Wild-life recreation is one of the popular outdoor activities in the United States of America. According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 91.1 million Americans (around 38% of the U.S. population) participated either in hunting, fishing or wildlife watching in 2011. They spent around $145 billion towards these activities - for equipment, trips, licenses and fees, membership dues, land leasing, and ownership, etc.
The rise in the number of licensed hunters and anglers over the years has consequently increased the demand for high-quality hunting lands. This created a market benefiting the landowners who can lease their lands for hunting. If you are one of them planning to lease your land for hunting, here are some important things you need to consider.
Knowledge of state hunting laws
Every state has a distinct set of hunting laws. It is, therefore, essential for you to go through the hunting regulations of your state to have a better idea about what to do and what not to do, before leasing your property for hunting. Along with state hunting laws, find specific regulations for various game species, the latest changes in the hunting laws, trespasser laws, etc.
Evaluate your property
In order to know how marketable your land is for hunting and to determine the expected revenue, you need to evaluate your property properly. You can begin with determining whether you have sufficient acreage to support hunting lease. Although there is no minimum size, hunting leases can be as small as 20 acres and could range up to several thousand acres. The larger the size of the tract size, the higher will be the price of the lease. If you own small tracts of land, you could pull it with neighboring hunting lease lands to form large hunting leases.
Number of hunters allowed
Your total acreage helps you determine the total number of hunters allowed on your site. Few state laws regulate hunting zones, hunting seasons, and bag limits. They don't allow more hunters than the game supports for a given piece of land. Limited access not only helps you control the movement of hunters but also helps conserve habitat.
Types of game species on the property
Before leasing your land, it is important to make note of all the game species on your property. Try to determine types of the wildlife species available in your land, their number, and how they are multiplying. Typical game species include white-tailed deer and wild turkey which are termed as big games and small game species include doves, waterfowls, bobwhite quails, rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, etc.
If your property is habitat sparse, you better go for habitat management before leasing hunting rights. Make sure that your property provides the wildlife basic needs like year-round food supply, water, places to rest, etc. Also, be familiar with the life cycles of the animals and take steps to support the wildlife habitat.
Prefer quality lessees
Besides making everything perfect from your end, it is also important to ensure that the hunters are also in sync with your expectations in order to make a friend and a profitable deal. You should be very careful while leasing your property. Whether it is an individual or a group of hunters, make sure that they are all well-organized. Choosing quality lessees helps you avoid further problems in managing the lease.
Hunting lease contract
Gone are the days when a mutual handshake used to serve as the hunting lease agreement. Over the years, written hunting lease agreements are widely in use. In general, a hunting contract is an agreement between two parties, the lessor and the lessee, which grants hunters permission to hunt in the property for a specified period of time. The lease document specifies the purpose of the lease, terms and conditions, amount of rent, transferability, and so on. A well-drafted lease agreement often avoids misunderstandings among the parties involved.
Landowners are required to provide reasonably safe hunting lands. If any accidents occur, you are legally liable. So, in order to protect yourself from the risk of liability claims, which could amount to several thousands of dollars, you need to carry adequate liability insurance. Typical hunting lease liability insurance covers risk to every member participating in the hunting. The price of the policy and premiums vary based on acreage.
I hope, these things help you to make informed decisions while leasing your lands for hunting.
American Hunting Lease Association serves the hunting and recreational property leasing market with liability insurance and leasing contracts. We offer hunting insurance or hunting club insurance and free use of our lease agreement template. Our risk management program has many benefits including member-to-member coverage, fire damage liability, and medical expenses.