Need help evaluating a potential deer lease


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AKElroy
April 25, 2009, 01:22 AM
Checking out a year round deer lease in central Texas this week. What are the important things I should look for, and what are the most important questions I should ask? I am a life long hunter, so I am not looking for advice on hunting tactics & safety, or game evaluation or processing. Any other input is appreciated--

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Art Eatman
April 25, 2009, 10:50 AM
Hmmm. I'd write down whatever the owner says about size of bucks to shoot or not shoot, and what his views are on doe hunting. Guest hunters? Non-hunting guests? Bird hunting? Fishing, if there are ponds? Start/end dates?

I'd look for old rubs on trees. Water? Condition of the range, insofar as "growies"? I'd look for tracks and pills around the place, looking for game trails and suchlike. I'd like to sit in a likely spot at daybreak and again at sundown, just looking for deer movements...

AKElroy
April 25, 2009, 12:12 PM
880 acres, 2 year round tanks, 1 buck 8 point or better, 1 cull buck, full tag on Does. Lots of hogs, tepid answer on dove around the tanks. 6 stands, 6 guns. I am leasing 1 of the 6 stands from a lease holder that has two & wants to give one up. I am not inclined to pay anything until I talk with the actual owner to confirm what this lease holder is claiming & selling. I am assuming this guy may be pricing to get his remaining piece at a discount if not free, either that or he may be planning to continue to hunt both on any weekends I am not there. I'm not sure I should care, so long as what I am paying for is available whenever I plan to use it. If I go straight to the owner, I risk burning a bridge with the guy offering his piece & I will be seeing him often. I m not familiar with these kinds of issues & would welcome advice. I do not know any of these parties.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
April 25, 2009, 12:23 PM
I look for (roughly in order):

-Available species (does it have feral hogs, quail, pheasant, ducks, and sandhill crane?) in addition to deer & turkey? Some do, some don't. If there ARE quail/pheasant, etc., you have to verify that the lease does or does not INCLUDE those species/seasons. I want one with feral hogs and upland birds.

-Aesthetic beauty. Lack of trash. Just a pleasant nice-looking place to hunt in. Non-game species variety of fauna. Species variety of flora.

-Size and lack of other homes & civilization. I like to roam and feel isolated like I'm the only one on the planet.

-Is the land well-managed with controlled burns and such or chock full of cedars?

-Likelihood of trophy game presence, and game numbers. Is there plenty of good soil & nutrition to feed the ungulates & turkeys? Crop fields nearby, lots of acorns, etc.? The deer get big or not? If you're a meat hunter, and shoot does too, then what's the density of deer/sq. mile? What are the turkey numbers like? Are they stupid, easy-to-hunt Rios or smarter Easterns?

-Is it huntable? Is it 95% woods? It's much easier to hunt with more open areas and fewer woods. But you've got to have *enough* woods to provide cover for the deer, either as a travel corridor or bedding area.

-If there are lots of trees, and you like to use a treestand.... are there "straight clean" trees like cottonwoods & pines, or are there only hickory, oak, etc., where you cannot use a climber?

-Are there good draws such as ponds/streams, and/or persimmon or white oak patches? Or better yet, crops or food plots actually on the lease?

-Are there cows present? I want a lease without cows. Cows can sometimes help you by making the game used to hearing noises, but the drawback is they spoil the natural hunting environment for me, leave cow patties and come and stare at you and molest your hunt sometimes. Not to mention the rancher coming in and feeding them also possibly molesting your hunt. Leases without cows are more expensive but worth it to me.

-Is the whole place accessible, or are there areas of such rough terrain or impassible streams that it's actually smaller as a practical matter than the acreage would make it appear? Do you have a way to overcome to obstacle to get to the remote areas? Are there trails or roads that allow you to get a horse or 4-wheeler back where you want to go?

-Is there mining (rocks, minerals, trees) occurring on the lease? If so, the workers can molest your hunt.

-Do you know and trust the other hunters or are you going to get thrown in there with a bunch of yahoos who don't practice gun safety rules. How many hunters total, and how many hunters per acre are there?

-How nice/flat/clean/level are the potential camping areas? Are they located on the edge where your presence can be largely undetected, or do you have to drive smack to the middle of the lease to camp and alert the smarter game to your presence?

-Another thing, and this goes along with "is the land managed well" above. If you want to shoot large bucks, not just meat deer, then you want a landowner who doesn't have any stupid rules like "don't shoot the does" because if he's gone for multiple years without letting people shoot does, then there will be probably be too many deer overall, making all deer of both sexes smaller most likely (nutrition competition reasons), and more importantly, too many does to bucks in the ratio of deer, which makes the bucks few and far between and more importantly makes them harder to trip up and have them do something stupid (like come to your scents/calls/rattling) during the rut, since they've got more than enough does to breed with without even looking. You want someone who encourages does to be shot by all hunters, and strives for a 1:1 ratio, and you want a ratio no worse than 2 does to 1 buck, if you can guesstimate that. Some places around here with idgit land owners/managers have a 5 or 6 or 7 to 1 ratio.

Are there good fishing ponds, and are you allowed to fish?

Can you take as many deer & other game as the daily & season game laws allowed, or are you limited in some way?

nitetrane98
April 25, 2009, 12:25 PM
I'd definitely want to know how many other people he's going to lease to also. Are you going to be just leasing land for hunting or is it a managed deer herd. In other words are you just buying permission to hunt like in a club or are you actually leasing the land to hunt on? Some folks make their living off of leasing their land for hunting and don't particularly care how many people they lease to. I went with a buddy to a lease he had around LLano, TX several years ago. Opening day looked like a friggin' Walmart parking lot around the gate. We left.

AKElroy
April 25, 2009, 03:52 PM
Thanks for the great suggestions; ironic you mention Llano; this lease is 20 miles north of Llano.

Titan6
April 25, 2009, 05:56 PM
Doc has lots of good suggestions. Don't forget to check with the state and find out what the kill requirements are. Sometimes they can actually get tedious if they are quite high and there are not a lot of people on the lease.

TehK1w1
April 25, 2009, 09:15 PM
Couple more questions
-are you required to hunt only from the blind you will be leasing? (I'm assuming you are being literal about leasing the right to use a specific blind)
-can you move the stand to another location or share/swap out stands with other hunters on occaision?
-is there any history of trespass? (poachers, illegal immigrants, local kids on 4wheelers, rabid PETA members who will try to ruin your hunt, etc)
-are there any special restrictions? (For instance, I know a guy who got stuck with a lease he couldn't use his 4wheeler on, because he didn't read the fine print and the property owner didn't allow them).

AKElroy
April 25, 2009, 09:44 PM
Couple more questions
-are you required to hunt only from the blind you will be leasing? (I'm assuming you are being literal about leasing the right to use a specific blind)
-can you move the stand to another location or share/swap out stands with other hunters on occaision?
-is there any history of trespass? (poachers, illegal immigrants, local kids on 4wheelers, rabid PETA members who will try to ruin your hunt, etc)
-are there any special restrictions? (For instance, I know a guy who got stuck with a lease he couldn't use his 4wheeler on, because he didn't read the fine print and the property owner didn't allow them).

These are my concerns. The info I have so far is that I am leasing and must use a specific stand. I am also being told the lease is full access (all 880 acres) and year round. We cannot swap stands or feeders, but I want to make sure I can roam for birds, hogs & varments. For the cost, (2500.00) a year round lease w/in reasonable driving is distance is worth it for a place to shoot + the hogs & dove. The deer are frankly a take it or leave it bonus for me. Even @ 150 paces, leupold 4x14 makes shot placement a yawner, so any takes will mostly be freezer stuffers. (Although, If I see a nice 160 BC, I might have a change of heart!) For the most part, I don't get excited anymore w/ feeder hunts, but this area of Texas is scenic & interesting. I really want the hogs, birds, varments & plinking. And camping. And time w/ the kids. And lots of shooting.
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Art Eatman
April 26, 2009, 07:57 AM
My approach in this situation, in talking to the owner, would be along the lines of, "I just wanted to make sure my buddy didn't misunderstand anything."

Off the cuff, if you can get away during the week to hunt, odds are you'd pretty much have the place to yourself. That way, you'd not be stuck in one particular location.

One ranch a bunch of us leased, we did a blowup of a topo sheet and marked out the boundaries. Then, we "dotted" the location of the stands. We had flag pins for who wanted to hunt in what stand. That way, folks always knew who was where.

TehK1w1
April 26, 2009, 07:45 PM
Art, that's fairly similar to what we do, except that a couple years ago we got fancy and used a GPS to map the roads, cabin, stands, feeders, etc and then superimpose it on a topo map. It works really well, and also helps us figure out potential areas to put new stands.

AKElroy
April 30, 2009, 10:33 PM
Thanks to all for the help. I drove the lease this week & it is as advertised, so I am signing up. I will post any pics of any interesting game; plus all I can get of the kiddos blasting away.

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