we would only hunt your property two weekends each month, or whenever you specify. If you’d like us to remove any destructive animals, too, such as feral hogs, just let us know.
Important note: What can you offer in return? Don’t ask and then take, take, take. Share how you can sweeten the deal and give something back. Show how much you care about bowhunting, and the privilege to hunt private land.
In exchange for bowhunting your land, and as a token of our appreciation, we would love to share our venison, help you with chores, maintain roads and property lines, or mentor someone in your family on hunting. We’re open to ideas on how we can give back.
Thank them for their time and consideration, and ask them to contact you, or offer to call them at their convenience. Say you would like to talk and sign a formal agreement. If the landowner wants a legal contract, search online for sample agreements. Close with your contact information, a reminder to contact you, and your signature.
Thank you for taking time to read this letter. Please consider our request and let us know your decision. If you’re willing to let us hunt your property, we can sign a formal agreement outlining our partnership. Please contact us if you have questions or want to discuss the partnership. My number is (#). We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you, and have a great day.
If you don’t hear from the landowner within two weeks, follow up with a phone call and ask if they received your letter. If so, ask if they have questions or need time to think it over.
If they say “no,” thank them for considering your request, and invite them to contact you if they change their mind. If you can afford it, propose signing a lease that specifies an access fee. If they’re not interested in that, either, ask if they know anyone who might work with you. If not, move on and resume your homework. Send letters to other potential options. Don’t lose hope. Writing personalized letters to 20 people takes time, but you’ll be rewarded if you find someone who honors your request. All it takes is one person.
If they say “yes,” thank them and request a follow-up call or meeting to discuss rules, logistics and property boundaries. Ask them to walk their property with you, and ask where to park, where they see deer, and where you can field dress any deer you arrow. Follow their lead. After all, it’s their property.
After the season, send a Christmas card and gift, and stay in touch throughout winter, spring and summer. Maintain the connection and show you care about their friendship and help. Sincere appreciation puts you in a better position to hunt the property again.