I know I’m not the only one who has been guilty of assuming that any deer management I tried to accomplish would be negated when a deer crossed the fence onto the neighbor’s land. It turned out, however, that after meeting my neighbor and sharing my passion for deer hunting, we actually had similar interests when it came to Quality Deer Management. The best advice I can give to keep these false assumptions from happening is to get out there and meet the neighbors!
As QDMA’s Wildlife Management Cooperative Specialist in southern Missouri, I help hunters meet their neighbors and build positive deer management relationships across property lines. Here are five ways to help make that first meeting possible.
1. Be visible
This can be as simple as being outside by the entrance of your property. You could fix fence, pick up trash, plant flowers, or anything that puts you front and center when the neighbors go by. It may take a few times of being out there before anyone associates you with that property, so be patient. Oftentimes, the neighbors will see you out there and stop to say hi and introduce themselves.
2. Go for a walk
One of the best ways I have found to meet the majority of my neighbors is to go for a walk down the road. Many times, your neighbors will be the ones following step one by being visible outside on their own property. This is a great opportunity to stop and introduce yourself. Let them know who you are and where your property is located.
3. Have a “block party”
Inviting your neighbors to a cookout is a great way to introduce yourself and get to know them. There are some great hunting apps/websites, like onX, that provide property owner information, so you can get the name and mailing address of neighboring landowners. You could also go a different route and look up the property owner information at the county tax assessor’s website based on the public tax records. Once you obtain their information, write them a friendly invitation to your cookout. Provide them with your contact information so they can RSVP. They might not be able to make it on the date you have set, but hopefully they will respond, and you can stay in touch for a future meet-and-greet.
4. Get involved in the community
If you want to meet people, you must go where they are. You can join the local volunteer fire department (very helpful for prescribed burns), go to church, join a local civic club, visit the feed store, coffee shop or a local auction house to name a few. This will help you network with people, meet your neighbors, and could very well lead to some great friendships.
5. Invite them to chat about deer, outside of deer season
Next to actually hunting, one of the things deer hunters like to do most is talk about deer hunting. We love to discuss and debate hunting tactics, the best and most efficient implements, our weapon of choice, or tell the story about the one that got away. Talking about a common interest, like hunting, can lead to lasting connections and possibly even future shared hunting adventures with them.
A couple of years ago, my family and I moved out-of-state to a place where we didn’t know anyone. I used all five of these tips in meeting my neighbors. I met neighbors when I was out for a walk, and they were outside in their yard. I met neighbors while mowing my yard. I met neighbors at community meetings, church, and at yard sales. If you are like me, deer are always on your brain, so that inevitably came up in conversation at some point. These meetings led to great conversation, as well as great relationships. Just being outside allowed me to meet my next-door neighbor when they let their dog out. I had a dog as well, and that was a great icebreaker to spark a conversation. Later that same week, that neighbor called me to let me know my dog had dug under the fence and got out. If I hadn’t made that connection earlier that week, my dog may have been lost.
Meeting your neighbors can be the basis for forming or growing a successful wildlife cooperative. Cooperatives promote healthy deer herds, healthy habitat and improved hunting quality. They help neighbors join together in cooperation to achieve common goals, and it actually forms a sense of community and belonging. Cooperatives can also be a great way to collectively protect your properties by joining together like a neighborhood watch.
Spring and Summer are great times to get out there and meet the neighbors. The weather is nice, people are outside, and spirits are high! So, what are you waiting for? Get out and meet the neighbors! It could be one of the best moves you’ve ever made for your hunting success!
If you would like additional information about how a QDM Cooperative can improve the deer and deer hunting on your property, or to learn how to start a Cooperative in your area, visit our NDA Cooperatives page.