Our wildlife staff receives many questions from landowners regarding recreational leasing enterprises, most commonly lease-hunting questions, including pricing recommendations. In 1999 we contracted to manage a lease-hunting enterprise on a 7,000-acre Love County property in an effort to gain additional local experience with the subject. Although every ranch's habitat, location, game harvest history, and lease restrictionsamong other variablesare different, comparisons between this project and similar conditions elsewhere can certainly be made.
No game-harvest history was available for the ranch, and no wildlife habitat management was implemented. Our only input regarding livestock management was the stocking rate. Harvest was limited to one buck per 350 acres and one tom turkey per 700 acres. Turkey hunting was restricted to spring only. The property was enrolled in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), which allows hunters to take a doe on any day of every deer season (archery, muzzleloader, and rifle) and provides for a check station on the ranch.
In 1999, a variety of lease formats was marketed, primarily through competitive bid, in the Sunday Oklahoman, Dallas Morning News, and local papers. Total advertising cost less than $250. These leases provided us with the following information:
- An opening-weekend, two-day, rifle-season deer hunt with unlimited doe and one-buck harvest opportunity was worth at least $200 per hunter. We conclude at least because we cannot claim to have marketed to every interested hunter, and all our available slots were taken at the $200 price.
- A rifle season lease with a one-buck limit and unlimited doe and feral hog harvest opportunity was worth at least $600 per hunter.
- An all-season deer lease with a one-buck limit and unlimited doe and feral hog harvest opportunity was worth at least $670 per hunter.
- A spring turkey-season lease including unlimited feral hog harvest was worth at least $200 per tom.
- Bobwhite quail hunting had little value at the population levels present.
- Combined gross income from all leases in 1999 was $11,440, or $1.63 per acre.
In 2000, the property was divided into four tracts ranging from 1,200 to 2,600 acres, which were offered as three-year, annually renewable, all-game leases from September through May. One tract was leased from September through December and did not include any turkey hunting. Ranch harvest limits were essentially unchanged from 1999 levels. Campsites with electricity were available on each lease, and no fishing was permitted. Advertising was placed in the Sunday Oklahoman and local papers for $212.94, and competitive bids were taken. Incomes received were $1.42, $2.00, $3.04, and $4.36 per acre for the four tracts. In general, price was correlated with apparent habitat quality. Total gross income was $16,934, or $2.42 per acre.