Today’s blog post was inspired by a Facebook status from a husband/wife team who are hardcore hunters. I mean, this duo basically lives, eats and breaths mostly deer hunting, however occasionally other species make their bucket list. What captured my attention is a series of pictures they posted…and seeing them got me thinking just how this couple is a class outdoor act.
Perhaps you think it was the pictures themselves that were awe inspiring. Nope! It was simply sharing a snapshot of what is happening in life—you know, telling Facebook friends the mundane things about what you are currently doing—that struck a deep chord with me.
This couple was out farming. He was driving a tractor pulling a chisel plow. She was riding another tractor discing a different field. Together, they were helping out a farmer who was getting a bit behind in his work. It’s the kind of assistance neighbors often give neighbors in the rural areas, but this hunting duo hails from the big city. They aren’t true country folk. They are hunters visiting for the day from a metropolitan area.
Long ago they realized how gaining access onto new hunting lands is about building personal relationships. It’s not just finding out the landowner’s first name and schmoozing for a few minutes each fall, instead it’s about discovering much more pertaining to his life. It’s learning his name, his wife’s name, the names of all the children, what hobbies he has, his favorite foods…I think you get the picture. Over the years they took the time first to build a friendship, and second to enter into a handshake agreement that includes access to his land seeking wildlife.
So, this couple rises and shines early in the morning like most deer hunters do. They hunt for several prime morning hours…then they ditch their Scent Lok for their coveralls. They become the sort of hired-hand to the farmer he most certainly doesn’t expect, but over the years has grown to dearly appreciate. For those five or six hours mid-day when this husband and wife could be hunting, instead they are solidifying a relationship that promises to last for many years.
Don’t think for a moment the farmer and his family don’t recognize this special act. In fact, it might have started out as the hunters feeling indebted to the landowner for initially granting them permission to hunt, but this has morphed into something much bigger. These days, it is the farmer feeling somewhat obligated to the hunters for all their hard work.
How do you think the farmer is apt to satiate this feeling of indebtedness? I’ll tell you…he realizes that no other hunter prior to this couple has ever been so gracious in their helpful actions. Oh, sure, he knows this is sort of a quid pro quo relationship where each party is getting something of value, but this farmer offers the couple even more. And quite deservingly so.
Because no other hunter has ever taken the time to first become friends with the farmer and then to work their butts off (a trait most farmers and rural folks quickly appreciate and use to evaluate people), these hunters get a special reward. Yup, they get exclusive hunting rights on the landowner’s property. Now, what value do you place on that?
You see, when dealing with landowners in rural America your handshakes, your token gifts of appreciation, your consideration shown while on the property is all important. Yet, if you want something more than most hunters get a person needs to be prepared to give something more than most hunters are willing to give.
Time, friendship, some occasional sweat equity…these all leave deep impressions on those folks who are the gatekeepers to the property you want to hunt. If you want to be treated better than just some “ordinary” hunter, you need to do the things that set you apart from all others. That’s who I want hunting on my land when given the choice.
©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.