In hunting, it’s easy to become preoccupied with getting all the latest gear. Scent elimination, camo, optics, a new bow and more. For 18 years, Dan says he worked in the archery industry where every year a new bow was designed and released with the goal of making it a little faster, quieter and smoother than its predecessor. That in turn was supposed to help hunters increase their chances of harvesting a big deer. However, Dan says the kind gear you have really doesn’t matter because none of it will have the overall impact that land will have on your rate of success. Hunters need to have a place to hunt that is home to the species they want to pursue. Land is a crucial element that provides the animals to hunt. Owning land gives hunters the ability to improve on that land, hold the animals there, grow them and ultimately, hunt them. Dan says he grew up in the south hunting public land and that’s what was available, so he made the most of it. However, the caveat to hunting public land is the inability to control or manage it. There is little that a public land hunter can do other than read the sign they find and hang their stands accordingly. Dan says that land ownership gives him the ability to have a relationship with the land and every animal on it and provide the right environment/habitat to keep them there.
Owning a chunk of land you can call your own is a dream scenario for many hunters, but one that many think is out of reach. Land ownership isn’t something reserved for the rich, it’s a realistic dream for any hunter. Dan says he first recommends finding a land specialist, like one of the agents at Whitetail Properties, that can help guide and advise you. If you know what you are doing and know what you are looking for, not only can you purchase some land, but that property can make you money. Every property has some sort of resource like timber, tillable land or something else that will help you make the payment. For instance, Dan says Midwest property owners can harness the potential of tillable land and lease it out for agricultural purposes. If crops give you a 6% return on investment and you are borrowing money at a rate of 4.5%, you are making money on the difference, that’s a sound investment. Plus, while you pay down that mortgage you are also accruing equity and watching the land appreciate in value at the same time. Even with popular investments like stocks, mutual funds, and more, Dan says it’s hard to beat the appreciation of land. Furthermore, you can’t hunt, fish, recreate and enjoy a paper investment like you can land.
Every buyer has different goals when they purchase a property. However, Dan says if the sole purpose of your property is for hunting, intrusion is your nemesis. Depending on the size of your property, intrusion is something hunters have to be very cautious about. Frequenting the land, stomping through it and using it heavily can and will run off the resident animals. However, if your goal is to be able to use your property for recreation and hunting, you just have to manage your expectations. If you are riding ATV’s, shooting trap, hiking, shed hunting and more every weekend, you may not shoot a lot of big deer, but you get to enjoy the ground to its fullest. It all comes down to identifying how you want to use the property, so you can get the maximum benefit from it.
Dan says that for hunting properties, sanctuaries are important. A sanctuary means different things to different people, but for Dan that designation means an area with no human scent. His sanctuaries are places that he doesn’t step foot in unless he is a recovering an animal. In an ideal scenario, when laying out a piece of property, Dan says, he prefers to have as much of the property in sanctuary as possible. If you can play the wind right and limit your stand locations to places where they aren’t intruding on that sanctuary, that’s the way he likes to do it. Many hunters think of intrusion only in the context of pushing animals while they are out in the field. They are cautious not to bump animals as they go to and from their stand, but they don’t often think about the scent that lingers when they are gone. Dan says that the scent hunters leave behind can be intrusive to animals hours after they are gone. If a buck comes through and gets a whiff of a hunter that was in the sanctuary earlier in the day, Dan says, he might be gone for good. Even more tolerant deer will eventually leave and not come back for the same reason. Dan says that hunters have to give careful consideration to intrusion, protecting sanctuary areas on their property, hunting the wind so you don’t blow your scent toward those areas and minimizing the impression you make while hunting a property.
Land ownership isn’t a pipedream, it’s doable for all!