Leases have always intrigued me, but I hadn’t been a part of one until this summer. It has me thinking about the topic and wondering what made me seek this out now? How is it changing my thoughts about hunting near home? As well as what is the best way to deal with other buddies on the lease in a way that benefits us all? Hopefully my pondering of these questions regarding a lease can help someone else straighten out their thoughts or plans of a lease.
My lease situation is unique in the fact that I have been able to hunt this piece with my beloved friend Eric (aka Bobo) and my Dad for a few years now. I believe 2020 was the first year that Bobo got permission from the landowner, for the three of us to hunt this 80 or so acres of really amazing habitat, with a creek bottom, and a bigwoods ridge on the western side of the creek and property. If i’m not mistaken 2021 was the first year that Bobo leased the hunting rights to the property and in 2022 he filled his first bow tag over an awesome food plot put in that summer.
During the first 3 years of having this property available to us I hunted there, and the close by public land a few times each year. In 2020 I shot a small buck from the ground with my bow mid October with my now wife alongside me on the 80 acres. In 2021 I hunted the area even less, but managed to film my dad take a younger buck with the muzzle loader late in the season on the nearby public. 2022 was similar to 2021 only we created a food plot, which the property had never had. It definitely made a noticeable difference in deer activity and consistency in an area with more big bucks than any other place I have hunted near home.
Bobo’s first year leasing was in 2021, which may have been a factor in hunting the area a little less to be sure to respect the lease (even though Bobo would never not let us hunt it). I could have asked to go in on the lease that first year but it was not financially feasible at the time. Same with 2022, I could have asked to go in then too if I wasn’t preparing to get married and help pay for a wedding I couldn’t afford. Now it’s 2023, post wedding, and I am still trying to get my budget to a comfortable place, however it is better than the past two years
CHANGING THOUGHTS ABOUT HUNTING AT HOME
Besides financial reasons, I am experiencing a shift in thought about how I should hunt at home in the southern tier of New York. Traditionally growing up, into highschool, and college I sought out non-traditional “adventure” type of hunts behind my house and the local public. By “adventure” I mean a local’s small town version of “adventure”. I would just try things that my Dad and his friends hadn’t before by going further, accessing differently, sitting on the ground, and still hunting. For a hunter with one private piece to hunt and lots of close by pressured public land, doing something besides sitting in a ladder stand felt adventurous to me. The other adventurous part of it in my eyes was almost being random in where I hunted, when and why. I remember spending so much time looking at maps picking a public land spot that was good for the wind that night and just going. I had a lot of really cool encounters doing that, and my woodsmanship sky rocketed, but I never accumulated enough intel on one spot, to close the distance on the bucks I would encounter. I had a little bit of knowledge from a lot of spots. That is what’s changing in my mind with this lease.
My view of adventurous hunts at home has shifted mainly because I am fortunate enough to travel and hunt enough to scratch that itch then. Now my thoughts and plans for hunting at home are narrowed and much more specific. There are three main pieces that I am going to dissect, hunt smart, and figure out more for long term consistent big buck opportunities. They are behind my parents house, which we have 25+ years of knowledge about, but there’s still new intel to learn each year, as well as the lease, and its nearby public land. I want to put as much thought and effort into those three areas as I can because I know it will help my chances of getting opportunities at shooters much more than the way I used to go about it. However, my Dad and I still have a few of those random public land sits that are only good to hit once or twice a year and are consistent enough in the deer and buck encounters where we look forward to those each early season. Those aren’t hunts for the good of the properties I mentioned, we have just done them enough to know there's always a chance but usually only one before it’s not worth the time. So my original “adventure hunts aren’t completely dead, they are just timely and only worth a day or two of effort.
That’s how my thoughts have and are changing. I almost want to say that narrowing down and dissecting those three spots is a way for me to get more serious, but I have always taken every hunt very seriously. It’s more of a newer type of effort (to me) in an attempt to get more consistent opportunities at shooters. Which I suppose always has some weight when dealing with a lease.
DEALING WITH OTHERS ON THE LEASE FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL
Another aspect of the lease world is how all the people who are a part of it have the same goal of a shooter buck in mind. I’ve been pondering how to go about this with my Dad and Bobo, because naturally everyone is going to have different ideas about bucks and the best way to get a shot opportunity. I’m thankful that I have dealt with this at the property behind my parents house, where I have hunted more than any other place. So, I feel like these thoughts are more widely accepted and understood in our group, but that can sometimes be easier said than done when big bucks are on the line.
Not everyone is going to be on the same page all the time, that's normal, so expect it. It is okay to not be on the same page, to want to hunt differently, or to think a camera would be better off elsewhere. Remember that at the end of the day it’s not a big deal and as long as you are following your gut come hunt time it’s all good. Be okay with hunting together when your thoughts do a line because hunting together is always more fun, but also don’t shy away from gut instinct.
Also remember that everyone a part of the lease is on the same team. If one of you kills a hammer buck you all kill a hammer buck. If one of you has an insane encounter you all get that intel to learn from. I am fortunate enough to not hunt with anyone who’s ego out weighs their friendships, but I know that happens all too often in the hunting world. More will be learned, more deer will be seen, and more bucks will be taken if you leave your ego behind and realize that everyone is contributing to the overall success of the team, and your chance will come with persistence.
What I know will help our team with this lease even more is the use of HuntStand. It makes it easier to stay on the same page, and share information in real time when everyone can be a part of the same hunt area so everyone gets the same pins and intel. The more you dive into HuntStand the more it can help a lease situation. Between the different tabs for trail cameras, encounters, and map objects to being able to reserve a spot on the map to let the other guys on the lease know your thoughts for your next hunt. There is no doubt that being able to share everyone's map intel is a great way to assure the success of the team and that the team is on the same page.
I should also mention that my “adventure” hunts at home have shifted to just not being at home. I am planning on keeping that adventurous New York hunter alive by planning hunts away from home but in New York still. I have been saying that I want a hunt in my home state that I treat like an out of state hunt, because it is further away. I am hoping to do this in the Northern zone of New York this early season. Also, I’m not saying that my three spots I mentioned above won’t include adventure, every hunt is adventurous in it’s own way, I just really enjoy the type of adventure hunting new places gives you. So I want to make sure I keep that original adventurous flame going while I dial in on the other more permanent opportunities back at home. I don’t ever want to be a one trick pony with how I hunt, and always want adventure in the woods away from home.
I hope my perspective clears up some questions or doubts you may have on leases. I’ll be sure to keep you up to speed on how the lease goes this fall, and please reach out with questions or other topics you would like to see on the blog.