Landowners have a great opportunity to gobble up some extra cash through hunting leases as spring turkey season inches closer in Oklahoma. The season begins April 6.
“Leasing for recreational hunting has become a major source of revenue for landowners,” said Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist. “In fact, in many areas, revenue generated for hunting leases has surpassed lease rates for more traditional agriculture production.”
While leasing land for hunting seems very simple, there are some precautions that need to be considered by landowners to have a successful lease.
It is important for a landowner to carefully screen and select good lessees to reduce liability. To do so, it is advised that landowners take time to visit with potential lessees.
The lease also should have conditions for termination, a legal description of the property, rights granted or withheld, terms of payment, effective dates, liability waivers and acknowledgements of risk, Elmore said.
An example of a draft lease agreement is available on the OSU Extension Fact Sheet NREM-5032.
Property owners should consider leasing their private land for reasons besides money.
“Often, services provided by the lessee are of greater value to landowners, particularly older or absentee landowners who may not be able to take care of the land as they would like to,” Elmore said. “Many lessees would be willing to offer labor in exchange for access to private land.”
A final consideration for landowners is the compatibility of a lease with current land management. Management for wildlife can be very compatible with cattle and agriculture production, with the primary consideration of having abundant native habitat.
“Introduced pastures are much less productive for wildlife, and will almost always yield much lower lease rates,” Elmore said. “Cultivated agriculture land can provide good wildlife habitat, and hence good lease rates, assuming that most of the landscape is still in native habitat.”
Local Natural Resource Conservation Offices can help landowners determine the proper stocking rate for certain land objectives.
“Farmers can help diversify their farm income by maintaining wide fence rows and field corners in native range or forest,” Elmore said. “Having larger blocks of native habitat between fields will also increase the value of this land for lease hunting.”