How typical is it for the landowner to be able to hunt your lease? I am considering a lease agreement with a new landowner for a prime piece of ground here in Montana - (300 acres of River bottom). However I have some concerns. First is the fact that EHD moved through last year, and I would be leasing it with the realization that I may not kill a buck on the place for a few years. (At this point I am willing to do that in order to lock this place up as an investment for future opportunities). My concern is that the landowner, while not a serious hunter, stated that he wants to be able to shoot a big "monster buck" if he sees it, i.e. from his porch, etc... I have an issue with that as if I am paying a considerable amount for a place, where for the first few years I am basically paying to simply allow QDM to function, possibly not even taking a buck, then he shoots the cream of the crop so to speak, is that a normal situation when leasing a piece of ground? In other words have any of you with leasing experience had this issue before? I would be paying thousands of dollars for a relatively small piece (WELL over $100 per acre) to lease and am not super comfortable with this arrangement, but I am also not sure how normal that is. It may not even be an issue with this landowner (Not sure if he'd even get the chance, and am not sure if he'd actively hunt), but I would be pretty upset to have paid a large volume of money to allow big bucks to grow, only to have him shoot one of them on top of all the money he has received. (I know there's an analogy somewhere, but can't think of a good one off the top of my head.) I may still go through with it, but I feel for the amount I am paying him that is an unreasonable request on his part. If we were talking a thousand per year that would be different, but we're talking top dollar, on a place that has been hit with EHD, and the thought of paying that money for the next 3-5 years and having him pull the rug out on a big buck (or more) just doesn't seem equitable. Also, what is an average to above average price per acre on a good piece of ground? I am sure it varies state to state, but inquiring minds would still like to know. I have not yet signed anything nor given the money over yet. I am planning on meeting with him tomorrow and taking an in-depth look at the property. i have very good sources that have verified it is a stellar piece, but I want my ducks in a row before I take the plunge.
Are there any other pitfalls, landmines, or issues that any of you with experience wish you would have known when you started leasing?
Here are some thoughts for what they are worth. When I am hunting a piece of ground I do not want anyone else screwing up my efforts. If the owner in going on the land both prior to and during the season I would have concerns. Preferably the contract would limit the access to the property to just you and your invitees for a period before and during the season. If the landowner is allowed to hunt it would be best if he is limited to a certain area and the smaller the better. He should not be allowed to let anyone else hunt even if it is his favorite grandson. If he is farming the land his access should be limited to the fields and lanes to farm; no walking around to see how things are going in the woods. Trespassing is always a concern. If he lives on the property he maybe your best line of defense. It would be nice if he had a contractual obligation to take all reasonable steps to stop trespassing. Often ignoring trespassers is the same giving permission. For the price that he is asking it would be nice to have him work with you at least a little on what is being planted in the fields and when they are being cut or plowed. Waste corn or beans can be a great draw unless he plows them under. It sound like you already realize that you should have a long term contract to protect your initial investment until the hunting improves. Make sure that you have a way to break the contract if he does something which significantly damages the hunting such as running ATVs on the property, allowing trespassers or other hunters and trapping. You do not want to find that you are paying over $30,000 a year and he decides to do Halloween hay rides in the woods in October and into November and not have a way out of the contract.
If you do not know the landowner it may make sense to do a little research on him prior to getting into a contract with him. Try to find out what has been happening on the land and in the area during hunting season. Is he a standup guy who would honor both terms and the intent of an agreement.
Thornton......How do they feel about the “residents” (such as yourself) doing exactly the same thing?
Eyes wide open. You will very likely not be hunting undisturbed deer, and you won’t really know whether he (or family) are trying to do a little ‘side’ hunting when you are away. This really amounts to paying for access and having no contract (I assume) providing you with sole rights to hunt and recreate on the land. It might work out, but I have plenty of doubts. Your money....his land....and it sounds like plenty of wiggle room.
You do realize “him” and “his” refers to the guy who owns the place right? His wants will be his gets. His leeway will be what he decides to keep.
Does the owner grow alfalfa, or any other crops, on this property? Does he run livestock on it? Is it visible from a main county road? How well fenced and posted are the boundaries? Those are all questions I'd need answers to before considering a lease.
That said, $13 per acre is expensive compared to the leases we used to sign when I was outfitting. Our standard lease was $2-5 per acre, depending on the quality of the habitat. We had $70-100K per year in leases. It was common for some landowners to retain hunting rights for himself and/or family. In those cases, we simply coordinated with the landowner to avoid any conflicts. If it didn't work out, we'd dump the lease the next year.
It's a shame hunting has evolved to these type discussions, IMO.
I think some on here seem to forget what the term "owner" means. And the fact some are upset that the owner makes lease terms advantagous to himself, ya know the OWNER, is a pretty clear indicator that hunting for whitetails has taken a hard turn in the wrong direction. SMFH...
Lease contracts and agreements must be different in different areas of the country. I've been leasing property in some form or fashion for 20+ years. Sometimes from individual landowners and timber companies at other times. In all cases, exclusive hunting rights went to the lessee. I know some of you say the owner is the owner and they can do what they want, but that just isn't customary down here. I look at it this way, if you lease a house to someone, they have exclusive "living" rights to that house. The owner still has certain rights and responsibilities to the property, but just can't walk in and crash on the couch. A hunting lease should be no different as long as the contract stipulates that. Here, if the owner wants to retain hunting rights for their own, they discount the lease accordingly, keep an unleased portion for themselves, or become a paying member.
Good points were made from both sides. It's possible that the landowner will take better care of it if he has a chance to shoot something "from his front porch". It's also possible that he is hedging his bets for when one of his buddies takes the biggest buck on the property while you are not there. It could go either way.
On the property I lease now, I'm always concerned that the ranch hands, not the ranch owner are keeping an eye out for when we aren't there. For that reason, I try to come and go at all times of the year, especially during the rifle season.
You are going to have to decide if it feels right to you. $10 to $15 an acre is about as low as you are going to find in today's market for decent hunting property. If you don't have a better option, you might as well give it a couple of years and see what happens. I would put in the contract that he has to show you pictures of anything he shoots on the property. You might even want to add some incentives for him to not shoot something big. If you take something over X" you will pay an extra $500-1000. It would be worth it in the long run. Good luck.
I have retained hunting rights. Fairly common. However, we have a written contract that states only I can hunt it besides them. There is also an exit in the contract if they or I feel like there is foul play. They do pay less for the lease because I can still hunt it. I could have gotten more and retained hunting rights, but it came down to I just didn’t feel right about it. That’s just me though.
I’ve been offered a lot more by other people, but they want exclusive rights (which I understand) but I don’t want to give up hunting just yet. I hunt maybe 10% of the time I used to... probably less actually.
To sum it up... write it out and make sure you get a signature. You might end up being life-long friends. Don’t forget, it’s his, might have worked his arse off for it or maybe it’s been in the family for generations.
When we decided to lease it out, we had multiple people wanting to lease the property, one guy in particular was a real arrogant ahole. He threw out some large numbers, he told me he didn’t want me in the woods once we signed the contract and he was going to hire someone to plant his foodplots and set up his tree stands. Money isn’t everything so don’t think this guy will just say ok because you don’t want him to hunt. He might just have the desire to go on a couple sits per year. Have the conversation.
Honestly, I’m not sure what “too high” is for a lease anymore. The amount of money some of these guys are spending on leases or purchasing recreational land is mind boggling. I’ve heard anywhere from $12-$35 per acre. I was offered a flat $10k for 3 bow hunters to hunt 3 weeks in November... probably should have jumped on it.
I have two uncles that have lived in South Dakota their entire adult lives. They have always had a group of guys that had a Pheasant hunting camp with various free spots to hunt. My father and I hunted pheasants with that group for $50 per week which was to chip in for food.
Eventually the free spots were leased or went away.
So one of my uncles freind’s that has done well financially bought a farm for our group to hunt. He leased the land back to the farmer to farm. My uncles friend, I’ll call him Bob, could only hunt a few days with us. He had a hunt booked out of country.
The other SD locals returned to work. But my dad, myself and a few of our Michigan friend's returned the next morning to hunt. The farmers son approached us as we pulled up to tell us the daily rate he charges to hunt.
He obviously did not recognize or never saw us from the previous days hunts.
He apparently had been allowing pheasant hunters access while Bob wasn’t there.
We let my uncle know and Bob sold the farm before the next season.
Remote leasing is always a risk. Ask if he minds you putting up cellular cameras so you can keep an eye on your lease.
Slayer, sounds like a great deal, although like Kevin said, the owner telling you he wants to kill one giant buck/year is certainly the wild card. Keep the discussion going with him to better understand how much of a threat his terms are to your hunting. One mans "giant buck" is sometimes a 2-1/2 year old 8 pt.
Ask Thornton, he'll know what to do...
I hear what you’re saying. I am driving down to have a look and the discussion with him right now. I have talked to him enough to know that 100” deer is not what he considers a monster. He grew up on the milk river and knows what a big buck is. He sounds excited to show me some of the sheds and a buck or two off the property. He just bought it this past fall so it hasn’t been in the family for generations. I think he might have stretched himself to purchase the place, and is looking for a way to help offset some of his costs. I think he’s a pretty decent guy, and I think we could probably have a pretty good relationship. I make a living reading people, and I’m pretty convinced this guy is not a serious on hunter in any way, shape, or form. I doubt he owns a bow. I think what he said was what he really meant, if he sees a big giant buck standing in his field he wants the option to shoot it. I can understand that, but at the same time I have to balance that against what is being paid to the hunt the place. At this point, unless something really unforeseen goes down in the conversation, I am thinking I will lease it and try to have a genuine discussion with him about his desire, and get a feel for where he’s coming from regarding that. I am very concerned that the place gets left alone, besides him. The problem is we can’t run cell cameras here in Montana during season, so I would need to rely on him to make sure people aren’t coming in and out. And you guys are right, if he’s not an honest person than I can totally get screwed, but I think I would be able to tell that fairly quickly. He seems to be pretty emphatic about not letting any other people on it, and actually was very blunt to me about not letting people hunt his place to me during our initial conversation, until he let it out that an outfitter was considering leasing it. Once I realized that he would be open to leasing I decided it was worth an option to pursue. With the EHD situation the outfitter backed out, and I am currently in the driver seat. I only live about 45 mins to an hour from the place, so it’s not like I’m some non-resident driving in a few times a year to hunt. I will be on it pretty consistently, and I think we can maintain a pretty good pulse on what’s going on there. And to answer some of the other questions yes, it has Ag on it, I believe hay fields and wheat, surrounded by Ag. A very reliable and good buddy of mine hunted it years ago told me that you definitely lose some deer during season when they wander off the place, but this is the main bedding area. I am going off of the Intel from extremely extremely trustworthy source, and that is why I am willing to try and work this out, because I think it is a super good opportunity, at least at the moment.
Although it wasn’t a lease, I once was the only bow hunter on a 1400 acre farm in the Kanawha Valley of WV. This place was completely crazy with deer and yet no bow hunter had asked permission. The farm manager wrote me a permit and turned me loose. I killed a mature doe almost immediately, and a couple weeks later in November I drilled a really nice big buck. The manager learned about the kill and asked to see pictures. His eyes bugged out and it was right about then that I sensed I should’ve played it down. The next season there were a half dozen bowhunting permits written there, mainly due to just one buck getting killed a year earlier. I had 2 stands stolen. I still managed to kill 2 deer including a buck, but the word was out. I got out and learned a lesson.