Are You Considering joining a New “Hunting Club or Lease” this year?
By Darren Shepard
Joining a “hunting club” is not as easy as it sounds. There are so many considerations one must examine before committing the multiple resources, time and money required to have a successful experience.
It has been over five years since I was a member of a hunting club and my last experience was less than a pleasant one. I have been fortunate to hunt a tract of private land for many years and will continue to do so moving forward. However, with my changing family needs and time constraints, an opportunity to join a new hunting club presented itself with a neighbor’s invitation. I decided after long consideration, to commit to the club and dedicate a 3-year window for the project.
My goal is to point out a few things I had to consider that may be of benefit to you as well.
- Set Your Goals and Expectation: Speaking with club members, reviewing the club’s records, understanding the established deer management plan and club rules is a step you must take before committing. You may want to take a 160 Inch whitetail, but if the clubs largest buck harvested in the last five years has been a 120-inch buck, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Also, what are all of the hunting options at the “club”? Is it just for whitetail deer? Can you hunt spring turkeys, small game or does a dove field exists? You must determine what type of club you want to join and how you may want to use the resources in compliance with the “club rules.”
In addition, if you have a family, can they hunt? How long is the lease the “club” has with the property owner? Plus, how do you want to hunt, use the facilities or is there a camp? What is your overall goal of enjoying the experience and what resources do you have to contribute to the “club”? These are several key questions and writing a list of your questions is a solid step towards a successful hunting club experience.
- Location, Location, Location: A friend once told me, I’d rather have the right 50 acres to hunt in Northern Illinois than 500 acres in the wrong area of South Georgia. I agree! However, at this point in my life, I don’t have the time to drive to Illinois during deer season often. With my specific goals, as well as those for my family, this particular lease is 50 minutes from my home. A family that hunts together stays together in my mind, so location for time together is paramount in my decision.
I may not take a 160-inch whitetail, but with the location, our family can spend a lot of time there on a year-round basis, keep hunting together and share many experiences.
- Members and Relationships: I was fortunate to have been invited by a neighbor to join this club, and this greatly assists with learning more about the property quickly, enhances introductions to other members and the “management” team for the club.
An important key is understanding the rules and objectives of the club. If you agree with their objectives, can contribute to the overall plan, and honor the rules, then joining the club may be a great idea. Over time, you will be able to contribute other thoughts and ideas as a part of being a “team player” within the club. If in the beginning, you have any doubts about their “plan” or members, it is better for you to just politely decline and find another option. Starting off without a clear understanding and agreement will just lead to a disaster for everyone involved.
Also, the number of members is key. A club that has 25 members on a leased tract of land that contains 150 acres is going to be a major headache. Frankly, I have used the 100 acres per hunter as a general guide. No real science, but combined with deer population estimates from the state for the area, historical data and club records, this enables me to be comfortable in most cases with this “number.” In this case, our club has 900 acres with eight members with mutually agreed common rules and goals.
- Resources: Set your budget and stick to it. Beyond the annual “dues,” insurance and other items, you will need to create a list of additional things you may need for hear one as well as items to purchase over several seasons. For example, ladder stands, an ATV if you have limited access to areas, or a camper. Beyond just “joining” there will be “work” weekends for camp clean up, putting up stands, feeders, and food pl Keep all of these issues in mind when dedicating your time and money. If you become a club member, then be a member that contributes and helps work with the “team.” Time with members working on established common goals will build great relationships and is a big part of the club experience.
Just a few points to consider if you are looking at a “hunting club” this coming fall, but hopefully, these points will provide a little “food for thought.”
We have joined the club this year with a dedicated limited budget and plan. The goal is to share additional features about this project moving forward including repairing an old camper and many other projects related to becoming a new hunting club member. More to come soon, but if you have not found your “club” yet, get busy! Turkey season is almost here and deer season is closer than you think!
Original Source: Sportsmans Lifestyle.com