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Some Recommendations When Contacting Landowners

PIERRE, S.D. – Spring turkey season is a great time for meeting nature. It is also a good time for hunters, if they have not already done so, to meet with their prospective landowners and build on or expand their hunter-landowner relations.

"The timing is likely a bit late for meeting a landowner for this year’s spring turkey season and getting permission to hunt," said George Vandel, assistant director of wildlife for the Department of Game, Fish and Parks. "And don’t forget that many landowners in the spring are busy with planting or calving, and therefore might be up late and working irregular hours. Still, a relationship with a landowner might still be established if a hunter uses good common sense, manners and respect. Who knows what other hunting opportunities could also be opened?"

Vandel encourages hunters to make a personal, face-to-face contact with landowners. He also gives a few recommendations to help when doing so:

An early contact, well before the season in question is best. This gives the hunter a good chance to get to know the landowner and possibly scout and get familiar with the area.
Be sure to ask where to hunt and where not to hunt. Understanding the property boundaries for where you have permission will help avoid conflicts with neighbors.
Let the landowner know what vehicle you will be driving. Many hunters show up early before sunrise, and it is helpful if the landowner can recognize your vehicle to know who is on the property.
Ask for the best spot to park your vehicle. Hunters who are willing to get out of their vehicles and hunt on foot are more often welcomed by landowners. If the conditions are wet, don’t drive on trails and tear them up. If in doubt, get out and walk.
Leave all fence gates as you found them. If they are open, leave them open. If the gate is closed, close it each and every time you pass through it.
Let the landowner know how many people will be in your hunting party and show up with only those hunters. Arriving with extra or uninvited hunters does not sit well with most landowners.
Avoid detailed, probing questions. A hunter is a guest when given permission to hunt, and questions, such as "how much land do you own," are really unnecessary and can be insulting.
Don’t leave any trash, litter, empty shell casings or piles of feathers on the land. If you find some trash, pick it up and pack it out with you. Landowners won’t mind your footprints but don’t leave anything else.
Follow up immediately after the hunt. Let the landowner know how you did and be sure to thank them for the privilege of hunting on their land.
Build a relationship. Offer to help out with chores or with some work time. Call, write or stop by during other times of the year.
"All in all, common courtesy and respect can go a long way when approaching a landowner for permission to hunt," Vandel noted. "The desired permission is never a guarantee, but common courtesy will leave a positive image for hunters and maybe open a possibility for another time. Remember, hunter-landowner relationships are best established when done well in advance of the season and best maintained by regular contacts made throughout the year."

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