7 Tips to Lease Hunting Land on a Budget

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

The pay-to-play method doesn’t have to be extremely expensive

The author's father took a nice buck off the 40-acre lease as a guest. (Josh Honeycutt photo)

Some hunters prefer to hunt public land. Others gain permission to hunt private. And some choose to hunt with outfitters. If you don’t like those three options, and you prefer to do the work yourself, you’ll have to lease or buy land.

Maybe buying your own piece of hunting land through Realtree United Country isn’t on your radar right now. If so, leasing is your best bet. On the surface, it might seem expensive. But there are ways to lease hunting land on a budget. It just takes time, work and a little bit of luck. I did it. Here's how.

1. Lease Less Land

You don’t need a big farm to kill deer. Leasing the right property is more important. Quality over quantity. That’s the mindset. Properties under 50 acres are much more affordable than those of higher acreages anyway.

2. Lease in Less Popular Areas

Land in areas that don’t receive as much press will be cheaper to lease than areas that do. Focus on states, regions and counties that don’t get as much attention. You’ll pay less per acre.

The author and the buck he took from his budget lease the first day of hunting it. (Marty Honeycutt photo)

3. Lease Land No One Else Wants

Just because others ignore a property doesn’t mean it’s bad for hunting. Tough access. Hilly terrain. There are many reasons why a property might go unleased, or leased for less money. You just have to be willing to work a little harder to milk the tract’s value.

4. Lease Privately Instead of Through Agencies

Leasing through agencies is convenient and has plenty of perks. They certainly have their advantages. But it’s cheaper to lease directly with the landowner. Just make sure you still protect yourself with a contract and leasing insurance like you’d receive when operating through a leasing agency.

Don't want to lease land? Want to buy instead? Check out the available listings Realtree United Country has to offer on RealtreeUC.com. (Realtree photo)

5. Lease with Partners

Bringing others on board to lease a property with you will drive costs down. Divide the lease price by however many members are on it. This means less money spent, bigger properties, or both.

6. Lease the Right Property

It’s better to have 30 or 40 really good acres than 200 or 300 average ones. Think about proximity, layout and huntability. Think about everything that makes a good property what it is and translate that into the perfect tract of land. Then find the closest possible thing to it.

7. Lease Luck Requires a Little Prayer

Despite all these tips, finding the perfect property requires a little bit of luck, too. Good thing we believe that you create your own. The best way to find the right property is to scout digitally. Look for land that catches your eye. Then find out who owns it, obtain contact information and ask them if they’ll lease. It’s also good to ask everyone you know to talk to landowners in their networks, too. Use every resource at your disposal.

A giant 160-inch deer the author spent the second and third seasons hunting, saw in person multiple times, but never closed the distance on. (Josh Honeycutt photo)

Budget Leasing in Action

Finding the perfect lease is doable, even on a budget. I leased an Ohio property for three years. It was small. Barely 40 acres. Only half of it was huntable property. But the 20 acres that were good, were really good.

I took a nice 8-pointer off the property the very first day I hunted it. Then I spent the next two seasons chasing a giant that I never quite caught up to. I never filled a buck tag after that first one, but I did have opportunities at nice bucks the following seasons. They just weren’t the right ones.

My dad also joined as a guest from time to time. He was blessed with an incredible opportunity at a 140-inch buck. Other years, he passed opportunities at good deer in search of bigger ones, too.

The lease was a good one. It produced great deer, good memories and a solid place to hunt. And it was all done on a budget. You can do the same.

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