Hunting on private lands: Tips for landowners
Hunting season is upon us. With some forethought, you can have a safe, collaborative environment on your property that serves you and invited hunters.
Now is the best time to make sure that hunting arrangements are secure for the upcoming bow and gun season. Deer hunting is the most intense "season" of the year. Hunting on private property involves a relationship of trust between the landowner, the farmer and the guest hunters. Every hunter should be expected to obey the law and behave safely and courteously.
What is appropriate behavior for the hunter? Communication is the key so that both parties know what is expected of each other. When can they hunt including dates or times of the day?
Where should they park? Where are the property boundaries? What about hunting in pastures, unharvested crops or other non-timber areas? Are there new homes with children nearby, or other safety zones to be cognizant of?
The best agreements are in writing. This has nothing to do with trust, because if you don't trust the other person you shouldn't lease to them in the first place. It has to do with good business and common sense.
The Michigan Farm Bureau has drafted a sample lease form that is available free of charge at the MSU Extension Monroe County office. Available are three items of interest either to hunters or to landowners:
1. Landowner Limited Access Lease Agreement for Deer Hunting.
2. Model Form for Hunting Leases (Farm Bureau).
3. Doane’s Hunting and Recreation Could be a Valuable “Second Crop” from Your Land informational sheet.
Here are some novel ideas to consider:
- If the landowner has not posted their property, the hunter should do it to protect his or her interests.
- Know who the game warden is for the area to report trespassers.
- Pay or have the landowner leave some unharvested crops, or make arrangements in the spring to have a small area left so the farmer doesn't have to spend a lot of money on inputs. Odd-sized lots or acreages could even be seeded in permanent food or cover crops.