I happen to live in an area with deer pressure so high that the gub'ment has decided deer season should be four and a half months long and the limit on deer is almost 10...and that's 10 per county, if you fill your limit just drive 3 miles up the road and you can take out another 10. In the permaculture style of systems feeding systems feeding systems, and turning problems into solutions, I've been trying to stack a deer hunter system onto the land. While I'm not a hunter (more power to those who actually enjoy getting up an hour or two before dawn and sitting VERY still in the freezing cold) I've been utilizing hunting contracts/arrangements for the past few years to bring a deer hunter system onto my property with varying levels of success. In addition to the deer pressure being high in this area, there is also a scarcity of public land so hunters are actually willing to pay (labor, meat, and even money) for the right to help me with my deer problem.
For a few years, friends hunted the property with fairly good success and I ended up with a few hundred pounds of venison without any work on my part. When my hunting friends moved away, I tried implementing a system where hunters could sign up online for blocks of time at the property for hunting. That utterly bombed as it was both too complicated and the hunters seemed to be weary of other hunters ignoring the sign up system and just showing up on the property whenever. No deer were removed from the property that year and my little trees suffered. The following year, a bunch of hunters were interviewed and one of them was given permission (without any charge) to hunt the land for the entire season. That also was a failure as the person I selected hunted the property for a single morning and then moved off to a better property that he had found. Again, the vegetation suffered from high deer browsing. This year, I charged two hunters each a day of manual labor for the right to hunt the property for half the season. The idea was that in addition to benefiting the property, the day of manual labor would be fairly effective in weeding out those hunters that already had good places to hunt and were just looking for a little something extra.
So far this year's strategy has been working fairly well, however I would be interested in hearing from other non-hunters regarding the types of arrangements they use to stack a hunting system onto their land. Any advice on what has worked, and what has not, would be appreciated.
***At one point, there were bobcats and wolves that would keep the deer numbers in check, but to paraphrase Sepp Holzer "I must now do the wolves work"****
I am also a non hunter suffering form deer on our 85 acre parcel destroying my garden and landscaping , we have simply told hunters that they could hunt just to let us know when , and when they are done to let me know . and all we have asked is a bit of meat if they get lucky my opinion 1 or 2 hunters may not make a dent
there are 3 deer stands up that we are not sure who they belong to and one that belongs to a neighbor that he took down and will put up near the garden where the deer are most evenings the other 3 they are far from areas we are active in so after we had given the ok to 4 people ( all were warned that there were stands on the property and where ) a Neighbor said the Chief of police wanted to talk to my husband . so My husband was called to the police sta for his FID card interview and when he was done they said wait the chief wanted to talk to him . turns out the police chief has a stand up on the state property next to us just over the property line and wanted to ask if he could hunt . so we told him yes please !
While I totally get the thought behind stacking functions and trying to get a "yield" from the hunters, I think that prioritizing your needs would be helpful.
What do you need most: The labor/money from the hunters or the deer gone?
If it is most important to solve your deer troubles, making the proposition less attractive for a hunter by charging money or a day of manual labor for access to your land seems counter-productive.
Other things to take into consideration:
1) Where are the hunters coming from? If you are close to any sizable urban/suburban area, you might try putting up your contact info or a simple flyer at gun stores, outdoor stores, sporting goods stores, etc. Keep in mind, urban/suburban hunters that have to travel to get to you might be willing to spend a few dollars for access to your land, but are probably "time-poor" when it comes to swapping labor for hunting permission. If you have local businesses that provide food & lodging, see if you can get discounts for out-of-town hunters coming to your land. Hunting season is often a dead spot in the hospitality year and local businessmen might be glad for the business.
2) Are there any Fish & Game clubs in your area? A state rifle & pistol association? Other social organizations with large memberships? Offering discounted access to members of organized groups has a two-fold benefit: It gets word of your property out to a larger group of people much more quickly and it has the built-in security of peer pressure where individuals are less likely to do something that will screw things up for all their buddies. You can also dole out blocks of time for each group and let them deal with assigning individual day access, lessening your time involvement.
3) Many states have 'Youth Hunting Days' - You might consider donating use of your land to a local youth group. You get exposure and the possibility of future customers when those youth hunters come of age.
4) Have you thought about the possibility of actually trying to make this a profit-center for your land? You don't mention how much land you have, but I know a couple of people in upstate NY who have 20 acres or so that manage to pay the taxes on their property with hunting leases. Their only investment was clearing a few trees and planting some food plots.
5) You may not hunt, but you're obviously not against the idea. Seek out the advice of the people you are trying to attract. Permaculture teaches us to listen to the land and the plants, why not listen to the hunters if you want to make them part of your system?
6) One word of warning: Talk to your insurance agent. Make sure you are covered. Having hunters sign a waiver is a good thing, but unless it's been prepared by a lawyer there are probably potentially expensive holes in it just waiting for another lawyer to find. Unfortunately, this is how the world works these days.
I wouldn't let just anyone hunt the land. To many problems can come up. It's best to find one or two people that you trust. (The cop might be a good one to have around.)
I'd have them do a work trade for the hunting.
85 acres should have a good bit of trails to be maintained. Have them do that.
Give whoever you let "lease" the land the option to work trade or if they don't have time pay $XXX to pay you to do it.
I have friends that go out of state every year and pay big bucks to just hunt somewhere different. ( Even though we have great deer down here in Alabama)
$500+ just for a week of deer hunting. Some places provide a little cabin and some don't.
a large part of our land is unposted because the brambles are thick and the property line has not been marked in generations ( same family has owned the land for over 200 years )
Hear in MA you can not keep hunters out of the unposted land . ANd because we are boardered by a swamp and state forest that was also originally part of our land the hunters are always there . Only difference this year is we now know a few of them to voice our concerns about taking care because there are workers around certain area in the day time and a couple areas in the evening .
We do not maintain the trails other than allowing friends with ATVS access ( which has actually done a great job of making trails ) we just have the farm roads in the center of the farm . The deer get the meadow and the woods
this guy was in the garden when I drove in yesterday about 5:20 pm picture is poor because I Was still in the car with the window up .
Be careful with pay for work, or pay in general--you can make yourself an "outfitter" really quick in some areas and that brings all kinds of legal and liability issues. Know your laws first.
If you get the right guy, they will do way more than a day's work in trail maintenance.
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