Deer hunting is big business in Texas. Hunting leases continue to be a constant source of revenue for many Texas land-owners following cycles in the agriculture and petroleum sectors.
Texas landowners hold a unique position. Unlike many other states, Texas has little federally or state-owned land available for public hunting. Thus, private landowners control the major supply of huntable land. This position affords Texas landowners a unique source of income.
However, the location of the deer, not the ownership of the animals, generates the revenue. In Texas, all indigenous wild animals such as whitetail deer belong to the state. As such, the state regulates the taking of game through hunting laws. Although the state regulates when, how and the number of deer that may be taken, the state cannot authorize trespassing on privately owned land. Independent permission from the landowners must be secured. Granting the right to enter and hunt generates the income.
Historically, permission to hunt was granted for the asking. Recently, however, Texas landowners began exacting a price for this privilege in the form of an agreement commonly referred to as a hunting lease. Depending upon the size of the lease tract, the abundance of game and the amenities available to the hunter, prices may range from a few dollars per day to thousands of dollars per season. The lease may last a few hours, a few days, several weeks or the duration of the hunting season.
The so-called Texas hunting lease is not, in fact, a lease but rather a license. Technically, a lease is a contract that conveys exclusive possession or control of land to another for a specified period. A license, on the other hand, grants permission to do something that otherwise would not be allowed or would be illegal. Because the typical Texas hunting lease does not grant the hunter exclusive possession or control of the land, it is better characterized as a license. However, in this publication, the term lease is used.
The hunting lease takes numerous forms. It may be granted orally on the payment of a specified amount of money. Or, it may be given by way of an elaborate written document covering all aspects of the hunt, including how the landowner’s property may be used. Whether the lease is oral or written, the landowner and hunter should concur on key issues before consenting to the agreement. By doing so, each party knows what to expect and thereby avoids possible misunderstandings. The terms of the agreement may affect the lease price.
Excerpt taken from the publication “The Texas Deer Lease” by Judon Fambrough, Attorney at Law. If you are considering investing in property to lease for deer hunting, click to view and download the entire publication. http://recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/570.pdf