For hunters familiar with the various pitfalls of hunting or fishing on public land, a hunting lease holds far more than just the promise of harvesting trophy quality animals. Solitude and hunts free from interference of other hunters are at a premium nowadays, and hunters are paying more and more for access to private ranches and farms for elk, deer, pheasant, and waterfowl hunts. As desirous as a lease may be, there are certain concerns that hunters should be aware of prior to signing a lease for their hunting property.
Finding Private Ranches or Farms to Lease
Just finding the property can be a chore in itself. Several companies list land for lease on numerous websites that turn up from a simple Google search. However, hunters should be wary of any lease offered up by a national company that doesn’t have direct contact with the property. When a company leases a property to you as a hunter, there may not be anyone from that company patrolling the property to ensure the terms of the lease are followed by the landowner. Some hunters have signed lease agreements to hunt property a few states away that online, appeared to be a big buck haven, only to turn up on opening day to find that the property had been hunted by the landowner’s family or friends the previous week. While you may have a cause to get your money back, that certainly won’t help you bring down any trophy bucks.
You may be better off sending a letter to, or contacting a landowner directly. While the practice of knocking on doors for hunting permission or lease opportunities has become a somewhat lost art, there are nonetheless still opportunities to be had this way. Dealing directly with the farmer or rancher whose ground you would like to lease may even lead to other landowners in the area who are looking to lease their property as well. A more indirect approach of this nature may be to place a “Want-Ad” in the local paper or post a sign on the local diner bulletin board describing what you are looking for in a hunting lease.
If you find an area that you want to hunt, be sure that the area is not only habitat where you will find the specific animal you are chasing, but that it is also in an area where you can either buy over the counter tags for your species (such as waterfowl or small game hunting and high volume elk or deer areas), or where you have already drawn a tag. Not being able to draw a tag for a highly coveted elk lease may not be a valid reason to get out of your lease with the landowner. Absent any provisions in your lease specifically stating that the obligations and payment contained within the lease agreement are contingent upon the hunter being successful in the draw, you may find yourself paying for a lease that you cannot use.
However you find your lease, be sure that you are ready to enter into a binding agreement with the landowner. A lease is a contract with terms and conditions that if not strictly adhered to may require you to answer for those indiscretions in court.