Limited land access is often a big reason bowhunters get frustrated and quit hunting, especially when they see deer on land posted with “No Trespassing” signs, or trooping through areas frequented by people and minivans. Whether you need help finding budget-friendly places to hunt, or live in an urban area and seek a rural escape, finding places to hunt and enjoy the great outdoors is crucial. Yet it’s not always easy.
A Virginia-based company, Outdoor Access, is tackling the land-access issue through a website that connects deer hunters with landowners who want to thin their deer herd. Outdoor Access focuses on urban deer and damage they cause in suburbia (think: gardens, flower beds).
The website offers monthly memberships to hunters for $9.99, and provides them a growing list of Virginia property owners who grant land access. Some landowners offer free access, while others offer daily rates from $8 to $350. Landowners list their properties for free, and have some peace of mind knowing all members undergo a thorough background check, and that their property is covered under Outdoor Access’ $1 million liability insurance policy.
The website offers something that bowhunters seldom see: price deals driven by competition. As access leases become more popular with property owners, high prices can turn off budget-conscious sportsmen, especially new hunters and young hunters. Outdoor Access draws more landowners into the game, which forces competition that can drive down costs.
The idea of connecting landowners with bowhunters isn’t new. Some states have tried making the cyber-connection before, but with underwhelming results. The new approach is being compared to Uber or Airbnb because, unlike pay-to-play ranches that stay in business through high-priced deluxe accommodations and monster bucks, Outdoor Access lists people like you and me. These folks have land and abundant hunting opportunities, and they’ll allow access for the amount of time you need at a hunter-friendly price. And like Uber and Airbnb, Outdoor Access is driven by the share economy and features user feedback for all to review.
Outdoor Access has already expanded its Virginia listings beyond bowhunting in urban areas, and includes fishing, hiking and camping by willing landowners. In 2017 the service plans to expand its listings to hundreds of thousands of acres from Virginia to North Carolina to Louisiana and beyond.
Want to try it? The site is live and already connecting hunters and landowners in Virginia. But remember: These aren’t professionally guided hunts. And you must get a Virginia hunting license and all applicable game tags. There’s also no guarantee you’ll take a shot, but that’s true for any hunt, no matter where you are.
But you will get a place to stay, a place to hunt, and a mountain of new opportunities. What bowhunter can say no to that?