When a Lease Replaces Permission to Hunt

by Zack Groet, D&DH Subscriber

Growing up in western New York, I was fortunate enough to grow up in hunting family. This was especially true for deer hunting. We were also very fortunate that my dad had permission to hunt an old farm right across the country road from us.

Buck on public landMy dad spent almost his entire up bringing hunting this area. As young kids, I remember looking out our kitchen window looking into the fields to see how many deer were out there. Or the times after dinner my mom would walk us through the field. We’d look down a small hill to see the deer coming out of the woods to feed in the evening. If I was lucky, I’d go sit with my dad on occasion. Year after year, this was where I grew up.

When I was old enough to hunt I spent every chance I could over there. My brother and I spent countless hours hunting there together.

Unfortunately, in life all good things come to an end. I recently learned from the landowner I’ve known forever that our permission is no longer granted. A fellow hunter came in and now pays a lease to my old friend.
I struggle with this in a bunch of ways. How does it get to the point where we need to lease land to deer hunt? Why are we forcing ourselves in this direction? Let’s say a typical hunting lease is $2,000 dollars. And let’s say each deer you harvest produced 50lbs of meat. If you harvest three deer, that’s almost $14 per pound, not including all the other costs associated with deer hunting. Where’s the sense in that?

Has it gotten to the point in hunting that people will spend thousands of dollars a year on leases to hunt for big bucks? Do some people just need that ego fix? Do these people who overtake land through leases think beyond themselves and the almighty antler? 

It’s sad that my young son won’t be able to walk in the same footsteps as I did on that land. We won’t take walks and hunt together.

My takeaway from all this is to always enjoy what you have to the fullest. Great chapters always end. It’s time to start a new one. I’ll always be thankful to my old friend for all the memories he graciously gave me all these years. I feel better after writing this, and I hope no other hunter has this happen to them.

D&DH says: As land access becomes more restricted, the premium for hunting opportunities continues to climb. This pushes many hunters to public land. Get tips for hunting these areas in this downloadable episode of Deer & Deer Hunting TV.

12 thoughts on “When a Lease Replaces Permission to Hunt

  1. David

    KSWhitetail writes that times are tough and farmers are getting less and less for their product. Really? Corn is over $7.00 per bushel plus farmers might still be getting taxpayer (you and me) subsidies. I’ve heard of leases were the farmer also charges a fee if you shoot an animal. Unless you’re hunting a fenced game farm, these animals belong to the state. Hope these farmers realize that the money they get for these leases is earned income and subject to taxes.

  2. harry

    Please get over it for yours and your children’s sake and find other PUBLIC land to hunt or pay your own fees. Is NOT having access to someone’s PRIVATELY OWNED land really a dilemma? I’m really sorry you feel that way.

  3. Tra

    You were lucky to have the opportunity to hunt on your friends farm. I grew up in Illinois and would hunt on just a handshake and giving the farmer some meat. I moved to Texas in 1993 and learned real quick about leases, which I had never heard of. Hunting in Texas is big time money, some leases go for as much as $10,000. The cheapest I ever found was aroung $3,000 per gun. I would love to return to the good ole days, but I’m afraid their long gone.

  4. Frank G

    I lease here in TN 750 ar. All good mast and pine. My question, hopefully some can assist. Last season I noticed tracks that had 3 toes yes 3 toes, not a double step. Not large, this weekend I ran across 3 "toes" again, this year much larger! Rear hoof, Is this common? None of the local guys have ever seen this. Help if you can or provide a link. Thanks All

  5. Zack

    First let me say thanks to eveyone who commented on this!! I’m really happy this generated a great response!! There are alot of different views from your comments!!
    I don’t blame my old friend in the least, money is put infront of you and you have to take it. I just struggle with the fact that all fellow hunters are making this trend. The old hand shake and help the land owner may soon be replaced with dropping down alot of money to carry on one of the oldest traditions of our ansestors. Thanks D&DH for posting this!! Good Luck this season everyone!!

  6. Nimrod

    You put into words what many blue collar hunters have dealt with for the past several years. I couldn’t afford land or a yearly lease so we bought a house in the middle of a large public land area. I have to share and it gets crowded sometimes but it works for us.

    You wrote "We won’t take walks and hunt together." I assume you meant on the old land if not don’t give up. Don’t let this get in the way of passing on the love of the outdoors to your kids. They will thank you. Thanks for sharing your situation.

  7. KSWhitetail

    Very sorry to hear about this Zack. I lost permission on a property down here in KS for the same reasons. Funny part is it was ppl from New York leasing it, it’s not you is it?!?!? But you gotta look at it from the standpoint of the landowner especially if they are a farmer. Times are tough and they are getting less and less for their product so any little bit helps. It’s unfortunate to see but it’s the way things are going everywhere is what it seems.

  8. Bo

    It is a sad day when money has to come into play like this deer hunting.

    I understand the landowner may need the money & it is hard to pass up but it is not right in my opinion to shut a long time friend out like that.

    If it ever comes down to having to pay a lease to hunt deer or anything else for that matter, I will cease doing so at that point

  9. Kevin Flower

    You are not alone. I too am from Western New York and have been squeezed out of my home hunting area by the all mighty dollar. You may consider yourself lucky. Now in Maryland, I might expect to pay triple that amount to hunt a similar farm. I have been forced to hunt crowded state land while others buy big bucks by spending big bucks. That’s life I guess, I have learned to lower my expectations and take great pride when I kill what many wouldn’t even take a second glance at.

  10. Kasey

    Sorry to tell you this Zack, but lease hunters are you. You just don’t know it yet. They are people who don’t have 10k per year to buy a property to own and hunt, but they have 2k to lease with. Saving money to purchase that farm all those years you were hunting for free would probably have been the prudent course of action.

  11. Scott Bridges

    I was introtuced to this concept when hunting New Jersey 7 years ago. I could not believe leasing to hunt existed. This ruins a pastime sport handed down through the generations. If this ever hit the New England area where I live I will lay down my bow and gun and leave the sport. What about the guys that can’t afford this? Hunting rites are not to be sold to the highest bidder.

  12. MO Archer

    While I appreciate your greatfullness for past experiences, you cannot fault a landowner for leasing this property. It is not someone else’s responsibility to provide you & your son a place to hunt. That is a bit of welfare mentality that we can all easily fall into. If you want a place to hunt, then lease/buy your own place. The $14/lb is simply math, but does not at all account for the adventures, experiences, and memories that are made in the deer woods. Those memories are PRICELESS and are not quantifiable. I mean no disrespect, just a different frame of reference.

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