A hunter who wants to gain extensive or limited rights to hunt on a landowner’s property should call upon a hunting lease agreement. This lease agreement comes at a price and a set period which will be indicated in the contract.
A hunting lease agreement is a legal document between a land or property owner and a hunter seeking the right to hunt on his/her private property.
A hunting lease agreement can only be authorized by the landowner. The lease agreement protects both the property owner and the hunter(s), allowing them to conduct their business within an acceptable legal framework.
To the lessor, it provides reliable evidence that the hunter indeed made use of the parcel of land. This, in turn, facilitates any settlements of disputes if and when the same arises. To the hunter, the agreement basically gives you the leeway to use the parcel legally. That way, no one will harass or hold you in error for making use of the parcel. Obviously, that gives you added peace of mind while hunting.
A good lease agreement should provide clarity on the privileges on purchase to avoid misunderstanding between the lessor and the lessee. This, therefore, makes it critical to ensure that the clauses of the hunting lease agreement are written in a customized form such that they meet the needs of the landlord and the hunter. Customization ensures the consideration of situations, by the landlord who adapts any set of clauses. The complexity of this process is the reason why a review of the hunting lease agreement by an attorney is recommended.
The detailed agreement is expected to contain information on the duration of the lease which should include the days in which it can be utilized and designated hunting seasons. Other requirements to be included are non-hunting days, the maximum number of hunters, price per hunt, hunting style, planting food plots, penalty clauses, etc.
Need of Hunting Lease Agreement
Following conditions need a hunting lease agreement:
- Comply with Statutory Obligations: Many jurisdictions make it a must for you to obtain a license before hunting within its sphere of influence. Prior to the issuance of this license, a hunting lease agreement has to be signed and provided as evidence. Thus, the agreement services to comply with the statutory obligations.
- Hunting in Disputed Lands: Some parcels of land may be disputed by two or more parties at a time. Hunting in those lands without any official permit may add insult to injury. Before venturing into such lands, it is important to enter into a hunting lease agreement between the two or more parties that claim ownership of that parcel.
- Pursuing Endangered Species: The above argument extends to the endangered species, as well. Targeting endangered species is prohibited in many places. Only a special permit may spare you of the adverse consequences that ordinarily come along. This special permit is obtainable mostly when a hunting lease agreement is entered into.
Obtaining Hunting Liscence
There are steps you have to follow to obtain a hunting license. These steps vary from place to place and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. These variations notwithstanding, there are some common binding steps that apply to all hunters regardless of where they may be at any given time.
- Take a Hunter’s Safety Education Course: For a start, you have to take the hunter’s safety education course. This is designed to enhance your own safety and wellbeing while on the hunting ground. It also exists to care for the welfare of those around or in the vicinity of the hunting ground. Be sure to check with your state for the necessary requirements.
- Submit the Relevant Documents: Upon receiving the education we have spoken of above, you now have to submit some relevant documents to the relevant state department. Below are some of the documents you will have to submit:
- Certificate of completion of the hunter’s safety education course
- An up-to-date valid driving license
- A copy of a previous license (if applicable)
- Wait for the Authorization: You will typically have to fill an application form too. This form, along with the supporting affidavits, should be submitted to the relevant state department that deals with those applications. Thereafter, wait for the necessary authorization.
Factors to Consider
The landowner and hunter or hunting club should have a deep clear understanding of the factors to consider before obtaining a hunting lease agreement to ensure they are on the same page. They should take it upon themselves to find out and involve in the agreement the following factors:
Components impacting the cost
Hunting on private property is preferred to doing the same on public land due to the additional permits and fees required by local state authorities. Other than that, hunting in public land requires interested parties to consult with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and acquire a local state license to access national forests and some state parks.
When renting hunting property, the hunter should ensure they conduct a thorough inspection of the land or property before signing the lease agreement for prior precaution to create reassurance that they are getting their money’s worth. Several components can impact the cost of hunting on private property, they include:
- Farmland and timber (Mix of fields, timberland, and crops)
- The size
- The nearby landowners
- The history of good quality game
- Clubhouse or camp
- Gates and access (easily accessible)
- Distance from large cities
- A hunting licenses
The land owner must ensure the hunter has a hunting license before renting him/her the land. An individual must go through a Hunters Safety Education Course to obtain a hunting license. The hunting license is a legal requirement that proves the hunter’s ability to ensure their own safety.
When obtaining a hunting lease agreement, the lessee is required to carry with them the necessary documentation. The documents they are recommended to carry include:
- Certificate of completion of an approved safety course
- Current valid hunting license
- Evidence of a previously issued license
Different states may have their own requirements and an interested hunting individual is advised to consult the local Department of Fish and Wildlife before proceeding with any further action. This department will also inform individuals of any other documents they may need alongside appropriate payments that must be made.
Status of hunting animal
The hunter should consider whether the animal they hope to hunt is considered endangered. Endangered animal species are usually added to the no hunting list. By having this knowledge, the hunter can avoid facing serious legal consequences.
Before looking for hunting grounds to lease through the lease agreement, the hunter should consider the legal framework that exists within their state that may limit their hunting activities. Understanding them may affect their decision on whether to go to another state during the open season where there are less stringent laws.
The landowner should also consider their state laws concerning whether they bear any responsibility for the hunter’s hunting license and liabilities for any injury suffered by the hunter during their visit. This may affect how stringent they can make their terms and conditions on the lease.
Open and close season
The hunting lease agreement is usually sought for leasing property during certain hunting seasons. A hunting season is a particular period in the year when hunters can pick up their rifles and go hunting. In most cases, a hunter will seek a hunting lease agreement during open season. An open hunting season is a time when a particular animal can be hunted.
A hunter seeking a hunting lease during the open season should ensure they are aware of the animals they are allowed to hunt. The local Department of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for authorizing the animals to be hunted during open season which may include birds, wildfowl, and game animals. This local body controls open season by limiting the number of animals hunted daily, reducing hunting to a specific time of day or stretching it to several weeks or months.
When renting property, the hunter should aware that the type of weapon used during hunting can result in the occurrence of multiple open seasons throughout the year for the same type of animal. This may have an impact on the duration of time the hunter may request on the hunting lease agreement.
The time in the year when hunting is regarded as illegal and punishable by law is what is referred to as closed hunting season. In most cases, depending on the state, the request for a hunting lease agreement in this period is very low. This is because the creation of open and closed seasons protects animals during vulnerable time frames, mating seasons and ensures sustainable population sizes. When seeking a hunting lease agreement, the hunter should be aware that the Department of Fish and Wildlife can create additional Limited seasons to create tighter control measures over the hunted animals. This may impact the terms and conditions of the hunting lease significantly.
Outdoor safety courses
To obtain a hunting lease agreement, the landlord is required to ensure that the hunter can be able to conduct their activities safely. A good hunter is expected to have received hands-on training on gear use and hunting techniques coupled with appropriate knowledge and skills in safe sporting practice, after which he or she can rent land for hunting with the help of a hunting lease agreement. The individual is expected to undergo an outdoor safety course that provides them with hunting education and safety requirements in their state of residency.
When seeking a hunting lease, an individual should be aware that he/she need not worry about the outdoor safety course if the hunter that is directly supervising them was born prior to September 1st, 1969. However, completing the course and obtaining their certificate will provide certifiable proof of their hunting status and enable them to receive a hunting license. The hunting license increases the landowner’s confidence in the hunter the property will be rented to.
Cost of the lease
The hunter should ensure they factor in how much they are willing to spend on the leasing agreement. This can be achieved by finding a property owner willing to renegotiate a sum within the amount recommended by the state and the hunter’s budget. The hunter can also decide to split the sum with other individuals.
Hunting laws are sets of rules that are placed forth to regulate the manner in which these hunting activities are handled and performed. They also exist to safeguard the species that are hunted from premature extinction. Needless to say, these laws vary greatly from place to place. Below are some common laws:
- Not basing your hunts from the road
- Tagging and clearly labeling the target animals
- Obtaining the relevant permits
- Working strictly within the delineated pieces of property
- Showcasing the gender of the animals
- Possessing the species legally
- Working with the necessary licensure and documentation
Writing a Hunting Lease Agreement
For a hunting license to be legally binding, the hunter leasing the land and the property owner must both ensure that the agreement is appropriately written. The hunting lease agreement must contain:
The declaration statement contains all the basic information in the hunting lease agreement. This section of the lease agreement addresses information on:
- Landowner name: The legal owner of the property that is up for rent as a hunting ground. The landowner’s full name should be the first statement.
- Property: The physical address of the private property on the lease should be included in the hunting lease agreement. The parcel information, legal lot, or plot can be used to identify property located far from any access roads.
- Property jurisdiction: The property jurisdiction is the state from which the hunting lease will draw its hunting and property regulation.
Designated hunting area
A section of the written hunting lease agreement identifying the area of land the hunter can use for his/her activities. The information must indicate:
- Authorized Hunting Grounds: The landlord should indicate the section of the land they are putting up for lease, be it the entire property or a designated area. Using the word ‘whole property’ will ensure clear, unquestionable identification of the entire property as an authorized hunting zone. Suppose the landowner has divided the property in any way and only a part of it is to be used for hunting, in such a case, they endeavor to identify the divisions on a map and in their records will ensuring it is physically found by the hunter.
- Activity Purpose: The activity purpose section uses a checklist to identifies every action the hunter is authorized to undertake on the property. Any additional actions approved by the landowner such as photography, skinning, etc should be included on the list.
Terms and Conditions
Hunters applying for a hunting lease agreement must take the time to have a sit down with the landowner and find out if the terms put forward to them are suitable. When writing the lease agreement, they must ensure to include:
- Lease Payment: The amount of money the hunter is expected to pay the landowner must be calculated as a single sum. This is since a hunting lease agreement is only necessary for the period the hunter will be conducting their activities. It is very rare for hunters to obtain this type of lease for periods beyond the open hunting season.
- Start Date: The first calendar date when the hunting lease agreement comes into effect, resulting in a payment to the landowner and the start of hunting activities by the hunter.
- End Date: The last day the hunter will be authorized to access the hunting ground as per the hunting lease agreement.
Provisions or Rules:
These are either state-imposed rules and provisions or the landowners. All restrictive rights, provisions, and behaviors should be included in the hunting lease agreement. The rule and provisions the lessee will be expected to follow can be stated in clauses. These clauses can include:
- A clause on the protection of timber from damage by nails: Such a clause may prohibit the lessee from driving nails or any other metal objects into trees during their hunting activates especially when building dear stands, camping facilities or any other purpose.
- A comment on the clause on the protection of the land from trespass and wildfire: In this clause, it would be clarified that the lessee who will be responsible for the land for the duration of the lease, agrees to help keep it safe from trespassers and wildfire.
The lessee will be expected to try to put out, suppress or report any occurrence of a wildfire.
- A clause on the observance of both wildlife laws and game laws: The clause demands that the lessee abides by all state, federal and local wildlife laws. Any violation of these laws by the lessee or his /her hunting group will result in an immediate loss of the lease
- A clause to limit the landowner’s liability for accidents: In this clause, the lessee is expected to be fully aware that the activity they hope to engage in is dangerous for them and any individual in their company. The lessee acknowledges the possibilities of hidden hazards like holes, snakes, wells, swamps, etc. It, therefore, means that the lessee claims responsibility for any damage to property or injury sustained during their stay.
- A clause preventing littering: The clause instructs the hunter that the land should remain litter free for the duration of their stay. The hunter is expected to remove any trash they have accumulated on the property before they leave.
- A clause stating the landowner’s right to cancel the lease: The clause should be an indication to the hunter that the landowner can terminate their hunting lease for violation of stated provisions in the agreement. The cancelation of the lease for any reason should take place in 30 days as per the state’s stipulation.
- A clause stipulating the landowner’s right to access the property at any time for legal activities that include management, protection, and inspection of the land: The clause states the landowner’s right to freely and fully access their property even during the hunter’s stay. The landowner should also state that they can conduct activities ranging from inspecting, planting, cutting, protecting, and caring for the property. The clause should also include proper language to indicate whether the landowner themselves can or will hunt on the property.
- A clause indicating any prohibitions concerning business activities: The clause should state the hunter’s prohibition from conducting commercial activities like hunting, fishing, or touring services.
- A clause identifying the venue: The clause identifies the state the leasing process is taking place. It ensures the landowner and hunter are subject to the state’s laws.
- A clause preventing the hunter from subleasing: The prohibits the hunter from subleasing the property to someone else.
- A clause stating rights provided by the lessor: The clause identifies all rights of the activates the hunter can conduct including fishing, camping, picnicking, hunting, or other uses permitted.
- Cancelation option: the provision in the agreement states that the lessor retains the right to cancel/revoke the lease agreement at any point in time that he or she feels the need to.
- A clause detailing a description of the land: The clause provides a clear map and legal description of the land.
- A clause stating the lease price and kind of animals to be hunted: The clause includes the amount payable to obtain the lease along with a clearly outlined listing of the animals the hunter is allowed to hunt.
Once all the necessary information has been written down and reviewed by both the landowner and the hunter hoping to lease the property, signing can take place. The signatures necessary include:
- Hunter Signature: When the hunter feels satisfied and willing to comply with all the set terms and conditions, he/she can seal the deal by writing their signature alongside the date.
- Landowner Signature: When the landlord is sure that all the terms and expectations have been tabled and they feel assured of the hunter’s ability to stick by them, a signature and date on their designated spot in the document will get the ball rolling
Hunting Lease Agreement Templates
Hunting as a recreational sport has existed for hundreds of years. The risk of extinction of certain species of animals and global modernization has led to the need to adapt legal legislation. Although there are some public parks and national forests where hunting activities can occur, some individuals may prefer a more private and exclusive hunting experience.
The hunting lease agreement is a suitable option that allows a hunter to lease a private property from a landowner for a period in which they can conduct their activities in seclusion. This legally binding document is subject to state and national laws.
A good hunting lease agreement should contain detailed terms and conditions which the hunter will be expected to follow. For this document to be effective, it is essential that the landowner and the hunter fully understand its contents. Landowners who decide to enter the hunting lease sector should be aware that this is a seasonal business that can quickly change and lose its profitability if the animals on their land are labeled as endangered species.