Permission to Approach.
By The Ole Hedge Creeper
We often hear on forums and facebook groups,”I cant find anywhere to shoot”. so here is our new guide to gaining ground.
When I was asked to put pen to paper as it were, all about why I am so successful in gaining sporting permissions when others are not so successful, I thought blimey I really don’t know where to start and what I can really add that has not already been said or written about this subject before.
You see I am really and truly blessed with what I have and how hard I have worked to get my good reputation, I have had many people try to darken my good name mostly down to jealousy or small mindedness, But these people come and go as quickly as the changing wind, you know I have not actively looked for any sporting permission in well over 20 plus years now,
All of my hunting lands have come to me by way of recommendation for a job well done, farmer to farmer passing on my names and number etc with a recommendations of the highest standards, from down to earth country folk up to lords and ladies on their estates etc, I now have well over 10,000 acres of sporting rights under by belt that I hunt and shoot over and control the vermin on, with much of this land I am also asked to manage all the shooting and sporting rights on it too, so if someone asked a farmer for permission to shoot its normal for the farmer to ask me to interview them etc.
So here is where I thought I could be of some help to you out there looking to gain some sporting permission and so on, first of all one thing I insist on is that said land owner signs one of my professionally drawn up permission forms or shooting rights contracts, I simply won’t take a gun out of its slip unless this form is signed and dated etc., this also covers me for my insurance that I pay a good price for, no point having it if you don’t cross the T-‘s and dot the I’s now is there.
All this is going to take more than one article so I will write it all in a short series and see where it takes us, let’s start with your approach to said land owner or farmer etc, now the one thing that was drummed into my head as a young man weather approaching a company for a job or permission to shoot is dress accordingly.
I have had several people sent to me by a farmer or land owner over the last few years that did not dress accordingly, By this I mean a smart presentable appearance, now I don’t mean best bib and tucker here after all we are country folk so I am not expecting someone to turn up in a three piece suit etc.
No I mean smart as you can clean and tidy and always be polite and courteous, not as some have turned up here hair all a mess holes in their jeans with music bellowing out of their lowered boy racer car, it impresses me not and I will tell you it does not impress the ladies either.
Now this is my one bug bear for first impressions, a first impression really does count and starts you off on the right foot, I cannot emphasise this as you only get one chance of a first impression, this is so vital it’s got to be right and proper, this is normally were you will make or break a chance of getting a permission or not, you see if you get my alarm bells ringing straight away then my first impression or gut feeling will be a big flat NO.
In fact as I am sat here writing this there is a police helicopter hovering over a spring barley field on the farm next door, those shooters are shooting with a shot gun right across from a primary school, so as you can imagine if you are lucky enough to get a permission to hunt or shoot its easily lost, I can see my farmer next door talking with the police from here, I will hazard a guess those fellows won’t be invited back to shoot ever again.
You see it’s a very big thing when a farmer or land owner etc entrusts YOU to hunt or shoot over his land, so that permission won’t be given out lightly and in part if given reflects upon the trust entrusted in you, so a good if not great first impressions are an absolute must for me.
Now a dress code is simply this turn up as smart as you can clean and presentable, do not turn up in camo gun over your shoulder saying “Ere mate seen some rabbits on your field can I shoot them?” For starters leave the hunting clothes in your car ruck sack whatever and your gun in your car too, or at home if you don’t have a car, use common sense here, like I say you only get one chance of that first impression so make it a good one.
Now first of have all the proper paper work in order, have a carefully worded letter written out with your details, on whether or not you are qualified i.e. in pest control etc, if you have a shot gun licence or a fire arms certificate or both, I always think it’s a good idea to have copy of just the front of this in case said farmer gives you permission and wants a copy, don’t give him the gun bit as that’s nobody’s business but between you and your fire arms licencing department, also carry the original certificates with you so said farmer or land owner can see them, or if you just an air gunner then that is not to worry you catch my drift, also include in the letter your Fieldsports insurance, I personally don’t think you can beat the NGO that stands for The National Organisation Of Game Keepers (http://www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk/ For which I am one of their earliest members, also include all your contact details i.e. phone number email and don’t forget your address on the letter too.
I would also like to see references if you have them from other land owners or people you have shot for, weather its rats or rabbits pheasants or deer it matters not, this proves to me you might be a responsible shooter and an asset to have around, these with contact details on of said referee always go a long way in my book, if you don’t have these then that’s something you can work on.
Now a permission form is a must have, I recommend having on there all legal quarry etc with boxes for your details and the farmers details etc, there are several versions available off of the internet, this to me shows professionalism, this shows you are an asset you’re not someone who will turn up with a load of mates leave cartridges all over the ground or carcases of what you have shot etc, it also covers you and the land owner legally as a sort of informal contract between you who will now be acting as his agent on his land, he can also tick off what he does not want you to shoot or maybe add a legal quarry you don’t have on there etc.
This is a good idea to do for so many reason and to go fully into this would take several articles, I may go into this in a further article in this series we will see, but safe to say if you have to deal with say a dog walker who calls the police saying there is a man with a gun here, the police will have to come out an investigate the reports, but if you have all your paper work in order this makes life so much easier, we will go into letting the police etc know when you are shooting etc in a later article, but for now let’s examine further your first approach to the land owner etc, having the correct paper work is now essential in today’s modern world of field sports, as you can see a picture is building now for what I would like to see when you approach me to ask for permission.
Now we have looked all be it in brief at first impressions and paper work etc the one thing I have not touched on is a business card, Now I can see you scratching your head thinking a business card I only want to shoot a few feral pigeon or the odd rabbit etc, but believe me these are worth their weight in gold, for a few pounds you can have a card that has your details on with what you do and have them on you at all times.
I once gave a business card to a chap in a chip shop, not knowing who he was as we were just chatting about vermin control etc, he turned out to be the youngest son of a very prominent farmer in the area and from just that one card I now shoot six more farms, so as you can see you never know your luck in a big town or who you might be speaking to, I get mine made over at http://www.shootingcards.co.uk they are made up with everything you will ever need, all you do is add your contact details and hey presto a few days later you have them on your doorstep, it’s that simple and like I say worth their weight in gold, some guys have had some done with vista print and they are ok, but if you want to impress and get that permission get one from John at www.shootingcards.co.uk you won’t be disappointed I guarantee, and just a simple card could open up a bright sporting futer.
In the next part in this series we will examine further the many ways of approaching a land owner, in the hope you to will become successful in gaining a shooting or hunting permission, Until then I hope I have been of some success in opening up a new train of thought to becoming more successful in gaining permission to shoot or hunt, remember we are all ambassadors of field sports so please act accordingly and remember one lesson I teach, be a safe and considerate shot/hunter politeness cost nothing but pays a great dividend, also a safe shooter is always a better shooter.
Please keep the letters and emails coming in we do our very best to answer you all, but some do slip through the net like a bolting rabbit.
PERMISSION TO APROACH
By The Ole Hedge Creeper