By Steve Hickoff
Game animal and bird patterns will almost certainly change before opening day this fall, but the land won’t – if you’re lucky. Don’t be surprised this season. Get out now to ensure your hunting spots are accessible.
SOLVE THE PUZZLE: Land ownership is often a fragmented scenario these modern days, and if a new property boss moves in, your access may be compromised. Pay steady attention each off-season to see what’s going on with and especially near the land you hunt. Town and city records can help, but the initial lead might come the good old-fashioned way: word of mouth. Talk to all people involved.
OLD FRIENDS AND NEW: Renewing relationships with both landowners – who may be farmers who work the fields or even someone you can only reach by out-of-state phone call – and adjacent neighbors near, and living on the properties you visit each fall season, is important. Some may remember who you are; some may forget – others may have just moved in. Either way reintroduce yourself (or for the first time), explain you had permission before, secure it again and tell them what you’ll hunt and where it’s best to park your truck.
RIDER RULES: You’ll also need to secure or confirm permission to ride your ATV or Side x Side on their land. Ask about any changes to the place, trail modifications and if other riders will be on them. Go the distance when planning your hunts. Read up-to-date state laws and regulations as well.
TREESTANDS AND DECOY SPREADS: If you’re hanging treestands for bowhunting, let land managers know when you’ll return – before the season, most likely. If you’ve plans to decoy geese, calculate when the fields might or might not be cut, and if again it’s okay to load your rig with decoys and drive down there to set up your spread each morning. This goes for any other kind of activity you plan, of course.
You may not own the land, but try to gain or hold permission and access ahead of time. It may be too late on opening day.