Allow your land to earn an income
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- As hunting season begins, there are several issues landowners need to keep in mind when they allow sportsmen to use their property for hunting, fishing or other recreation.
Landowners should consider accident liability, lease fees and a legal contract for the arrangement. In a recreational hunting lease, the landowner grants access to his or her land for a certain period of time in exchange for fees or services rendered.
The landowner should draft a lease agreement after discussing it with the hunter or other outdoors enthusiast. Lease provisions should include lessee name(s), payment terms, dated terms of lease, legal location and description of property, and game species to be hunted and activities to be undertaken on property.
The landowner should establish rules about what activities will be allowed on the property and communicate those rules to lessees in the lease agreement.
Leases should require lessees to follow state laws while on the property. They should also cover garbage removal, potential damage to live trees, trespass and fire prevention, and whether hunting blinds or stands are allowed. The contract should state that lessees accept the land “as is.” Violations of these conditions are terms for potential termination of the lease, so all parties need to understand the rules.
Landowners need to establish the maximum number of users or guests allowed on the property, which hunting methods are allowed and where motorized vehicles can be used. Remember to conduct safety checks annually on the land and document this procedure in writing for your records. Warn guests of any known perils in writing as a part of the lease agreement. If possible, eliminate hazards on the property before leasing land.
Don’t use generic agreements found on the Internet. Tailor the lease agreement to the property, the situation and the recreational guests.
Private lands with high-quality habitats for wildlife are often more difficult to find, with an ever-increasing number of in-state and out-of-state hunters looking for properties in Mississippi to lease. It is likely that landowners will be able to charge higher leasing fees for these quality lands in the future.
Pricing lands for recreational hunting leases depends on many factors, including location of property, quality of wildlife habitats, and amenities such as established wildlife food plots and camp houses. Get a general idea about prices for leases in the area by speaking with area landowners who lease for hunting.
One online resource is the Mississippi Secretary of State’s 16th Section Hunting Leases map, which shows prices for leases on these lands around the state. That website is located at http://www.sos.ms.gov/Public-Lands/Pages/16th-Section-Leases.aspx.
In a recent survey conducted on lands sold in Mississippi for recreational purposes, we found that higher-quality properties with good wildlife habitats leased on average for about $21 per acre. For hunting lease price guidance on your property, call 662-325-5769 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hunting leases on your land enhance your income potential, help you better control who is on the land and increase the overall value of the property. For more information, go to http://www.naturalresources.msstate.edu.
Editor’s Note: Extension Outdoors is a column authored by several different experts in the Mississippi State University Extension Service.