A Hunting Lease Agreement is simply a contract or agreement between a landowner (lessor) and an individual hunter or a group of sportsmen (lessees). The term “lease” has become to be used quite loosely and is actually a license to hunt on private property, sometimes also referred to as a trespass fee. The purpose of a hunting lease is to grant access to specifically described private property to hunt game (and/or conduct other specialized activities) during certain definitive time periods. Hunting leases vary greatly depending on the goals of the landowner and the objectives of the sportsmen involved.
If everyone involved knows what they are getting into in the beginning, it can save a lot of headaches down the road. It is hard to think of everything up front unless you have had some experience and have been involved in a hunting lease or hunt club in the past. The written agreement serves as a contract that protects agreed upon rights of landowners and sportsmen. Spend some time working on a well-thought out written lease agreement as it creates the cornerstone for a successful hunting lease program. Many of the conflicts that arise between hunters and landowners can be prevented and a good relationship can be maintained by having a well written lease. Effective hunting lease agreements protect the interest of both the landowner and hunting club and are flexible enough to allow enjoyment of the property for hunting by sportsmen.
The basic inclusions in a lease agreement include the name and address of everyone involved, the duration of the lease as well as the game allowed to be hunted. A description of the property and its boundaries obviously are essential. An aerial map can be very helpful. The price of the lease and when it is due and the consequences if not paid should be included in the contract. A termination clause and subleasing clause should be considered. Most landowners will not want to allow subleasing so they do not have to worry about third party disputes. There should be sections that describe the lessee’s responsibilities and a section for the lessor’s responsibilities. Do not forget to include the number of members allowed on the lease and a guest policy. Last but not least, always include and indemnity or hold-harmless clause although you will certainly also want to consider additional insurance to protect yourself.
Recreational hunting leases have become an important source of supplemental income for forest and farmland owners across the U.S. As landowners consider hunting leases as another source of income, they should understand the advantages and disadvantages of a hunting lease. There are numerous guidelines and considerations in developing a hunting lease program as well as provisions that are important to include in a written Hunting Lease Agreement. Hunting leases can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for both landowners and sportsmen with advance planning, preparation, and communication.