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Lease It or Lose It?

“We hunted that farm for years and someone came in and leased it right out from under us!”

Sound familiar? Similar stories are becoming more common as the practice of leasing ground for hunting rights becomes more prevalent.  Landowners have allowed guests to hunt their properties for recreation and to help control the wildlife for decades. Many times a firm handshake and a little sweat equity was all the farmer/landowner asked for in return. To be honest, those days have gone the way of the horse-drawn plow and the butter churn. Those same farmers and landowners have now been hit with rising tax bills, less stable grain prices, ridiculous farming costs and even law suits from the very hunters they allowed to hunt. The times aren’t changing…they changed.

To make things even a little more interesting, it’s not always the big bad leasing company that swoops in and turns the landowners head toward the money. Farmers have learned firsthand that they need to generate every bit of revenue they can from their ground. After all…it is their ground.  Likewise, hunters across the country are realizing that what they have been given up until now actually has real value. The idea of managing a large tract of land for a fraction of what it would cost to own appeals to just about everyone. Additionally, the fact that most leases are for exclusive hunting rights means that no one else, not even the landowner’s nephew… will walk in on you in the middle of a hunt.    

These two groups (hunters and landowners) are now starting to find each other either through advertising or word of mouth. Hunters are approaching farmers up front with offers to lease and in more and more instances, it is working.

So the question is simple. Are you hunting a farm or land now on a handshake? How confident are you in that handshake? Most of the time, a lease that makes everyone happy can be negotiated between the two parties on the front porch. The only thing left is to sign the lease agreement and purchase a hunting lease liability insurance policy that protects everyone.  

With a signed lease agreement in hand, liability protection and a good landowner/hunter relationship, everyone can enjoy the benefits of leasing your hunting dream spot. You can bet if you don’t…someone else will.

Sean Ferbrache

Chief Operating Officer

American Hunting Lease Association