It’s very common this time of year to have my phone constantly buzzing with people looking for hunting leases. A quick scroll through Facebook groups and you’ll feel the high demand the leasing market has.
In five years, I’ve only come across a handful of landowners willing to lease their land. I often ask why. Below are the most common responses:
- I simply don’t want anyone on my land.
- I hunt the land myself or have a friend that does.
- I don’t know what to charge or wasn’t offered anything of value.
- I don’t want the liability.
- I don’t trust anyone that has contacted me.
I’m sure there have been more responses, but these are the Top 5. 1 & 2 are pretty hard to overcome, but 3, 4 & 5 is where you can connect with the landowner and increase your chances of signing a lease.
If you’re ready to get serious about acquiring a hunting lease, follow these steps.
1) Get your plan ready
I’m not talking about how you’re going to handle the landowner. I’m talking about YOU! You should be asking yourself, Where do you want to hunt? What seasons are you going to be using the land? What are you willing to pay for the lease? Are you committed to putting in actual work to find a lease? (More on that later).
Figure out what you want. When a landowner asks what you’re looking for, you need to have a confident answer.
2) Prepare Money and Insurance
I’ll be blatantly obvious. There are no free rides here. The promise of sausage at the end of the year or manual labor isn’t going to cut it. Yes, some people will find a free place to hunt, but don’t count on that as an option.
Be prepared. Set aside at least $1,000 for your lease. Talk with your insurance company about liability insurance. Insurance can be purchased through the QDMA for hunting leases. Prices will vary depending on the acreage and number of hunters.
Expect to pay $10-$20/acre for hunting rights. $1,000 is setting aside $2.74 per day. Skip the Starbucks and energy drink in the morning and by the end of the year, you’ll have a solid amount of money to acquire a lease.
3) Contact Landowners
Talking with family, friends, and realtors is a good start, but will only get you so far. People are busy and will forget you even asked about a lease. Instead, put in the work, time, and investment to build up a database of landowners.
- Send a Letter – Once you have identified a property, send the landowner a letter. In this letter include who you are, what you are looking for, how much you may be willing to pay, and that you have insurance. Include the property you’re reaching out about. Mention that in one week from the date of the letter you’ll give them a call.
- Call Them – You can Google search the address or name for phone numbers. Keep trying until you exhaust every option. Other software such as RedX can be great for keeping your database organized and finding phone numbers.
- Keeping Reaching Out – You may connect with Step 1 or 2. If you don’t, keep alternating between a letter and a phone call. (See Step 1 and 2). Consistency is key. Direct mail on average has a 1-3% response rate. Meaning for every 100 letters you send, you may hear from 1-3 people.
- It’s a Numbers Game – If you reach 10 touches without a response, keep the landowner in your database, but move on. Work on as many landowners as you can handle. Just remember to log your attempts and interactions.
- (Optional) – Do a mass mailer to your database once a year. Ideally, this would be early in the year (Winter/Spring). You want to stay top of mind with landowners.
4) Get the Lease Signed
Your actions above should generate some leads for you. Keep in mind, this is not a quick “one and done” scheme. This should’ve been started yesterday and done continually. If you are waiting until Summer/Fall to start this, you’re late.
Meet with the landowners and LISTEN to what they have to say. This isn’t about you. This is their land. Ask them what their goals are for deer management. If they align with yours agree to them and get a written lease signed. If they don’t, simply move on.
Remember, you are trying to get in contact with other landowners year-round, so your pipeline should be full. Look for relationships where you and the landowner are on the same page, it’ll pay dividends down the road.
5) Maintain the Relationship
If you haven’t established a relationship yet, that’s ok. If you have, make sure to maintain that relationship. Here’s how you can do that.
- Thank them every year.
- Be a steward of the land.
- Respect their wishes.
- Stay within the parameters of the lease.
- Give them meat/sausage/wine/beer as a gift.
Always remember, you are a tenant on their land. They’re making the mortgage payments, paying the taxes, and have money invested in the property.
What’s the next step? Start at Step 1 – Get your plan ready… The most important tip: Don’t skip steps.
Best of luck in your hunting land lease endeavors,
About Al Wisnefske: Al Wisnefske is the Broker/Owner of Land & Legacy Group LLC. He is a multi-million dollar producer specializing in land, home, and farm sales in Southern Wisconsin. His #1 philosophy is: “Relationships over Transactions.”