Recreational Leasing Involves Many Factors
Recreational leasing is a concept most people are familiar with by now, especially those south of the Red River in Texas. People also are familiar with the pros and cons of recreational leasing, especially hunting leases. Many hunters are opposed to hunting leases because payment is required before they hunt. The main reason most landowners lease access to their property for hunting is for additional income. Many wildlife biologists' professional opinions "straddle the fence" because on one hand, most enjoy free hunting, and on the other, most understand that landowners are willing to conserve or even create wildlife habitat if there is an economic incentive.
The Noble Research Institute has leased trespass rights for hunting on the Coffey Ranch as a demonstration project since 1987. The ranch is approximately 2,600 acres in size, but due to safety and pasture management, the current lease is 2,440 acres. Most of the original group of 12 hunters are still on the lease.
This year, the lease was advertised for a month of Sundays, beginning June 16 and ending July 14, in the Sunday Oklahoman and Daily Ardmoreite. Total cost for advertising was $293.34 ($244.20 in the Sunday Oklahoman and $49.14 in the Daily Ardmoreite). An information packet (lease agreement, map, Walnut Bayou Deer Management Association five-year report, and a few photographs taken by infrared cameras of live bucks on the ranch) was provided to callers who wanted more information than could be obtained by a telephone conversation.
A total of 48 work hours were spent on the telephone, sending packets of information and showing the ranch. We received 64 inquiries, mostly phone calls, about the lease. Information packets were sent to 22 of the 64 inquiries. Total costs, in addition to advertising, would depend on how time is valued, cost of postage, the telephone bill, and fuel to show the property.
On another note, nine people called asking about small properties to lease. Our ad stated that we were leasing 2,240 acres. There is a lot of hunter interest in small tracts of land for a parent/child or family group.
Two ranches in north Texas that border the Red River with a year-round hunting lease receive $7 and $14 per acre. They are not under any type of wildlife management program. Texans also enjoy up to a three-month rifle season. Oklahomans have a nine-day rifle season. Out-of-state deer hunters also have to pay $250 to harvest one antlered and one antlerless deer for a specified season (i.e. archery, primitive, gun) in Oklahoma. They must purchase another $250 license to hunt in another season. For $50 they can purchase an additional antlerless license, which is also only valid for the season of purchase. Texas' out-of-state hunting license is $250 and includes all white-tailed deer (plus mule deer) tags. These facts are significant for Oklahoma landowners looking to market their hunting leases to Texans.