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Texas Quail Leases
July 05, 2001
Are you getting the fever? I am! We're less than 2 months away from dove season followed by our annual kid hunt for quail!
Getting ready to hunt is accompanied by questions about where to hunt. I'm always asked this question about this time of year: "Where can I find a good quail lease (day or season long)?"
Here in Texas, hunting is always at a premium. That's because we have primarily private land. So what's the secret in securing a place to hunt...that has game?
Start talking with anyone and everyone you know that is involved in quail hunting. Ask them where hunting was good in past years but don't expect them to invite you on to their lease. Visit the counties where you have heard of good quail hunting to occur on a regular basis. Ask local folks if they know someone who has land for lease - Don't Be Shy!
"Leases listed in the large metropolitan newspapers are expensive! How do I know if I'm getting ripped off and how can I get the best deal?" The answer is simple: Take off a few days and travel the back roads of Texas Quail Country. If you see a farmer plowing a field, stop and wait for him to finish his work. ASK! Talk to store clerks (many have husbands/relatives/friends that farm/ranch) - don't think that just because they're behind a convenience store counter making minimum wage that they don't have connections...many have land in their family and lots of it.
"How much will I pay?" That depends on where you are quail hunting. A season lease in deer country is very high compared to country that doesn't hold many deer. I've seen deer leases go as high as 7 dollars per acre whereas 'quail only' leases where there aren't any deer go for as low as 1 dollar per acre. Sometimes you can find a lease that starts when deer season is over for about 1 dollar an acre (there are about 7 weeks of quail season left when deer season ends).
Visit, IN PERSON, area Chambers of Commerce and leave your name and number to be contacted should they hear of something. Collect every small town newspaper you can find and start taking out ads. Ads are unbelievably cheap in small town papers. Heck, our local paper will run a short add for the whopping price of about 3 bucks.
What to say in a small town ad? Assuming you are a responsible hunter, how about something like "Responsible Quail Hunter looking for lease. I will respect your land and help take care of it. Please call me at xxx-xxxx"
If you have plenty of money, then shop the big city papers!
Regardless of where you find your lease, the farmer/rancher should allow you the opportunity to see it. I always bring a couple bird dogs even if the weather is hot. Traverse the land early in the morning or later in the afternoon to see quail.
Next, Ask how many people are on the lease and the total acreage being leased. I personally don't recommend more than about one or two quail hunters (with good dogs) per section (640 acres). If several of the hunters on the lease don't have dogs then you can lower that hunter/acreage figure. You need to then inquire about hunting restrictions imposed by the farmer/rancher. Just because he has 3000 acres doesn't mean you can hunt 3000 acres. Also ask him if he is the land owner or is he subleasing.
If you get on a lease with other established hunters, ask about the hunting plan for that property. Example: If you have 6 hunters on 3600 acres and you all have dogs then you should consider rotating what pastures get hunted each weekend. Nothing is worse than showing up to hunt a 1000 acres pasture only to find out another leaser just hunted it 5 days prior. I recommend you come up with a gentlemen's agreement on what the rotation will be. This means that the senior leaser on the property needs to be in contact with everyone who hunts throughout the season.
Get a feel for what the other leasers are like. Guys that booze it up and disregard safe hunting are to be distanced. If something happens at that camp you don't want to be a camper!
The easiest solution is to lease a place just for you. Make sure that you have ALL hunting rights. I once leased a place about 25 years ago and found the ranchers family out hunting my favorite spot! There are also some legal issues to consider regarding the right to pursue someone for legal infringement on your lease rights but I'm no lawyer and don't know much about that.
Bottom line: Befriend your farmer/rancher who leases to you, leave gates open/closed as you found them, help repair broken fences, pick up your empty shells and those old ones left by previous leasers, share some cleaned game with your farmer/rancher, meet the local game warden and give him/her your info (important in case you get injured/stranded out in the middle of nowhere), and be courteous!
Being courteous goes a long ways! In Texas we say "yes sir/no sir", "yes ma'am/no ma'am". Many farmers/ranchers have been in the business for multiple generations. Afford their families the respect they deserve! You'll find that many of their families were original homesteaders over a hundred years ago. You won't meet people like this in Metro newspaper so get out there and get to work to find your lease!
Good luck and thanks for visiting!