He was a monster. A true gagger buck with ebony horns stretching toward the heavens. As one suffering from a serious pronghorn addiction, I wanted him in the worst way. The problem: The buck never wandered from his 4,000-acre private parcel home. I needed to stop watching him and focus my attention on other bucks I could hunt, but I couldn’t help myself.

I’d just left my glassing point and was kicking up dust on the dry dirt road with my ATV when I noticed another machine parked in the distance. I stopped to make sure the rider was OK, and quickly realized it was the landowner whose property the giant buck resided on. He happened to be on the search for three cows, and wasn’t having much luck. I quickly offered my services and he gladly accepted.

The two of us spent five hours combing the vast prairie on our machines. Not only did we find his missing cattle, but we also drove them back across a water gap and rejoined them with the rest of his herd.

After our chores were finished, we spent an hour just chatting about life. It was awesome, and needless to say, I gained access to his property and have been hunting it for over five years now.

Yes, my good fortune was by happenchance, but I’ve since used what I’ve learned and sought out other landowners. In total I’ve approached seven other landowners (two in adjoining states) and four have agreed to grant me access in exchange for day work. Of those four, I’ve developed very close friendships with three of the men and basically have my run of the property.

You can’t be afraid to step outside the box and let a landowner know you can’t afford a lease but aren’t afraid of a little manual labor. It has worked for me, and I know it will work for you as well.