One of the most common questions in the hunting forums is "How do I find deer hunting land??"
Jim was telling all about the success of previous hunters. He was really laying it on thick. When he finally got to price I was getting nervous.
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$6000 to lease his farm.
$12/acre is the middle of the road for decent land in central NC. I was hoping for $9 but the price was still within market levels. I started to ask more questions and soon found out that Jim expected it to be bowhunting only. No problem. The lease was only for deer which meant no spring turkey season. Fine, still no deal breaker. Jim has a brother that really likes to hunt so his brother will still be hunting...with a Rifle! Now we are nearing a deal breaker. The straw that broke my back was Jim allowing no Sunday access on the land. I spent 30 minutes on the phone trying to put Sundays back on the table but Jim would not hear it. I thanked him for his time and we parted ways.
The point is that leasing land is not cheap but the lease agreement needs to be mutually benefiticial. The landowner gets his taxes paid and has a little spending money and the deer hunter has a place to hang his deer stands. The problem is when landowners become greedy and hunters become desperate.
The intention of this post is to help hunters find affordable hunting land. We are not looking for cheap or free hunting land because that is in a completely different category.
Let's quickly cover the features that can help justify landowners getting the average $/acre that is mentioned in our price guide above.
Factors that Affect Hunting Lease Prices
Is The Lease Farm and Timberland
The land will hopefully have a nice mix of fields, crops and timberland. Deer love edges and need the natural cover that timber provides. Ag fields like corn and soybeans are an added bonus and can help maintain average price/acre. If the parcel is mostly timber then hopefully there are some old natural clearings and sights for food plots.
Does the Land Have Trophy Potential
Does the land and the surrounding leases have a history of a quality deer management? Deer hunting is getting further and further away from quantity and more about quality. If you have two buck tags and spend $25/acre on land then I bet you are going to be selective about target choice. Areas with trophy growing potential will bring higher and higher prices.
Is the Landowner Nearby
I love having a landowner on or nearby my leases. This gives me an added since of security. The landowner should be aware of all the club members vehicles and be able to spot trespassers. You may even be able to contract the landowner to help with the supplemental feeding of the deer.
How Far is the Farm From a Large City
Being in close proximity to a large city will push prices slightly higher. It is simple supply and demand. High populations around big cities like Atlanta will make it tougher to find available land within a short drive. Being willing to drive a little further will increase your chances of finding the affordable hunting land.
Is the Farm Easily Accessible
A nice network of roads is really desirable in a large piece of hunting land. The road system will enable you to get a tractor into the interior to prepare food plots and mow shooting lanes. The use of ATVs and electric hunting vehicles will also make it easier to get to and from the deer stand and also to haul deer out of the woods. Gates on these roads are a must. Whether provided by the hunt club or by the land owner you better have a good gate and lock in place.
Is There a Place To Camp
Your dream piece of hunting property might be three hours from your house so it better accomodate some primitive living arrangements. Electric and water hookups for a pop up camper will add value to the potential hunting lease. A small cabin or manufactured home would be like a deer hunter's castle.
How Big is Your Farm
For our deer hunting lease price guide I tried to stick to the average size parcel of 200 acres. This is enough to hold 6 hunters and is a great size farm. In most cases the price per acre goes up as the size of the land comes down. A father and and son bowhunting team might end up paying %40 more for 50 acres. Don't overlook these small plots because deer will cross property lines.
Do You Have Food, Water and Cover
Deer need only three things to live and survive. Ag fields, oak trees, apple trees, hay fields, grape vines, and browse are the deer groceries we are hoping to find. Deer need water everyday. A branch, creek, old pond, river will all be visited daily. If an area of the farm was recently logged then the new cutover provides excellent cover habitat. River bottom thickets, planted pine plantations, cutovers, and swamps are all examples of the bedding cover deer need to call an area home.
State Hunting Lease Prices
Alabama has approximately 23 Million acres of timberland. The pine and hardwood plantations provide a ton of cover for the deer and offer plenty of hunting opportunities for deer hunters. To give you an idea of just how much forest this is, Alabama has the third most forested land in the lower 48. Alabama's long hunting season and late rut make it a good destination for hunters in the southeast. Amply supply of land are keeping most Alabama leases around $10/acre.
When you start searching for deer hunting leases in Arkansas you end up finding plenty of duck hunting leases. Arkansas is a great outdoor state but is not really a destination for deer hunters. The going average for Arkansas deer land is about $11/acre
If you don't think Georgia is a big but state then you need to watch a few episodes of Realtree Outdoors. Bill is growing some nice deer on Jordan Farms. Big cities like Atlanta, Columbia, and Charlotte put a lot of hunters within a three hour drive of Georgia deer land. Georgia has about 10 million acres of farmland and about 20 million acres of forest and Georgia deer hunting lease averages are around $15/acre.
Finally a midwest state. Illinois is a top trophy deer hunting destination. Giant corn fields cover the landscape and mature hardwoods fill the ridges and creek bottoms. Hunters from all over the US have leases in the midwest. The trophy potential alone is enough to send $/acre averages well above most hunter's home states. $25/acre is the going rate for good deer land in Illinois but you can expect to pay more for those legendary trophy counties.
Big bucks and the state of Iowa go hand in hand. The lottery system for drawing non-resident tags also adds to the scarsity factor and increases everyone's desire to draw a tag. Bowhunters love hunting the hardwood ridges between corn fields and gun hunters love the late season hunts when the deer are back in the standing beans or corn. You better not let your wife see this article because both of you are going to be shocked to pay $35/acre for a deer lease in Iowa.
Too be honest I was a little surprised at the average hunting lease prices I found in Kansas. It could be due to the size and amount of ranches because there is not an over abundance of public hunting land opportunities. The state of Kansas does operate 63 wildlife areas and also 8 federal wildlife refugee areas.
The secret is almost out on Kentucky. Many hunters have been keeping a tight lip but Stan Potts shooting the 200inch velvet deer on North American Whitetail didn't help. Here is another one buck state that offers you a great chance at a P&Y or maybe even a KY B&C buck
. Western KY seems to be a hot spot and you can get a KY deer hunting lease for about $14/acre.
Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama
The gulf area states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have fairly reasonable lease rates. There are also seems to be a pretty good inventory of deer hunting land available. Timber companies are a great place to start and many have websites with searchable lists. Paying $9 to $10 per acre seems to be a good average
Nebraska and South Dakota
Nebraska and South Dakota deer hunting can be great. Both states can turn out some very good bucks. The remoteness and abundance of land had hunting land prices that were shocking. In both Nebraska and South Dakota you can pick up deer hunting land for $5/acre. This is a steal. During the my research I ran across many ranches for lease at $3/acre.
Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin
Everybody knows the midwest is a deer hunting Mecca. Earlier we covered Illinois and Iowa separately just because they are so popular. But now I am going to group the remaining midwest states. Indiana hunting land is around $19/acre and much of the state is within a ones drive of many southeast states. Ohio has a reputation as a big buck state and farms are available for about $29/acre. Missouri is just south of Iowa and the prices are a little more reasonable at $25. Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin round out the area with average deer camps going for just north of $20 an acre.
What are you paying for your deer hunting lease?
I am interested to hear how prices are changing in different areas. If you could take a few seconds to give us some feedback I would really appreciate the help. You can use the form below or even leave it in the comment form.
In the comments section below please list the state, the size of your lease and the price/acre
Deer hunting is my addiction. Don't believe me...just ask my wife.
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