A Place of Your Own: Buying Deer Hunting Property
by Chris Larsen
Some states have plenty of public hunting land. Some of it can be very rewarding to hunt and some of it is downright frustrating. Bad experiences have sent many hunters looking for a piece of property of their own to hunt. If you have the means, right now is a great time to buy hunting property. If someone has lost their job or is just tight on cash, vacation property is one of the first things they sell. It’s a buyer’s market. If you are in the market for a piece of deer hunting property, consider several factors before signing the papers.
When buying property a lot of guys try to figure out how much their payment would be and purchase a property solely on that figure. What they don’t account for is incidental costs. Let’s say you are looking at a property for $100,000 and a similar property for $80,000. If the less expensive property is 80 miles further than your home, it may not be a better deal. That’s 160 extra miles every time you make the trip. Also, take a look at the surroundings. If one property is in the heart of an agricultural area, you probably won’t spend as much money on food plots compared to an property surrounded by wilderness. Keep these factors in mind and don’t make the decision solely on cost per acre.
If the property has food and water available, it is going to attract deer. Forests provide cover but not all forests are the same. You are looking for mast producing trees like oaks and hickories. Fruit trees are also a big plus. I shot a nice deer this fall in a forest opening with an apple tree surrounded by wild berry bushes. There are always deer in this spot because there is a wide variety of readily available food. And it takes no work on my part. The apple tree has been there for years and the berries are naturally occurring.
Water is just as important as food. If the property has ponds, creeks, rivers, or a lake it is going to hold deer. If it is in a dry area such as West Texas or The Rockies, water is an even bigger wildlife magnet. A lot of property owners use stock tanks if they don’t have water on the property. That’s another expense and another chore to factor into your decision. Swamps and sloughs not only provide water, but cover as well.
During the day, deer gravitate to cover such as trees, tall grass, and brush. Obviously, any potential hunting property will need these elements to be a worthwhile investment. However, some types of cover is better than others. If it’s too thick, you may find yourself without a place to set up a stand. It’s good to have a really thick area for deer to feel safe in, but you also need good vantage points to hunt from. Look for natural funnels in and out of feeding and bedding areas. If the property is all open fields, there is no place to hide… for you or the deer.
If you can find some fresh deer sign, great. That is confirmation that deer are using your prospective property. Finding big rubs is further proof. If you are looking in the fall, look for scrapes as well. In late winter and early spring, shed antlers may hold clues about the bucks using the property.
Pressure is another variable. If the area is heavily hunted, many deer head for other areas to find seclusion. They could be long gone before you have a chance to hunt. On the other hand, a friend of mine has a fairly large tract of land in an area that is heavily hunted. He hunts the property sparingly and is careful about his intrusion. Deer literally flock to his woods because they are pressured everywhere else. His success rate is incredible thanks to the heavy pressure his neighbors apply to their land.
The surrounding property owners are also important. If you see a Quality Deer Management sign on the fence post next door, you can feel better about letting a marginal buck pass. If you are surrounded by public land, watching a decent buck jump a fence and hearing gun shots moments later is a sickening feeling.
Another big benefit to owning your own property is the ability to manage it the way you want. You can plant trees or cut them, start food plots, or rotate crops. Owning hunting land is both rewarding and costly. These tips should help you get the most from your purchase.
For Information on leasing hunting property:
Leasing Hunting Land: The Inexpensive Way To Experience World Class Hunting