Let’s jump right in and talk about the one thing that matters most…money.
Any quality hunting lease is going to cost you some of your hard-earned cash. That’s just a fact. It is no different than playing a nice golf course or buying a new truck. The nicer experience you want, the higher the price. That certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t find a very enjoyable hunting lease in your price range. It just means that you may be looking for a smaller property or maybe you need to look in an area not known for big deer (or lots of ducks etc…you get the picture.) A popular misconception is that leasing is unaffordable, or it is only for the rich. I assure you that the latter is absolutely laughable! I am living proof of that.
Our first lease was nearly 10 years ago. We had just experienced the dreaded phone call that every hunter inevitably receives. Our landowner, the grandmother of a friend, called to tell us she had sold her farm and we would no longer be able to hunt it. Gut shot! After battling minor depression, I vowed to never suffer that kind of “pain” again. My group of 6 began to consider a hunting lease. We scoured the internet looking for the right piece of ground at the right price. We finally decided to use a broker (hunting lease company) that knew the ins and outs and could advise us of our best options. Hunting lease companies are easy to find online, but make sure you are dealing with a reputable company. The surest way to know you can trust a company is to look for the AHLA Certified Associate logo on the company’s homepage. These companies have agreed to a set standard of best practices and can be trusted to serve you professionally.
Within a few days we were standing on a 200 acre farm in the middle of the best whitetail habitat around. Southern Indiana was thick with big deer and turkeys and we felt like we were back in the game. Before we paid a dime, we were allowed to walk the entire farm, speak to the landowner and decide for ourselves if it fit our needs. Frankly, it was perfect.
The cost of that first lease was $4200. To be honest, that looked like a pretty big number sitting out there. After all, I still had to explain this to my wife! But, remember we were a group of six and for our investment, we were given exclusive access for one full year. Now we are looking at $700 each…for a full year? That’s not just manageable…that’s downright doable.
Three of my friends were firefighters. They each figured out that they could pay for their share of the lease AND buy a ‘community’ tree stand by working a couple of overtime shifts. Each of us made a small sacrifice, like cutting back on golf, working an overtime shift or holding off on buying a new bow. The reward for our sacrifices was a year of hard work, excitement, great hunting and ultimately some of the best times I can remember. We hunted exactly how we wanted to hunt, when we wanted to hunt and had the place all to ourselves. Simply stated, it was the best decision we could have made. We held that lease for 5 years before a couple of guys moved away. We killed some great deer, a handful of turkeys and created some of my all-time favorite memories.
I understand the financial impact that $700 can have on a family. Especially a young family. We were all there once and have vivid memories of harder times. Spending family income is something to be taken seriously. Balancing real world needs and expectations with your passion to hunt is a serious conversation to have with yourself and/or your spouse. However, it has been my experience that a closer look at disposable income (extra money you don’t use for bills, food, gas etc.) usually reveals a couple of opportunities to save money and make your hunting dream a reality.