Hunting Leases and Surveying

Hunting and fishing are some of the most popular ways to enjoy the great outdoors. While many landowners happily use their property for hunting, others might use hunting leases to let others experience the thrill of the hunt. However, there are a few special considerations to remember before offering your property as a hunting lease. Follow these quick tips to guard your property rights when creating a hunting lease. When in doubt, always consult with your friendly neighborhood surveyor.

Hunting Leases and Surveys
Before creating your hunting lease, it’s important to know what a lease is and how surveyors help in the hunting lease process. A lease is an agreement between the landowner (also called the ‘lessor’) and a lessee, or a person who has right to use the land in specific ways.

The lease defines in legal terms how a certain piece of land can be used. Common leases include surface rights, hunting or fishing. Leases will always have a set duration, although the duration is entirely up to the land owner. Some leases last for years, while others might only be for one hunting season.

Before consulting with a surveyor, check with your local laws first to ensure leases are legal in your area. Many cities have guidelines about lot size and hunting restrictions. For example, acreage can determine how a lot of land can be used. Depending on your local laws, there might be stipulations on what kind of hunting you can do with your land. For instance, in some areas you can only hunt with a bow if a lot is less than 10 acres.

Partnering with a surveyor
A hunting lease is a type of legal document. Surveyors describe features of land, but they aren’t used to drawing up legal documents. That said, a surveyor plays two key roles in hunting leases.

1. Split up land
Let’s say you own 200 acres, but only want 50 of those acres to be used as a hunting lease. Depending on the size of your land and local restrictions, it may be beneficial to hire a surveyor to help subdivide your land and leases. Each type of land will have a different use, depending on how it’s subdivided.

The surveyor helps you know where you can best split up your land. He or she can also create a legal land description, which is necessary for executing a lease. Don’t fly blind when creating a lease—partner up with a surveyor to make sure your land is defined correctly.

2. Decrease liability
You could invite hunters to use your land without a lease. However, a lease is put in place to help decrease liability of having other individuals on your land. A lease is particularly useful to minimize your chances of an adverse possession, where a lessee tries to stake a claim against the land.

Depending on your local land laws, someone who uses your land regularly may have a claim to the land, even if you’re listed as the landowner on the deed. Surveyors regularly work with adverse possessions, but they aren’t fun to deal with as a landowner.

It’s best to think of a lease as the property owner’s receipt—it proves that they own the land, and that the lessee is using the land under certain permissions. As long as the lease is valid, a person claiming adverse possession doesn’t have a claim against the land. A lease is crucial for protecting your land legally, while opening it up to use by outside parties.

The bottom line
The surveyor plays a crucial role in describing your land for creating a hunting lease. He or she also steps in if there’s a need to monument your legal description with lease corners. You should always partner with a surveyor before executing a lease to ensure your land is described accurately. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a world of legal troubles. When in doubt, partner with a trusted surveyor and title attorney to set up your hunting lease with ease.