How to get shooting permissions
PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 March 2021
How can I secure shooting permissions? Dave Barham explains the finer deails of acquiring land to shoot on
Finding permission is something that nearly every hunter struggles with – in fact, it took me nearly four years to get my first proper one when I moved up to Lincolnshire from Peterborough. It’s never an easy task, especially if you’ve just moved into the area, but if you’ve exhausted all other avenues to obtain permission then you need to think smart and get your face out there into the community.
I know this might sound a bit farfetched, but a very good friend of mine has hundreds of hectares of land that he shoots on over in Derbyshire, and he lives in Doncaster. He started with one farm, controlling rabbits, and made a point of hitting the local pubs where he shoots. Over time, he’s built up quite a reputation for being good at what he does, as well as being a nice bloke. A lot of the locals and farmers in what is quite a large area spanning many villages even know him as ‘Mick The Rabbit’. What I’m trying to say here is, don’t be too disheartened. Even if you live in a block of flats in the middle of a city centre, a bit of homework and a lot of hard work can pay dividends and get you your much longed for perm.
Out And About
Finding somewhere with an obvious pest problem is a great place to start. Get those walking boots on and follow a few footpaths in and around farmland or woodland. Look for signs, be it rabbits, pigeons or squirrels causing damage, then work backwards to try to find out who owns that land.
Getting To Know You
If you’re living in a small village, or you’ve found an area where you think you’d like to shoot, it’s a really good idea to get your face known in the local pubs. Make a point of chatting to the locals, especially the older ones, because they are more likely to know everyone and might be able to steer you in the right direction.
You might be lucky enough to find a village pub, somewhere off the beaten track, where farmers congregate for a pie and a pint. If you can get in there you could stand a much better chance at obtaining new hunting grounds.
If obtaining permission on farmland keeps leading to a dead end, try approaching liveries and stables, where quite often there will be rabbit and rat problems. The key is to go out looking for problems for which you can offer an effective solution.
If you do find a likely shooting area with obvious pests, it’s important to get your timing and approach right when dealing with someone you don’t know, in order to try and obtain permission.
Last but not least, make sure you have some sort of insurance. Join either BASA or BASC. Being able to drop this into a conversation will help to bolster the fact that you are responsible and insured. Check out: www.airgunshooting.co.uk/basa-membership for more info.
Dave’s Top Tips
1. If you plan to visit the landowner, who will more often than not be a farmer or business person, try to time your visit for early evening – no later than 8pm. Around 6.30pm seems to be a good time.
2. Be confident and friendly in your approach. Folk are much more likely to say ‘Yes’ to someone who oozes confidence and authority. I’m not talking about bravado, I just mean knowing what you’re talking about – including the law!
3. Do your homework and find out the name of the person you are going to approach, especially their surname. Address them as Mr or Mrs when you meet, not ‘mate’ or ‘bud’.
4. Don’t be afraid to ‘name drop’, especially if you’ve obtained the name of the person you are approaching from ‘Old Bob’ down the Coach & Horses.
5. Try to make it as formal and respectful as possible when talking to the potential landowner, until such time as he or she instigates informal chat with you.
6. Dress in smart everyday wear, not camo gear and shooting boots. Just think of it like an informal job interview – it’s not a suit and tie job.
7. Ask little to gain big. Most of the guys I know with hectare upon hectare of land to shoot on started by asking to shoot in one field. Don’t jump in thinking you can shoot the entire farm or surrounding land from day one. It’s best to start with a small area or barn and gradually ask if you can spread out a bit further, once you’ve built up a rapport with the landowner.
8. Always be polite, even if the answer is no, or the landowner gets shirty with you. Don’t burn your bridges. There might come a time when your paths cross again under different circumstances, which could lead to you obtaining permission.
9. Don’t, under any circumstances, try to approach a farmer during harvesting or planting/sowing seasons – you’ll probably get a four-letter reply! It’s best to wait until the harvest is over, or the planting/sowing has been done.
10. Once permission is agreed between you and the landowner, you need to get it in writing. You can print off a consent form from the BASC website. It covers all bases and is something that you should carry with you at all times whilst out shooting on the land in question.