It wasn’t long ago that getting permission to hunt on someone’s property was very different. In many cases, it was as simple as getting a lead and making a phone call. Then, you could go visit the farmer, take a tour of the property, and everything was golden. Now, for many, there are lease agreements and outfitters to work around, not to mention a far greater concern for property lines and liability issues.
I’ve been blessed to be able to hunt the same private property for nearly 20 years with very little conflict. I believe this is primarily due to my grandpa’s concern for building a lasting relationship with the family that gave us permission to invade their farm every fall. It was a Godly example that shed light on how valuable the people are that God puts in our path each day, and the concern God has for those relationships being fruitful. Here’s a list of those quality actions that I believe laid the foundation for the lasting relationship that has extended beyond my grandad’s time on this earth.
Build the Foundation
I was grandfathered (quite literally) into the access I have to hunt. I will never forget the lengths they went to to make sure the property was secure for the coming season. It may have meant purchasing a few hogs for butchering from the farmer, or even making a special trip to help with a job on the property. Either way, it was building a foundation for me and my kids to have access today.
Building these relationships requires time and sometimes hard work. Helping with non-hunting items not only saves time and work for the owner, but allows you to spend time learning the property and the level of concern the property owner has for different things like opening and closing gates, how and where to park, etc. All of which are critical to farm operations.
In John 13, Jesus commands his disciples to “Love one another.” because by their love for one another, the world will know they belong to him. Loving one another takes work. Why? Because no matter how much you think you know about someone, there’s a good chance you don’t know as much as you think you do. What’s the best way to begin loving someone? Begin putting their needs before yours.
People First… Period
Bing concerned with, and growing the Hunter/landowner relationship means more than simply gaining and keeping access hunting rights to a property. It also means more than sending a Christmas gift or paying for electric at the campsite. Over the years, our relationship has grown to the point that we have celebrated holidays, gone on special trips together, even attended funeral services for loved ones of each other’s families. In recent years, we have even begun staying in the farmer’s own home rather than having to take the time to set up camp.
Having this kind of opportunity is unique and if it is to present itself at all, you have to be concerned with the well being of someone else more than your own needs or wants. The property I’ve had access to for so long has seen several hunters come and go from the property for various reasons, but the people most easily replaced are those who only treat the farmer as having value for the few days they need to use the property during the hunting season.
Jesus put it this way in Luke 6:31, “And as you with that others would do to you, do so to them.” If you wish that someone would care about you, care about them. Place their needs before yours. Hunting IS NOT as important as the wellbeing of another person.
Human beings tend to be most thankful for things that have been taken from them. Why? Because they often take those things for granted while they have them. If you are thankful for the property you have been given access to hunt, show it. Being thankful for a hunting spot isn’t about a hunting spot. It’s about another person being kind enough to allow you to trespass on their property.
In Colossians 3, Paul encourages the church to “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (See Post on Cultivating a Thankful Heart here.) Wouldn’t it be so much better to truly appreciate what we have BEFORE we lose it? Find ways to show the landowner you are thankful for their generosity all year through.
“A thankful heart is one of the primary identifying characteristics of a believer. It stands in stark contrast to pride, selfishness, and worry. And it helps fortify the believer’s trust in the Lord and reliance of His provision, even in the toughest times. No matter how choppy the seas become, a believer’s heart is buoyed by constant praise and gratefulness to the Lord.” –John MacArthur
God cares that we are cultivating healthy relationships. He cares that they are cultivated in His way. How can you seek to strengthen the existing relationships in your life and pursue new, godly ones?