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Hunting Leases: Things for First-Time Owners to Think About

By on August 22, 2017

Leasing land to hunters is a good way to monetize property that would otherwise sit unused. In fact, leasing hunting lands is so attractive that in some states, like Montana for example, the volume of private land already leased to outfitters and hunting clubs is making it difficult for individual hunters to find attractive property for sale.

As a landowner yourself, have you been considering leasing to hunters? If so, you are among a growing number of property owners exploring the possibilities. The American Hunting Lease Association recommends you take some time to think things through and do a little research. Leasing your land can be a very profitable venture indeed. But it can also be a boondoggle if you enter a lease that has not been properly structured to protect your interests.

Below are five things that property owners need to think about before leasing land for the first time:

State Recreational Use Statutes

As individual property ownership is regulated at the state level, there are different rules for recreational use between the states. This is the first consideration when leasing land to hunters. In some states, like Ohio for example, statutes provide built-in immunity to land owners against certain kinds of liability.

A landowner needs to know what the recreational use statutes are in his or her state in order to understand the extent to which hunter’s liability insurance would be necessary. Insurance is always a good idea regardless of statutes, but the kind of coverage needed will be influenced by state regulations.

Use of the Property

The second consideration is how the property will actually be used. A landowner needs to think about what kind of hunting he or she wants to allow, the kind of game he/she will allow to be taken, etc. Not establishing rules for how property is used opens the door to completely uncontrolled hunting.

Length of Lease

Number three is the length of the lease offered. Some property owners prefer daily leases while others are more apt to offer seasonal or annual leases. There is even the potential for long-term hunt club leases as well.

Drawing up Lease Documents

The next consideration is actually drawing up the lease documents. Landowners can write their own leases if they so choose, but this is generally not recommended by organizations such as the American Hunting Lease Association. Land leases are legal documents that establish binding agreements via the words and phrases contained therein. A poorly worded lease could end up being a real problem. For this reason, landowners might want to use a professional organization or an attorney to draw up lease documents.

Land Management

The last consideration is that of land management. A good plan for land management is necessary if an owner wants to preserve the value of a property as a hunting lease over the long term. Otherwise, the lack of sound land management could quickly devalue a property until it is no longer worth leasing.

It is not uncommon for long-term leases to put the responsibility of land management on lessees. Under such arrangements, hunters benefit inasmuch as they have the right to manage the land so as to increase their enjoyment of it. This can be rather motivating. Owners also benefit in that they do not have to be directly involved in land management.

Monetizing unused land by leasing it to hunters is becoming more widespread among America’s landowners. If you have been thinking about offering a hunting lease, just be sure you thoroughly understand what it’s all about before you offer your first lease.

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