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How to Buy Hunting Land

When you buy hunting land, you get to enjoy your private property without following another property owner’s rules. That opportunity has obvious appeal to anyone looking for recreational land. Knowing how to buy hunting land, however, isn’t the same knowing how to purchase a home. Before you commit to purchasing property, make sure you know how to buy hunting land that meets your needs.

Set a Realistic Budget Before You Buy Hunting Land

First, you need to know realistically how much money you can afford to spend on recreational land for hunting.

Most people don’t have enough cash on hand to purchase the amount of acres they would like, so they rely on lenders. Borrowing money makes it easier to buy property, but it also adds to the overall cost. Even though you spread out the payments over several years, you still pay interest on the money you borrow.

Another option is to buy hunting land with a group of investors through a land-owning partnership and share the property. This avenue can have many benefits even outside of the dollar savings.

Whether buying the land solo or as part of a group partnership, it’s always best to set a realistic budget before you even start looking at land. Then, you can make sure you are spending your time exploring the right options.

Do You Want to Earn Money From Your Recreational Land?

The good news is that you can potentially offset some costs when you buy hunting land. For example, you can charge a fee for other people to hunt on your property. Depending on the area, you may also generate income by:

Data also shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged some people to buy recreational land where they can find refuge away from crowded cities. As land values increase, you could profit from selling parcels of your land or renting to people looking for weekend getaways.

pheasant hunter

Know What Features Your Recreational Land Needs

When you visit properties, look for the types of features that attract wildlife. This may sound obvious, but you want to make sure you buy hunting land that already attracts the type(s) of game you enjoy hunting. Seek game signs such as deer trails, scrapes, rubs, and beds to see if the property shows sign wildlife use you want on the land. If you want to hunt deer, for example, look for a property that has enough thick wooded areas. Alternatively, purchase a property with access to a pond, lake, or stream if you enjoy fishing.

You should also consider the value of features that will make the land more comfortable and fun. You might prefer owning recreational land that already has certain features, like:

  • Housing where you can spend the night.
  • Tree stands that are well kept.
  • A barn or shed where you can store equipment.
  • Docks that let you fish in deeper water.
  • Trails that make it easier for you to explore your land’s beauty.

Features You Can Add After You Buy Hunting Land

Don’t write off a property that comes very close to meeting your needs. You can always add features to your recreational land after you buy it. Keep in mind that you can add some features more easily than others.

One great way to make your hunting land more attractive to game is by planting mast bearing or fruit trees, and/or adding food plots. Make sure you choose food sources that your preferred game love to eat. As long as you have the right soil, planting can require minimal effort. You can also add water troughs or ponds.

hunting buck

It’s also very easy to improve your recreational land’s value by adding trail cameras. You can use the cameras to show hunters, vacationers, or potential future buyers pictures of the land and wildlife on it. Photos also make great souvenirs that will encourage more people to visit your property. Photos taken with trail cameras are one of the best ways to increase the chances of selling your property for the price you want when the time comes.

“Trail camera photos and harvest photos are one of the top items that buyers of hunting land look and ask for when considering which property to buy. Our website analytics show properties with trail camera and harvest photos have a much longer view time and total number of views versus the ones that do not.  Purchasing a trail camera and a thumb drive to keep a history of the wildlife on your property is the single most cost effective thing you can do to improve the value of your property,” says Accredited Land Consultant Bob Stalberger, a land specialist in Minnesota with Whitetail Properties Real Estate.

Also, remember that adding features will increase the overall cost of your land. Include the cost in your budget and be careful not to spend more money than you intended. It’s considerably more costly to add large bodies of water, buildings, electrical lines, and wells to the property.

Focus on Convenient Locations

How far is it for you to drive to reach your recreational land? Are you willing to drive three hours? How about eight?

Buy hunting land in an area that you find convenient. Of course, convenient means something different to everyone so its important to determine how far is too far early on in the process so you don’t waste time looking at properties not in your desired range. If you have a demanding job in a metropolitan area, you might want to look for a relatively nearby location on the outskirts where you can spend the weekends. If you’re retired or work remotely, you might not mind making a longer drive to stay on your recreational land for a week or longer at a time – or even live there full time.

If you intend to generate income from your land, remember that most weekend warriors won’t want to travel very far to hunt. Focus your attention on hunting land as close as possible to major cities to get the most bang for your buck unless your planning to specialize in trophy hunting. It might also help to choose hunting land located near a small town where visitors can get supplies or have dinner.

Learn About the Neighboring Properties

Knowing about neighboring properties can help you decide whether land will make a good place for hunting. If your acreage is surrounded by farmland, then you probably don’t have anything to worry about. If there’s a community nearby, though, you should consider the possibility that your activities might not be allowed.

You should also talk to neighbors to learn about local residents. Are they the kind of people who respect private property, can you trust them not to trespass to hunt on your land while you’re away?

Find the right Agent

Not all agents are created equal and just because you might know a licensed real estate agent that is a friend or family member doesn’t mean they are experts in the land business. If you need help choosing recreational land that’s perfect for you, make sure to start by finding a land consultant who has the experience and expertise needed to help you find the perfect property to meet your needs. We suggest finding an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC).

purchasing hunting land

Buyer Beware: Five Myths About Purchasing Hunting Land

When it comes to recreational land, one hunt precedes the other. When it comes to having your own hunting land, you’ll first want to seek out the best land for sale. Before you know it, you’ll hunt with the freedom that purchasing and owning your own hunting land affords.

Identify What’s Most Important

Rarely is there a single goal when you decide to buy land. What exactly do you hope to do with your recreational land? Is it for hunting, fishing, camping, ATV-ing or all the above? Is the land an investment? Do you hope to lease the land for farming? Are mineral rights a consideration? If so, who owns them? The highest and best use of the land for sale impacts price, often dramatically.

There are many ways to evaluate hunting land, beginning with road appeal. Homes have curb appeal, while land has road appeal. For example, is the land well maintained? How easy is it to get to? There’s always a balance to strike between travel time and hunting time.

When considering purchasing a hunting land parcel, inquire about trail camera footage, if available. The current owner may have years of footage revealing important information about the quantity and quality of the wildlife on the property. Once you make your purchase, install your own trail cameras without delay.

Attracting Game

You also want to ask yourself, “What is the realistic potential for attracting game to the land?” Check out water sources. If they are inadequate, consider what it will take to excavate a pond or add water troughs along deer trails. Are current or potential food sources available to attract the prey you seek? For example, deer love everything from clover to wheat, and from chestnuts to apples. Like wild boar, they love acorns too.

Finally, if you plan to add crops, trees or other food sources, make sure the soil type is appropriate. For example, heavy clay soils and chestnut trees do not mix.

Return on Investment

Getting revenue from hunting fees is great when it’s workable. However, there are other sources of revenue like harvesting timber and leasing for agriculture. Of course, there are intangible benefits as well. you may want to use your recreational land to entertain guests. Or, perhaps you’ll make it a place where you teach your children about hunting. Certainly, your return on investment may be about far more than money.

Building Generational Wealth

Over the generations, remote parcels may become land that’s ripe for development. Additionally, land has a tendency to increase in value over the long-term, even sometimes better than the stock market. It an be a comfort knowing that, one day, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will enjoy the benefits of your foresight.

purchasing hunting land

Five Myths to Dispel About Hunting Land

Prospective land buyers purchasing hunting land will want to see through common myths that many first-time buyers fall prey to during the process. A diligent, fact-based approach with the assistance of a qualified land expert is always best.

Myth #1 – It’s just about buying an attractive piece of land

This is a little like shopping for cars based on color alone. It’s limiting. Okay, so the land is attractive to you. But is it attractive to the animals you hope to hunt and the food sources those animals need to thrive? Sources of food and water are key. So is the sense of security animals get from having adequate cover. Location is another key factor so make sure to consider who your neighbors are and seek information regarding any pending or potential future development projects nearby that may affect your property.

Myth #2 – Disregard open land for hunting

How committed are you to making the land more amenable to hunting in the long term? If you are willing to add features to attract wildlife, you might get more value by purchasing less desirable (and lower cost) land upfront. Then, you can improve the property to give deer cover from predators where none exists by planting low-growing shrubs and tall grasses and doing things like adding water, food plots, and licks where appropriate.

Myth #3 – Land values only go up

If you want to see your hunting land as an asset, check the potential for appreciation. Over time, demand may increase or decrease. Understand that while usually the value of the land will increase over the long-term, there is always the possibility that the land’s value does not increase. Fortunately, there are ways you can tilt things in your favor like making improvements to the property and investing in land that already has known potential for appreciation.

The most important thing you can do to ensure the property your are purchasing is a good investment is to Find A Land Consultant who is a qualified expert in your market. Owning, using, and building the value of your land can bring more pleasure than monitoring an increase in the value of stocks or a 401k.

Myth #4 – It’s simple to buy the right land

Buying a hunting property requires due diligence. For example, an awareness of possible zoning restrictions is critical. You also need a thorough knowledge of the prey you seek. Look for land with the features needed for successful hunting. Chat with nearby landowners about wildlife management. Are they fellow hunters concerned about how the harvest proceeds, or not?

Myth #5 – It’s tedious buying land

You don’t need to be an expert right out of the gate. A land real estate specialist can help fill in any knowledge gaps as your hunt for the perfect property when purchasing hunting land. It is crucial to find a trustworthy land specialist with a thorough understanding of the land market in your area. If you are purchasing hunting land, be sure to seek the advice and guidance of a land expert. Qualified land professionals in your area can be found using the REALTORS Land Institute’s Find A Land Consultant search tool.

With the right attitude and approach, the search for land can be downright fun. Appreciate the quest for finding the right piece of land for what it is – a journey to be enjoyed. During your search, stay focused on the pleasures that owning the right land will ultimately deliver. Envision the camaraderie and the invigorating days to come. Happy hunting!

How To Maximize Your Listing: Hunting Properties

The Highest and Best Use. All in this industry know the value of this term, but are we consistently applying it in an effort to truly maximize the features of your latest listing? In researching ranch and land property listings across the United States, it is evident that there may be value being left on the table. Sometimes this value can be significant, but agents may gloss over it as just another feature. I’m talking about hunting properties. I’ve come across numerous listings with some of the best access to hunting and/or might even qualify for landowner tags that in some areas are worth thousands of dollars; and the listing has nothing more than a bullet point that says Hunting. In order to maximize the value of highest and best use, let’s look at how we can better represent and convert hunting into positive dollar value.

The Outdoor Industry’s Effect on Land Value

The wildlife recreation industry is a $110+ billion industry and, of that, over $25 billion comes from hunting alone. In the West, agricultural land is rapidly being converted for recreational uses. According to the CCIM Institute, “demand for both improved and unimproved recreational property has contributed to rising rural land prices. An increased interest in outdoor recreational hobbies as diverse as hunting and bird-watching, a graying baby-boom generation that is more conscious of the investment potential in vacation and retirement properties, and low interest rates have come together in the past five years to create a niche market for recreational land.”

How Access to Hunting Affects Property Values

As the outdoor industry continues to grow and access to public lands continues to shrink, land with hunting access has become highly desirable. Hunting properties provide a buyer with the perfect mix of recreation and investment. Passive cash-flow opportunities include the leasing hunting rights, in addition to grazing and leasing land for farming. According to CCIM, in many cases, a hunting lease can bring in more than five times the revenue from cattle grazing. Simply stating hunting on your listing doesn’t sound like nearly enough to communicate the value that the land truly holds in its highest and best use case.

How To Better Market Your Hunting Property

As a broker, how can you leverage the indiscernible value of a property with hunting amenities? A good place to start is to create a section in your listing dedicated to the hunting amenities. You may be leaving money on the table and doing your client a disservice to just list “hunting” as a bullet point. If you are not a hunter or don’t know much about the area, this can be easier said than done. So how can you find out more information quickly and inexpensively? Start with your local Parks and Wildlife office, as the rangers can help orient and qualify your search metrics. Also, consider jumping online and research the area around your client’s property, to see what kind of access public land access is available.

Consider becoming knowledgeable in your states hunting laws to determine if that property qualifies for landowner tags. For example, in Illinois, 40 acres is the minimum required to obtain a Deer tag for shotgun season, whereas western states may require a contiguous quarter-section worth of acreage, or more, to qualify. There is significant value in this knowledge, and it is well worth the time spent researching the finer details. To recap: here is a list of some key items to research and market on your hunting land listing:

  • Hunting Access: What is the nearest public land access or is the property large enough to hunt on
  • Wildlife Population: What is the wildlife population in that area? Big game, small game, waterfowl, and/or upland bird hunting
  • Revenue Opportunities: Does this property qualify for landowner tags and how many? Are you able to turn the land into a hunting lease?

These are three key elements that can offer more value to a hunting property, and a good starting place for any agent. However, if you find a trusted local contact who is a hunter and that has the right tools and knowledge of the area, you can consider putting together a spectacular Hunting Guide that is sure to impress any prospective buyer. There are also a myriad of companies throughout the US with dedicated teams of hunters and outdoorsman, who can help in putting together a complete hunting and outdoor recreation analysis to be used to bring considerable value to the unseen benefits of a property. Consider reaching out to your local RLI chapter or use the Find A Land Consultant search tool provided by RLI for help in finding a consultant who can provide maps with public land access, hunting units, species migration patterns, hunting tag draw odds, landowner tag information, and more.

As land is being converted to recreation and access to public lands is shrinking, there is more value than ever before in hunting properties. The right buyer for a hunting property will know its inherent value, but don’t miss the target in marketing it appropriately, for achieving that highest and best use should be a guiding, as well as an inherent, principal.

Reference Citations

“Hunting for Recreational Properties”, CCIM Institute,

https://www.ccim.com/cire-magazine/articles/hunting-recreational-properties/?gmSsoPc=1

 

About the Author: Mike Miller, MBA, is the Vice President and Co-founder of White River Ranch Marketing LLC. With a background in Automotive and Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Mike is lending his decade-plus of experience in marketing and branding to the farm and ranch land real estate industry via his startup, WRRM – designed to expand the virtual impact of land brokers and their listings throughout the US.

hunter hunting land

Five Questions To Help You Find The Perfect Hunting Land

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.

hunting blind

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 multi-purpose 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.