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QR Posts aims to simplify hunter-landowner contacts

A Fargo, North Dakota, company, exhibiting recently at the Northern Ag Expo trade show in Fargo, has created a QR Code solution, selling landowners signs that hunters can use to determine if land is open for hunting and allows landowners to schedule use without phone calls.

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Levi Otis (right) lobbyist for Ellingson Companies, a water management company, and Kyle Reierson, a computer company of Fargo, North Dakota, who works remotely for a computer company in Denver, Colorado, have created a new company – QR Post. It allows hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to quickly learn whether land is posted and to arrange access via texts and emails. Photo taken Dec. 1, 2021, in Fargo, North Dakota. Mikkel Pates / Agweek

FARGO, North Dakota — Imagine using your smartphone to read a QR code to know if a land parcel is open for hunting and seamlessly to request dates via text message.

That’s a reality today from QR Posts, a new company in Fargo, owned by Levi Otis and his brother-in-law, Kyle Reierson. The company puts a QR code on a posted sign, unique to each parcel.

Otis is a lobbyist for Ellingson Companies, a water management company, and Reierson lives in Fargo and does computer work for a Denver, Colorado, company.

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The orange QR Post signs are $15 for a poly-metal sign, or $4 for a vinyl sign, with no-fade ink. The signs are made by a Fargo, North Dakota, company and are made to last for many years. Kyle Reierson and Levi Otis started the company in part to help ease communications between landowners and hunters. Photo taken Dec. 1, 2021, in Fargo, North Dakota. Mikkel Pates / Agweek

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“QR Posts is a land management web application that allows farmers to manage all of their hunting requests by their cell phone or computer, on a daily basis, 24-7,” Otis explained recently, at the company’s booth at the Northern Ag Expo in Fargo. The company marked one year in operation in October 2021 but had been relatively quiet as they worked through patent paperwork.

QR stands for “Quick Response” and is the trademark for a kind of barcode, easily readable by smartphones, that can be read two directions — top to bottom and right to left. The codes were invented in 1994 and approved for use internationally in 2000.

QR Posts put its first signs out in North Dakota, where landowners who want to limit access to land are required to post for no trespassing. Otis estimates that about 50,000 acres are posted this way in North Dakota.

No-post states

The company also has signs in Minnesota where all of the land is considered closed without permission. They are promoting their signs in 38 states, and their signs are up in ten states.

“We have to do some programming for the other 12 where they have specific regulations on signs,” he said.

Client-landowners can log into the company’s website, mapping out all of the land they want to post.

Each parcel goes with a unique QR post, and a unique identifier — perhaps a name the landowner uses to denote particular parcels with particular family origins. The signs come with those descriptions to make the posting easier.

QR Post solves a problem even in states where posting isn’t required to limit land access. Landowners still can be bombarded with telephone calls.

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“Now they put the signs up and can communicate that way, without taking a phone call during dinnertime, or under a combine with a wrench,” Otis said. "They can respond to it as they have time.”

He said some customers tell him they receive 15 phone calls in a day, trying to hunt their property.

Landowners can post individual land parcels or an entire farm with unique QRs. If they have a 500-acre total, for example, then the permission would apply to the entire thing, rather than making it fit quarter-sections or smaller pieces.

In its first year of operation, the company has tweaked features to meet customer needs. For example, some landowners don’t want hunters to go after deer but allow hunting other species.

“The landowner can go in and block off the month up to deer season, and the three weeks of deer season, and leave the rest of the time open,” Otis said.

If children want to come home from college and go hunting with friends, the landowner can block off date ranges.

ND’s system

Otis said QR Post works complementary to a new state system in North Dakota.

The North Dakota Legislature in 2021 enacted Aug. 1, 2021, that created a voluntary electronic posting system . The state system can be redundant to physical posting. Physical signs require only the name of the posting individual, while the electronic system adds email, phone and/or alternate points of contact. The state allows partial posting and land must be posted every year, prior to July 15, but the system allows importing of previous information.

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In the state’s e-posting, land records can be searched by selecting a county, and then adding the owner name.

QR Post created a “paste” feature so the landowner can copy their “link” from the QR Post, and drop that into the contact information on the state site.

“You can use QR Post to manage your request through North Dakota Game and Fish. It’s a slick opportunity, a nice tool,” Otis said.

QR Post designed the technology to make things easier for landowners as well as for hunters who seek land access, he said.

Of course every state is different.

COVID and lunch

Otis and Reierson thought up their private sector system while at lunch in April 2020, when the COVID-19 restrictions were coming into play. An older group used QR codes to scan and read menus.

“Kyle looked at me and said, ‘Hey, we could put that on a posted sign and fix all these issues we hear between our friends that are hunters, by using that QR code to scan and ask permission to hunt or birdwatch, or any reason to enter their property.'"

A year later, Reierson had the QR code designed and working on the internet.

A landowner can program the sign to indicate they are not taking requests.

“If they are taking requests, it asks, ‘Would you like to ask (the landowner) for permission to hunt.' The hunter puts in his name, the number of people in his party,” Otis said.

The hunter first asks whether they and the number in their group can hunt. If the landowner responds yes, the prospective hunting party receives an electronic log of permission for the requested days only. The farmer/landowner can get either a text or email, but most people take texts.

Most hunters using the system are requesting for the following day but also can make a request for later in the same day, Otis said.

Free or fee

The company makes its money selling the signs — $15 for a poly-metal sign, or $4 for a vinyl sign, with no-fade ink. The signs are made by a Fargo, North Dakota, company and are made to last for many years.

About 80% of the company’s customers are not charging for access, he said.

Some outdoorsmen have criticized the system for making it too easy for landowners to charge for access. But hunters, they said, appreciate that they don’t have to sleuth out phone numbers and search for landowners, finding out who they are and where they live, Reierson said.

“They can come out and scan the sign, and they’re off and running,” Reierson said.

Some don’t want to “make it that easy to charge,” he said.

If the landowner charges hunters for hunting, the QR Posts gets 10%.

“If you charge $50, we’ll get $5 and the hunter will actually pay $55,” Otis said. “We are taking 10% on each side, so that’s how we get paid.”

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