Getting Permission the Right Way

Here is Peter's O'Brien's message reprinted from November MDEA archives.

The key to getting permission is to do it right the first time.

One of these days I may dust off my notes and submit an article to a TH magazine on the topic, if I do the title will be "You never get a second chance to make a first impression"

First and foremost you have to think like the homeowner. Why in God's name would they want to give you permission? Nobody likes strangers coming to the door and hitting them up for donations, magazine sales permission to hunt, etc. It just isn't human nature.

On top of that people HATE to make snap or legal sounding written decisions, for that reason throw away the permission slips unless you know for certain there are millions of dollars of booty on that property. Waving a permission slip only sets people on edge. They assume that there must be something of great value or else this stranger wouldn't be wanting my signature on a document they could later use "IN COURT!!" Automatic "NO" coming right up.

Forget phone calls and letters, it is extremely easy to say no to those, we all do it every day by throwing away junk mail we don't even open or immediately terminating telemarketing calls we get every night about supper time.

Dress neatly, forget cute, politcal or statement T shirts. If you're a male, wear a shirt with a collar, take off the sunglasses, remove your hat or ballcap, cops wear dark shades to hide nervousness and intimidate people, you don't want to do that. Wear your cleanest hunting clothes, not some beat up junk you "save for metal detecting"

Remember you are trying to come across as non threatening; a hobbyist who does this crazy thing and will not leave holes or disrespect thier property.

Above all , KEEP IT SIMPLE, at the permission stage. Identify yourself, SMILE, tell them where you are from, why you do it and that you won't cause any damage to their property. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don't give them an opportunity or a reason to say NO. If hunting with a partner, the other should stay in the car until permission is granted. If you are a smoker, don't go to the door with one in your hand or mouth. Don't offer to split finds, or make promises you may not want to keep or honor later on.

I always step back at least two paces from door after knocking or ringing the bell. Don't lean into their faces, or peer past them into their homes. Don't enter their homes, unless you are a genuine friend and have visited the place at least three or more times. Sadly in today's society all those actions can be deemed as casing the place or aggressive actions by strangers.

Offer to "show" them anything you find before you leave, keyword here is SHOW, you determine what you show them, what and how much depends on what you find, and your personal ethics in a given situation. I know of no one that empties thier apron on the owners porch and says, "take what you want homeowner, I'll settle for the rest"

Ask if they have lost any items in the yard, and inform them that you'll be glad to keep an eye out for them while you poke around and will be sure to return it to them.

Once you have permission, hunt professionally and courteously, if the kids or the owner or his pit bull comes out and wants to follow you around decide whether the opportunity is worth the aggravation, If it upsets you, don't show any outward signs of it. Simply turn off your machine and complain that your batteries have died or you just remembered a previous engagement. Leave cheerfully, ask if you can come back at another time, (like when the little trolls are in school) when you get new batteries, etc. Showing your displeasure or annoyance will not only offend the homeowner but will poison the neighborhood as well. You can be assured that anything you do any yard will be the topic of discussion for the entire neighborhood.

Don't try to educate or convince them of the validity of your chosen hobby. Save that for a later date, there is nothing more boring than being trapped by a stranger going on and on about something means nothing to you.

If turned down, cheerfully thank them and move on, don't be a pest and try to convince them to let you hunt, chalk it up to percentages and knock on the neighbor's door. There are about 200 million homes in the US, and at least a 100 million are worth hunting, don't fret over not getting a particular site. Come back another day if you must.

Always maintain an even composure when recovering targets, doing cartwheels or calling over your hunting partners to crow about the $20 gold piece or CSA beltbuckle you just recovered is a sure way lose the item you found and convince the owner his property has too many valuable items on it to allow strangers to get the goodies. If he thinks that way you can bet his neighbors will too.

Finally don't overstay your visit, even if you are finding great stuff. Remember it is their yard and they might want to use it today also, if you obtained permission chances are they will let you come back again unless you wear out your welcome. Don't hunt into the dark and then tell them there was nothing in the yard.. would you believe someone telling you the same? 2-3 hours is the maximum you should hunt a given site at a time without encroaching on the homeowners space. Do it right and not only will you be welcomed back, but in many cases the homeowner will go to bat for you with the neighbors and or friends or give you leads to other properties in the family which is a big WIN situation because they will do the asking for you!

Good luck, keep it simple and cheerful, it works.