Friday, August 12, 2011

Why Leased Land Will Destroy Hunting

The following post is part of a friendly debate that Swamp Thing and I are having on our blogs concerning Leased VS Public Lands. For more check out his blog check at:

Leased VS Open Public Lands
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, jump shooting down a river from a canoe or setting up a portable blind on a small uninhabited islands.

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 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 . . .


  1. Steve, I agree entirely with you. Being from VT we are beginning to see more and more leased land and fewer and fewer hunters. I believe that one is cause and one is effect.

  2. Ha ha. Don't you think "destroy" is a bit of a strong word for it? Then again, I guess, "seriously compromise from a perception and recruitment standpoint" just doesn't have the same ring to it :)

  3. BC,

    Outdoor sports are on a decline. While I don't believe that leased land is the ONLY factor, I do believe that it is contributing to changing the climate of hunting. I can guarantee that if leased land hunting someday comes to Maine, many will quit hunting because of the associated costs.

  4. RM,

    HA! Perhaps, but like you said would anyone read it without my standard dosing of melodrama!

  5. Right on. And I do see the recruitment end of it. A lot of my coworkers' jobs are based on getting kids outdoors (meaningfully).

    My coworker who specializes in the behavioral aspects of that stuff would call leasing a "barrier to recruitment."

    And she'd be right.


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