This is one I could literally write all day about. Several years ago I went back and looked at info I had gathered from customers and those who contacted me that were interested in buying land. Somewhere around 85% were interested in buying land for deer hunting in NY , that’s 85% out of hundreds of people. I was surprised it wasn’t higher but still the number is significant. There could be a million different things to consider when you decide you’re going to do it so let’s go over what I consider to be the ones that matter more than the others.
It would be easy to say #1 on your list should be : how much money can I spend ? But I don’t think that’s at the top of the list. The 1st thing to consider is where do I want to be and why. NY is a very diverse state when it comes to deer hunting … a lot of other things too but we’ll stay on point. We are generally known as a “northern zone / southern zone ” state and the seasons/rules are different. I’m not one to hide my opinions so I won’t change now. I wouldn’t buy a raffle ticket for a piece of land in the southern zone. I’ve hunted NY for 38 years, bowhunting for 36 , and have hunted all over this state and seen everything I think we could imagine. The southern zone is mostly an area made up of farm land and small woodlots. Historically there have been a LOT of deer there and that was never a secret. The crowds alone kept me away unless I had the very rare opportunity to hunt private land that wasn’t overrun with hunters. With all this deer management that’s going on today the State of NY couldn’t help but get involved. Most of their time is spent “managing” the herd in the southern tier. That’s fine by me , I hope they stay there. The management has mostly involved issuing “doe permits” in numbers never seen in this state before. I’m not going to question their motives I’m just going to tell you there aren’t anywhere near the number of deer in the southern zone there used to be. Guys I know who hunt there say the herd is a fraction of what it was in years past and the quality of bucks is no different than ever before. Now I’m not saying this is a fact, I’m just pointing out what I hear on a pretty regular basis. That said, I believe the south still has some real productive state forests that have great access and not that much pressure. My brother in law has a camp right next to one of these places and he hunts strictly state land. He sees very few hunters even during the “gun season” but doesn’t see many deer either , oh well. Most of my life this area was strictly a shotgun only zone during the gun season. Over the years the state has allowed more rifle hunting but there are still plenty of places where shotgun hunting is the rule. Regardless what you’re carrying you can expect a place that’s full of blaze orange hunters ringing every farm field and lobbing slugs as deer are chased out of 5 acre woodlots. That doesn’t do much for me. Antler restrictions are still not real popular in NY but there are places in the southern zone where they’re trying it out. The northern zone has none of that and it’s doubtful it ever will. We all have opinions of that but I just wanted to throw it out there so you’re aware. One thing you must take into consideration these days is the potential (promise) of gas drilling in the southern tier. This is where all the gas rights have been sold in NY and drilling is only a matter of time. If you’re considering buying land there you must go into it knowing there’s almost no chance you will own the gas rights on any property you buy. THAT alone should keep you away from there. I’m all for drilling and so is just about everyone in this state except a few nuts/politicians. It’s only a matter of time and the drilling will begin simply because there’s a lot of support for it and there’s too much money involved. I’ve written about this in the past but the gas rights/drilling situation has kept me from buying land there for good. I used to buy/sell land there on a regular basis but not anymore. IF you really want to be in the southern zone the only area to consider is the southwest part of NY. This is one of the most beautiful areas in our state with lots of wooded land and some good deer hunting. The central/eastern part of the southern tier is the area I speak of that is not where I would ever consider buying land for any reason.
As for the northern zone you will find an enormous region with few hunters and tons of public land to hunt. We have areas with a lot of farms and huge areas of nothing but woods and a few roads here and there. The hunter who enjoys peace and solitude when in the woods will love it here. Our deer population is bigger than at any time in my life , probably because we have fewer hunters than at any time in my life. Generally speaking you will find the older/bigger deer are up here living in areas where they aren’t disturbed much. As a bonus we have some real good bear hunting here and very very few bear hunters. The north is generally known as the Adirondacks or the Tug Hill area. Both offer good, if not great hunting but the St. Lawrence river region probably has the best hunting in NY these days. It’s hardly mentioned anywhere but this place has a lot of old farm land with great soils and not many people. The best part is the land prices there are probably the least expensive of anywhere in NYS. Our archery season kicks off Sept. 27 every year and the rifle season closes out the 1st Sunday in December. Just before our 6 week rifle season opens we have a week long muzzleloader season plus a mid Sept. early bear hunt. If you like to hunt in the snow then the northern zone is the only place to be. I’ve hunted in good snow by late Oct. many times over the years and we can usually count on half the rifle season with snow on the ground. Our land prices here are very low these days and the deer hunting is better than ever. Our state forests are lightly hunted and usually huge – thousands of acres in most cases. You don’t need to own much land up here to enjoy a great hunting experience and seasons that stretch over 2 1/2 months. THIS is the place to be for the deer hunter.
So how much land do you need ? Well , let’s go back to the part about how much you are able to invest. If you’re just starting out and the budget is not all that big don’t let it kill your dream. You don’t need to own much to have a great hunting experience on your own land. I’ve sold land to tons of guys from NJ who speak of the lack of hunting land down there and if they can find 10 acres of private land to hunt they’re happy as hell. Up here you can buy even less than that and enjoy all the hunting you want on the countless state forests we have. You’ll be shocked at how good the hunting is in these places and the fact there’s hardly anyone hunting them. If you’re wanting to hunt on your own land you can get yourself started on less than 10 acres and expect to have some luck without even doing anything with the land. If you improve the place , maybe a foodplot , you will pretty much be guaranteed action year after year. No matter what your budget my advice is the same as everyone else you talk to , buy as much as you can.
So you know how much you can spend and where you’re going to look. What’s next ? Start looking and asking questions asap. When you spend some time here you will quickly see the difference from the Adirondacks to Tug Hill and up to the St Lawrence area. If you want the truly remote hunt then the Adirondacks is going to be at the top of your list. You can hunt the Adirondacks and literally never run into another hunter in the woods all season on public land. The state land in the Adirondacks is not the most productive place in the world to hunt but it’s the best opportunity for hunting older bucks who never see people. To get anything close to the hunting experience of the Adirondacks you would have to travel to northern Maine. I’ve hunted the Adirondacks for 38 years and can’t imagine spending my hunting seasons anywhere else. The Tug Hill Plateau is mostly wooded but has a fair amount of farms throughout the area. You’ll find a lot of state land here also and some very productive hunting in the state forests. The topography is much more gentle than the Adirondacks and access is much easier also. One thing is a guarantee on Tug Hill , you will hunt in snow and often. The St Lawrence region is pretty flat and filled with old farms that are no longer “working farms”. You’ll find a lot of apple trees and over grown fields with plenty of cover for whitetails. the snowfall here isn’t nearly as heavy as the Adirondacks or Tug Hill and the walking is pretty easy. The biggest drawback is the drive time from wherever you are. It’s going to be a longer drive but for the deer hunter it will be well worth it.
So how much is it going to cost to get in the game ? Generally speaking you can buy some real good hunting land up here for $20,000 , sometimes less. That might get you 10 acres , it might get you even more at times. One thing is for sure , it will get you started and that’s most important. Just ask yourself one question : if I owned a lot that’s roughly the size of 10 football fields can I hunt that and expect to have some action ? The answer is yes and I can prove it to you. We all know your wallet is going to make the decision ultimately , just don’t believe your budget is going to limit your choices. The number of properties available in the $20,000 range is outrageous today. The guy who won’t have many choices is the guy who wants to buy a couple hundred acres. I still talk with “old” customers of mine on a regular basis. The vast majority of these people bought 10 – 20 acres from me to get started and many ended up buying more over the years from ” the guy next door”. Give me a call anytime at (800) 260 – 2148 if you would like to talk about buying land in NY or if you just want to ask some questions. You can also email me by going to my website right here . I want to thank you for sticking around and reading this much ! Many of you know I have some pretty strong opinions when it comes to buying/owning land , where to buy etc. When it comes to deer hunting I’m even worse ! On the other hand I don’t see any value is sitting here and telling you the hunting is wonderful everywhere and buying hunting land in NY is a good idea no matter where you buy. That simply isn’t true and I’m not going to BS anyone when it comes to that. Feel free to leave your comments , even the critical ones. I enjoy the conversation and always welcome differing views. That’s what makes the world go ’round so chirp up if you want. Don’t forget to sign up for all the latest land ownership opportunities and info in the northern zone! Sign up right here ! Thanks again and happy hunting. mj
BTW the picture of that buck in velvet at the top of the page. I took that picture 6/20/14 not far from my house. I see this buck all the time