By Richard Hines
At some point, every hunter wished they owned their own hunting land. If you are thinking about going in this direction, there are some things to keep in mind before starting.
Number one, it is by no means an overnight process. Before you start, sit down and put in writing what you are looking for to include price range, acres, location, water, timber, pasture, crops. In other words, narrow it down to what you really need. Also, understand that these amenities are both added value and costs.
Second, spend computer time checking real estate sites. This will give you a rough idea of prices that vary not just regionally but even at different locations within the same county. Once you are narrowed in on an area, look for a real estate agent to work with.
If you are wanting hunting land, find an agent who hunts. Pick up the phone and call an agent. You are not just checking on land, but you should also get a feel of what the agent knows about local hunting land. Agents that hunt and fish will understand the capability of local land in producing wildlife you are interested in.
A good friend and former co-worker in the wildlife profession, Michael Gray, is now a real estate agent with Mossy Oak in Greenwood, Arkansas.
Gray, who knows duck hunting better than anyone I know said, “In the case of duck hunting in Arkansas, it’s all about history.”
Ask if the area has produced ducks in the past, because not every wetland may attract waterfowl. The same is true with deer and so forth.
Third, consider finding an agent to act as a Buyer’s Agent. By using a buyer’s agent, you agree to pay a percentage of the sale for locating the property. If the sale is through a private individual, you may pay 3-8% for their services (depends on local market). If the sale is through another real estate agency, the seller’s fee is normally split between agents and comes out of the seller’s portion. In this case, your buyer agent would receive their percentage from the seller at no cost to you. Check all this upfront.
Overall, signing up with a Buyer’s Agent will save you time. They are doing the groundwork for you and they can eliminate many tracts of land that may not have the capability of producing the wildlife you are interested in.
When you are looking at land also understand what it takes to manage the land to get the results you want. Today, you can have deer just about anywhere but if you are interested in quality deer management small tracts may not be feasible.
In this case, you might consider forming a partnership to buy a larger tract. Again, a good agent may be able to help with this. Find a large tract and take out an option on the land. An option is a non-refundable payment that allows you to hold the land for a designated period and then pay the agreed price on a designated date.
It might be wise to have several hunters lined up before going this route. The option gives you time to recruit additional hunters who buy-in with equal shares. Some clubs I have worked with state that each hunter owns an equal amount of land, equipment, lodging, access and so forth. Some groups hire a caretaker. That way, no one is questioning whose turn it is to maintain food plots or roads. Situations such as this require stringent written rules in the form of a contract in order to maintain quality hunting experiences.
Another club I worked with had everyone deposit a set amount of money in an account. If you missed a workday you were “charged” unless it was a family emergency. Each member had to maintain a set amount of dollars in the club account. Know who you are going in with and understand the rules.
Having cropland is a plus not only because it helps attract wildlife, but you get income from crop rentals or in some cases consider exchanges with neighboring farmers who may be willing to plant food plots in exchange for crop or hay ground.
If you have keyed in on a piece of land you should understand where the boundaries are and walk them. For purchases of large tracts, hire a Wildlife Biologist to give you an evaluation before you make the jump.
Before purchasing, try talking with neighbors with questions such as “I am looking at the place next door, how’s the neighborhood, any problems, do you hunt..” and so forth.
One farm I looked at seemed perfect except for signs of heavy traffic around the gate. A call to the local game warden revealed that that spot was the nighttime hangout for parties. Sometimes, a quick phone call can reveal a gem or a hidden problem.
You probably already know where you want to own land. In this case, check websites to get a feel for price per acre. If you need help find an agent who has some expertise and who is preferably a hunter.
Take time to meet the agent, visit with them, look at some of the current listings. Tell them what you like and don’t like about the property. As an agent I like this, it helps me match up what you want.
Once you purchase land, schedule another visit with a wildlife biologist who can write a wildlife management plan. From day one, you should start an outline of where you are going.
Overall, finding that right piece of land is work but enjoyable. Take your time, do your research and in the end, you will have hunting land that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.
Richard Hines is a Certified Wildlife Biologist® and a Sales Associate specializing in timber and recreational land in Southcentral Kentucky for Dile Realty and Auction Company. Hines has worked with numerous buyers looking for hunting land across Kentucky.