Deer Lease - Pitfalls
Some believe that Jon and John, the two Association partners, have an ideal job of being outdoors, involved in the hunting industry. A cool job. Reality is any job after six months is routine with drudgery. Land management does take a good bit of time. It comes with knowledge that every lease we get we will drop or lose sometime in the future and it must be replaced. We keep ahead of it by always being on the search for better land to replace what we want to drop.
Gene's personal best. A bucket list hunt. He hunted with us one year traveling in from a distant state.
Selecting a private land lease does not have much mystery about it. It is just work and time to look/walk a lot of potential deer land to find any right lease.
Highs, Lows of a Deer Lease
We take into consideration all sign to gauge potential deer lease quality.
Tree stand on the neighbor's 3/4 mile property line facing at an angle onto what we were reviewing for lease. Fence seen in foreground is a property boundary. This stand was one of several overlooking a potential lease boundary. Even with good during hunting season food and protective cover on any potential lease, if surrounding farms have a lot of hunting pressure than its value declines.
Our deer lease approach is to get on any potential lease land before a contract is offered. A perspective of how much work it requires is our leasing effort is conducted over a 9 to 12 month period each year. Lease availability is such we need to respond when opportunity occurs. Or, as often occurs when we make our own opportunity. It is rarely a quick window of time. It rarely just comes to us on first contact.
Once we consider land for a deer lease it does not mean any lease will be immediate. From first landowner contact to signed lease within 6 months is a good schedule. Some landowners have taken as long as two years. Some have leased to us for a time period. Tried it on their own. Later return to us to manage hunters under our lease. Then we have leases that extend to second generation landowners. Usually career farm families who have much diversification to their income sources. These farm are typically of large acreage beyond the finical capability of a small group of hunters.
All of the above simply shows no easy one size fits all approach exists.
A Sample Deer Lease
Key points picture on this page are nothing more than a single snapshot of a single lease. These pictures show part of our decision process.
Our perspective is we pay good money for our deer leases, location and surrounding conditions we want and we want that deer habitat when we want to hunt it. The end result is a deer productive lease rather than just lease land. Sounds easy. Sometimes is. Not always on any year for all contracts.
During season lease runs are a bit more leisurely allowing us to review, rank and possibly add to a list of potential deer leases. These land runs are also a time to check up on current leases when protective cover is all the more critical.
Taken for granted we lease food source and protective cover within regions of Kansas, Missouri and Iowa having a trophy history. Frequently that means making lease decisions with less than complete certainty.
Using all available observations combined allows for passing on or possibly our offering a lease. A lease offering never implies landowner acceptance of our offer. Or, that we will pay too much for any lease. We have passed on better hunting spots in a lower production region paying more for lower quality ground within a better region. One of many nuances going into a lease decision.
Taken all together each land run ranks any lease by region, by hunting potential (cover and food habitat, surrounding area), added to a ranked list, Association hunter profile and budget. We do not accept all land we look at. Neither do landowners accept all lease contracts we offer. However, we typically have better overall land at the end of any year's land contracting cycle than when we started.
Great when it works.
Deer Lease Decisions Are Never Certain
One of the many nuances that go into a deer lease decision. Finding this was luck (at right). A supposed "surprise" to the landowner.
This bottle was found on land under consideration when no one was supposed have been hunting it. Or, so the landowner thought. Or, wanted us to believe.
Regardless of any clues even after a lease deal is made it does take a season or two to know just how good a decision any land may or may not be.
Below. What we do not like to see but have to accept as nature of leasing within agricultural regions. That is farm land improvement. Such activity does lessen its value of any lease ranking within our inventory.
Landowners making land improvement decisions often are surprised when we choose not to renew his lease or offer less money than previous years. Often an emotional response occurs with landowners' seizing initiative to cancel our lease rather than accept responsibility for lease price reduction due to his actions. All part of our drudgery and grind hunters seek to avoid by joining this Association.
Josh with his first MAHA season buck. His biggest.