Hunting Lease Basics
Sustainable Agriculture and Extension Technology RSA
The cool mornings and shortening days are a clear sign of autumn’s onset. Christmas decorations for sale in stores are confirmation that 2009 is lurching towards its cold season termination date.
Turkey Photo Credits: Les Harrison
The waning fall days have an additional significance for north Florida rural land owners. The next knock at the door or telephone call may bring a request for permission to hunt on the holder’s real estate. Frequently the request will come from an acquaintance or a friend of a friend, but occasionally the inquiry is made by a total stranger. Increased urban populations with outdoor interest and fewer hunting options have emboldened some to seek new grounds to pursue their chosen sport.
Whitetail deer: does Photo Credits: Les Harrison
Funds generated from hunters can add an additional revenue stream and potentially help the economic justification for land holdings. There also are some expenses and inherent risk associated with the recreational enterprise. Any prudent business transaction should be written down and a hunting agreement is no exception. The inherent hazards in hunting and litigious nature of contemporary society make the monetary risk obvious.
Squirrel Photo Credits: Les Harrison
The simplest solution is to execute a hunting lease with the interested individual or group. A qualified attorney should be engaged to affirm the lease is legal and accomplishes the goals of the landowner. Following below are some considerations and terms which require clear definition before executing a hunting lease. This is not a intended as comprehensive list as other issues may necessitate attention depending on the needs of the individual situation:
The lease holders: The lease holders should be clearly identified by name. Full names as opposed to nicknames should be on the lease.
If there is more than one person in an area with the same name, the home addresses may be used as a further identifier. If a hunt club is the lessee and that club is incorporated, then the club’s corporate name can be listed. All lessees should sign the lease agreement and the signatures notarized. In the event of an incorporated hunt club, the authorized corporate officer may sign the lease.
Lease Cost: The lease should indicate a cost to the lessee for the privilege of hunting specific lands for a specified period of time. Some leases include payments in addition to the base sum, for example if a guest to the lease holder takes game. Many times the payment is rendered at the lease’s initiation, but a consideration may delay the payment. Tax concerns is one example of why a payment may be delayed until the following tax year to minimize impact.
Land to be hunted: A legal description of the land available to be hunted must be included in the lease. A vague depiction of the property, such as “Harrison’s Farm” leaves the potential for hunters straying onto neighboring property. Preferably, the landowner would walk or drive the property’s perimeter. The trip has the potential added benefit of identifying any special features or upgrades to make a hunt more successful.
Species to be hunted: A hunting lease may be for a specific game species. Any hunting activity of a limited species must comply with the laws and regulation of Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has well publicized seasons for specific game and other information at their website. Information may be found at: http://www.myfwc.com
Choice of weapon: The landowner may decide to limit the type of hunting weapon. Sporting considerations, nearby building or other equipment, and/or proximity to human populations may be the deciding factor to use short range arms. Archery equipment has the shortest range, followed by shotguns. Muzzle loading rifles and firearms that handle some center fire cartridges can have a lethal range over one mile.
Insurance: As with most other activities today, hunter’s insurance is available. The policy should cover property damage and human injury. The policy should be structured so it is first to pay for an unfortunate event. The landowner should have a valid copy of the policy.
References: The landowner may choose to request references, but in the case of third party references, it may be problematic when offering a lease. Documentation of successful completion of a hunter safety course is helpful. Also, the ability to acquire hunter insurance is another indicator of financial responsibility and lessee character.
Causes for lease termination: The landowner may want to have specific causes for premature lease termination. The cancellation can be for any violation of the aforementioned contract terms, or other causes. It is wise to clearly address how the lessee will treated in the event of a rescinded lease. How the lease cost and other expense specifics will be of particular interest to the lessee.
Good luck on the hunt of your choice, and stay safe. For more information contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.