Are you part of a hunting group that has landed its first annual lease just in time for the 2017 deer season? If so, your group is not alone. With a growing number of property owners deciding to lease their land to hunters, new groups and hunting clubs getting in on their first leases is becoming quite common.
The thing to understand about hunting leases is that there is more to them than simply signing a deal with a property owner. According to the American Hunting Lease Association, there are things like land management obligations and hunting club liability insurance to worry about. But it goes even further than that.
The actual lease agreement your club signed with the property owner only dictates the rights and responsibilities of the two parties in relation to each other. It says nothing about how your group actually runs its own business. This is where the finer points of land leases come into play. It is also where hunting clubs fall apart. The five finer points of land leases listed below tend to be the weakest link in the organizational chain. Your club should get a handle on them before the start of the season.
1. Who is in Charge
The most important of the five points is the one that makes most of us uncomfortable: who is in charge. The fact is that whenever a group of people get together for any activity, there are going to be different opinions about how things should be done. It must also be clear that true democracy is nearly impossible to pull off. Some individual or small group of people has to be designated to provide leadership.
2. Available Game
Deer hunting is easily the most popular reason for acquiring an annual hunting lease. But it is not the only reason. Hunters also like to go after ducks, doves, rabbits, turkey, etc. It is important that your group decide among yourselves what game you will pursue in accordance with your signed lease. If your lease allows more than just deer hunting, you are going to have certain periods in which seasons overlap. So everyone needs to know what is allowed and what is not.
3. Scouting the Land
Different members of the group will scout the land on their own schedules. So what do you do when two or more hunters disagree over who gets first shot at a great location? It is a good idea to set up a scouting schedule and, in the event that two or more hunters want to use the same spot, how to resolve conflicts. Do not wait until members create a messy scene on site to deal with things.
4. Allowing Guest Hunters
It’s fairly common for hunting clubs to share the entire cost of the lease and hunting club liability insurance across all members of the group. That begs the question of whether the club will allow guest hunters or not. If so, how many per person and per day? Will the guests have to pay a fee to help cover some of the costs of the club? More importantly, does the signed lease document allow hunters to bring guests?
5. Hunting Camp Chores
Last but not least is the unenviable task of maintaining the hunting camp. Clear rules should be in place so that everyone who uses the camp will share the responsibility of taking care of it. What constitutes a clean and tidy hunting camp should also be made clear. You do not want any arguments over something as stupid as cleaning out the fire pit.