Who wouldn’t want to capitalize on their dream hunting spot?
You finally did it. You took the plunge. You anted up with your hunting partners and you leased a piece of hunting ground.
You looked at aerials and topo maps, you inspected several properties and you even convinced your wife that it was a worthwhile spend of family money.
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And now it’s all yours… at least the hunting rights are all yours.
The hunting lease industry is growing rapidly as hunters like you are discovering the ease and affordability of leasing hunting rights. But, what should you expect in the first year? How should you approach this new puzzle and all of the questions that a new area brings?
Here are the most important five things you should consider before rushing in and blowing your chance at a monster before you even knew he lived there.
Don’t hang too many stands
Frankly, you can’t have a solid idea of how the deer on your new lease move.
Food is probably easy to identify, but where are the bedding areas? Are there thickets somewhere that hold deer during the day? Is there a waterway that may effect the way they move?
Before you hang a stand on every trail and at the top or bottom of every ridge, hang a few stands on the edge of a field. Watch the entry points into the field and where the deer come from. Once you have an idea of how they get to dinner, then move in and start to establish patterns.
I love to have stands all over my lease, but the first year has to be treated like an observation stand in the early fall. Go slow and steady, and then hang stands with the certainty that they are on good travel corridors.
Keep the pressure down
This is an understandable mistake. You paid good money for this hunting lease, and you just want to enjoy it!
True enough, but if you just want to take a walk, find a park near your house. Every time you go to your lease you should have a specific reason or objective.
Whether it’s to put out mineral licks or hang cameras, do your business and get out. Fight the urge to take a walk around and see what you can see. You are in a deer’s home area and you don’t want to push him out.
This includes having a rotation for checking cameras. Once you get them hung, let each member of your group take turns checking them and reporting back to the group. I suggest checking them about every three weeks to start.
If he is in there, you will see him. Checking your cameras every three days is taboo!
Agree on expectations
I ran into this issue on my first lease and frankly it ruined it for me. We all went into the arrangement with different expectations.
Each member paid his money, so I felt like I couldn’t suggest what anyone should or shouldn’t shoot. I still agree with that decision. As the season went on, it was clear that one of my partners wanted to hunt every day and was happy to just see deer.
The problem with that is that he was approaching the same way everyday, and after a month of that, the rest of us weren’t seeing much of anything.
Not everyone is going to kill a giant. It might only happen to one of you, or it might happen to no one. Be happy with the experience and make sure you are all on the same page.
Find another way into the property
This is easy to do, but most hunters don’t want to risk being told no.
Like in my last example, entry into an area is vital. It is arguably the most important part of your hunt. Don’t be afraid to knock on a neighbor’s door or give them a call and ask if you can simply park on their property and walk through it to get to your stand.
Chances are good they will agree and give you the edge you need to get in undetected. Whatever you do, don’t walk down the same trail every time you approach your stand. Bucks know you are there and after seeing you a few times they will relocate, guaranteed.
Don’t let the money interfere with your passion
For 99.9% of us, this is a hobby. It is a passion and it is paid for with disposable income. That means it is money that we can afford to spend and have no regrets.
If you go into your lease with the pressure that you must kill a giant buck to make up for the money spent, you will be miserable.
You will spend more money on fuel driving to your lease over and over when conditions aren’t right, and you will end up being discouraged and disappointed in your leasing experience.
Hunt like you always have. Enjoy your time in the woods and with your friends. Celebrate when one of them is successful.
…and take lots of pictures.
A first year on a hunting lease is exciting. These are the good times, so make the most of it. You can always adjust our expectations for next year.