Friday, August 12, 2011

Guest Post: Why I Will Never Lease Hunting Land


When I stumble across signs like this on "unpopular" public properties, I get pretty excited too!




Today's post, from the Maine Outdoorsman, is a companion piece to this Wednesday's post on River Mud, "Why I Lease Hunting Land." I hope that you read the two posts together and give yourself the luxury of considering why you do or don't lease land - especially if you feel strongly about the topic but haven't given it much deep thought.  Hope you enjoy them both! 


He is Brave Sir Rabid
I have to admit that the prospect of paying for the privilege of hunting a particular piece of land is a bizarre proposition to this Maine boy. While Maine is certainly no stranger to the “Posted No Trespassing” sign, these areas are more typical to the southern areas of the state. Even with landowners limiting access, Maine’s many open private properties, expanded archery zones and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) provide hunting opportunities, minutes from practically every Mainer’s doorstep. 

While I understand the concept of leasing a particular piece of land and limiting access to that parcel to a small group of hunters, it would currently be difficult for me to justify the associated costs, given I currently get the same degree of access and pay nothing.
In Maine, we have vast and expansive areas to hunt, accessible primarily by logging roads and ATV trails. Even with these limited backwoods highways (some accessible only by 4-wheel drive), most of the access to the most beautiful and bountiful hunting areas of the state are only accessible via foot traffic. In Maine, great hunting is provided to any sportsmen willing to diverge a short distance from the main wilderness arteries.

Even I as an inhabitant of the central area of the state, am able to walk out in back of my house for good deer hunting or drive a few minutes to access large tracts of field land to chase turkey, grouse or Canada geese. It is often as simple as asking a farmer or landowner for permission. Even chasing puddle ducks can be done with great success by using public boat launches and jump shooting down a river from a canoe or setting up a portable blind on a small uninhabited islands.

Becoming proficient in hiking with
and shooting out of a climbing
stand is a cheap and easy way to
maximize public land opportunities
for deer. Photo: al.com

On a recent trip turkey hunting in Florida, we were afforded a chance to hunt private lands with close to a 100% success rate at taking a bird and a $1,500.00 price tag. Instead, we chose to take our chances and hunt public lands that cost us nothing. Did we have to put up with other hunters? Yes. Did we go home birdless? Yes. Did we have a fantastic time? Yes. Will we go back and try the public lands again? Absolutely.
Why you might ask? Frankly, it’s the challenge, and the unwavering respect from any hunter when tell them you shot an Osceola turkey on a public land hunt in Florida. It is the challenge of the hunt and the prospect that your chances of going home empty handed are very good that matters most to me. I know to many, that concept will sound idiotic but to me it is the experience and not the kill that makes an animal worth hunting.

It is also worth mentioning that though the years I have met dozens upon dozens of people in my quest to find new huntable lands. From farmers and neighbors to individuals I have met on the Internet, my searching and scouting, has multiplied my network of acquaintances exponentially. Sometimes, I introduce a newcomer to a new hunting location and sometimes I am invited on a hunt. It is an unwritten free trade system that promotes and fosters a sharing and supportive environment for sportsmen both new and old. My Florida hunting experience is an excellent example of this where I connected via the internet with an incredible guy named Hank who even provided me with GPS coordinates that set me less than 50 yards from a roosted Tom one morning.

Considering the above, are leased lands killing the sport of hunting? Are we creating silos of our hunting brethren who are not interested in sharing their experiences openly with and introducing others to the sport of hunting? Would you take someone you just met who said they would like to hunt to your lease? Things to consider . . .

"No Firearm Hunting" means "Yes Bow Hunting!" on this piece of public land.

7 comments:

Trey said...

Tell you what! Get on a plane and come on down. I'll drop you off at the nearest Wildlife reserve and let you fight the crowd. Then we can go to my lease and I'll show you the difference. I will say it again. If you do not have a lease in South Georgia, you ain't hunting!

River Mud said...

My first hunting experience in Maryland was on opening day of dove season. I was in a public dove field (that I had scouted twice, and never saw anyone at), and when I showed up 2 hours before shooting time, the game wardens were directing traffic - a solid line of cars for miles!

A DNR buddy told me that over 300 dove hunters were on the WMA that day. It was dangerous and stupid and totally frustrating and I never even shot. But I hunted another 7 years on invites and public land without taking the plunge - it can be done! (unless you have a quick temper!)

Rabid Outdoorsman said...

Trey, Sold! My flight arrives at 6 PM this evening. :)

Rabid Outdoorsman said...

RM, I admit that is discouraging. We have certain areas like that in Maine. Merry meeting bay comes to mind. It is a zoo on opening day of duck season. I have attempted the crowds on a handful of times but now prefer to hunt the opener where the crowds are smaller and birds less plentiful.

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