If you are blessed enough to have access to hunting on private land, be thankful, but also, get to know your hosts.
Think about things from the perspective of the landowner and ask yourself these questions: Are you the type of hunter YOU would enjoy having on your property? Would you enjoy having YOU around?
Hopefully, your host perceives you as a knowledgeable, safe hunter, a respectful guest, but just as importantly, a potential lifelong friend.
One way to ensure being invited back next year is to share your hunting successes. This can be achieved in a number of ways.
It is proper etiquette to bring your host a share of your meat. I’m not talking about small piece of bloody back strap shoved in a paper bag or a package of freezer-burned burger; I’m talking about fresh, clean, processed venison wrapped in freezer paper and marked properly.
Find out what your host enjoys most. Is it sausage, ground burger, tenderloins or back straps? Make it a point to deliver their cut of choice. God has provided you with this delicious meat and the deer are not yours to begin with. Don’t be stingy.
If you shoot a wallhanger buck (or whatever qualifies as a trophy to you) on your host’s property, be sure to share in the excitement. After all, taking a deer is cause for celebration!
Stop by their house and allow them to see the animal that once resided on their land, or at least send a picture. Show how much it means to you. Let them share in your experience, as well as your happiness.
Some landowners are not hunters, and might not appreciate seeing a dead animal the way you do, so take that into consideration. Getting to know your host well will prevent you from annoying them or making assumptions that could damage your relationship.
Of course, you should also remember all the other important rules of being a good guest.
Communication is vital. Exchange phone numbers and notify them when you will be on the premises. If you can’t show up, or decide to change a pre-announced stand location, call or text to let them know. A mix up in plans isn’t good for either hunter or landowner.
Close gates properly and pick up trash, even if it isn’t yours. Report sick or dead livestock. Keep an eye open for trespasser activity. Never EVER shoot toward any dwelling or farm equipment, even if it seems empty or unmanned.
There is so much more to being a hunting guest than showing up and making a kill. Take time to get to know your hosts, and share the celebration of hunting successes with them. These new friends are part of the overall experience.
And, remember, if you always give back a little more than your hosts gave to you, it’s likely you will have a place to celebrate hunting for many years.
– Photo Courtesy of Rob Cyr
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