Jeff Hunt is a lifelong outdoorsman, and his passion for hunting is evident.

The internal medicine doctor said he struggled to find hunting ground when he moved his family back to Fargo. Finding a solution became important enough that he started a company that’s building a mobile app to facilitate payments from hunters to landowners.

The company is Huntier, and Hunt said it will be an option for landowners who want to open any parcels of land to hunters willing to pay for the privilege. Hunt said the idea came from a conversation with his business partner, Aykut Kir, about his struggle to connect with landowners.

“I said I wish there was a way to easily connect with landowners and garner trust, even if it costs you a few dollars to do so,” he said. “He said, ‘I do have a solution. We can build an app that can do this.’ We started the business in November of 2020, and we’ve been working on the application since then.”

The website, Huntier.net, went live in March and is ready for both landowners and hunters to sign up. A mobile application is in the works. The process is completely free for landowners.

“We’ve had a lot of really good feedback in the testing phase from landowners and hunters,” he said. “It’s not just an application for hunters. We wanted to build this as if it was built by landowners themselves.”

Hunt said he had plenty of questions for the 40 landowners during testing, but it went differently than he thought.

“They ran the interview,” he joked. “Thirty-nine of the 40 were very excited about what we’re doing. They said, this is really neat, and we addressed many of the concerns they had. They want to know that the people hunting on their land are trustworthy.”

The solution is a rating system, in which landowners will rate hunters, similar to how ridesharing customers would rate their Uber driver. The most egregious offenses will be investigated and could result in a hunter being kicked off the platform permanently.

“If it was something like, you shot at their house, then you would be dismissed and not be allowed to re-register,” he said. “That made landowners feel more comfortable.”

Another concern by landowners was knowing where hunters are on their property. Hunt said GPS tracking will be an option for a landowner, as well as email and push notifications on mobile.

“The GPS tracking would have Google Maps functionality, so you know exactly where they are,” he said. “That gives landowners a lot of oversight in what happens on their land. In the same breath, landowners can also choose to set it and forget it.”

To sign up, landowners will create an account and register their property through a series of steps that includes inputting coordinates of the land they want to make available. A “secondary system” will confirm registration with official property records to ensure accuracy. From there, landowners will register for an account with Stripe, which will deposit the appropriate fees into their bank accounts when a hunter signs up.

Hunt said landowners can draw exactly what parcels of land they’re opening, designate what species is being allowed to hunt and block off as much time as they want on a calendar inside the application. They can also limit the size of each hunting party.

“Landowners have a thousand different ways to customize how they set their property up,” he said.

When a hunter books a property, the landowner receives a confirmation email. The hunter gets 48 hours to cancel a booking for a full refund before the landowner is paid.

“We don’t want a situation where a hunter cancels and a landowner loses that (booking) at the last second,” he said.

Hunt said the idea is to help build relationships and communication between hunters and landowners. He said the application even has an instant messenger in which landowners and hunters can communicate on screen.

“The hunter can ask if there’s anything else they should know, or the landowner can request that they come to the house and talk to them first, or to tell them to enter the property a certain way,” Hunt said. “That conversation starts immediately, and then it goes away 24 hours after the hunt has concluded.”

With the controversy surrounding electronic posting and hunting rights in North Dakota, Hunt believes this is an option that could help ease the tension between landowners and hunters.

“I remember going to banquets for (Ducks Unlimited) and Pheasants Forever, and there was always a little bit of tension between hunting rights and property rights,” he said. “We want to make sure we treat landowners the way they should be treated.”

— Chris Aarhus, NDFU