The Price Of a Hunting Lease Has Gotten Outrageous

I knew this day would arrive, and here it is. The hunting lease my family and I have been a part of for the past 15 years has gotten so expensive I can no longer afford to be a member.

1970s – To be on a hunting lease in the 1970s you had to know someone who was a member of the lease. Then that member had to put in a good word for you. A lot of leases had a waiting list of people who wanted to be a member.

Whitetail Deer looking at trail camera

2000s – Hunting leases are begging for members.

In the past 30 years we have seen a shift of people who live in rural areas, timber companies have gobbled up land, parents are not introducing their children to hunting, and most importantly, timber companies are being bought up by invest firms.

The great depression of the 1930s saw a shift of people living in rural areas to living in urban areas. The reason for this shift was simple, and that was to find a job.

As the people who were left in rural areas started to die, their property was left to the children who had moved to rural areas. The children who had moved away had no use for the land, so they did not pay the property taxes. Various counties across the nation seized the land for overdue taxes. As the land was auctioned off guess who bought it, the timber companies.

In essence, we allowed timber companies to buy up unwanted land, then charge us for access.

Too Expensive

There was once a time when timber companies and hunters had a good relationship.  But human greed, wall street and the lust for money have ensured those good times came to an end.

In the late 1990s when my family first got on the hunting lease the dues were a year.

2013 the dues had gone up to $1,100 a year.

Ever since the Campbell group took over the land dues have gone up around $50 a year.  $50 a year does not sound like much, but it adds up.  In 4 years that is $200 a year.

Wild pigs taken off a hunting lease in Southeast Texas

At $1,100 a year, instead of buying a spot on a hunting lease and having no promise as whether I am going to get a deer, my wife and I could go to the butcher and buy some meat.  $1,100  a year could probably keep my family and I stocked in plenty of meat.

The last time I looked my wife and I could buy a steak for $20.

$1,100 divided by $20 = 55 steaks.  That is a steak a week for a whole year.

Then when you factor in the price of gas driving back and forth to the lease, putting up a deer blind, maybe setting up a wildlife feeder,,, it takes a lot of time and money.  Time and money that a lot of families do not have.

Future Generations

If there is one thing I am concerned about it has to be future generations.  How are parents who are barely getting by supposed to introduce their children to hunting?  When families are barely paying their bills, how are they supposed to come up with over $1,000 to get on a hunting lease?  Then all the other expenses?

Urban sprawl has destroyed hunting land, urban dwellers have to drive sometimes for hundreds of miles to get to their hunting lease; the hunting lease I am on (which is just north of Jasper Texas), some of our members drive all the way from Houston.  Those Houston members are looking at almost 300 miles one way.  Who wants to drive 300 miles one way?  Then there is the price of gas and the time involved?

And it not just access to land, states raise the price of hunting license almost every year.  I remember my hunting and fishing license costing in the $30 range.  The one I bought last year was around $75.

Access to land, hunting license, cost of fuel, cost of firearms and ammunition,,, it is all prohibitive to families who wish to pass hunting down to future generations.

Public Hunting Land

Thank goodness states are set aside land for public access.

The bad news, as more people get off of hunting leases they will turn to public hunting land.  Which means a resources that was barely used a few years ago will soon be overcrowded.

I will probably get off the hunting lease this year.  Which means I will be using public hunting land next year.

There is nothing wrong with using public hunting land, that is what it is there for.  Just be sure to follow state and local regulations, such as wearing blaze orange.