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Need tips for owning land for shooting recreation

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Hanzo581, Jul 12, 2016.

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  1. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    Not sure where to put this/where to ask, so I figured I'd try here.

    I am honestly tired of punching holes in paper targets. Even if I drive 45 minutes I can get only to one range that has some steel targets but they are pistol only and they can be very busy and have long waits at times.

    Then I watch people like hickok45 walk out to their back yard to shoot and I am filled with envy. Now I can't live out in the middle of nowhere, but I don't mind driving.

    So I am considering buying a parcel of land and basically using it for target shooting as well as maybe the occasional camping outing and potentially some ATV riding, but I digress.

    Have any of you done the same? Buy land to "play" on? Without getting too deep into the legal realm, do you allow your friends to use the land? Do you use a waiver in case something happens to them? Only allow them to use it under your supervision?

    Any advice from you seasoned folks would be great.

    Thanks!
     
  2. pittpa

    pittpa Member

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    Liability insurance can be pretty cheap on unimproved land with no structures. Your current homeowners coverage may even cover it. Umbrella policy can't hurt either.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  3. Swing

    Swing Member

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    Yes. Well, I bought acreage to have a home on, do other things, and shoot on. The latter was one factor in the size, location, etc.

    See above.

    No. Though very close family is permitted.

    No waiver for close family. As above, I don't let others to shoot here. Anyone who shows up uninvited is told to leave and/or gets the Sheriff's Dept called on them.
     
  4. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Where ever you buy, make sure you can legally shoot there.

    I shoot at my small farm and fortunately, many of my neighbors do some shooting in their back yards as well.

    Generally, I do not allow others shoot there if I am not there with them. Among other things, I do not want my property to sound like a war zone with folks shooting at any and all times.
     
  5. Insp Evans

    Insp Evans Member

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    My wife & I ran into a farm default where the land was owned by the bank. Banks don't like to have land on the books, so they were eager to sell. They had the land listed at $32k so I called my attorney and asked him what should I offer for the 76 acres. He said be ridiculous and offer them $25k. I did and about a half hour later, the bank called back and said it was a deal if we could up the amount to $25.5k.

    The first few years we allowed the 30 arable acres to be planted in corn. After that, we got into a Wisconsin Managed Forest Program where you plant trees/shrubs in accordance with the state foresters plan and allow harvests of trees over a period of time. We had 26,000 trees/shrubs planted and after 22 years, the pines are 30 feet tall. Because we opted to not allow the tract to be open to the public, we had our property taxes reduced to $1.75 per acre. We could have gotten it lower than that if we allowed the public to hunt.

    It's a small community. We have been more than aware of being perceived as "newbies" or even worse, meddlers. People have complained to us about people from the city coming to their community and posting all the good hunting land. We started building our new home some time back and we've gotten calls at the house about when are we going to move in, etc. We've had one break-in (oddly nothing stolen and no damage other than the window) and we have had three batteries stolen from outside machinery. One "No Trespassing" sign was removed and thrown in the weeds. I fixed that by putting a new one in the ground attached to 60 pounds of concrete. We also managed to get some game camera photos of three fellows who showed up at 11pm to hunt and left at 4am in the morning. In Wisconsin, unless they were hunting coyotes, they were poaching & trespassing.

    This all sounds awful, but a newcomer to a small community should be aware you may not get the "Welcome Wagon" crowd to show up.

    As far as liability, in Wisconsin, landowners are exempt from being sued if they allow hunters to hunt on their land. We allow about ten locals to hunt during the deer season. So far they have had good luck and we like to see the deer kept down a bit. They have given us no problems of any type.

    We also tried to use local vendors when building the home. Try to keep peace in the neighborhood as best you can. We think things will settle down once we move in to the new home. But be aware of the potential for not being viewed favorably by all the locals.
     
  6. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    That's where I need to research a little more. I am only looking at land listed for hunting, running on the assumption that if I can shoot an animal on the land, I should be allow to shoot a target, but you know what happens when you assume.

    I'd never shoot at crazy times, I am used to city life and noise ordinances.
     
  7. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    We bought acreage in the mountains of northern New Mexico about 16 years ago. Our land backs up to National Forest land so no one will build behind us and there's enough land that neighbors on either side of us will not be a problem.

    I shoot out my back door, even a .30 BMG on occasion. No one has ever objected but I try to keep the shooting hours reasonable. Two years ago I was approached by two neighbors and asked if I would run for a board position on our local water utility, so I guess we have finally been accepted by the locals.

    I do not allow anyone to shoot on our land just to keep the noise down. Many of our neighbors shoot so gunfire is very common around here. I heard that years ago one "city neighbor" called the sheriff and complained about shooting and he was told "You're in the country. Get used to it."

    I don't have an ATV and wouldn't allow one to be used here anyway. They really tear up the land and I don't want that. In the high desert it takes many years for even grass damage to repair itself.
     
  8. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    I'm working toward getting a chunk of land down around the Big Bend of the Rio Grande in Texas - probably near the Terlingua Ranch. Unimproved land runs well under $500 per acre. Not good for much except for just getting out and away - and shooting.
     
  9. gspn

    gspn Member

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    I help manage a farm for a friend of mine. The latest addition is a 200+ acre parcel adjacent to the 800 he already had.

    The 200 acre block is the social hub of the property. There's a steel building/shop with a few mobile home trailers forming a courtyard. In addition to having ATV trails and hunting plots, there is a shooting range that was built out from the original 100 yard single lane spot, to now include a big pistol bay that can accommodate 15 to 20 shooters, a smaller pistol bay for 10 or so shooters, and two clay pigeon stations over the lake. Additionally, we can shoot 300 yard rifle from the top of the hill down into the backstops for the pistol bays.

    It's about 10 miles outside of a town of roughly 30,000 people. It's also surrounded by other decent sized plots. The only neighbors are a few houses along the county roads that border the property and while they hear a lot of shooting, we have great backstops so there's no danger to anyone.

    We use a pretty standard release for liability when someone wants to hunt. This particular property has had no major problems, but there are always the low level trespassing incidents. It seems like every other year we'll catch someone out there.

    Now, when I read Insp Evans post it reminds me of some other properties. I know several guys who buy and sell farms and they've had all kinds of stuff stolen off their farms. Climbing stands have been stolen, a tractor burned, general damage to buildings, trespassers on foot, horse, and ATV are all problems. The horses and ATV's are the worst around here. People buy them and don't have a place to ride them, so they just use any land they can sneak onto.
     
  10. Proinsias

    Proinsias Member

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    I live in NV, and not in the middle of nowhere. Just a little less than 90% of the land here is public, mostly BLM. I can drive in 3 directions for less than 30 minutes and have a place to shoot. Proximity to built-up areas is all I have to really worry about. So I don't have a need to buy land. But I would strongly consider it if I were somewhere else. And I would love a private range some day.

    I consider it my duty in either case to clean up after myself as best I can.
     
  11. rondog

    rondog Member

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    I just can't understand trespassing and vandalizing, it makes me nervous to even enter a property to ask about hunting. I feel like I'm violating someone else's sacred space. Guess I was raised differently.
     
  12. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    rondog

    Yeah, It's just that you were raised right!

    I feel much the same way, especially about asking some landowner's permission to hunt on their property. I'm always mindful of the fact that I am on someone else's land and that I treat it the same way I would if it were my property.
     
  13. herkyguy

    herkyguy Member

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    We bought 50 acres about an hour from our house in eastern NC about 4 years ago. It was clear-cut almost ten years ago for a development that went under during the crash around 2008. Got it for pennies on the dollar from the bank that had taken it back. Amazing property on a river, but the brush is THICK. I've gotten lost only ten yards from a trail before.

    I hunt and shoot there. I've brought a few friends out there to shoot or hunt, but not many. to be honest, everyone and their mother will ask to use your property, either to shoot, hunt, or 'take their kids camping.' A few of my friends have taken it personally when I tell them no. it was tough at first to say no to so many people, but now I have no problem even if they get their feelings hurt. I'm the one putting blood and sweat into it, and I don't do it so I can offer a free-for-all shooting range.

    I maintain the trails with an ATV, boom sprayer, brush cutter, and chainsaw. I have just about broken my back over the past 4 years to keep it in good enough shape to hunt and shoot. A dirt trail in NC will be over grown in about 2 months time if not tended to. The trees and brush will grow in each spring no matter what and it requires a good amount of time to maintain. that being said, I would sell my house before i'll sell that land.

    I've dealt with trespassers, even taken one to court that I caught on a trail camera. unless you live there, it's a fact of life that some good old boys are going to run their dogs every now and then.

    depending on where you are in the country, it could be a lot less work to maintain. I enjoy the work, just know going into it that you may need to put some significant time into maintenance.
     
  14. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    @herkyguy

    It's funny you say that, Eastern NC is where I am mostly looking. I live in Southeast Virginia, and ideally am looking for a place no more than 90 minutes from my home.

    Some of the spots my agent is telling me about are totally wooded, I don't want to incur the initial clearing cost for shooting lanes, so I am trying to stick with spots with clearings/recently cleared.

    I had planned on picking up a used tractor with a front loader to help with any heavy clearing.
     
  15. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    We did this on our 80 acres, then built our house here 8 years later, two key words:

    Zoning
    Terrain (safety zone for impact area(s))

    And be advised as one of the others pointed out, you'll have some added expenses (higher interest rates) when buying raw land. Insurance was dirt cheap, in KS landowners are protected from liability when granting permission for recreational use. As herkguy said, don't forget the equipment to maintain, tractor etc. (and then barn to keep it in), weedwackers, sprayers etc. I have to spray my range at least monthly or it gets difficult to find brass, and that's after graveling in my pistol range.

    Finding the right land in KS for a range is somewhat of a challenge due to the relatively flatness. You either have issues with safety or visibility. I can/do shoot out to 800 yds, but I was lucky enough to find a hill to hill piece of property.

    We never had a major issue with trespassing due to being on great terms with our neighbor that farms my place, but the more attractive you make your place, the more visitors you'll get. I have a pretty decent pistol range with about 3K invested in AR500 targets, swingers, knockdowns, stands etc. I Keep my stuff in a locked shed, but don't think I'd keep that much stuff on site IF I wasn't going to be there or the place wasn't watched. Gravel and berm work (in addition to the main range I have 3 long distance berms) also cost some, unless you wait until you get your tractor, and then it depends on how much digging your tractor can do.

    Like others we're pretty respectful of the neighbors, most of whom also shoot. I make it a point to only shoot a couple times a week, and not at weird hours. Most of my low-light shoots/training I do in the fall/spring when sunset is earlier.

    Also as herkguy says, unless you just want a raw land spot to hunt/shoot, don't down-play the maintenance requirements. I spend way more in time and money to "operate" my backyard range than I would in a membership to most of the local clubs here. You're range will be a constant "work in progress" as there's always new targets, or maintenance on old stuff that needs to be done. Just last weekend I put in two new rails to support AR500 bowling pins.

    Buuuut, it's definitely worth it.

    And since a range thread isn't the same without pics:
    WP_20160704_008_zpstain2flg.jpg
    DSCF2035_zpssrxzuyql.jpg
    DSC00994_zpsuwbgvneq.jpg
    DSC00926_zps13faa1d2.jpg

    Good luck!

    Chuck
     
  16. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    Don't forget the backhoe if you get much acreage. And the storage building, too, yeah, forgot about that.
     
  17. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    @Chuck R.

    That looks awesome and would be very similar to what I'd like to do.
     
  18. Swing

    Swing Member

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    Raised right, actually.

    And it is indeed annoying how many Johnny Jackasses like to trespass on rural land. :fire:
     
  19. tubeshooter

    tubeshooter Member

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    It is one of my life goals to do this one day.


    I appreciate everyone's input, as well as the OP for starting this thread.
     
  20. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    Time and money, nothing but time and money.......:D

    Just kidding..When it started out, I just had a couple targets and a graveled in area. Every year I just added some tgts and a range improvement or two. Now I've got enough "stuff" to run a couple full blown IDPA stages; barrels, barricades etc.

    It's still a work in progress.......looking at putting in another berm and swinger this fall for rifle, and I can always use more steel.

    When you start looking at spots, Google Earth and a GPS come in real handy for laying out shoot lanes, watch for inter-visibility lines especially if you want to do any prone shooting. IF possible, check the place out in the rain, or shortly thereafter, drainage issues are a biatch to try to correct, you're often better off going around. Water will usually "win".

    Chuck
     
  21. herkyguy

    herkyguy Member

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    I've got 6 or so more years until I could retire from Uncle Sam and be geo-stable enough to actually put some real money into mine, until then i'll keep the trails clear, the stands in decent order, and take it year by year.

    If I can settle down close by, I will at that point start to invest in putting some gravel down on the main trail, fix the dilapidated logging mats across the swamp, and bring in some heavy equipment to build a proper berm and range, clear some areas for food plots, and put up some quality enclosed blinds.

    until then, my tailgate makes for a decent rest to shoot from in between sessions with my chainsaw and the trail cameras will have to suffice to fill in the blanks when I'm not there. I will one day have a small cabin (hopefully), but the zip-in hammock down by the river does a good job in the meantime for the overnights.
     

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  22. jrdolall

    jrdolall Member

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    I own/co-own three "farms". The main farm is a cattle ranch and large enough for hunting by multiple people with no problem. Every neighbor is involved in Ag and virtually all of them hunt. Few of them actually live on their land.

    The largest is in Montana and we can shoot pretty much anywhere without any problems.

    The third, and my favorite, is 80 acres in rural Alabama where we have an old farm house, two lakes, and a big barn. Most of our neighbors are just good old rural folks, black and white, and don't give us any trouble with our shooting. One older black guy keeps the grass cut around the house in exchange for being able to catch a few bluegill every couple of weeks so that works out great for me. He supplies the mower and I keep him a can of gas on hand. Another guy takes care of the few chickens I keep there (really just pets) and in exchange he gets all the eggs.
    We have one family that put a trailer or a few acres fairly close to one of our lakes and they keep calling the Sheriff when we shoot. The Sheriff has told them repeatedly that we are perfectly within our rights but they keep calling. A state Game Warden lives less than a mile down the road. He keeps an eye on things and I let him take his kids fishing whenever he wants. Bass are all catch and release.
    We sight in rifles at the longest dam. That spot is closest to the unhappy neighbors. We shoot pistols and other firearms mostly at a natural berm we have over near the other lake.
    No kids under 16 can ride 4 wheelers. Too much chance for accidents and too costly to make repairs. We allow many people to fish so long as they understand we are making a trade. You want to fish? You help cut grass, till fields, bring food for the cookouts, clean the house, etc. This "fun farm" costs about $500 per month to keep operating.

    The chances of you finding acreage that is so remote that your neighbors won't hear the shooting are slim in most areas. Most all rural people are great folks but there's always the one. Both of the farms in the Southeast have neighbors fairly close.
     
  23. barnbwt

    barnbwt member

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    One word, just one word; silencers.
     
  24. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    If they passed the Safe Hearing Act I'd have a can for basically every firearm I own.
     
  25. rgwalt

    rgwalt Member

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    My wife and I just purchased 34 acres in Texas about half way between Houston and Dallas. We got it for a pretty decent price as it was owned by a large group of heirs, not all of whom were good about keeping up with their share of the property taxes. One of the gentlemen felled a bunch of timber on the land, took the "good parts" and left the rest to rot, so the property wasn't getting much interest. Combine that with collapsed house and several small trash dumps, and we were able to buy the land for ~$1.5K less per acre than similar property in the area. We put 20% down and took a 10 year, fixed rate loan on the balance. The loan is about 1.6% higher than a rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage on a house (for reference).

    In Texas, if you own at least 10 acres and are not within city limits, you are free to do all the shooting you want on your land, keeping in mind that you are still responsible for every shot you take.

    Unfortunately we are not "country" folk. I know how to run a lawn mower, but not a tractor. BUT, we are working on getting some help to clear off the felled timber, tear down the old house, cut trails, build a berm, etc. Also, my wife's brother is an avid hunter, has built us a new blind, and has offered to borrow a friend's tractor and plant clover... I imagine that he looks forward to hunting on the land during deer season.

    This all being said, I don't think we fully appreciate what we have gotten ourselves in to. We want to put a house on the property so we have a place we can get away to a couple times per month. I imagine we will need a large shed/barn of some sort, and the heavy equipment we will need to maintain the place. I will want to put in a gravel drive way, and a covered spot to set up to do some shooting. The good news is that we are in our late 30's and have plenty of time to slowly develop the property into what we want it to be.

    I think the big take-aways so far is that you should realize that you are buying a place for recreation, but that you'll start wanting more and more amenities as time goes by. Finding a place that has access to electricity (at the least) and water would be a major plus. Also, realize that you are taking on another piece of property to care for and be responsible for... Depending on your tolerance for brush, you can have a lot of work to do on a regular basis.

    Try to find a place reasonably close to home. The place we bought is about 2-2.5 hours away depending on traffic. We had hoped to be an hour closer, but prices were too high and this place was a solid deal. I hope the drive doesn't impact our use... The closer to home you are, the more you will use the property.

    Finally, think about the purchase as an investment. I realize you are tired of punching holes in paper, but consider that you are thinking of spending tens of thousands of dollars to purchase a recreational tract of land, and then you'll have additional costs to maintain it. Make sure you have the money in the budget, and take the time to find the right property at a good price. We looked at the property as an investment that we can pass on to our child(ren?) if they are interested in holding on to it, or somewhere we could retire to, or something that we could sell if we ever really needed the money. But the key was buying it "right" so we could recoup our investment at the very least, if not earn some profit. We wanted a place outside of the city to call our own where we can camp, hunt, shoot, hike, and generally enjoy the outdoors. However, in the long run the money we spent would have paid for a lot of camping trips. That said, there are two 8 acre tracks that adjoin our property that we are trying to buy. One looks like it will go into tax foreclosure in the not too distant future...

    In short, look at this as an investment, and make sure there aren't other alternatives that will meet your needs/desires that don't require you to spend large sums of money to purchase property.
     
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