This topic could be argued any way and every way with all sides making good points. Still , we have to ask ourselves ” is this really a good place to spend my money?”. Having done this many times I can tell you there’s a lot to consider before you hand over your hard earned dollars. I’ve researched this topic and have yet to find an objective opinion about this and why you need to think twice before you write that check. It isn’t all Boone & Crockett bucks and picturesque food plots so buckle up.
1st let me share my qualifications. I’ve been buying/selling land for 20+ years in upstate NY. I’ve bought every type of land you can imagine and learned along the way. Since 80%+ of my customers were deer hunters I spent most of my time looking for hunting land to buy. I made some mistakes , some I made over and over. Hopefully I’ll spare you from doing the same.
If you’re in the market for hunting land I’ll assume you’re doing your homework and gathering as much information as possible. I approached this as a 1st time buyer looking for info, advice and anything else I could find. All I found was a bunch of hunting websites with “experts” saying this is a great investment to make. Well, If we only consider hunting then I suppose it could be a great investment. Unfortunately it isn’t that simple and this is where people can get hurt. The people I found writing about this spoke as though everywhere in the country is the best deer hunting imaginable and hunting land is in great demand. I’ve got news for you , there’s a lot of hunting that takes place outside of southern Iowa and Pike County Illinois. The land market there has nothing to do with the rest of us and a lot of people who bought in those areas will eventually learn that lousy land with great deer hunting will not hold value , not anywhere.
I’m writing this assuming you aren’t one of those buyers who has so much money you really don’t care about anything but hunting. Those people don’t want advice and I can’t say I blame them. We aren’t in that situation and we need to be much more careful. So where do we start? The very 1st thing I would do is approach this as though you are SELLING and not buying. By that I mean look at this property as though this is years down the road and you or your heirs need to sell this place. Are you/they going to be able to sell this property without giving it away? How long will it take? Can it be marketed/sold to anyone other than a deer hunter? You better have some answers to these questions before you go any further.
While researching this topic I read about all kinds of advice like talking to the neighbors to see if they practice Quality Deer Management, asking DNR about the hunting in the area and everything else hunting related. It’s all nonsense when it comes to making a significant financial decision that will impact your family for years to come. The property you ultimately buy HAS to have value that goes well beyond hunting. I’m not referring to timber value because that is fleeting and cannot be counted on in the future. I’m talking about the qualities that make property valuable. Those qualities will include access that is relatively simple and pain free. If the access is directly off a “town road” or some other maintained road the property immediately has more value and is significantly more marketable to anyone. Are utilities at the road or close by? If phone/electric etc. is close then your investment is even safer. Is there a potential building location that can be easily accessed by building a driveway assuming one isn’t present? Even if you have no plans to build on this property you have to assume you’re going to sell it one day and the opportunity to build on this property is critical. The easier the access to a building site the better. The title needs to be clear and the deed has to be a Warranty Deed if you’re going to buy this. I point all these out because in my research most of these are never mentioned while some are barely noted at all. These are the most important items to look for when you’re looking at any parcel of land.
Looking back over the years and all that land I’ve bought/sold I found there was plenty of great hunting on land that had potential for many uses. I love those woodlots that are way off the beaten path where you never see or hear anyone. I’ve bought that land before and enjoyed the hell out of it … until I had to get rid of it. Like everyone else who buys land like this I was looking for someone as crazy as me to buy it. Eventually I found that guy but often times it took too long. I don’t want to scare anyone away from these types of land because they are the absolute best when it comes to enjoyment, in my opinion anyway. If you’re going to buy land that is pretty remote then go into it assuming you’re going to have to be patient if you ever need to sell it. Most important is the price, if it’s remote , seasonal access, no utilities etc. it better be pretty cheap.
So, is hunting land a good investment? It sure can be if you approach it with an eye to the future and know what to look for. The properties I’ve described are abundant pretty much everywhere and can have some fantastic hunting even if the neighbors don’t care about Quality Deer Management. At some point in this process you are going to have to get your wife’s approval or this isn’t going to happen. It’s a fact and everyone has to get that approval no matter what they say. Your wife will be considering what will happen in the future and how will be get rid of this place if we need to. Be prepared and show her the value in the property that goes well beyond hunting. If you can’t show her that then keep looking because sometimes a great deal isn’t so great after all. Keep your eye on value and worry about the deer later. Good luck in your search and have fun doing it. As always I thank you for stopping by, please write with questions/comments anytime. mj