Earning Additional Income Through Hunt Leases

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The value of wildlife and hunting is increasing as hunting land continues to disappear due to development. At times, finding a place to hunt is harder than locating the game. Demand for quality hunting areas creates a marketing opportunity for rural landowners to generate additional income. Many landowners want to improve wildlife habitat but cannot afford to without additional income.

All wildlife is public property. In a hunting lease situation, a landowner provides limited access for the experience of hunting game, which a hunter pays for. The value of hunting varies and is based on individual upbringing, individual attitude, past experiences, and personalities.

Hunting leases usually generate enough income to at least cover property taxes and can reduce crop damage by increasing hunting pressure, particularly on does and feral hog sows. Landowners, may instead, choose in-kind labor if they need extra help more than income. But there are other benefits. Primary concerns for both resident and absentee landowners is vandalism, trespassing, and poaching. Hunters who pay for sporting opportunities usually provide routine patrols or their hunting lands. Increased presence is enough to deter most trespassers.

The following are a few suggestions to consider when developing a hunting lease agreement:

  • Ask for a sportsmen’s or group’s references. This may be landowners who leased to sportsmen in the past, conservation officers, or key community leaders.
  • Lease to local sportsmen. Local sportsmen are more visible and can spend more time on the property. It also eliminates the potential for local resentment caused by leasing to outsiders.
  • Proof of liability insurance written into the lease agreement. Sportsmen should pay for liability insurance, with the landowner listed on the policy, and provide proof of coverage and receipt of purchase. Landowners should make sure the policy cannot be canceled.

For a complete list of considerations when developing a lease agreement, types of hunting leases, or sample hunting leases, contact Horticulture and Forestry Agent,  Aimee_Colf@ncsu.edu at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Anson County or 704-694-2415. Finally, N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services has a free service to connect farmers who want to offer hunt leases, to hunters to want them.