by Jeanne Roberts
Photo courtesy of Land Pro Real Estate
Hunting, always a popular sport, is seeing new advocates as the number of female hunters rises.
According to one source, this number has climbed by 80 percent since the early 2000s. The reasons are as varied as the women who hunt, but part of the impetus is the recent (2007-2009) recession, and part is a desire to connect with the sources of food.
Add to that the empowering sensibility that women hunters get from literally “bringing home the bacon”, and it’s no surprise to see hunters in ponytails wearing Prois hunting jackets and carrying “designer” shotguns.
That aside, hunting is still a male-dominated (81 percent) sport, and the biggest problem male (and female) hunters have isn’t getting the right hunting gear or licenses, but finding land on which to hunt.
The world is crowded and getting more so every year. Finding open acreage on which to track and shoot that deer, bear, elk, or wild turkey is getting difficult. In many states east of the Mississippi and South of U.S. Route 40 (i.e., Missouri, Kentucky, and Virginia, for example), up to 95 percent of the land is privately owned. Here are some ways to simplify the search:
- Contact a hunting lease association, like the American Hunting Lease Association. The fees can be steep, but the hunting is excellent.
- Contact your state’s department of natural resources, or DNR. For example, the Minnesota DNR has created a new online tool for identifying public hunting and recreational land. Many states also have permit-only hunts for a fee and during a certain period of time.
- In Colorado, Alaska, and Kentucky, to name but a few, there are draw hunts. These cost, but the hunting is excellent and the amount may be refunded if you purchased an annual game-specific (i.e., deer, fish, etc.) license the previous year, for example.
- Check out federal reserves and refuges, i.e., the National Wildlife Refuge System, via the Federal Register.
- Search your local newspaper for classified ads, under “land for sale or lease”. The best places to look are small, hometown or county-specific newspapers that publish both in paper and online. Don’t shy away from private land sales. Landowners have a dedicated interest in reducing the amount of grazing damage deer can cause.
- Use social media for more than selfies. Express your interest in private land hunting on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, even Instagram. There are people out there in virtual space who own land and may not object to it being hunted.
- Set up a Google alert for private land for hunting – for a fee (or ideally for free, or for a portion of the game you shoot). Texas and Louisiana both have programs that connect hunters with private land that is open to hunting. Farther west and north, Montana has a private land/public hunting program, and Wyoming has a Hunter/Landowner Assistance Program, which offers tens of thousands of acres for hunting and fishing.
- Check the bulletin board at work, at church, the local sporting goods store, or at your gym. Also check the local grocery store or tavern. Better yet, make up a card asking for help locating hunting land and use your e-mail or phone number, whichever seems best and safest.
- If you belong to an organization (Elks, Shriners, Masons, or Knights of Columbus), ask the people you know best, or simply bring up the subject of hunting. What else are brotherhoods for?
- Talk to your neighbors, or ask your relatives. Join a hunting association and get to know fellow hunters. Do not, as one source suggests, go door-to-door, or ask at your child’s school. The first could be dangerous, and the second could send entirely the wrong message to teachers and administrative staff.