I was very lucky to grow up in an area where hunting opportunities were endless. The only restriction was how far you were willing to walk, or how long your thumb could push the throttle on your ATV without cramping while in route to the destination of your choice. I assumed, in my narrow view of the hunting world, that it would be that way anywhere I made my home after graduating from college. Boy was I wrong.
Once I got settled into my new job in a new area, I spent weekend after weekend knocking on doors and exploring every back road in three surrounding counties; looking for that one opportunity to hang a stand. To my surprise, there was no place to be found. As I watched the days change to months and hunting season draw closer, a sense of panic and despair started to settle in. I could not imagine the arrival of that first cool, crisp morning in October and not having a bow in my hand. It was almost too much for my mind to handle. Just before I thought all was lost, a couple of guys I worked with informed me that there was an opening on some property they had just leased. Without a doubt, they saved my hunting season…..and my sanity.
As hunting permission becomes harder to acquire, there have been few places for hunters to turn. Luckily for us, Hunting Lease Network has a fair and easy way to save the hunting seasons for many people just like me. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Troy Langan of the Hunting Lease Network to find out more about their company and how they are helping hunters and land owners partner up to increase the amount of hunting opportunities available. Here is what he had to say.
Having success in the field is often as simple as having a quality place to hunt. With available locations becoming harder and harder to find, bowhunters need a resource that will increase their chances of finding good property.
Q: How did Hunting Lease Network get started?
A: We are a division of Farmers National Company. Farmers National Company is the nation’s leader in managed farms. We manage over five thousand properties for the agricultural rights in the mid-west. Since most of these properties also have great hunting opportunities, it was a natural progression for us to also look at creating a centralized system in which customers could acquire the hunting rights to these properties. Over the past ten years we have opened quite a few doors with this process; many of these properties that we manage never allowed hunting in the past, but because we came up with the correct lease language and the proper liability insurance, owners have allowed us to offer the hunting rights to these properties. As this process grew, neighboring property owners started to see the value in what we were doing. They started asking us about leasing their properties for hunting as well. It has just really taken off. (locating hunting ground)
Q: I noticed on your website that you mention “franchise offices”? How does that work?
A: Our company is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Since every state has its own rules, regulations and permitting systems, our thought was to use local agents who understood those systems to create a better outcome. Some states may have up to two separate territories that our franchisees would own and operate for all hunting leases. These local agents know the areas and the properties and really establish solid bonds with the landowners and the individuals who lease the property.
Q: How does the leasing process work for hunters?
A: The best way to start would be to visit the website www.nationalhuntingleases.com. On the website, it will show a map of the United States. You can click on any state that you would like to look into. Once the state comes up, all the leases will be segmented by counties. Click on any county that you are interested in and a listing of leases in that county will be shown. You can then click on each individual lease you would like to get more information on. Our website is very easy to use and our sign-up process is free. It just takes a few minutes to register. When an individual registers on our site, they can get e-mail notifications on new leases in the area, or notifications on leases that did not renew and are now available. Once registered, they will be able to see the bidding process and the prices. If someone wants to look at the property before bidding, we can also get permission from the landowner for them to see the property. It is a very easy process for all parties involved.
Q: How many states are you in, and how many hunting leases do you manage?
A: We are currently in 24 states with over 1100 leases that we manage. We also have just over 117,000 registered bidders.
Q: How do you verify the quality of properties that you offer?
A: That is part of the reason that we franchise the areas out to local agents. Our local agents will go out to the properties and confirm that they are quality locations. We get the most up to date aerial imagery so that we can review features on the property as well as surrounding properties. We do very extensive interviews with the property owner to identify past harvests and we always try to get photos to back up those harvest claims. If there are farm managers, we try to get information about game movements and survey what type and quality of animals they are seeing. We take all of that information and use it in the general descriptions of the property to make sure people know exactly what they are getting. (topo map help)
Q: How are you guys different than other leasing companies that may be in the market?
A: One of the main advantages to our system and what makes us different is the way we offer the properties to our bidders. We have an auction sell system in which everyone has the same opportunity to lease any given property. We do not charge people for priority notice on properties like some of our competitors. We send out our notifications to everyone at the same time in an eBay style auction. Once the bidding starts, you can submit a bid or you can submit a buy it now price. It is a very fair system and all of our bidders seem to enjoy and appreciate it. From the landowner’s perspective, it keeps the price at what market value is for that given property. It really works well for all involved.
Every detail is covered in the leasing process in order to give consumers the best chance of selecting the property that is right for them.
Q: What is the average price for a lease in your system?
A: The average range for a lease is between $2500 and $3500. We have some that go for the low end of $1600 and some that are a lot higher depending on the amenities. Some leases would include hunting lodges that you would be able to access. Some have water and electric hook-ups for campers and RVs; it really just depends on what the property has to offer. We have properties that will cater to any need and budget depending on what people are looking for.
Q: Once a property is leased, what kind of support do you provide to prevent trespassing or poaching issues they may occur on the leased property?
A: The first thing that has to be done is getting the property posted. We do provide leased property signs with all of our leases. We provide enough to post all of the boundaries and any access points to the properties. The lease that we have developed is one of the strongest tools we have. It allows any lessee to prosecute for trespassing. If a trespassing issue were to be discovered, a lessee would have the authorization to get the local conservation officer to issue a citation based on the signature of the lessee. We are always available. Any issues that our property owners or lessees have, we are here to help them get it resolved.
Q: What is your policy regarding improvements to the land? For example, creating food plots?
A: We ask that the first year you are on a lease that you concentrate on hunting, scouting and learning the property. If after the first year you find that improvement could help the property, we will work with you to get the property owner’s approval. We like to get the improvements mapped out and explained in detail so that during the renewal process we can go through the plan with the property owner and gain permission to start the improvement process. (bowhunting foodplots)
Q: What is the one thing that stands out about Hunting Lease Network?
A: The biggest thing is the way we develop good relationships between the land owner and the hunter. We strive to make sure that both sides have good upfront and ongoing communication. We try to show land owners how a lease can really help bring added value to any given property. With the hunters, we try to show them how the property owners can help them manage and control the property to get the best possible hunting opportunities.
Q: What is the best way to get more information about Hunting Lease Network?
A: Our website is the best way to get more information www.nationalhuntingleases.com. Another great way is to look us up on Facebook.