Recreational hunting is an amazing activity to partake in whether you are a bowhunter, rifle shooter, pig dogger, or any other methods. It’s enjoyed throughout Australia by a wide range of people, from your local shopkeeper to your electrician to your doctor. However one of the biggest hurdles people find, especially new to the sport, is finding appropriate places to hunt. As not every state allows hunting on publicly controlled lands, hunting can be restricted to private property for many people. Getting access to a property can be tough, especially if you don’t know where to start. Whilst there are numerous groups on social media with the intention of connecting property owners to hunters, experience has shown that asking for property access here can be wrought with commenters bringing negativity and jealousy to the conversation and attempts to dissuade further attempts. We’re not into that, we talked to a number of property owners asking for advice on how to get a property to hunt on.
This article is aimed towards people who are attempting to get a property on their own, outside of any club or organisational association, as not everyone has access to these clubs or perhaps may not want to join them for other personal reasons. We broke the methods to the four main ways we see people try to gain access:
- Letter dropping
- Door knocking
- Social media
- Personal references
These won’t be perfect and every property owner is different, however we’ve included the best advice everyone could give.
Letter dropping is the practice of having a pre-written letter and dropping it into the mailbox of a property you wish to hunt on. This can be useful as it will let a property owner know quickly what your intentions are and that you’re wanting to gain access to their property, without bothering them in person. Understand that rural properties get as much, if not more, junk mail than people do in the city-suburbia, so prepare yourself for a lot of either rejection or no contact at all.
If you do wish to go down this path, make sure to include your first and last name and contact details. Write about yourself, what you do for work, who you are, where you’re from, and really make yourself relatable. Continuing on from that, outline exactly what it is you are after. That is, a property for you to hunt on, with what equipment, and what experience you have. If you are part of any clubs that offer insurance for recreational hunting activities, state as much. Understand that these clubs offer insurance for recreational hunting and that if you attempt to present yourself as a professional hunter whilst not having the appropriate ACN/ABN and business insurance, you are misrepresenting yourself. Summarise any skills you may be able to offer the property owner with, if they need any, which can be trade skills or any other professional abilities you may have. Lastly, be willing to have a phone conversation. A property owner will want to assess you before allowing you onto the property, and that is done by a phone call.
Door knocking can be a welcomed activity or seen as extremely bothersome, so you must understand it’s a gamble. The first piece of advice is to present yourself well, or at least not badly. If you’re dressed poorly and unkempt, this is seen as poor form. Try to at least dress in a semi-professional manner for rural engagements, meaning jeans, boots, and a button up work (outdoor work) shirt. Don’t turn up with beer in hand, either already drinking or with a 6-pack ready to go, this was outlined as a red flag because many property owners may think you’re trying to get them drunk to then ask. If you have dogs in the back, or otherwise are presenting yourself as ready to hunt then and there, that can also be seen as a red flag. Introduce yourself well, telling who you are and what you do. Be upfront with your intentions and try to lead the conversation towards hunting permission, if they have issues with pests. However, there are a number of tips here. If you act like you’re doing them a favour by hunting merely a handful of animals, that’s insulting. They know that ferals are a problem, but they’re always going to be a problem, but it’s not the most critical concern. They can easily shoot a few whilst doing the rounds on the property. If the property owner tries to steer the conversation away from feral animals, take that as a hint you are being rejected. Don’t push the issue, don’t hammer the point, they’re telling you no. Furthermore, don’t try and buy your way onto a property. If the conversation was otherwise pleasant, it can’t hurt to ask if they might know if someone else in the area would be open to this conversation. Lastly, understand that word of mouth travels fast, and this method has the highest ability to damage the fragile reputation that recreational hunters have.
This one is highly controversial. Some property owners said that this is a dead end, as everyone in community groups are competing for access and as noted, this causes conflicts. When a property owner puts up a post, they get hammered for requests, which means most don’t like to post or have any interactions. However, other property owners said they enjoy seeing these posts and offering people access. The point is, this does have the ability to work, however the chances are low and prepare for a lot of people to give you a rough time for merely asking. The advice for asking on social media would be the same as letter, however make it clear where you are from and where you’re willing to travel to, and ensure your account is easily contactable. A property owner may be wanting to contact you but unable due to privacy settings.
Personal references, at this stage, would be hard to come by. If someone mentions to you in conversation that they may know someone who would let a hunter on, that’s really great, but don’t be pushy. Let them contact the owner and get back to you with a name and number. After which, if you are lucky enough to get a phone number, follow the rules given in door knocking. Have a conversation, be up front, and let them know what you can do.
Using your trade, as mentioned, can be valuable in gaining access to a property. Most people, whether or not they’re a farmer, like to save money where they can and as such you will be in their good books if you can offer a reasonable service. However, what some people like to offer is help with farm work. That’s a really nice offer, but most know it comes with a catch. If you don’t know what you’re doing, such as don’t know how to tie wire or muster, you are a hindrance. If you put yourself in a position to help, you need to really be sure you know what you’re doing. Be honest with yourself and the property owner with your abilities.
There is no single method that will guarantee you access to a property to hunt on, however this is a culmination of advice given from multiple property owners. We hope it helps you get a property and be involved in this great activity. Remember you are not only representing yourself, but the community as a whole.