What does it cost to have a great hunting area? Many people, those that like to hunt and those that don't hunt, really don't have a clue at what it cost to have a great place to hunt. This just doesn't happen. You may see a good deer taken here and there but I can guarantee you without management it will not happen consistently. There are many points to consider when managing your property for good trophy deer and the expense can be great. What has to happen to have quality hunting property?
1. Let the deer grow to maturity.
2. Try to control predators.
3. Can you pay the lease?
4. Can you pay for the property?
5. Can you pay the taxes associated with the property?
6. What kind of management practices will you do to make the habitat better for wildlife and for you, a better place to hunt?
7. Do you have the time?
8. Who are you going to allow to hunt on the property?
9. What other activities will occur on the property?
These are just a few of the points to consider when managing your property.
1. Let the deer grow to maturity. Here in Alabama we now have a state set limit on bucks. The Alabama Game And Fish Division say that this three deer limit has added 50,000 bucks per year back to our numbers, that is 350,000 since the three buck limit started. All these young bucks that were once taken are now getting closer to maturity. This past year Alabama saw some good bucks taken across the state because they are more mature bucks out there. Next year should be even better!
On the property I manage we have had a standing rule since before the state had this law that only eight pointers or better are taken. There have been times when some have even let young eight pointers walk knowing this only makes the hunting better next year. This year we had pictures on game cameras of at least 27 different bucks, all sizes, and we took two of these. We harvested four eight points and only two were on camera. We quit harvesting any does due to the buck-to-doe ratio we were seeing. We are seeing less does and fawns which leads me to the second point.
2. Try to control predators. A coyote seen is a shot to be taken every time. We don't get every coyote we see but they know they are not wanted. You can trap or use predator calls to eliminate some but there are so many usually if one is removed there is another one waiting to take its place. Coyotes are the number one cause of death for fawns in our area.
3. Can you pay the lease? This is one of the greatest expenses you have with hunting property. Not everyone can own all the property you need to own to have a good hunting site that you can control so leasing property is usually required and may be totally required if you don't own any property. Leases cost several dollars per acre and the more acres you lease the greater the expense. Hunting insurance is also require when leasing property and that is an annual cost per acre that gets into the hundreds of dollars. It all starts to add up.
4. Can you pay for the property? There is lots of good hunting property out there for sale but you have to pay for it. Cost in our area is somewhere from $1200/acre and up, depending on what is growing on the property. You could have to pay over $2500/acre for established hunting property. Then there is the payment with interest.
5. Can you pay the taxes associated with the property? The government is going to get their part and they want more! Alabama's property taxes on hunting property is anywhere from $2 to $3 per acre every year. This starts to add up according to how many acres you might own. You could be looking at several thousands of dollars in taxes each year.
6. What kind of management practices will you do to make the habitat better for wildlife and for you, a better place to hunt? Here you can spend as much as you want. $200 treestands or $300 shooting houses, feed corn or feed soybeans, these are just a few of the choices you will be making. We sometimes burn over one hundred acres each year which is the best tool for improving the habitat and here the cost is $18 to $20 per acre. We try to burn some each year and rotate burning every two to three years. Then there are summer plantings and fall plantings of crops to enhance the habitat. Corn for planting is near $200 for a 50 pound bag and chufa is about $70 per bag. Soybeans, wheat, ryegrass, sunflowers, clover is not not as expensive but the cost adds up. Then there is fertilizer, lime and fuel for the equipment. Fields and roads have to be bush-hogged to keep the property accessible.
7. Do you have the time? From the above information in item "6" you can see it takes a great amount of time for planting and bush-hogging. Then there is checking treestands for repair, replacing wood, replacing straps, replacing netting around stands and the more stands you have the more time it takes. Don't add your time to the cost, you will really be in a hole!
8. Who are you going to allow to hunt on the property? We don't allow visitors to hunt on our property mainly because of liability. If we allowed just anyone to hunt on our property we would have a problem. They would be waiting in line to hunt. Everyone would like a deal like that to get to hunt on property managed the way we do, I know I would like an opportunity like that but now I would feel guilty because I know all the work it takes to make a property that is great for hunting. So for all the work we do it is best for us not to allow any visitors.
9. What other activities will occur on the property? This is important because you don't want numerous activities on the property near and during the hunting season. This is just common sense. No one likes disturbances and wildlife are more particular about harassment than we are. The quieter you can keep the property the better. Repair stands well before the season. Don't ride vehicles through the property, including tractors.
After all this is said and done, the deer in the above picture I harvested this year. It is the only deer I have taken in the past two years. I have invested over $10,000 into the property in the past two years for a good place to hunt, This makes this deer an expensive deer. I don't want to even think about what I have spent in the past 20 years. Sometimes it is probably best not to look at the cost!