A hunting lease is an agreement between a landowner (the lessor) and someone who wants to use that land for hunting (the lessee). Hunting lease agreements can cover many details, including what animals can be hunted, how they can be hunted, the duration of the lease, hunting times, and provisions for other uses, like camping, fishing, and transport.
Hunting lease prices are determined by a range of factors, including the are of the land to be hunted, the quality of the area for hunting, and the number of hunters included in the lease.
Hunters often prefer to lease private land for hunting because it allows for a more controlled hunting experience. Less competition with other hunters (which might be expected on public land) means a higher quality hunt. As such, hunting leases are big business in Texas and an excellent tool for managing and monetizing your land.
This post will give you a quick rundown of hunting leases as well as resources to help you get started if you decide you would like to lease your own land out or if you are looking for a place to privately hunt.
Is a Hunting Lease Right for You?
The first thing to consider as a hunting lessor is whether it is advisable, or even possible for you. Here are some questions to consider:
1) Does your land have something that people want to hunt? This could be deer, bighorn sheep, feral hogs, squirrels, alligators, or game birds. If the answer to the question is "no", you could consider bringing in game animals or improving the conditions on your land to attract them.
2) Is your land large enough? Usually, bigger is better, as it allows hunters to choose and have control over their specific hunting grounds, while also allowing a suitable habitat for a range of animals.
3) Are you ready and willing to put in the work? A good (and profitable) hunting lease is not a "hands-off" affair. Some active management and preparation are required for success.
Types of Land Leases:
It is good to know that you have options when wanting to lease out your own property or if you are searching for private land to start hunting on. That being said, it is good to keep in mind that a landowner can only agree to as much as their land is capable of providing, so finding a property that fits your needs as a hunter, or finding a hunter that has wants that your land can supply is paramount.
Non-Fee Lease Agreements:
These leases are oftentimes just an exchange of services. For a landowner, this could look like someone clearing cedar trees from sections of your property in exchange for a few seasons of hunting. Or as a hunter, you could offer to build a fence in exchange for some time hunting on the land.
Sometimes the service offered is the hunting itself, if the landowner sees this as beneficial for the management of their land. For example, feral hogs are a nuisance in many parts of Texas, and allowing hunters to reduce their population could be beneficial for all involved (except the hogs).
The parameters of non-fee lease agreements are wide open, so you have the opportunity to cater entirely to your land and your own talents.
These leases are negotiated when a hunter pays for the opportunity to hunt on a privately owned property. There is also a wide variety of options for these leases as well.
Whether you want to lease property by the day or negotiate a more long term lease, there are as many variations of lease agreements as there are properties that have been leased before. Each one will have it's own time restrictions as well as pricing and location.
How Much Does a Hunting Lease Cost in Texas?
A hunting lease in Texas can cost as little as $75 for a day, or as much as $15,000 for a year-long agreement. Prices are usually charged per person.
Prices are determined by a range of factors, including the location and size of the land; the overall quality and appearance of the land; the numbers, health, and variety of game available for hunting; the duration of the lease; and the amenities and services offered by the landowner.
What Is Included In A Hunting Lease?
Hunting leases can conceivably cover almost anything that the lessor or lessee considers relevant. However, here are some common things covered by hunting leases:
The specific activities that are allowed (or prohibited).
Location and description of the areas where those activities are allowed (or prohibited).
The duration of the lease.
The specific time frames allowed for hunting (and other activities).
Causes and processes for early termination or making changes to the agreement.
How the lessor and lessee will communicate, and what they are expected to communicate.
All the parties covered by the lease (including family or guests).
Provisions made for the health and safety of all those involved, and emergency plans.
These categories are a bit vague, so here are some specific examples. Will a hunter be allowed to construct a hide on your land? Will they be allowed to bring and consume alcohol? Will you require advance notice of any hunting activities, including expected duration and potential guests? How close to your home will you allow hunting activities?
When listing, advertising, or promoting a hunting lease, the following information is usually given: The county that the land is located in, the name of the farm or ranch, the game available for hunting, the means by which hunters are allowed to hunt (weapons etc.), the number of acres allowed for hunting, the cost (usually per person), and the duration (usually by day, season, or year).
This should give you some idea of the things you should be thinking of when writing up a hunting lease. The most important thing to remember is to get it in writing. Even better, get professional assistance from an experienced lawyer, real estate agent, or extension agent.
For more info on how to write a hunting lease agreement:
Just like anything worth considering, there are positives and negatives to having a hunting lease on your land. Knowing more about what having a hunting lease entails can help you make the right decision for your property!
For hunters, leasing on private property oftentimes allows for a better game selection due to your unique access to this piece of land. It also helps that leasing on private land allows for much easier access to hunting than other venues might.
As for the landowners, not only does leasing provide you an extra income, but it can also help with issues of population control on your land. Healthy for your wallet and your land!
If you are a landowner thinking about leasing out your property to hunters it is important to keep in mind that sometimes people may not respect your land as well as you would. If boundaries are not set in the lease agreement, landowners run the risk of their property being overhunted or damaged in some way. The best way to avoid this is to set clear guidelines in your lease that will protect you and your property alike from being taken advantage of.
Another way to ensure that you are placing your property and wildlife in capable hands is to ask them to provide references. Oftentimes hunters will have leased on other properties before or they have people who can vouch for their character.
Be mindful that, as the landowner, you also have certain legal responsibilities towards those you allow onto your land. For example, you are responsible for keeping your property safe for visitors and warning guests of potential dangers. Speaking to an attorney can help you reduce the risk to yourself (as the lessor). Here are some steps to protect yourself legally:
Hire a lawyer
Have a clear and detailed hunting lease agreement
Conduct hunting lease operations under a limited-liability corporation
Make sure that all hunters (the lessees) have insurance and safety training
Establish safety and emergency procedures
Whether you choose to lease or not, it is a good idea to dive into more information about the subject so you can make an educated decision. Here are the links to a few resources that may help you out!
- Whitetail Properties Blog: This is a great post about the logistics of hunting leases and it helps showcase the options that leasers and hunters have when looking for an agreement.
- Texas Bowhunter Forum: This forum is a great place to pose any questions you have about leasing. You can find answers and advice from people who have first-hand experience with hunting leases.
- Base Camp Leasing: Check out available hunting leases in multiple states or post your own property and find potential lessees.