Leasing land is currently the most popular method of fee-based wildlife recreation in the Southeastern United States. There are three types of leases: 1) annual leases; 2) season leases; and 3) short-term leases. Waterfowl hunting leases are, on average, the highest in value. Also, the value of the lease is affected by the types of habitats on the property or on the surrounding property. For example, a 500-acre rice field located miles from any other rice field will be less valuable than a 500-acre rice field surrounded by other rice fields or flooded timber. Many landowners invest much money in these areas for pipe and flashboard risers, roads, and sometimes caretakers.
Advantages of a Lease
There are several advantages and disadvantages of leases. The advantages include:
- higher wildlife populations;
- better law enforcement on the land;
- the lessee’s concern over the land.
Disadvantage of a Lease
The disadvantages of leases include:
- not allowing local residents to hunt for free and
- the lessees may feel like they own the land and may interfere with the landowner’s management policy.
A good landowner/lessee relationship may result in a long-term lease. Although not necessary, most annual leases allow for a long-term lease by including options for lease renewal. Once a desirable clientele is found, marketing efforts and landowner involvement are usually minimal.
The season lease is the most common hunting lease. By working with individuals who are interested only in one species, the landowner may realize higher income than if all species are included. Also, season leases are more common among landowners who have a skill for marketing.
One example of a short-term lease is a day lease. It is often found close to population centers. For example, Mississippi would benefit from the centers of Dallas, Memphis, Little Rock, Birmingham, Jackson, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. With this type of lease, a daily fee is charged and the lessee pays for the time actually spent hunting, fishing, or viewing wildlife. With a day lease, a variety of services are rendered and charges usually vary accordingly. This type of lease can capitalize on a larger market. There are additional costs (such as advertising) with a day lease than with a seasonal or annual lease. Also, a consistent income is more difficult to obtain with this type of lease.
Another short-term lease is a permit. With permit wildlife recreation, there are several variations of the permit program, but most base their fees on whether the individual wants to hunt, fish, or view wildlife in a single county or throughout the LMRV.
Another option for leasing would be to lease to a guide service or outfitter. The guide service business has expanded throughout the LMRV and will continue to expand as the demand for fee-based outings continues to increase. The landowner can lease his/her land to an outfitter for a set fee for the season or can lease the land on a “per-gun” basis. Due to the outfitter’s interest in the land, the outfitter will aid in the landowner’s wildlife management activities.
This type of enterprise provides a quality outing to a person willing to pay a relatively high fee. The landowner leases the right to use the land through an annual fee and usually, it takes a considerable amount of time, effort, and money to manage these lands for the production of wildlife. The owners of corporate enterprises for wildlife-associated types of recreation normally combine farming and wildlife management practices so that they complement each other.
Advantages of Corporate Enterprises
The advantages of corporate enterprises include:
- knowledge of the potential annual income;
- a high income; and
- a complementary part of his/her farming operation.
Disadvantages of Corporate Enterprises
Disadvantages of the corporate enterprise include:
- a relatively high investment of capital;
- high operating expenses; and
- finding a market willing to spend high amounts of money.