What Is A Hunting Lease?

The amount of available public land that can be used for hunting is diminishing every year. The alternative to hunting on public land is to lease private property from landowners that hunters can use periodically. A hunting lease is essentially an agreement between a landowner and a hunter which lays out the terms whereby that hunter can access the property.

The details surrounding hunting leases can be a little convoluted. But a hunting lease can be easily established by taking the details that should be included in a basic land lease and altering the information or adding details that are specific to the type of access a hunter needs.

General Items to Include in Your Agreement:

  1. How long the lease will go for
  2. How the payment will be made and at what time
  3. How the land will be used and who will maintain it
  4. Insurance details

The Lucrative Business of Hunting Leases

A survey conducted in 2011 by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation shows that land leasing and ownership amounts for $10,563 million dollars which was being spent by roughly 2.94 million individuals. In 2011, it was reported that the sportsmen spent an average of $3,600 dollars on hunting leases.

Types of Hunting Leases

  1. Non-fee Access
  2. Exchange of Services
  3. Fee Hunting
    – Long-term Leases
    – Short-term Leases
    – Daily Leases
    – Controlled Shooting Areas

Non-fee Access

With non-fee access, there is simply a verbal agreement between the landowner and the sportsman. The hunter is allowed to use the property for hunting and benefits from being able to do so without paying for it. The landowner benefits because the animal population is controlled which can help keep their property from overpopulation and subsequent crop damage.

Exchange of Services

In this type of hunting access, the landowner allows hunters to use their property in exchange for some type of service. That might include keeping an eye out for trespassers and enforce unlawful entry that could potentially bring property damage or squatters. Another example of a service that hunters can provide is in the development of the land. They too benefit from the upkeep and might provide services such as developing the property by planting or general maintenance.

Fee Hunting

Fee hunting includes leases in which the hunter pays for the access to the property. The amount of money a landowner can generate from a hunting lease rests in their hands. Factors include the amount of time they put into maintain the local habitat and wildlife, the type of animals that exist on the property, and the number of hunters they allow to access.

Long-term Leases

A long-term lease is an agreement between a landowner and an individual hunter or group of hunters that allows them exclusive access to the property. These types of hunting leases are the most desired by landowners looking to create passive income from their property. The average term for these types of hunting leases usually average around a year or more with hunting taking place during established seasons. The landowner doesn’t accrue many out of pocket costs and benefits financially. One of the things a landowner can do to increase the attractiveness of their property is to not harvest a portion of their crops which will attract the wildlife to these areas. Hunters prefer these types of leases because it gives them the time to develop the habitat and install and customize hunting shelters to their liking.

Short-term Leases

A short-term lease gives hunters access to a private property anywhere from a week to a full hunting season. These agreements are usually given to multiple hunters at a time, meaning there is less exclusivity in this type of hunting lease. This type of lease requires a landowner to be more hands on but has the potential to generate more money than a long-term hunting lease. Since the lessee can’t gain access to the property to develop it, the landowner takes on the responsibility of developing their property to a point where they can charge financially beneficial rates. This includes the type of wildlife that can be found there and the state of the property’s habitat. However, the amount of hands-on-management might outweigh the costs for the landowner.

Daily Leases

Daily hunting leases are typically offered by a landowner who runs a business on their property. The landowner typically provides a variety of services including transportation, guide services, hunting dogs, and cleaning and preservation of game and even lodging. The type of money a landowner can make from this type of full-time business is significant but definitely requires

How Do I Determine Lease Rates in My Area?

Lease rates vary based on many characteristics. From the state that your land is located in to the diversity of the wildlife on your property, lease rates can vary greatly. Some of the things that determine what type of money you can get from a hunting lease include:

  1. Location
  2. Size of the property
  3. Age of the timber
  4. Diversity of the Habitat
  5. Accessibility of the property
  6. Whether or not you provide services
  7. Surrounding location (is there a lot of people surrounding the land?)

Insurance: to Protect You from the Dick Cheney’s of the World

Dick Cheney jokes aside, hunting liability insurance is a very important part of an established hunting lease. Landowners can rest assured that with the right coverage they can manage the risk associated with leasing their land for hunting. In some states, a liability policy groups the types of people that could be injured on your property into four segments: trespassers, licensees, invitees, and trespassing youths. The liability of the landowner depends on which group the victim belongs to. Each state varies in regards to liability and one example is that of Kansas that has moved towards a system where a landowner owes a duty of reasonable care to anyone that is lawfully on their property, meaning there are only two segments (lawful and unlawful). Make sure to check into the laws in your state regarding what you could be held liable for.

It’s highly advised to have the opinion of a lawyer and an insurance agent when setting up a hunting lease. But, there are a few steps that landowners can take to protect themselves against future problems. Making safety improvements to the property and keeping the proper documentation that they were made. Landowner can require hunters to show proof of insurance and safety training. Furthermore, landowners can set up an LLC that would protect them from being directly sued.

Terms That Are Specific to Hunting Leases

There are a few lease terms that are specific for hunting easements which help protect the landowner. For instance, terms should be included that cover what happens if the property is altered or if a hunter causes damage which was not agreed to by the landowner or was not brought to their attention. Another would be how potential disputes would be mitigated or what terms would cause the termination of the lease. Terms that cover whether there will be no-hunting days, or if hunters are restricted to certain hours and even locations on the property. Furthermore, depending on the type of lease is agreed to, there might be stipulations regarding a hunting quota.

It’s important to note that anyone who wishes to access your land requires either your written or oral permission even if you are not charging them financially to do so. If you have property you are interested in generating passive income for through a long-term hunting lease you can list your land with us!

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