Some property owners have a deer problem. Others have hunting bows itching to be used. A Richmond-based startup has got a solution for both.
Outdoor Access, which launched to coincide with the beginning of urban archery season Sept. 3, brings the people with the acreage and the people with the bows together.
“You’ve got a lot of homeowners in this situation that are very frustrated by the damage the deer are doing, and the danger of coming home every night and having to worry about deer jumping in front of your car,” said Buck Robinson, one of the company’s three founders. The serial entrepreneur’s latest business provides the tools for homeowners to grant temporary, paid, access to willing hunters, campers, and hikers who the company has put through background checks.
For hunters, it’s a chance to find hunting spots close to home. Robinson, who started hunting as a teenager, said he’s exactly the sort of hunter who benefits from the connection. When he first moved to Virginia from Los Angeles, he didn’t know anybody with land on which to hunt, so he had to go along with other hunting parties.
“Then I did get some access, but it’s an hour and a half away,” Robinson said. “It’s great, but it’s a whole day. My wife calls herself a hunting widow. I would leave before the sun came up, and by the time I came home the kids have already gone to bed.”
With Outdoor Access, he said, he can go hunting after work and be home in time for dinner.
“To us, it’s never been about acreage,” Robinson said. “Certainly that’s a consideration, but it’s more of a matter of, we want to be able to have a large number of properties that are within about a 30-minute drive of any urban area.”
Before launching the site, he went to work signing up landowners from all over the state, including Loudoun.
“We’re all over the place, so on a lot of the urban archery opportunities, they’re relatively small properties, somewhere in about the 1-acre range,” Robinson said. Others are about 5-10 acres, and a few are sprawling properties with thousands of acres.
The larger landowners in particular, he said, just want someone to deal with the deer problem.
“I hate to be so blunt, but I spend half my day hearing about all the damage to rhododendrons,” Robinson joked.
Landowners can also restrict certain activities on their property. For example, they can limit use to hikers and mountain bikers on their property. And rather than hunting permits that cover an entire season, they can restrict visitors to certain days. Simply listing the property doesn’t mean people can wander onto the property freely.
“As far as we’re concerned, that person’s trespassing,” Robinson said. “And they will be prosecuted not just by the landowner, but with the assistance of Outdoor Access.”
And not only do landowners and outdoorsmen benefit—so does the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
“The quid pro quo with a lot of that is how we are also asking our hunters to feed [the DGIF] back information about what they saw, where was it, so that there’s also this dynamic type of data capture and sharing that our guys are feeding back to the state biologists,” Robinson said.
To learn more, go to outdooraccess.com.