Hunting Lease Basics for Landowners

The author of this story, Sarah S. Snipes, is a freelance content writer based in Asheville, NC. This story was adapted from an article written for and is published here with permission.

Hunting Lease Basics for Landowners

Are you considering a hunting lease on your property? We have interviewed industry experts to gain an understanding of hunting lease basics and the landowner-hunter relationship.

Lee Laechelt of the Alabama Forest Owners’ Association (AFOA) says demand for hunting land has risen in recent years, creating more opportunities for landowners to supplement their income with hunting leases.

“We have a website with hunting tracts on it, but since COVID hit, demand has been so high that we post them and they immediately get taken,” Lee says.

Hunters are actively seeking land. Landowners shouldn’t worry about finding hunt clubs. Instead, Lee says they should know what they want out of the relationship before advertising their property to avoid being overwhelmed when the phone calls start coming in.

A mutual exchange

Brian Stone of Forest Resource Consultants (FRC) in Macon, Georgia says many landowners want to supplement their income with a hunting lease.

“Both active and passive owners view the lease income stream as a way to offset property taxes. This is particularly true in Georgia. We have pretty high taxes on land when compared to adjoining states,” says Brian.

Hunting lease prices vary based on several factors. Based on lease rate data collected and analyzed by FRC, the average Georgia hunting lease rate is around $15 per acre but ranges from as little as $2.00 to $35.00 per acre or more.

Despite the monetary value of hunting leases, many property owners opt for a different type of exchange.

“Some landowners don’t charge money but the hunter mows their grass all summer or maintains fences or roads,” Lee says. “Sometimes to elderly owners that sort of thing is worth more than money. Or some people list the properties at a price but then give 20 percent of the money back if the hunter fixes gates or paints fences. People have different ways of doing things. Payment doesn’t always have to be money, just some kind of beneficial exchange between hunters and landowners.”


Several factors determine the price of a hunting lease.

“Every property is unique. It’s just like real estate–it’s location-driven,” Brian says. “Properties that are more easily accessible to urban population centers tend to draw higher lease rates. But some of it has to do with the type and quality of the game. If you get into areas that have more farming, there is more forage for the deer. That increases interest from hunters.”

He says deer and turkey are the most popular game animals in Georgia, though there are other opportunities, depending on property features.

“If you have a property with a pond or river frontage then you have the opportunity for fishing year round. And ducks–if you have rivers or larger creeks running through your property there may be an opportunity for duck hunting,” Brian says.

He and the team at FRC help clients determine lease values based on these factors along with lease rate data collected from throughout the state. In one statewide study, lease rates are classified by region.  In Georgia, those regions are the lower coastal plain, upper coastal plain, and piedmont.

“We also have a million and a half acres of leases under management and we’ve completed our own internal studies to determine average lease rates utilizing that and data from other sources. That helps us determine market lease rates,” says Brian.

Lee and his team at AFOA also look at data, including internal studies, but he says the results can be misleading.

“Up until 2015, we had been doing a little survey which is available on our webpage. We asked how much landowners leased the different properties for,” says Lee. “We would usually get about 700 to 800 responses back, scattered all over the state. And some people leased it to somebody but didn’t charge any money. So the survey was giving us a misconception of what people were charging. For each person, it’s a little different in terms of the way they feel like they’ve been compensated.”

Terms and conditions

You need to set rules and guidelines that will become the written agreement. Lee says landowners should know what they want before talking to hunters.

“Landowners all have different ideas and rules,” he says. “They need to be put in an agreement before taking calls. It can overwhelm them in a hurry.”

Here are some common terms to think about:

  • How long is the lease term? Many leases are a year, but some last only a season.
  • What game animal hunting is included?
  • Can hunters take any animals? Or will you set size or age limits?
  • Do you need to restrict hunting to certain parts of the property?
  • Will you allow ATVs, tree stands, or improvements to the property?
  • Can hunters use guns, or would you prefer archery equipment only?

There is some room for creativity when designing a lease agreement.

“You can absolutely design it to fit your needs, but you do have to keep in mind what game is on your property and what’s popular in your region for hunting,” Brian says. “In Georgia and throughout our operational footprint in the southeastern United States, I would say deer and turkey are the two most popular, with fall to winter and winter to spring seasons. The leases generally are year-long, but occasionally we’ll have folks who want to exclude certain seasons. The landowner may be a turkey hunter who is willing to give up the remainder of the year for hunting other game.”

No matter what terms you decide to include, you need to put the agreement in writing. FRC and other management firms provide lease agreements to their clients. However, you should consult a lawyer if going the DIY route. “You only have to do it the first time unless something dramatically changes,” Lee says.

Management styles

Another decision you need to make is whether to manage the hunting lease yourself or hire a consulting service to handle the details.

Lee’s organization, the Alabama Forest Owners’ Association, support members who manage their own leases. The Association provides educational resources and lists of available hunting land on its website. Members can access a group liability insurance policy (more on that in a minute). But AFOA doesn’t advise on lease agreements or manage the landowner-hunter relationship. This style is a good fit for landowners who want to be hands-on.

Alternatively, management companies like Forest Resource Consultants handle all of the details on the client’s behalf. FRC’s subsidiary, Hunt Solutions, LLC provides landowners with lease administration services and manages the relationship with hunt clubs. They take payments and field phone calls, troubleshooting any issues.

“We handle the lease so that our owners can be hands-off. They don’t have to have regular conversations with the hunt clubs every time a gate’s not locked or something happens on the property,” Brian says. “They’re not receiving calls with complaints from the club. That comes to Hunt Solutions and we’ll then work to answers those questions.”

Consulting groups can vary widely in the services they offer and fees they charge, but it may be a worthwhile investment for landowners who want to focus on other things while earning passive income.

Ensure safety

Okay, you say, this all sounds great, but what if I lease to a hunt club and something terrible happens? Like someone wrecks a four-wheeler or falls out of a tree stand? You’re right to be concerned. You don’t have to dig too deep to find lawsuits between hunters and landowners. This is where we remind you to work with a management company that provides lawyer-drafted lease agreements, or if you’re handling the details yourself, hire a lawyer to create the lease agreement.

If you take away nothing else, remember: make sure you’re covered with a hunting liability insurance policy.

While either party–the landowner or the hunt club–can carry liability insurance, many landowners require the hunt club to foot the bill and list that requirement in the lease agreement. And landowners commonly insist on proof of insurance. Whoever pays for it, you must understand all of the terms and address any exclusions or limitations.

Several companies offer liability insurance specifically designed for hunting leases. AFOA offers a group policy for their members, who can pass the cost on to hunt clubs. FRC requires that all clubs hold a policy with a AssuredPartners.

Don’t let fear of worst-case scenarios stop you from pursuing a hunting lease, but do try to prevent accidents on your property and prioritize a good liability insurance policy.

Take the next step

While we’ve covered the basics on hunting leases, there is much more to learn if you decide this is a good fit for your property. Reach out to land management companies like Forest Resource Consultants or join a landowner association like the Alabama Forest Owners’ Association for more information


Contact us today to discuss the possibilities for leasing your property.

Hunting leases certainly offer an opportunity to generate additional income from your property, but management of these hunting leases can be a hassle on some landowners. Allow us remove the burden and make it easy for you.

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