How to Find the Best Hunting Spots Where You Live and Get Permission to Hunt
Editor’s Note: Dennis Garrett of Harlan, Kentucky, in the southeastern corner of the state, lives in the Appalachian Mountains and says, “I've worn Mossy Oak from the first time I started hunting. I've been deer hunting since 1998, but my dad took me squirrel hunting with him when I was too small to carry a gun. I like the Mossy Oak Treestand pattern. When the leaves are off the trees in our section of the country, our trees look gray, and then I’ll resemble a part of the tree. During the early hunting season, I like Mossy Oak Infinity.”
I hunt public lands here in the Appalachian Mountains where most of our mountaintops have been clear-cut and mined for coal, using strip mining tactics. Most of this property has been reclaimed, and the public lands are owned by mining companies. There aren’t many trees on the hilltops, but down in the valleys and along the creek edges, you’ll find plenty of big trees. We do have thousands of acres on which to hunt.
The number-one problem we have to overcome in this section of Kentucky is getting away from the crowd. Many years ago I’ve established a philosophy that’s helped me. My philosophy is that, “I’ll always try to go a little farther into the property than the hunters who will be hunting behind me will go.” I start walking before daylight. When I've walked as far as I can go, I’ll move forward a little bit farther.
One of my tree stand spots is about a 45-minute walk straight up a mountain at one of the most-remote places on the property. When I go to that stand, I plan to stay there all day. At lunchtime, I’ll climb down out of my stand, walk to the back side of the ridge and eat lunch, or I may stay in my stand and eat a can of Vienna sausages. Numbers of ponds, grass and pine trees are on this reclaimed property, but I look for places that have an abundance of acorns. We don’t have any standing crops around us - like corn or soybeans that you may discover in other areas. So primarily, we hunt over white oak and red oak acorn trees. One of my best spots is 59 acres of private land on the other side of a ridge that borders the mining company’s property. Below my spot are three finger ridges with some really-good grassy areas that split off the main ridge. One of the advantages of hunting these 59 acres that belong to my father-in-law is that the mining property doesn’t permit any hunting. Some good bedding areas are on the mining company’s property that no one can hunt.
Also, I have another spot adjacent to this mining property on another piece of private land. I searched for some time to find out who owned that property. But when I found the property owner’s name, I went to him and told him that I really wanted to deer hunt his property. I promised I wouldn’t go on his land until I obtained permission from him. He owned about 500 acres that bordered the mining company’s land and also a RV park. Today I hunt in the middle of the property to leave a 200-acre border that I don’t hunt between the RV park and my hunting site. I'm only actually hunting 300 acres of the 500.
Often, getting permission to hunt land is difficult in my part of the country, because there's so-little private property there. Too, many landowners have had bad experiences of hunters not taking care of their lands. However, I always tell the landowners who let me hunt on their property that I’ll leave their land in better shape than it’s been when I’ve arrived. If I see a fence down, I repair it. If a gate has fallen over, I’ll put a hinge on it. If I see litter, I’ll pick it up. I’ll take care of that land like it’s mine.
Over the years, I’ve learned that landowners talk to each other. I've actually had landowners come to me and say, “I've heard about you from another landowner and that you take care of his property when you hunt there. How would you like to hunt my property?” If I had one tip about how to find great private property adjacent to, near to or surrounded by public-hunting areas, I’d suggest getting one landowner to allow you to hunt his land and work really hard to help take care of his property. Often, he’ll refer you to other landowners. Your reputation for helping landowners will enable you to locate private lands to hunt near public lands that will pay off in some nice deer for you.
Tomorrow: Dennis Garrett Says Kentucky Has It All