Hunting land lease dilemma

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Published: July 3,2011

Tags: agriculture, hunting, land, OUTDOORS WITH DR. JOHN WOODS

A number of things in this world are much easier to find than a good hunting land lease. Among the items on that list would be the proverbial needle in a haystack, a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, a conservative democrat, a leprechaun, clear traffic on the I-20/55 stack and my orange Browning flashlight, which was inadvertently misplaced over five years ago. I think.

Issue background

But for hunters now squirming around in hopes of finding a good private place to hunt this fall, the search is long and hard. Just like every coin has two sides this hunting land lease situation has two sides to it.

Side one is the plain and simple fact that hunting in Mississippi is a serious outdoors recreational pursuit. This naturally makes land held in private hands a highly valuable commodity. If you already own land, you use it yourself or hold it in trust for your own family and friends. I mean do you want some neighbor down the street you really don’t know setting up and having a BBQ in your backyard? And if they do, will they clean up the mess?

On the flip side is the reality of the real estate market for rural land. If you check the ads in regional hunting magazines, local newspapers and real estate web sites, you will not find a shortage of good private land for sale. There are plenty of plots out there for those with deep pockets. For the discriminating shopper a few decent buys if you really check close and act quickly.

Good rural hunting lands for deer and turkey in regional locations with a reputation for quality hunting can cost from $2,500 to $6,000 an acre. Lands along the Big Black River or up in the Delta hold a premium price, because this whole river basin region is one of Mississippi’s prime big buck producing territories. Good duck land also goes for upscale values.

With prices like this is it little wonder some hunters want to opt for joining an established hunting club with an annual hunting fee or jump in the foray to secure a solo lease on a section of Mother Earth to call their very own? The problem is finding a good lease that offers some privacy, security, with decent hunting for a fair price.

Service delivery for market demand?

During my own personal exploration for a hunting lease I learned one interesting aspect of the hunting land leasing marketplace. That is virtually no one or no company, real estate firm or like business offered a service for connecting hunters to private lands that are available for lease. Is it just me or why has nobody thought of this? One viable option is Gary and Beau Starkey’s FindaHuntingClub.com in Madison. Try them out to search for a hunting lease or a hunting club to join.

To be fair there have been some attempts at providing a service to hook up people with lands to lease or a hunting club to join with those seeking a hunting venue. I am uncertain if that particular business is still working on this concept, but I do not think they could afford the type of advertising necessary to penetrate the market. What I do know is that people are actively looking for hunting leases and ought to be willing to pay to find one.

When I contacted real estate sales people that I know personally, none of them held any listings for hunting land leases, and frankly did not seem very interested in the idea. I suspect they were used to selling property and getting the commissions. That is fine and dandy when land is selling. Right now it is not. Ever heard of business diversification?

Well, this attitude toward an existing market of hunting lease seekers means one of two things or both. Either these land merchants lack initiative or creativity, or as I might well suspect, the availability of lands to lease for hunting really is as tough to find as that needle in the hay.

Anyway it seems to me that some enterprising entrepreneur could work out the details to find a way to solicit potential hunting lands that could be leased to hunters looking for a good place. The deal for the lease dealer could be in the way of a sort of finder’s fee or some reasonable arrangement to put the buyer with the seller.

“We receive fees from landowners for handling leases similar to an agent managing commercial lease space for a landlord. This includes acquiring a lessee and preparation of all the documents. Most real estate firms do not do this. It is a specialized market that requires knowledge of available land for lease, game laws as well as game and timber management practices,” says Parker Sartain of Sartain Heritage Properties. So, this is one option.

If indeed, necessity is the mother of invention, then I wonder why more people don’t try this business angle. I get calls every month or bump into outdoor contacts on a pretty regular basis that express an interest in finding a piece of hunting land to lease. They can’t afford to buy right away or don’t want to lock into something permanent just now. A club with a lot of members and their baggage is not for them. They want a lease. And as it stands now, I don’t see a lot of options on the horizon willing to provide a service to fulfill this demand.

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