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Tips on Freelancing that show respect!!!

Discussion in 'Canadian Hunters Forum' started by 870, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. 870

    870 Senior Refuge Member

    Sep 2, 2000
    Waterfowl Heaven Alberta Canada
    The Canadian prairie / parkland region every year attracts a number of freelance waterfowlers for good reason,,, the hunting is world class and much of it is accessible just for the asking!!!

    And every year I get a few inquiries from refuge members about the ins and outs of how to go about freelancing in Canada, so I thought I would sort through some past Private Message materials and throw out the highlights here as suggestions on how to enjoy a successful western Canadian freelance hunt while showing respect to the local residents, landowners and other hunters.

    1) 99% of the best waterfowling will be on private farmland which means asking for permission is necessary. First impressions are huge,,, Offering up your first and last name,,, along with your occupation,,, and where you live (as in specific town as well as state / province) without the farmer asking for it makes a good first impression. Throwing in your planned group size / member info helps the process as well. Such information feely offered does not make you a complete stranger anymore.

    2) It is always better to ask in person when contacting landowners / farmer tenants for permission when possible, but finding the right person sometimes is difficult so phone calls do work as well. If the landowner does not farm the ground himself, you should ask if you need to talk to the renter. The renter can give permission as well and may have already given permission to someone else. It is wise to ask if anyone else has been given permission to hunt the property for the time you wish to hunt. Some hutterite colonies are notorious for letting in everybody who asks and you never know how many different outfits might show up on the field that morning.

    3) As a courtesy to other hunters in the area, do not tie up more shoots than you can take in the next couple days. It is best to ask the landowner to hunt a particular field on a particular day or two, not for blanket permission for the next week or so. Some farmers will give you blanket permission, but even then, keep the farmer informed of where you will be hunting on a daily basis. In this way, the farmer can be a better referee in controlling who is hunting where and when on his land. If your plans change and you decide against hunting a particular field you have asked for, let the farmer know that. There may be another group willing to hunt that field instead.

    It is a favorite outfitter practice is to tie up as many potential shoots for each week as possible to let them build and /or as back ups if needed. As a result, local resident hunters can get shut out of many shoots that may not even get taken by the outfitter. If freelancers do the same, local resentment towards all non resident hunters can be escalated. You have to remember a local resident has the local politician's ear much better than a non-local freelancer!

    4) Mobility / scouting is the key to good hunting. During the fall migration as the birds stage, they will be in pockets. It may be 10 - 50 miles between pockets of birds but when you find the staging areas you tend to find lots of birds. If you having no success gaining access, it may be because of hunting pressure , perhaps from a group of resident hunters,,, or non res freelancers,, or even a guiding outfit. My advice would to just move on and find another pocket of birds to hunt. Not every pocket will have the same level of pressure.

    5) Don't be too anxious to start hunting right away. Take some mornings off to scout as mornings offer a longer window of opportunity as they tend to feed much longer in the mornings giving you more time to find them on the fields. I would suggest you give yourself enough time to just scout for a couple days before you actually start hunting. Our birds tend to pattern very well and being on the X is critical to success. We like to see birds 2 - 3 times on a particular field or pothole before committing to a hunt.

    6) Unless you plan on targeting snow geese with huge decoy spreads, keep your group size down. Groups of 2- 5 usually offer the best quality hunting. You may even get invited to hunt with a local if your group size is manageable.

    7) Mix with the locals,,,,, local coffee shops and cafes are great places to meet farmers and other local contacts who can put you on to birds.

    8) Keep your vehicle and trailers as reasonably clean as is possible under the conditions even if that means frequent trips to the local car wash. Same goes for your own appearance. Save the bloody Rambo camo look for the field.

    9) Do not offer money to the landowner as it is illegal in AB and SK to pay for hunting access,, but small gifts of appreciation are okay... If you want to give birds away,, processed as in already cleaned birds or sausage / jerky do work. A bottle for some farmers works but you have to feel that one out,,, contrary to public opinion, not all farmers drink. Small tools (ie. vise grips)or something like cans of WD40, duct tape, etc. are all appreciated. You don't need gifts to gain access as most farmers do not expect a gift, but it does give them something to remember you by which usually bodes well for the next time you wish to hunt whether that is this year or next.

    Generally, polite respectful hunters willing to put in some miles scouting have no problem finding quality places to hunt and these same hunters will often find themselves being invited back next year!!!

    Sorry for the long post, I am not known for brevity when I get going on something I am passionate about!!!
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  2. Spikebox

    Spikebox Senior Refuge Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    North Texas
    Great advice 870!!

    I would add be sure and pick up empty hulls, trash and brush/chaff used to brush blinds.....even if you didn't leave it there to start with. We all must be very respectful to landowners/farmers as without there permission and acceptance to our passion, we as hunters are done.

    I keep track of everyone that grants permission and when my trip is done....stop by the local post office and send them all quick "Thank You" means more than you know.
    Constructeur likes this.
  3. bang you'r dead

    bang you'r dead Canada Forum Mod. Eh! Moderator Flyway Manager

    Apr 9, 2003
    The Pas Manitoba
    Nice. I always try to stop by and thank the landowners in person, and if I know they like a drink or two, I'll drop off a bottle of their favorite, or a gift certificate to a local store or restaurant.
    Constructeur likes this.
  4. livtohunt1on1

    livtohunt1on1 Senior Refuge Member

    Nov 21, 2011
    Lost on the gravel
    Great post!
    Something to add myself... Realize that our hunting season usually coincides with their busiest time of the year (harvest). Be respectful of that whether its calling the house, talking in the field, or meeting them head on on the gravel.
  5. whiskyjack

    whiskyjack Refuge Member

    Apr 10, 2014
    Alberta Canada
    This year (2017) in particular, please be sensitive to the landowners wishes to not drive in fields. Also try not to smoke in the fields as things are tinder dry in much of the Southern Prairies (AB/SK), a prairie fire is a very real possibility. Many ranchers in SE Alberta are already changing their access requirements. I have started to hear mention that some are either closing off access or are seriously considering doing so. This past week I have been all the way from Maple Creek SK across S. Alberta to the Crowsnest Pass. In the 17 years I have lived in this region of Alberta I can't recall it being this dry although 2000/01 were pretty close.
  6. dukhnter8

    dukhnter8 Senior Refuge Member

    Dec 12, 2011
    Attica, New York (not the prison)
    Another thing I do when asking permission is to take sunglasses off. Shake their hand and look them in the eye. Not sure if it works but seems like it helps.
    KID CREOLE likes this.
  7. deadbirdfindit

    deadbirdfindit New Member

    Sep 30, 2014
    I would also suggest getting your hands on RM maps that can be ordered on line or purchased in country. Get a phone book as many farmers are still listed. There is nothing more troubling than when we show up to a field in which we glassed the night before only to have other American hunters try to squat on the spot not having been granted permission. My beef is not sharing the birds or the field but more so the lack of respect for the Canadian farmers. As a guest in Canada I am troubled more every year by my fellow American hunters and their lack of respect for the land and their hosts. If we want to continue to have the priveledge of guide free hunting in Canada we need to hunt and conduct ourselves in manner that promotes goodwill and mutual respect. Done preaching. Look forward to seeing my Canadian friends on the prairie next month.

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