I received an email from a buddy the other day. Seems him and his group are losing their deer hunting lease that they’ve had for the last 12 years. This is a large deer hunting lease that has quite a few members. My buddy doesn’t know where he’ll find another deer lease to get on for the upcoming season. They’ve taken some nice deer off of that lease over the years. I know they’ll miss the deer hunting that it provided.

deer hunt

Over the years he’s told me some of the things that have went on at the deer lease. Not all have been nice things. Like the time someone left a gate open and the Ranchers cows got into a pasture where they shouldn’t have been. Or the time someone mistook a calf for a deer. I could go on with the examples, but you get the picture.

According to my buddy, the Rancher said that he the hunting group had wore out their welcome and that he’d be leasing his Ranch to a commercial hunting operator next year.

Here are “7 Reasons You’ll Lose Your Hunting Lease This Year”

  1. Your group disrespected the land. Over the years I’ve heard all the reasons why people lost their deer hunting lease or their permission to hunt private land. The #1 reason I keep hearing from landowners is that the Hunters are trashing up their land or failing to take care of what’s there. Open gates, litter, wildfires, downed fences, cutting trees for firewood without permission, etc, etc. How can you blame landowners for not wanting you back? These same people who disrespect the landowners land are the same ones who would throw a fit if you did the same thing to their land. You should treat any land you have permission to hunt as if it was your own…because in some ways it is.
  2. The Landowner received a better offer. This is probably the 2nd most popular reason people lose their deer hunting lease. Someone else wants it worse than you do! Times are tough and I see big corporations and commercial hunting operators coming in and literally paying more for a lease than the going rate. This can be due to several reasons, either the commercial operator needs more land for their Clients or the Corporation can overpay for the lease and still save money they were paying other places. In some rare cases, I’ve read where non-hunters were buying the leases in order to prevent hunting on the land. I think we’ll see more and more of that in the future.
  3. The price of a lease increases so much that you can not fill all the spots. In many cases the group buying the lease depends on having X number of hunters so they can afford the lease. When the price gets astronomical, many hunters simply cannot afford the lease and the group fails to raise enough money to secure the lease.
  4. Your members lose interest. This is something I’ve been seeing lately. It seems there are fewer and fewer hunters these days. As our numbers decrease, I often found myself wondering “why”. The simple fact is that we aren’t showing our younger generations how to hunt and fish. Now instead of hunting, Families are going to major sporting events or taking up other outdoor interest like Golf. Adding to this is the fact that in most areas, traveling to the hunting area includes a several hour drive. I see this a lot in the Houston area. Instead of traveling halfway across the state a few times during the season, would-be hunters are spending their time on the Golf range, fishing or some other type of sport that keeps them near home and with the entire family.
  5. The land is sold and the hunting rights are not transferable. This is happening more and more. As our landowners age or die off, the land comes up for sale and many times the new owners do not want the hassle of dealing with a deer hunting lease. I read on account where the sale would only go through if the hunting lease was terminated at the closing date. Just so happened the closing date was in the middle of deer season! The members were contacted at the last minute and told if they had anything on the lease to get it off and that the land would be off limits the upcoming weekend. Talk about ruining your hunting season!
  6. You fail to help take on some of the cost of liability insurance. We live in a time where everyone wants to sue for something. I talked to a landowner several years ago that said he ended the lease on his land after one of the members, an attorney, threatened to sue him because he’d walked into an old fence before daylight one morning and cut his self up pretty good. The landowner then went to the group and asked them to help buy liability insurance and they refused. The attorney never did sue, but it scared the landowner to where he refused to let anyone hunt on the land after that. I know most lease operate without liability insurance, but it seems it’s been a growing trend in the last several years for either the landowner or the group leasing the land to carry liability insurance, or for both to share the cost. From what I understand, this can be pretty pricey depending on how large the lease and the group leasing it is. Many members feel they are paying enough as it is and the landowner should pay the premium…especially since it benefits him!
  7. The economy takes a downturn. No one knows what will happen tomorrow. Should there be another event that causes our economy to take a nose dive, many Hunters will be spending their lease money on car payments, mortgages and gas for their cars. After 911, I know many Hunters that held onto their lease money for fear it would be needed at a later date. And who could blame them?

While there are many reasons you may be losing your hunting lease this year, by far and away the most common reason is neglect of the land or someone else coming in and buying it out from under you.

This is where building long lasting relationships with Landowners will benefit you in more ways than one. Treat the Landowners land as if it were your own, because in many ways it is. Then, when an outsider comes along and tries to buy the lease from under you, you just may have the advantage of having a “friend” as a Landowner instead of a Landlord. As the old saying goes, “No one likes to screw their friends.” Make a friend out of that Landowner!