East vs West Lands

Loudoun-VAHunting Public Land in the West to Private Property in the East

I have read a lot of articles surrounding the preparation, tricks and work needed to be performed to hunt public land in the western part of the US. But, I have not read any articles on how to locate and gain access to hunting land in the East which is usually private. Is one scenario easier than the other?

I would like to start this discussion on some basic points of hunting land in the East. First, you need to physically locate property to hunt. This can be done by driving by a piece of property be it a farm or someone with a handful of wooded acres. Now, if you don’t know who owns it, you can either walk up and knock on the door or head to the county clerks office and look for the owner information there. This is a similar task that you would need to hunting BLM in the west, as some of those pieces are land-locked and you can’t get there unless you own a helicopter, hot air balloon or some other Wiley E. Coyote contraption.

If you do not know the owner personally or do not know someone who knows the landowner personally, I recommend you do a little personal investigation. This may be by talking to their neighbors if you know them. Checking to see if they are on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn to see if you get some of their personality traits, hobbies and if they support fishing and hunting.

You will then need to attempt to get written permission to hunt their property. I say written, to CYA!!! I ran into an issue many years ago. I hunted a landlocked farm in Virginia. I had verbal permission from the landowner (who owned this for over 100 years) and the cattle rancher. On this property was the “original rancher’s” home, which they have lived for a little over 100 years. I had permission to bowhunt and the old cattle rancher had permission to rifle hunt. They did not like us Bowhunting “their” deer. So, they would ride their 4-wheelers through the woods while we were hunting or “sight” their rifles in during our hunts from their backyard. The landowner was an elderly woman and one day when she heard gun shots during archery season, she called the game warden. He met us in the middle of the field and after some long questioning on where the gun shots came, everybody lost out. We did not get in trouble with the law as we did nothing wrong, but the landowner did not allow another person to hunt there again.

If you hunt anywhere like I do in the East, I hunt small wooded lots of 25 acres or less. The downside for me is that I have hunters on two sides of me, poacher/trespassers on another side and the other side the land owner doesn’t allow hunting. But, the poacher/trespassers go onto his property and he thinks it’s me. The best was last year as they heard gun shots on their property, they called the Conservation Officer (CO) on me and he showed up at my house. I took the CO to my gun safe and showed him that my guns had not been cleaned not shot this season. I was only hunting with a bow this year, again. I then showed the aerial view on Google Earth and showed him where the poacher/trespassers generally were. He went out later that evening and sure enough he caught two guys hunting with shotguns on the third day of archery season. Lastly, I have nothing against fox hunters as a sport. But, letting the dogs run through the woods and fields pushing the deer drive me nuts! Or that dog that lags behind and is following my scent trail straight to my tree or all of the deer attractants that I have put out.

Loudoun VA Photo by Laura Shaw

In the end the comparison between the two are mostly similar, minus the terrain, vastness and the like. You are surrounded by other hunters that may be less than 100 yards from your stand. I will summarize it like this, one is not any easier than the other. They both present different and unique challenges, how you overcome those challenges should make you a better hunter!

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