Overcrowded public land and the increasing difficulty in gaining access to quality private land has led many sportsmen and women to explore the option of purchasing their own hunting property. Owning your own land allows you to make habitat improvements that benefit your favorite game animals. It also gives you some control over which animals are harvested in your hunting area. Buying a hunting property can seem like a daunting task to many would-be landowners. Here are some key things to look for before making your down payment.
Habitat Types and Diversity
Choose a property that has the habitat, or at least the potential of creating the habitat, that your favorite species likes.
For example, deer and turkey hunters should look for around an 75%/25% mix of timber and openings, while upland hunters might want those numbers reversed.
Think long term when considering habitat. If the habitat isn’t perfect right away, consider how long it will take to develop the habitat you want. An open field can provide early successional habitat within five years, but if the property lacks mature hardwoods, it won’t hold many turkeys in your lifetime.
Game animals need water to survive and a property that has it will attract them. A property without a water source, no matter how much food and cover is available, will force animals to stray to the neighbors to quench their thirst. Creeks, streams and rivers are also natural travel corridors for game animals.
Man-made ponds can take the place of natural water sources, but be sure to figure in the cost of their construction while weighing your property options.
Know the Neighbors
Neighbors can be the difference between a dream hunting property and a waking nightmare. Before you buy a property, introduce yourself to the neighbors and try to get a feel for what type of people they are.
If they hunt, do you have similar goals for game management practices? If they farm the ground you are going to purchase, will they continue to do so and for what price? Answering these types of questions before making a purchase could save you years of headaches down the road.
Invest in Your Future
Buying land is one of the safest and smartest investments you can make. Over time, property values have steadily increased and will continue to do so as urban and suburban sprawl creates a premium for undeveloped land. Buying property within an hour of a city will virtually guarantee that your investment will pay off if you ever decide to sell.
Some hunting properties have the potential to generate income by leasing tillable land to local farmers and logging. Allowing a farmer to work your land will provide food for local wildlife and logging generates early successional growth that is crucial to many game animals. Don’t expect this income to pay for the property, but it might pay the taxes for you.
If may be possible to kill a deer or two on 10-15 acres, but if you hunt upland game or wild turkeys, that’s just not going to cut it. 50 acres is about the minimum ideal size for a hunting property, but if you want to hold game that doesn’t leave the property, 1000 acres is a better starting point. The fact that most folks can’t afford this large of piece further illustrates the importance of working with neighbors to achieve game management objectives.
Buy the largest property you can afford, but make sure you are not sacrificing quality for quantity.