One of the things I live for is finding deserted old houses, barns and buildings way out in the country.
At least they look deserted. But things aren’t always as they seem. It’s amazing the places people call home. And being out in rural areas, chances are very good that most houses have guns. Such being the case, here’s something to remember -
Surprise and guns are never a good combination.
To protect myself against any possible mishaps or misunderstandings, I always walk towards these kinds of places slowly with my camera held high, calling out “hello, I’m a photographer”. I’ve never met an old recluse or worse, a meth lab, but it’s always possible.
If it does happen that someone confronts you, be humble and contrite. Apologize for disturbing them. Tell them you didn’t see any signs and that the place looked deserted. Then, very politely, ask if you can take a few pictures. Explain your reasons for stopping in the first place (I’m documenting old farms and a way of life that’s fast disappearing, etc.) and answer any questions they may have. Maybe even show them a few photos you’ve taken on your camera. If you're friendly, respectful, and polite, chances are good they’ll give you their permission.
However, just in case, park your car facing the direction you came in for a quick getaway.