I find myself often day dreaming of one day having a large piece of prime hunting acreage that I can call my own. No more hunting on other peoples’ terms, and I can have the luxury to do exactly what I want to do on my property. Sadly, it may be a while before I attain this life-long goal of mine, and I have to make do with what I have. That means I will be hitting the road, with a list of addresses in hand, looking for the next landowner to say the magic word “yes”. Even though I go in with an optimistic mentality, I know that not every person is going to give me permission to hunt their land. It can be tough sometimes because it is not the easiest thing to do, but it is very much rewarding once a new property is acquired. In efforts to better prepare you for your “door knocking” adventure, I have provided a couple tips below that have really helped me be successful when setting out to ask for hunting permission. I also included a script that you can try out that has really worked for me.
First and foremost, you gotta get your mind right. Set some expectations and goals for yourself. Having the expectation that you are going to fail more than you are going to succeed is huge. I actually anticipate the landowner telling me no or giving some sort of an excuse as to why they won’t let me hunt. Believe it or not this helps you to stay positive and keeps your morale up. Set some goals for yourself and make time to follow through on them. If you make a commitment to knock on three doors every weekend, given there are typically 4 weekends in a month, in just 3 months you will have asked thirty-six landowners for permission. Throw in a weekend that you commit to knock on an additional 15 houses in one weekend, and you are looking at over fifty opportunities to gain permission. The point is the more times you ask for permission, the higher your odds are of getting a “yes”. Set some expectations and pound the pavement.
Secondly, it is always good to be prepared for each interaction you have. Obviously, you want to dress appropriately. No one is requiring you to wear a suit and tie, but at least throw on some good blue jeans and a nice shirt. Most importantly, you have to know what you are going to say. Written below is a script that I use to start a conversation with a landowner. Keep in mind that this script does not work if you sound like a robot. When you recite these lines please use a genuine, authentic tone to make the conversation sound realistic. You do not want to sound like a watch salesman.
ME: “Hello, my name is John and I know you were not expecting me to stop by today, so I promise to be brief is that okay?”
This earns you the right to advance to the big question without asking the question of “do you have time today?” It is just a simple and polite way of getting right to the point. You can use this every time you knock on a door and speak with a landowner. I have not had anyone react negatively to this approach, and I strongly believe that this starting line breaks the ice well and starts the conversation off smoothly.
ME: “Great. Well before I go any further I first want to quickly introduce myself. Like I said, my name is John and I am a member of the NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation) and I have been an avid hunter for 13 years. I truly enjoy hunting and I am wondering if you would allow me to hunt your land. I would be willing to exchange some of my time to do some labor if you have any projects or work that needs to be done. Is that something we could work out?”
I want to explain in more detail why some of these key words in this part of the script are going to help you. By associating yourself with a known organization, preferably a well-known organization, people will be able to quickly identify you. You do not have to use a conservation organization. If you are a college student tell them what college you attend if it is in the area. The key point is to identify yourself with something that hopefully the landowner can relate to. By creating an identity you form a positive or professional image of yourself, which ultimately will work into your favor. If you live nearby then tell them whereabouts you live. This will give them a general idea as to what part of the neighborhood you’re from, which could lead to a great conversation. You might end up knowing this person’s friend or family member, which again is another great conversation starter. The ultimate goal here is to either associate or identify yourself with something or someone they can possibly relate to.
Overall, the combination of identifying yourself, expressing that hunting is your passion and offering a benefit to the landowner will certainly give you greater odds of success. To simplify things, I like to use the acronym “PBC” (Purpose, Benefit and Check). In my example, my “purpose” was to gain permission to hunt on the landowner’s property. The “benefit” was to offer my time to do some labor or work for the landowner. Lastly, the “check” was stated as, “Is that something we could work out?” It is important to deliver your “check” with confidence and solid eye contact.
Obviously, you can add your own style to this model. The example I provided is something that I use often and it works great for me. I am never at a loss for words and my deliver is strong and consistent. Having a “PBC” model in place will definitely help you organize your thoughts and delivery, but my example script definitely will not work for everyone. Customize a “PBC” for yourself and give it a try the next time you go door knocking. Not only will you feel more confident, but I strongly believe that this will bring you success.