Scouting for the Fall

February 13, 2009 by  

By Doug Leier

Soon your fishing will turn to hunting when you spot waterfowl hitting the fields.

Soon your fishing will turn to hunting when you spot waterfowl hitting the fields.

 I  hate to bear bad news, but summer is fading faster than the Minnesota Twins. While there is still some time to soak in the last remaining days of August, it’s also a good time to start preparations for autumn and all its splendor.

It’s never too soon to begin planning for fall hunting excursions. While the tally on waterfowl and upland game mid-summer data gathering is not yet known, odds are you’ve a pretty good idea of the areas you’ll likely target for deer, ducks, pheasants or grouse.

Now is the perfect time for an evening or weekend scouting excursion. You might find out that land you previously hunted changed ownership, or the land use practice has. Or maybe everything will look the same as it always has. Whatever the case may be, now is a good time to find out, instead of the day before a season opener.

In addition, late summer is a great time to just enjoy a trip along the dusty trail. And if you happen across an area that looks like a promising spot for a fall hunt, make a conscious effort to be polite and considerate when contacting the landowner.

While some landowners don’t mind a short visit, keep in mind they’re busy in late summer. Don’t be like the office co-worker who won’t leave you alone while you’re trying to meet a deadline. First, ask the landowner if he or she is busy, or better yet, lend a hand and extend your visit while fixing fence, throwing square bales—whatever it may be.

If the landowner wants to visit fine, but if the rains are coming and windrows are waiting for the combine, an unwanted work stoppage will decrease your odds of forging a positive relationship. The key is to recognize subtle hints and sincere gestures that indicate it’s time to move on.

If a landowner is busy and doesn’t offer to accept a phone call or a visit at a later time, consider that a polite decline and move along. No still means no, and pushing the subject will do more damage than good. Accept their rationale and continue on your trip.

Case in point: A few years back I asked a landowner for permission and he related that if he allowed me to hunt he’d have to allow access to any hunter who inquired. While that’s not a standard rule, the landowner saw it that way, and I thanked him for his time and departed, rather than beg, or worse yet, argue my point.

Some landowners happily allow walk in hunting access without permission

Some landowners happily allow walk in hunting access without permission

One phenomenon currently evolving is a generation of hunters who are choosing to hunt public access areas almost exclusively to avoid the work required to obtain permission from private landowners.

The bottom line is, only a small portion of North Dakota rests in public ownership. There will never be sufficient public opportunities to satisfy all hunters, and working with landowners is a must if we’re to sustain hunting in North Dakota. The responsibility rests with hunters to respect the wishes of the landowner.

As the day’s become shorter and you’re out and about late this summer, it’s a good time to connect with a landowner acquaintance if you want to ensure a variety of places to hunt this fall.


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