Hunting Property Acquisition Becoming Big Business

Anyone who has spent two or more decades hunting deer and turkeys in regions dominated by agricultural properties and private land is fully aware that “things ain’t what they used to be” when it comes to consistently having places to hunt.

The trend of leasing land by agriculture interests to hunters—which used to be prevalent only in parts of the South—now dominates many portions of the Midwest and Plains states.Wild_turkey3

In addition, more and more hunters have discovered that the only guarantee they have of ensuring they will have a place to hunt in the future is to purchase property solely for that purpose, either by themselves or with their hunting companions.

Michael Pearce, the longtime outdoors scribe for the Wichita Eagle, wrote a provocative feature article appearing in yesterday’s paper about how this trend is affecting sportsmen in his area, and in particular, how the acquisition of significant parcels of hunting and fishing properties is becoming dominated by large, deep-pocket investment companies.

Property once considered worthless or marginal (in agricultural terms) is now selling for more than some prime farming acreage.

Pearce notes that reclaimed coal-mining property in Crawford County, Kansas, that not so long ago was valued at $300 an acre is now on the market for $3,000 an acre.

Georgia-based OEI Properties, a company that specializes in finding and developing hunting land, built roads and a lodge on the former strip mine and is now marketing it as Coal Ground Ranch.

Some of the increases in Kansas land values would make a Wall Street trader envious, Pearce writes.

Mark Morrow, a Wichita real estate agent specializing in rural recreational properties, said that about five years ago it was easy to find land that sold for $400 to $600 an acre. Now the same land goes for $1,000 to $1,600 an acre—reflecting an increase of 300 percent in five years.

“It all depends on how deery it looks,” Morrow said. “It seems everybody who likes the outdoors is wanting recreational land.”

The same thing is occurring in the Mid-South region where I live and hunt—and I don’t expect the trend to change—not in my lifetime, anyway.