Farm and Agricultural Law

How to Find a Hunting Lease

How to Find a Hunting Lease

Hunters looking for hunting leases have more ways than ever to find coveted ground to pursue trophy big game and plentiful waterfowl and upland birds.  However, just because it is easy to find a lease doesn't necessarily mean that you should sign right away.  

Is Criminal Trespass a Felony?

Is Criminal Trespass a Felony?

Criminal Trespass in Colorado can be classified as a felony in Colorado under certain conditions, and those who spend time in the outdoors enjoying hunting, fishing, or other recreational activities should be aware of the dangers of trespassing onto private land.

Can You Hunt Big Game Such as Deer or Elk, Over Bait in Colorado?

Can You Hunt Big Game Such as Deer or Elk, Over Bait in Colorado?

Colorado does not allow the baiting of deer, elk, or other big game.  But what counts as baiting and does it only apply to hunters?

Do I Have to Wear Blaze Orange in Kansas? Big Game and Pheasant Hunting Regulations

Do I Have to Wear Blaze Orange in Kansas? Big Game and Pheasant Hunting Regulations

Blaze orange is required for hunting various species in different states.  Kansas requires blaze orange for firearms elk and deer hunting.

Can I hunt private land in Kansas that is not posted? Kansas trespassing, criminal hunting, and written permission laws.

Many hunters from across the nation will be converging on Kansas towns in the coming days for pheasant and quail opening weekend followed quickly by the rifle deer seasons.  While some may have family farms to return to or other private leases to hunt, others will be trying their hand on public lands and looking to find other private land that may be available.  The laws concerning where you can hunt are crucial when looking for that new honey-hole, especially for non-resident hunters unfamiliar with the nuances of Kansas hunting regulations.

Hunters may not hunt private land in Kansas without permission, even if it is not posted.  “Criminal Hunting,” is defined as hunting private land or water without the owner’s permission in statute K.S.A. 21-5810.  If you find private property that does not have signage saying “No Trespassing,” you still must determine the owner and get their permission before hunting the property.  This is different than some states with earlier pheasant seasons that hunters may be accustomed to, such as North Dakota.  Unless the land is clearly posted as public ground, such as Kansas’ “Walk In Hunting Area” land, you must have the permission of the owner before hunting there.

 Purple paint is legally recognized as "No Trespassing" in many states, including Kansas.

Purple paint is legally recognized as "No Trespassing" in many states, including Kansas.

Where property IS posted, hunters in Kansas must carry written permission in their possession while hunting.  Kansas statute K.S.A. 32-1013 states that posted property in Kansas, that has signs saying any variation of “No Trespassing,” “No Hunting,” or “Private Land,” requires all hunters who are on the property to have written permission.  Verbal permission from the owner of the land, no matter how long you’ve known the owner or have hunted the property, is not enough and will result in trespassing tickets for your group. Purple paint on posts, fences, or trees surrounding the property also counts as “posted” property for the purposes of this statute.  Essentially, if there are signs or purple paint on the property you are hunting, you must have written permission to show the game warden if asked.

If you receive a trespassing ticket, you have a few options and should consult with an attorney before simply pleading guilty and paying the fines.  Nate Gilbert, attorney in Colorado and Kansas, grew up in Kansas and has defended trespassing charges for hunters in both Colorado and Kansas.  Drawing on the experience Nate has in dealing with these charges, a consultation with Nate will help you determine your best course of action and whether you have any defenses available.  

Can I Fight A Hunting Ticket?

Can I Fight A Hunting Ticket?

The decision to fight your hunting violation is a big one and shouldn't be taken lightly.  Whether it is one small charge, or multiple charges with thousands of dollars in fines and multiple points assessed, you should consider consulting with an attorney about your rights and what possible defenses may be available to you. 

How can I evict hunters from my lease?

How can I evict hunters from my lease?

Hunting leases can be great opportunities for hunters and landowners, but are still subject to the same penalties as more common commercial leases for both tenant and landlord.

Expanding Kansas Agriculture to Respond to Booming Brewery Business

The microbrewery industry in Kansas is growing faster than ever with demand higher than supply across the state.  The Kansas legislature is attempting to respond with bills aimed at bolstering the microbrew and cider production business, but growing production will increasingly burden the already short supply of ingredients such as hops, barley, and fruits.  Kansas farmers are in a unique position to capitalize on an industry that is not only booming in Kansas but across the nation.

Before Kansas farmers jump into hop farming, some considerations regarding the unique hop farm industry should be addressed.  Hops are a fickle plant that often do not produce a significant crop until their third year.  Forward hop contracting is a system that helps to protect the farmer making such a long-term investment.  Forward hop contracts for Kansas farmers ensure that a brewing operation will purchase a set tonnage of hops produced by the farmer in the next 1-2 years.  Having contracts such as this in place helps to protect the up-front investment made by farmers as well as helps the breweries plan ahead knowing a reliable hop producer is in their corner.  These contracts need to be planned through completely with both parties; simply signing the contract produced by the other party may not protect your operation and investment adequately and reviewing the agreement with your attorney is highly advised.

Kansas has never been widely known for its fruit harvest, but changing cider production laws may boost the niche Kansas fruit farming market.  Cider is produced from the fermentation of fruit and a new Kansas law currently going through the legislature states that cider produced in Kansas must contain at least 30% local Kansas fruit.  Like hops, most fruit crops are long-term investments such as orchard trees or grape vines.  Acquiring and expanding an existing orchard or vineyard may be a better choice than starting from scratch.  When your existing farm operation merges or acquires existing fruit production farms, the merger or acquisition needs to be structured carefully to protect the individual interests at play.  Taking on debts or liabilities of an existing company is a large undertaking that can leave your business exposed to lawsuits or unplanned monetary obligations.

The brewery and cider industry in Kansas is a great opportunity for Kansas farmers to respond to the needs of a new industry and support the Kansas economy.  Keeping production local is a benefit to the farmer, brewer, and consumer as well as the state as a whole.  If you have questions or concerns about expanding your agriculture operation to support the Kansas microbrewery and cider production industry, call The Law Office of Nathaniel Gilbert for an absolutely free consultation to help address your concerns and see if the move is right for you.  A qualified attorney in your corner can make all the difference in a successful venture.

Hunting Leases For Your Farm/Ranch Ground

Today's farmers and ranchers are in a unique position to capitalize on the current overwhelming popularity of hunting.  More hunters means less available public land for those hunters to enjoy.  It won't be long before those hunters seek out private land to hunt and hold as their own private hunting area.  If you own land or water features in Colorado or Kansas that you do not personally hunt (or even if you do) then you could benefit from leasing your huntable ground to a hunter or group of hunters.  Before you start listing your land, there are a number of concerns that you should consider.  In the following paragraphs, I'll touch on some very basic concerns that a new owner may have regarding the prospect of leasing their land.  Obviously, leasing your Colorado or Kansas farm ground will require additional considerations, but these points will get you headed in the right direction.

1) Who Will Be On Your Property?

This may be the biggest concern of leasing your most valuable asset to someone.  Are you leasing to an individual? Can that individual bring guests that you are not familiar with and how many at a time? Is the person leasing your land an outfitter that will be charging other people to come onto your land?  These are big questions that you and your lease drafter or attorney will need to go over in detail.  Leasing to outfitters or guides or companies that charge per-hunt fees to other groups is a very different situation than leasing to a father and his son or daughter.  Increased traffic, unsafe conditions, and general wear and tear on your land may keep you from leasing to an outfitter company unless concessions are worked into a lease that provide for those types of considerations.

In Colorado, guides and outfitters are regulated by the Department of Regulatory Agencies which maintain records of compliance, discipline, and complaints and also requires minimum insurance for outfitters to provide.  Checking these resources if a Colorado outfitter wishes to lease your ground may save you headaches from dealing with a company with a a history of complaints.  This in turn, also gives you another avenue if the outfitter is found to be in breach of the lease or disrespects your property.  Kansas outfitters are not regulated and can even provide guiding services on public land.  While it may be a little more difficult to do your due diligence on the outfitter wishing to lease your property, it will be more than worth it should an issue arise.

Additionally, a hunter who pays a goodly sum to lease your land may not appreciate anyone else being given access to the land.  Leasing your land may mean saying "no" when your nephew or granddaughter or neighbor asks to put a deer stand or duck blind on your property for the year.  Even if the two parties are not hunting the same type of game, if their chances to harvest animals on the property is affected, you may be in breach of the lease and have to refund the hunter's payments.

2) What Will The Hunters Be Hunting?

This is hug for both the hunter and the landowner.  Not only will this affect the time of year that your property will be accessed, but also the kinds of structures that are allowed on the property and the type of equipment used to harvest the intended game.  A farmer with a smaller, 50-60 acre plot next to his house may want to allow a deer hunting lease, but prohibit any rifle or shotgun use on the property due to the proximity to house/people/livestock.  This kind of restriction is not only perfectly acceptable, but very practical and popular.

Many seasons, such as waterfowl, have early seasons as well as late seasons.  These early seasons, usually in September (Kansas Teal season) and October (Missouri early dark goose season), may occur during the harvest or calving times on your property.  It would serve the farmer or rancher well to advise the hunters of your estimated time frames for the real work on your property before they sign the lease and even provide that kind of clause as a condition of leasing.

3) How Much Should I Charge?

Now we're getting to the real meat and potatoes.  Why would you go through all this trouble unless you were certain you could make a profit or at least enough to make the hassle worth it.  Unfortunately there is no easy answer.  It essentially comes down to asking yourself what it's worth to you as the landowner.  The price will be different depending on the amount of usage as well.  An outfitter bringing clients in to the property daily will obviously pay more for a property than a group of three-four friends looking for a new spot to deer hunt a few days a year.  I personally have seen small ponds leased for hunting at around $500/year and ranches of several thousand acres fetching upwards of $30-40,000.00/year just for hunting rights in Colorado.  

If you think you want to lease your property, The Law Office of Nathaniel Gilbert will meet with you to discuss this new venture at your Colorado or Kansas property personally and go through the questions you may have.  The lease can be a rewarding opportunity for the landowner, but must be carefully considered and well thought out before allowing any hunters onto the property.  Nate Gilbert offers 100% free consultations on hunting lease drafting; Call Nate now to learn more about extracting the hidden value of wildlife on your property!