This land is your land

Last Friday Owen and I went out for a really nice morning drive to see what there was for geese in the area. The days leading up to our trip had been getting colder and colder and I had begun to notice that there were far fewer birds passing over the house. Having really only gone out for geese once so far this year I was hoping I hadn’t missed all the action and could get one more hunt in.

We started off by checking a few areas that had been previously rich with geese but were disappointed to find that most of those fields had been cultivated and there were no birds on them at all. After striking out from there, we headed a little more northeast where we found a massive flock of geese. 

We pulled into an approach and sat watching the birds come in for while, or at least I did, Owen was more engrossed in chewing on a sock that he managed to get off his foot. As flock after flock kept landing I pulled out the RM map and looked to see who the landowner was and where there house was located. Often the landowner is several kilometres away from the field that you’re looking to get permission and requires significant time scanning the map to locate the yard. Fortunately this time the owners house backed onto the field I wanted to hunt. The geese were swarming in the field and sky above it and I knew that other hunters would be out spotting and I needed to get to the owner first. 

Owen and I drove pretty quickly to the yard. It was a really pretty place with a well maintained hiproof barn, two storey house and few out buildings that gave the place a real rustic appeal. I left Owen in the car as he was still enthralled by his sock and went to knock on the door.  After ringing the door bell and knocking without any sign of occupation I decided to leave a note for the owners to call me when they got home. I got back into the car and set off again in search of more birds but ended up having to take Owen home for a snack since the sock appetizer only peaked his appetite.

Throughout the day I waited, hoping to get the call that would allow me to go on what would surely be an epic hunt. I could visualize it from the time I laid eyes on the field; freshly cultivated with a skiff of snow, colder weather, low clouds, small frequent flocks and birds so hungry they’d be less picky about the decoy spread. But despite my impatient waiting the call never came and eventually I decided I’d load Owen back into the car and go see if they were home after work around 5 pm. 

When I pulled up to the house my note was still where I left it and there was still no sign of life in the house. I decided I’d go home and get supper ready then after supper come back one last time. If they weren’t there then I’d have to right the hunt off. After supper I did just as I planned, I went back to the cute farm and was crestfallen as pulled up and saw there were still no lights on in the house. I drove out of the yard disappointed but glad that I had made the extra effort to try and get permission. I pulled over on the side of the road about two-hundred meters from the approach and checked my map to see if I could find the owner of a neighbouring field and maybe draw a few really dumb birds close enough to take a shot at. Again I faced defeat as the map showed that all the surrounding land was part of a large agricultural conglomerate whose owners I’d never be able to track down. 

Having written off the hunt I drove home making plans in my head to take a few rifles to the range and get them zeroed for the deer season that was rapidly approaching. My thoughts were interrupted by my cell phone going off and my heart leaping with hope that it was the call I’d been waiting for so I pulled over as fast and safely as possible so I could answer the phone. The caller was in fact the landowner and he informed me that he didn’t allow hunters on his property. He then also questioned whether I was the vehicle driving on and off his property all day and demanded to know my vehicle license, make and model. Knowing I did nothing wrong I gave it to him and apologized for any inconvenience I may have caused him and managed to get half my goodbye out before he hung up.

Despite having done nothing wrong I initially found it irksome that he denied me permission and asked me for my vehicle info. I found myself thinking that I had every right to try and get in touch with him to get permission to hunt. That thought was quickly followed up by my next which was, he had every right to say no and inquire of me and what I was doing since I was on his property. I know if it was me I’d have done the same thing and the frustration and annoyance disappeared.

I know it doesn’t really seem like much of a hunting story but I think it’s a good one to relate as getting permission to hunt on private property is an integral part of hunting and something a broke bespoke hunter should always do, even if it costs you a hunt. 

Often all it takes for a landowner to be soured towards hunters is one bad experience. If they let someone hunt on their property who left a gate down letting livestock out or wrecked a crop driving on it, from then on outit’s just easier to say no. One inconsiderate hunter has ruined it for everyone else for a long time, possibly forever. 

In my case not getting permission for the hunt that morning enabled me to get out and test fire and zero three rifles that I plan to review during deer season. One of them it turned out needed some gunsmithing and if I had gone on the hunt I never would have known.

I’d like to finish by thanking my brother Alex and give him credit for the excellent picture he took of a home made no-hunting sign he came across. The signs may come in all make, manner and age but ultimately the responsibility for ensuring they’re not trespassing or hunting where it’s not allowed is on the hunter.  

Always be aware of where you are and ensure you have permission if required before you go off in pursuit of game.

Until next time, all the best.

John

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