|At $1500/year, I am not a member. But this is how good (meaning...how convenient) it can get.|
As my (too few) local hunting buddies and I have moved through our 30s and enjoyed what sometimes comes along with that - namely, fatherhood and more intense job requirements - in some cases it has caused a split between us when it comes to hunting.
On the one hand are guys like myself who want to hunt with the minimal amount of stress, even if that costs money. On the other hand are guys like several of my hunting partners who would rather work twice as hard to hunt than to fork over any cash - be it $100 or $10,000 - for a hunting lease or a guide (several times per year). Of course, in this area of the country, given our hunting restrictions and density of hunters, anyone with any common sense would..........probably give up hunting. So let's eliminate "smart people" from our pool. The Rabid Outdoorsman has agreed to post up his reasons for disagreeing with leasing, and I'll share that with you later this week. But let's head down my rabbit hole first.
Why I Lease Hunting Land
I lease farmland and river blinds through a club on Maryland's eastern shore. Why? First and foremost, it's stress and pressure. Stress on me and pressure on the resource. There are an awful lot of hunters per acre of public land and water in our state, and trying to beat some unknown competitors to a duck or fishing hole (that you previously scouted) at 4:40 am.......only to arrive there second....... is a pretty brutal proposition, especially in January, in 12 degree air temps. Yeah, it happened to me. OK, it happened to me during the October "wood duck" season. Not January.
|Cheesiest game warden photo EVER! |
|Knowing a property means knowing how wildlife|
use it. Photo: Mississippi Sportsman
Last, and this is a very sad state of affairs, it's the lack of access to private land that drives the need for locking up more private land - especially for waterfowl hunting. Depressing. In Maryland and Virginia, you cannot hunt or fish a private property without explicit, handwritten permission from the landowner, which you must carry at all times while on that property. That means that every property where a landowner hasn't given YOU permission to access, is already locked up as far as you are concerned. And given what professional guides will pay landowners to not hunt an entire farm so they can hunt the farm next door.......yeah.....a knock on the door and a bottle of Crown ain't gonna cover it. Not for ducks and geese, certainly.
But to be honest, I can do better - by working harder - without spending more money. I now have an open invite to an offshore blind just 15 minutes from my office in Annapolis. The spot isn't amazing, but the company is great (other folks in my field, occasional politicians), and the blind seems to produce a few canvasbacks and scaup on nearly every hunt. I have an open invite at an amazing farm 2 hours from home. I might be welcome at another farm in southern Delaware, 2 hours from home, where I hunted for two seasons (2006-2008) for free before letting the relationship drop..........and I've been too busy/lazy/awkward to start the conversation again.
So, you know, I'm going to keep my club/lease. I like having it in my back pocket - I can always go there. It (or another lease I pick up one day) will be just the place to teach my son how to hunt in a good, relaxed, and safe environment. In an age where I simply can't take off for two days and scout.....this is the way forward for me. Maybe that'll change one day (retirement). And I'm not planning to hunt public land this year, with the possible exception of bow hunting. But writing this post has made me realize that maybe I should also take a little extra time and maximize the opportunities I have based on old, old relationships. Why shouldn't I?
|To fill blinds like this at $1200 per day (remember to tip your guide!), |
guides would gladly buy out the hunting rights for a mile in every direction