Private Hunting Land – Real, or a Dream?

Many hunters talk about their spots, or even their super secret spots that they tell no one where they are or take anyone with them.  Well, this is true if you hunt public or private land in many cases, unless you have a good friend and are willing to share in your knowledge and  share your "spots".

I hunt two very small land parcels of land, both in total only sum up to about 5 acres of private property.  I mainly bow hunt and they are very hit or miss locations.  That being said, 98 percent of the time that I am in the woods it is on public land.  Normally, I am hunting Loch Raven.  However this coming fall, I hope to branch out and possibly try Liberty for bow hunting and possibly make a trip to Maryland's Eastern Shore to Pocomoke State Park  for some muzzleloader hunting and/or bow hunting.

Hunters are always asking do I know of any private land to hunt on. Well, the honest answer is no, and in fact, I have been looking for private land to hunt for a number of years now with little success.  Unless you know someone, have something to trade, or are willing to pay for the rights to hunt on private land it is tough if not impossible to come by in the central part of Maryland.  Like many of you, paying for hunting rights seems a little outlandish when there are so many deer and so much land out there, yet sadly the main reason you get a "no" answer is that the landowner does not like hunting so they do not allow hunting on their property.  The second most common answer is that the landowner wants privacy and does not allow anyone on their property.  The third most common answer that most people get is that the landowner already allow someone to hunt on their property.

Have you heard these before??  I have heard them all, some of them in a not so nice way, others were very nice about it but just were not willing.  Yet, the answer is almost always no.

This brings me to the question, is private land really something you can get permission to hunt on in this day and age, or has it become near to impossible and a worthless cause?

We have all been on our way home and seen deer in a field like the photo above and say, hmm wonder who owns that land.  Many of us make a note of this and go back and ask homeowners or landowners in and around that area before the next hunting season, but what are your real odds of getting a "yes"? Slim to none?

I consider May and June the best time of year to ask for permission to hunt on someone's land because this gives you an opportunity to help out on the land and/or the rest of the summer to get to know the landowner and allow them to gain your trust.  It never hurts to offer to help out on a farm, or help fix fences on the property, or whatever type of work might need done on the property.  Sometimes simply offering to cut a lawn might give you an "in" with the landowner and perhaps this would be a nice bargaining tool to get hunting permission. Another is that there are people out there that like deer meat, but do not care to pursue hunting.  However, they may be willing to allow you to hunt on their land in exchange for meat.  Nevertheless, you know what they say, be kind, be courteous, and generous in your offer and it will increase your odds of getting a "yes".  Even more, if you do not ask, you will never know the answer.

What do you think?  Is private land still something obtainable, or is that something that went out of style in the 90's?

To take this one step further, is private land a problem to get in other states, or is this just a localized problem to Maryland or the Mid-Atlantic?

I would love to hear everyone's thoughts and opinions on the subject so leave a comment!

8 Responses

  1. I have an unfair advantage - I do site work (happens to be environmental work) and any time you are visiting peoples' homes or farms the topic of hunting can come up. I got my goose lease this way (it costs real cash money, but otherwise I'd never have been introduced), and I've gotten many, many bow spots this way. You have to be in touch with landowners for some other reason, establish real trust, and prime them to invite you out. For firearm season on deer? FORGET IT. For ducks? NO WAY. For geese? Rarely - usually in the "someone already hunts it" category. But for bow hunting, there are many opportunities out there, esp. for late and early archery. Have you considered getting involved as a volunteer for one of the bowhunting societies or a conservation group? At least you'd meet other guys and if they like you, you'll often get regular invitations out of it to their places. And that's better than nothing (in fact, for my first several years in MD, that's the ONLY private access I ever got - one time invites!). Good luck - I know it's frustrating!
    • admin
      River Mud, Thanks for the comment. You do have an advantage being in your line of work, hunting property is all about the relationships and who you know. Like many things in the world today, having an in, or knowing someone can take you along way when trying to find hunting property, to job searches, to finding tradesmen to come work at your home and countless other things. Getting involved as a volunteer is a great idea, we ourselves have not done anything like that to date, but as life slows down a bit it is something we would like to do. As I am an avid outdoors-men, between hunting fishing, hiking, and just a pure love for all outdoors activities in general and nature itself. I would like to help and give back to nature in the future in more ways than I already do.
  2. And there's a saying in fundraising that applies here, "7 touches to the gift." The average number of times you actually have to meet someone for them to give you a major donation (say, anything over $1000) is seven times. I think that rule applies for getting the "gift" of hunting rights in a state like MD where land doesn't have to be posted for you to get ticketed for not having written permission....
  3. Good piece, asking some good questions. Public land hunting on the Eastern Shore for birds (read ducks and geese) is largely a fool's errand if you want to reliably harvest birds. But if you are anything like me, and are interested in soaking up the outdoors, and chatting with friends over a decoy spread, by all means, sign up for a blind at Wye Island. But those spots are largely burned up, sky-busted, and not productive in the utilitarian sense. The real question is, are private lands always better? Both River Mud and myself can attest that no, private lands aren't always better. I had a lease in Cecil County where I could watch birds fly over all day, but a nearby sanctuary pond meant my opportunities were limited. Likewise, a good friend on Kent Island has a family pit on private ground that was burned out because of a nearby pit's skybusting ways. If you get a rock-solid waterfowl lease, it is likely going to cost well over a thousand dollars a hunter and take years to get in, not to mention the fact that, because of the investment, you will likely to feel obligated to hunt the property every chance you get. When it comes to deer, the opportunities appear much more readily; mostly because anyone with five acres of timber can let you set up a tree stand, and farmers (and it seems hunters) value deer hunting much less than waterfowl. What I have discovered since moving to the Shore several years ago, after a quarter century hunting public lands in Western Maryland, is that deer hunting on private farmland on the Shore isn't the kind of hunting I prefer. I long for the days when I had to hike in, scout around, and pack a lunch. Now I have turned into the guy who is climbing down from my stand if there is not a deer in the bed of my truck by 10AM.
    • admin
      Steve, Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Always nice to hear from a fellow blogger. I am not a bird hunter really, I have been a couple times via invites from friends and family on guided hunts, of course always successful. So, I would have to more relate to you or River Mud on the waterfowl hunting and private versus public land. What I do know is deer hunting, and after years of hunting private and public land now, I can tell you private land with less hunting pressure produces better deer and more opportunities as you point out about your hunting on the eastern shore. What I can say is, you need to come hunt some public land in central Maryland such as one of the reservoirs if you miss those days of scouting and taking a lunch and working to see one or two deer. I spend all season long scouting and planning and patterning deer. Yes I do see deer, sometimes a lot, many times none. I miss the days of hunting private land and learning about the deer and learning when they are where. It was like a game of chess to me and you always see different deer so you were not patterning a deer like some people are able to do on private land, but the heard in general. Maybe we could switch for a day? haha :-) I have never been hunting on the eastern shore, but I am planning a trip to Pocomoke State Forest this fall for either bow or Muzzleloader hunting or maybe both. Again, great to hear from a fellow blogger whom is as involved in conservation and the outdoors as you are!
  4. Gino Ciotola
    I think it's still obtainable, but Maryland seems to be tougher than other states. I grew up in Western PA. Lots of big bucks and lots of hunters. However, there is also alot of land. Growing up, my family didn't own any of our own property so we'd go to local farmers and houses that backed to woods and just start knocking on doors. 95% of the land owners were very nice, something like 30% would let you hunt, especially with a bow. We obtained some great hunting land that my family still hunts today even though we have some of our own property. Maryland seems like a much different story. I moved here 7+ years ago and tried to use the same tactics I implemented in PA. Unfortunately, not the same results. Not everyone was so nice, and NOBODY would let me hunt. So as it is, I'm relegated to public land and I try to make the best of it. Now my experience has been in populated areas of Central MD, not the eastern shore or Southern MD, where I know thers is more land. It just seems that Marylanders have a different mentality, if that makes any sense. I don't feel nearly as comfortable asking people to hunt around here. Going to keep trying though. All you need is 1 person to say yes!
  5. Daniel Lee Jaco
    Needed to find landowner or landowners to hunt white tail with bow. I work construction and have the upmost respect for the land. Just looking for some place to hunt. Thankyou

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