Finding a Private Lease
Dr. John Woods 02.05.14
Every hunter would love to have their own little place on earth where they can hunt in peace. Even if you can’t afford to buy a piece of land right now, there is always the option of trying to lease some hunting land. It’s not always an easy quest, but it is possible. In addition to land I own, I also lease another place that is closer to home for quick weekend hunts or holidays when the girls are around the house.
How do you go about finding a suitable lease at a fair price? Advertise, ask around, and search the farm market newspapers, regional outdoor magazines, and local newspaper classified ads. You can also check out land or hunting club opportunity web sites. It takes some phone time and boot leather to find a good piece of land. Place your own ad in various sources seeking to lease land.
Drop into some local farm co-op stores to see if there are any ads posted on bulletin boards. Ask the guys at the desk if they know of any farmers that might be interested in a cash hunting lease. You may just hit on something.
Ask people at work, at the office, and in any civic clubs or organizations you might belong to. You never know where information about a land lease might come from. Check some real estate company web sites or call some of the rural land specialists. Sure they are selling land, but in their contacts they may run across somebody wanting to lease their property to the right person.
Curiously enough, I have heard of a whole lot more guys that have lost leases than have found them. I know of cases where one guy leased hunting land then turned around and sublet the hunting rights to other guys to cover his original cost of the lease plus some. The landowner found out about his “plus some” and booted him off the place.
When you find a landowner willing to even talk about leasing his land for hunting, then you had better make a good presentation of yourself. You might need to drum up some legitimate references that aren’t your drinking buddies, if you get the drift.
Then by all means if you land a lease, act responsibly on the landowner’s property. If he wants gates locked all the time, lock them. If he doesn’t want his roads treated like a mud rally, then park and walk in. If he has livestock, mind them. Pick up your trash. Help mend a fence or whatever else you can do. Wrap up the guy a nice piece of tenderloin and send him a Christmas card. Good leases are too hard to find.
There was a time when a handshake would work. Those days are over. You might try it once to see how it works out, but if it doesn’t then shame on both of ya. If the landowner does not suggest having a written agreement, then ask about it.
Why have such a statement written out? Simple: it spells out what each of you is responsible for and what you are allowed to do on the land. Can you place shooting houses in open fields? What about regular tree stands? Can you plant small food plots? Do you have exclusive hunting rights or will his family file in for an opening day hunt that you didn’t know about? Can you bring guests, or share the lease? Can the farmer’s son ride his horse around during deer season? (Don’t laugh.) Can you fish in the lake? You can see where I’m going with this. The landowner will have his demands, too.
I hear lease rates for hunting land all the time. They seem to range from a very low of $5 an acre up to $50 an acre and even more. It may well depend on the type of habitat it is. Is it all pine? Hardwoods? Are there open pastures, CRP, or timber cut overs? Are there roads on the place or just tractor trails? You need to inspect all the land features before you agree to lease the place. I mean, you have to like it, but make sure you see plenty of deer tracks before you proceed.
Having your own hunting lease for yourself or a few family or friends is a great feeling. It is a mutual arrangement with the landowner to take care of the land and fulfill your desires for quality hunting. Finding a good deer hunting lease is not easy, so if you do find one, then don’t screw it up.