If you've hunted or fished public land before, you've probably thought about getting your own private hunting ground. The pressure on public land can lead a great number of outdoorsmen to seek out private ground to buy, though the most common approach is to lease established farm ground. Leasing a farmer or rancher's property can carry risks and responsibilities and should not be entered into lightly.
When approaching a landowner to inquire about a hunting or fishing lease, you need to have your ducks in a row. What will you be hunting? What are the seasons for that animal? What kind of equipment will you be using? Do not assume that every farmer or rancher immediately knows what all will be entailed in a "Deer Hunting Lease" or a "Duck Hunting Lease" or "Bass Fishing Lease." It is in your best interest to have all of the information about your particular desires for the lease in mind and written out before you even think about approaching someone.
Additionally, be prepared to retreat from some of the things you ask for. A rancher may not like the idea of rifles on his property between September and November while cattle still graze on the grass, while he may be open to late season hunts in January after the cows have been moved to harvested corn fields. This illustrates how important it is to be completely prepared with exactly what you are looking to do. Finding out in September that the farmer doesn't want rifles near his place may leave you without a spot to hunt.
When you sign a lease, you are looking to be the exclusive user of that property for that purpose. Your lease absolutely must reflect this. Many state's laws state that the individual who leases the property for crops or grazing also leases the hunting rights to that property and may invite guests of his choosing to hunt. Likewise, a landowner may not realize that even if you are there to deer hunt in December, that may mean his kids or grandchildren cannot duck hunt during or before that time. What does your lease say about activity on the property before the actual season that you wish to lease it for?
A common pitfall often seen in hunting leases is the failure to provide for unavoidable or unforeseen circumstances. A farmhand may not know of the existing waterfowl hunting lease and drain the pond or flooded field that the hunters planned to hunt. Who is responsible for filling the pond or field again? Was the draining a necessary action to prevent loss or damage to the farmer's crops or property? Your lease absolutely must provide for common eventualities like this that may leave your hunting property completely worthless for the whole season and give you no recourse for reimbursement.
At The Law Office of Nathaniel Gilbert, an attorney who actually hunts and fishes and understands the nuances and details special to hunting and fishing leases will review your lease or draft an entirely new lease for you and your hunting party. Call Nate Gilbert to set up an absolutely free consultation to talk about your hunting and fishing needs.