What to Look for When Purchasing Hunting Land
On the Hunt for Land
If you’re tired of requesting permission to hunt on private land or sharing public lands with overeager or disruptive hunters, buying hunting property is a good solution. But when you’re on the hunt for the property that is best suited to your quarry, you’ll need to look for specific features to attract the game you’re looking for.
Each type of game has different requirements to maintain a healthy population. Three of the most common game types you might seek a property for are ducks, deer, and turkeys.
Duck Hunting Land
Hunting property for waterfowl such as duck and geese is one of the most specialized properties that requires careful consideration to meet the needs of these animals.
It’s in their name, and it’s arguably the most important requirement: water. But not just any old water. You'll need an ample supply of diverse water features to attract and maintain a healthy duck population.
Optimally, duck hunting land needs to be about 50% open water. This can be accomplished with a mix of ponds, swamplands, wetlands, and something called moist soil units (fields that flood occasionally then dry).
Additionally, the water needs to be deep enough for a variety of species of ducks. Diving ducks need 6-12 inches of water at a minimum, while other species such as the teal only require 3-4 inches.
Waterfowl need access to water year-round, which means supplementing a pond or small lake
Location, Location, Location
If your potential hunting property is on a migratory route for the birds you’re aiming for, you are in luck. A large, attractive pond to land on while moving between locations can attract a variety of ducks to your property.
If you are a few miles off the beaten path, consider what surrounds your property. Are there wetlands, reservoirs, or wildlife refuges nearby? These are also attractive features to ducks.
All creatures require ample food sources, and ducks are no different. They are opportunistic feeders and appreciate row crops such as corn and alfalfa, but they also gain much of their nutrition from water plants.
Tall native grasses, willow trees, and other aquatic vegetation is necessary for protection from predators and safe nesting and brood space. This type of cover also indicates that the land itself is healthy and thriving.
Water is primary, so if your potential property is drier than you’d like, look for lowlands that form a basin to serve as a catchment for water. This can improve the property with very little effort.
Land that is placed in a permanent wildlife or conservation easement remains wild and undeveloped in perpetuity. Because it cannot be developed, this type of protection can make a property more affordable.
Deer Hunting Land
Although the size of the hunting property will determine the ideal number of deer, there are other factors that can make or break your deer population. A deer hunting property is at its best when it features diversity in cover, food sources, and topography.
One of the best things about deer hunting property is that it does not require large stands of high-value timber. Deer love areas of box elder, shrubs, native grasses, briars, and poplars. They provide cover and shelter for the deer (and a potentially lower price tag for you).
There are a variety of naturally-occurring foods that can attract more deer to your property. These include:
- White cedar
- Beggar's lice
- Honey locust pods
- Wild grape
The best property for deer hunting will come stocked with these plants and trees, but if you cannot find them in abundance it is possible to plant food plots for deer. In that case, you’ll need to look for open acreage that makes planting easy.
Consider using a soil test when buying land to determine the suitability of planting food plots for deer. Deer appreciate a combination of annual plants, perennials, row crops, and trees.
While all animals need water, deer do not need it in such abundance that the lack of a large pond or lake is a negative. A small stream or spring, or even a wet, low-lying area will meet their needs.
Another thing to consider is that the lack of water means you can eventually define how and where deer move. It’s easy to add a small water feature to direct them.
Varied topography that creates a variety of different “edges” is crucial. An edge is the place where the habitat or elevation changes, and it's where deer love to be. Think the edge of a forest into a grassland or the space where old growth timber meets a young forest.
Friendly neighboring properties with owners that also hunt deer expand your own property by providing more resources in the same general area. While you’ll confine your hunting to your own land, buying hunting property near like-minded folks makes maintaining a healthy deer population easier.
Similarly, having an agricultural area next to your property also increases the amount of food available to deer. This can expand your boundaries, too.
Turkey Hunting Land
Figuring out how to attract turkeys to your property means looking for land that has key turkey habitat. As with deer and ducks, turkey hunting 101 stipulates that turkeys need the basics of food, water, and cover for both nesting season and protection from predators.
A turkey’s diet in the wild consists of native grasses and mast-producing trees and bushes. Mast producers include nut-producing trees like oak, pecan, and walnut trees, as well as bushes and trees that produce fruits and berries. In addition, planting food plots for turkeys can help keep these wild birds within their 100-mile range and well within your sights. Consider cultivating row crops such as:
These help keep turkeys close and improve the soil for future plantings, too.
Hens raise their brood no more than a quarter mile from water, so you’ll need to buy hunting property with more than one source to keep turkeys year-round. Look for land with a mix of streams, lakes, and ponds.
You might also consider installing water features if other resources are not abundant.
Buying land in tree growth is also a good idea. Turkeys need mature trees for roosting, but they also like brush piles created by fallen limbs. These provide nesting spaces and safe places for brood rearing.
Consider topography when buying hunting land, especially if you're looking to attract wild turkeys. Although turkeys will strut up a slope, they prefer flats and plateaus. These allow them to forage more easily and also stay on display for potential mates.
Turkeys love to roam, so the more land you can buy, the better. It is possible to attract and maintain turkeys on a smaller plot, but you’ll need to make sure there are ample resources if you want them to stick around.
Find Help Buying Hunting Land
Whether you’re looking for a hunting property with deer, ducks or turkeys (or other regional game like antelope), your land agent can help you get even more specific and find the perfect spot in your area. Look for local Land Experts who focus on the hunting properties for the best selection with the features you need.
Please note: this article is meant to be a topical overview and, as such, does not include specific recommendations or advice. Every situation is unique, and you should consult with a licensed real estate professional and/or other appropriate advisor prior to purchasing or developing hunting lands.