Hunting for game is fun, hunting for the perfect hunting property can be less fun. Buying a hunting property requires an extensive knowledge of land, wildlife, and what is necessary for a great hunt. Here are five questions you should always ask before buying hunting land.
1.Does The Land Provide Food Sources That Will Attract Game?
Food sources are key for attracting prey to your land. Providing animals with a reliable food source is a promise that animals will come to your land again and again. Depending on the type of animal you are trying to attract, you’ll need to adjust the food sources. Here are a few suggestions, by animal, that can help:
Deer: Deer love chestnuts, acorns, apples, clover, cow peas, and wheat. They have also been known to munch on marijuana plants.
Ducks: These birds aren’t picky, but you can lure them to your property with greens, oats, peas, and seeds.
Rabbits: Wild rabbits prefer fresh foliage over anything dry. Their diet is mostly clover, grass, and wildflowers.
Wild boar: These omnivorous beats will eat pretty much anything, but have been known to love acorns.
If the land you are looking to purchase doesn’t have these plants growing there currently, don’t abandon this property just yet. You can grow almost all of these crops on the property as long as the soil type is right for it (If the soil type isn’t conducive for growing what your game needs to eat, it’s a great time to consult with a land professional about whether or not this property would be right for you.
2. Do Hunters Have Easy Access To The Land?
Some hunting spots can be a real pain to get to. Long drives or unmarked land can force hunters to spend all their time hunting for the land instead of hunting game. Hunting is supposed to be a recreational, fun activity, and if getting to the hunting land is too much of a hassle, people will go elsewhere. So, if possible, avoid land that would be difficult to get access to for hunters.
If you do purchase a property that can be difficult to access, there are steps you can take to make access easier for hunters. Clearly marked signs, directions on your website, and keeping boats by the water instead of in a shed are all great ways to make hunting on your land smoother.
3. Does The Land Generate Income Outside Of Hunting?
With a national decline hunting and uncertain land values, very few landowners are able to make all their money off of hunting fees alone. If you are looking to seek returns on your land, you’ll need to find multipurpose land. Timber is a great export, if you can spare the trees from your hunting land.
4. Will The Neighbors Help or Hurt My Hunting?
As a land owner, your neighbors can be the biggest asset or biggest threat to your hunting land. Neighbors that are conscious about which bucks they harvest and the impact each kill has on the genetic pool are the best neighbors. Watch out for neighbors that shoot at anything that moves. Not only is that selfish, it also weakens the future generations of game. Try to meet some nearby landowners to get a sense of how they handle wildlife management.
5. Will Animals Want To Live Here?
The key to buying hunting land is to have an environment where animals want to live. Having food sources, as we mentioned in the first point, is a great start, but you need more than that. To attract the best game, you need to think like them. What do they need to feel safe? What do they need to settle down and start a family on your property? There needs to be coverage where deer or other game can feel safe, sleep, and start a family. They also need spots they can hide. Look for properties with shrub thickets or grass fields that will help the critters feel at home.
Open space in hunting land can look beautiful, but it is a deterrent to game. Animals are smarter than we give them credit for. They know how venerable they are in open spaces.
If your land has too much open space, this can be fixed. Plant shrubs and trees on your property to give your game more coverage. Here’s a great tip from Bow Hunting on how to create cover for deer:
“To start, locate a few areas that are situated on top of a rise with a view, or level areas with relatively open views that point away from the prevailing winds. Hinge-cut a tree by cutting halfway through it and letting it topple. The tree will continue to grow for a few years from the downed tops, creating thick growth. Deer, and bucks in particular, will often bed right at the base of these trees looking out into the open areas. That way they can smell predators from behind them and see anything in front.”
The perfect hunting land can be a huge boon to you and your kids. Great hunting land can be passed down through generations, providing a source of income and fun for years. Using an ALC can answer the above questions and make buying hunting land a much smoother task. Happy hunting!
About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and had been with RLI since October 2017.