Take the Guesswork Out of Deer Leases
Consider Belonging to a Deer Lease for Bigger Deer and Better Hunting Opportunities
Editor’s Note: Hunters today lease land to deer hunt in ever-widening numbers. With a large number of deer hunters requiring better hunting opportunities for bigger and older age-class bucks, most of them realize that to obtain these goals, they must lease land, institute some form of deer-management program and possibly begin some type of feeding program for the deer.
Thirty-years ago, the small, 4-point buck snuck out of the mock orange thicket and walked toward the water on the edge of the swamp, followed by a procession of four does, another spike buck and five more does. The fading light signaled that I'd have to shoot now if I wanted to take the buck. But I let the young deer walk, as I had 87 other deer that same day. Most sportsmen would think a hunter was at a deer farm if he saw 87 whitetails in a day. However, on any day I hunted on the Tombigbee Hunting Club in west-central Alabama, for most of my life, I might spot that many deer. The yearly $50 per member dues for the club allowed each member to hunt as many days as he wanted to throughout the 3-month-long deer season bowhunters had.
In those days, our club didn't have one of the bigger leases in our state. Some leases cost $100 a year per member. But these members might have the opportunity to hunt 12, 000 to 14,000 acres, instead of the 6,000 acres I hunted. On the Tombigbee Club each weekend, we harvested six to 10 bucks, mostly spikes, since biologists only recently had begun spreading the idea of trophy-deer management. Occasionally we'd get an 8- or a 10-point buck. The first day we had an antlerless season at the club, 38 hunters' bagged 37 deer on a morning hunt. We didn't have a hunt that afternoon because many of our members were so upset about taking so-many does.
States like Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas have such large deer populations today, partially because landowners in these states traditionally have leased their properties to individuals or clubs. On private leases, deer herds build-up, and the hunters usually will institute trophy-buck management programs. But instead of 50 people paying $50 each to hunt 6,000 acres as we did 30-years ago when the land cost $.50 an acre to lease, that same land today leases for $8 to $10 an acre with only 10 to 12 hunters holding the lease. But, hunters today lease land to deer hunt in ever-growing numbers. With a large number of deer hunters requiring better hunting opportunities for bigger and older age-class bucks, most of them realize that to obtain these goals they must lease land, institute some form of deer-management program and possibly begin some type of feeding program for the deer.
But what should you look for if you plan to lease land for hunting? How much land do you need for a quality deer lease? What should you expect to pay to lease the land? Should you form a club and have several members contribute to the cost of the lease, the planting of green fields and the road maintenance? What problems will you find with deer leases? How should the members of a lease govern themselves? If you're planning to join a deer lease or lease land to deer hunt on yourself, ask and learn the answers to these questions before money changes hands.
Tomorrow: How to Find a Productive Deer Lease