Cost of Leases forcing people out west?

robtattoo

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It's kinda cool, reading this thread.
The disparity between western & eastern hunters is very, very cool & a little saddening to me.
I'm not saying it's a universal fact & this forum is very much not the norm, as far as the 'average hunter' goes, but reading this thread (and many others) makes me wonder if ALL western hunters look down on their eastern brethren.
It seem like whitetail guys utterly revere western hunting styles & game. That kind of glassing, hiking, climbing, calling & stalking is simply just not possible, or if it is its highly unproductive, here in the east.
Western hunters just don't seem to grasp exactly how difficult whitetail hunting is. Public land here is scarce & when I read folks complaining about western trailheads having 9 or 10 vehicles parked there,I can't not chuckle. OK, nobody wants to see it but in, say, wyoming those 9 or 10 vehicles might be sharing 10 or 20,000 acres! Here in Tennessee, you'd be splitting those same guys between maybe 5 or 600. Tops.

The other thing that sometimes I think we forget, is that the vast majority of Eastern hunters really don't have any interest whatsoever in going out west. Elk, Muley & pronghorn hold zero attraction for, I would guess, 80% of folk. I mean, why the hell would you spend a grand or two & 10 days vacation time to drive 20 hours to a place you don't know to maybe get a shot at an Elk, when for the same 2k, you could drive 20 minutes to your lease with which you're really familiar & maybe put 2 or 3 deer in the freezer on a weekend?

Sometimes I think that western guys really do look down on whitetail, the way that whitetail guys look down on hogs.
It's not better or worse, superior or lesser. It's just different. The looks I get from hard-core whitetail guys when I tell them I'm a hog hunter, is exactly the same look I get from elk guys when I tell them I love whitetail. Most whitetail guys treat hog hunting as a novelty & super easy, because that's what they've seen on TV or YouTube. At best, it's nothing more than pest control like shooting rats in a barn. Western dudes seem to have the same opinion of whitetail hunters, for pretty much the same reason & obviously whitetail guys are only there for antlers, right?
Now elk & muley hunting?? According to the interweb, that's the romantic hunting right there. Subsistence hunting & righteous. It's one guy against nature in a beautiful backdrop of mountains & sunsets & compared to that, well. Who would want to 'sit in a tree for hours' for a lowly whitetail....

In reality, western & eastern hunting have a lot more in common than they have different. The only massive difference being that almost nobody travels east to hunt whitetail & honestly, that's a real damn shame. If more of you guys came this way, you'd have a far, far better understanding of the difficulties we have to deal with.
 
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WV Mountaineer

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I think there might be some of this thinking in sone hunters. Simply because it’s much more fun to hunt out west. And, the added cost it is taking to hunt a club back east is enough to pay for that trip. You can guarantee that guys are contemplating they aren’t going to pay that to set a good plot versus getting to go out west and run around. Glassing, poking along in the thick stuff, all the things you do while hunting.
 

elkyinzer

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So are you saying that you think of hunter numbers were halved the guys left would hunt 3X more than they do now? The numbers in your example make sense but I am just wondering how much hunting pressure decreases the hard-core hunter's desire to hunt. I would think most guys that are lifer hunters hunt as much as they can already but that could very well just be projecting my own situation into the general hunting public. I only get so many days off per year and I'm hunting them no matter who else is.

Sent from my SM-G981V using Tapatalk

No I'm saying the average man a couple generations ago just didn't have as much free time and disposable income to hunt as we do now. So back then there were more hunters that hunted less, now we have less hunters that hunt more. Speaking in terms of averages.
 

BuckeyeRifleman

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it’s certainly a factor… I think the bubble of high priced leases is bursting with people “discovering” western hunting.

That said I think western hunting is a fad right now. Everyone watches an episode of Meateater or listens to Rogan talk about elk hunting and wants to do it.

Then the reality hits them that it’s really hard work most of the time, and 95% suck and 5% excitement and joy, and that’s if you are successful, which isn’t often. That along with age, time, work, money and family commitments, I think a lot of people will give it up in the next few years.

I took some newbies this year. After 3 days of backpacking and a grueling pack out. They wanted to hang out in town, or camp and drink. They had no interest in doing what it took to fill their $1200 tags.
 

hh76

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I wouldn't bet on it, covid was just a bump in an already occurring trend. This has been going on for decades. I think there's been a major shift in attitudes towards hunting from a more of a hobby of the working class to sort of a defining aspect of many dudes' very existence. Really just to say the working class a couple of generations ago didn't have the time off work to make it a lifestyle, so they partook in it as a hobby.

This sort of gets lost in the RRR push and the resultant industrialization of hunting. If you have 1,000,000 guys as PA used to estimate hunted in rifle season, that casually hunt 5 days a year you have 5 milion hunter days. You can have half the hunters to 500,000 (and half the revenue, thus the alarmist nature of RRR). But those guys hunt 3x more at 15 days per year and suddenly you have 7.5 million hunter days. Half the hunters, 50% more perceived pressure roughly speaking. Now those are just theoretical numbers but I would hypothesize among some other noted factors that is influencing the perceived increase in hunting pressure.
I think there is a lot to this, and has been a topic of conversation every year at our deer camp.

My father's stories of camp in the 50's are very similar to a lot of what I've read about WI deer camp. A group of guys take off one week a year, shoot a few deer and drink Old Fashioneds. Most didn't really know much about "hunting", but there were a lot of deer.

Now, we are always trying to recruit new people to come up for deer camp. There aren't a lot of casual hunters around, most got bored of it and quit. The hunters you do talk to are the guys that are extremely dedicated.
 

timekiller13

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Avaialbility of public land is another driving factor of leasing here in the south. We don't have vast tracts of public readily accessible in many places. For example, I live in NC. While we have 2 million acres of public land, the large majority of that is broken up into smaller tracts (a few hundred to a few thousand acres). I have to drive a minimum of 2 hours to get to any tract of public land that is larger than a few thousand acres. We do have the Pisgah and Nantahala National forests in the west, but they are sparse on big game. Deer populations are low. You can go days and days and be lucky to cut a track in some of those tracts. The better public hunting areas are in the central and eastern part of my state. 3-5 hour drives (for me) to get into areas that good huntable populations of game. ANd these areas get HAMMERED. I've seen 30-40 vehicles at one parking area, that only accesses a few thousand acres. In western states, you are only a couple hours drive from literally millions of acres of BLM and national forest. Leasing makes perfect sense for many people in the east.

We must remember that rokslide represents less than 10% of hunters. Guys on here are very hardcore. Willing to put in the miles on their boots. The majority of hunters don't have the desire to do that, nor the time. Hunting is a leisure activity. They want to be able to ride an ATV or make a short walk to an established tree stand or blind. Stumbling around in the dark over miles of hilly, public terrain is not appealing to many people. I'll be the first to admit I enjoy my "lazy" hunts on private property. It's very nice to be able to just walk right into an established spot and get right in the stand. No finding the perfect tree, no fighting a tree stand in the dark, no getting turned around and realizing at daylight you actually needed to be one ridge over. I enjoy the challenge of public hunting, but I also enjoy a nice, easy hunt from time to time as well.

And if you factor in the cost of DIY western hunting trips, leasing a nice property is pretty cheap. A couple thousand for a yearly lease where you will probably shoot 3-6 deer, a turkey and maybe even a bear vs. a couple thousand for a trip out west where you may not even see anything. If it takes the average guy 3 tries (and that's probably on the low end) to be successful on a DIY elk hunt, he's going to have $5-6k invested in that elk. He could have killed 15-20 deer during that time frame at the same cost.
 

Billinsd

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The new owner now wants 10,000 per hunter. Said that’s what he gets leasing other ground near Dodge city. I don’t know who the hell can pay $10,000 a year to go hunt Whitetail, you can do a lot cooler shit with 10 grand then come out to western Kansas.
I'd get the hell outta Dodge!!!
 
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Billinsd

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We must remember that rokslide represents less than 10% of hunters. Guys on here are very hardcore. Willing to put in the miles on their boots
I agree most here are very hard-core, physically, however many are extremely intelligent and hunt smart. Most here are hardcore eager to do what it takes to be successful. I'm hard core, but less and less eager to put miles on my aging body. I'll do it, if it's necessary, but usually it's not. Hunting physically challenging areas was more rewarding in the 90s or early 2000. Now with the gear and technology and information, and pressure the most successful guys hunt smart. Cheers Bill
 

robtattoo

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If it takes the average guy 3 tries (and that's probably on the low end) to be successful on a DIY elk hunt, he's going to have $5-6k invested in that elk. He could have killed 15-20 deer during that time frame at the same cost.

The reality is, it's much closer to 10 than 3. I loosely worked it out & my cow elk cost me roughly 25 grand. For that, I could've spent 10 years on a really, really good lease & shot a hell of a lot more deer than I already have. The reality though, for me, is that I'm the only carnivore in my house. 3 deer, plus my seemingly endless supply of hogs & a couple of coastal fishing trips keeps me very well fed for the year. I don't need to kill more than that. And I really do love spending my time in Wyoming.
 

robtattoo

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I have no idea whether a study has ever been done, probably not, but I'd love to know how the odds stack up of an Easterner headed west for elk, vs a Western hunter coming east for Whitetail. I'd be very interested to see how the success rates add up.
I can't help but thing it'd be very close.

I don't know why people think that eastern whitetail are easy to hunt. I promise you, the toughest thing to kill on the planet is probably a mature whitetail on public land in the south east.
 
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QuackAttack

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It depends. There are different cultural groups of hunters. A lot of eastern hunters are just locals killing time and socialising with buddies. Clubs are tribal and guys take huge pride in their club. The members usually have a job that allows specific times off to hunt local seasons.

Alternately, a lot of younger hunters out east don’t have clubs and are tired of redneck drama like flat tires, stolen gear, broken car windows, and so on. They are hunting to hunt…not sit around camp BSing. They have money and are willing to travel. They are definitely going west and north. Getducks.com is living proof….spending more than an elk hunt to chase waterfowl.
 

Fitzwho

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My in-laws own a ranch in south Texas. It's a little over 3,000 acres. They lease it to a group of guys (5-6 dudes, tops). They pay $50,000 per year to lease it, plus spending thousands of dollars a month on protein, etc. They are pulling 170"+ low-fenced whitetails off the place. My wife will eventually own it and I won't be able to afford to not lease it at that rate.
 

Poser

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Durango CO
It's kinda cool, reading this thread.
The disparity between western & eastern hunters is very, very cool & a little saddening to me.
I'm not saying it's a universal fact & this forum is very much not the norm, as far as the 'average hunter' goes, but reading this thread (and many others) makes me wonder if ALL western hunters look down on their eastern brethren.
It seem like whitetail guys utterly revere western hunting styles & game. That kind of glassing, hiking, climbing, calling & stalking is simply just not possible, or if it is its highly unproductive, here in the east.
Western hunters just don't seem to grasp exactly how difficult whitetail hunting is. Public land here is scarce & when I read folks complaining about western trailheads having 9 or 10 vehicles parked there,I can't not chuckle. OK, nobody wants to see it but in, say, wyoming those 9 or 10 vehicles might be sharing 10 or 20,000 acres! Here in Tennessee, you'd be splitting those same guys between maybe 5 or 600. Tops.

The other thing that sometimes I think we forget, is that the vast majority of Eastern hunters really don't have any interest whatsoever in going out west. Elk, Muley & pronghorn hold zero attraction for, I would guess, 80% of folk. I mean, why the hell would you spend a grand or two & 10 days vacation time to drive 20 hours to a place you don't know to maybe get a shot at an Elk, when for the same 2k, you could drive 20 minutes to your lease with which you're really familiar & maybe put 2 or 3 deer in the freezer on a weekend?

Sometimes I think that western guys really do look down on whitetail, the way that whitetail guys look down on hogs.
It's not better or worse, superior or lesser. It's just different. The looks I get from hard-core whitetail guys when I tell them I'm a hog hunter, is exactly the same look I get from elk guys when I tell them I love whitetail. Most whitetail guys treat hog hunting as a novelty & super easy, because that's what they've seen on TV or YouTube. At best, it's nothing more than pest control like shooting rats in a barn. Western dudes seem to have the same opinion of whitetail hunters, for pretty much the same reason & obviously whitetail guys are only there for antlers, right?
Now elk & muley hunting?? According to the interweb, that's the romantic hunting right there. Subsistence hunting & righteous. It's one guy against nature in a beautiful backdrop of mountains & sunsets & compared to that, well. Who would want to 'sit in a tree for hours' for a lowly whitetail....

In reality, western & eastern hunting have a lot more in common than they have different. The only massive difference being that almost nobody travels east to hunt whitetail & honestly, that's a real damn shame. If more of you guys came this way, you'd have a far, far better understanding of the difficulties we have to deal with.

Up until 5 years ago, I lived in TN: both in Middle TN and West TN and also travelled to East TN to hunt hogs and bear.

What you seem to omit from this equation is that in the East, whitetail densities can often be 20+ deer per square mile (I realize East TN is an exception to that). In the west, you can have 1 elk for dozens of square miles. It’s not equatable. I used to often kill 9-10+ whitetails a season in TN and that was just deer i was choosing to kill. Whitetail hunting can be fun, but in the realm of difficulty, is not even in the same arena as elk or mule deer hunting out west.

Do I “look down” on whitetail hunting? No.
Do I roll me eyes when some coverall wearing whitetail hunter I went to HS with sends me a FB message asking about elk hunting in SW CO? Yes: he’s too fat, lacks the skill set and initiative to ever be more than a 4 wheeler to treestand hunter.

I’ll say it: When it comes to hunting, Eastern whitetail hunting is the minor leagues.
 

otolith

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Here in Southern Illinois many farmers lease their land to hunters. The majority of hunters come down from Chicago. We have high deer populations here and it's not to hard to get a nice buck and they know it. The big city hunters , who have the money to spend, pay top dollar for the exclusive rights to hunt on large tracts of land. Unless you personally know the land owner it can be tuff to get permission to hunt on non leased land.
 

Kevin Dill

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There are plenty of reasons why whitetail deer are still the most popular big game animal, and not all of them have to do with availability. Consider that many hunters are social people and WANT to be in hunting clubs or to hunt with friends. They may also have children who would benefit enormously from more trips to a local deer haunt than one trip out west. Those who look down their noses at whitetail deer simply don't understand the gut-level "love to chase those suckers" feelings that many people feel 365.


Some people buy an RV and take it on one serious vacation a year. This isn't conjecture and I know people who do it. Some people buy an RV and plant it in a structured campground an hour or two away; then go there most weekends to camp. Who's having more fun? Who's using their money to best effect? Which would appear to get the most recreation and use of their RV? Around my region you can't find an empty slot at a permanent campground. It's waiting list only.


My personal belief is that the vast majority of eastern or midwestern deer hunters put more importance on length of season & opportunities to hunt versus throwing it all down on one 2 week western trip. It's not likely to change as western hunt costs increase and competition does the same.
 

timekiller13

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Up until 5 years ago, I lived in TN: both in Middle TN and West TN and also travelled to East TN to hunt hogs and bear.

What you seem to omit from this equation is that in the East, whitetail densities can often be 20+ deer per square mile (I realize East TN is an exception to that). In the west, you can have 1 elk for dozens of square miles. It’s not equatable. I used to often kill 9-10+ whitetails a season in TN and that was just deer i was choosing to kill. Whitetail hunting can be fun, but in the realm of difficulty, is not even in the same arena as elk or mule deer hunting out west.

Do I “look down” on whitetail hunting? No.
Do I roll me eyes when some coverall wearing whitetail hunter I went to HS with sends me a FB message asking about elk hunting in SW CO? Yes: he’s too fat, lacks the skill set and initiative to ever be more than a 4 wheeler to treestand hunter.

I’ll say it: When it comes to hunting, Eastern whitetail hunting is the minor leagues.
The density of white tails makes them easier to hunt. I hunt the Roanoke river area often in my home state. It has one of the highest densities of white tails in the US. 70-80 deer per square mile. You can see 40 deer a day down there without even trying. And this is public land (permit only limited entry but open to whoever draws it). Killing a deer down there is easy. Conversely, I also hunt national forest near my home. Deer densities are about 10 per square mile, even less in other places. Seeing 1-2 per hunt is an accomplishment. Pulling a single 3.5 yr old buck out every season is almost unheard of.


If elk were as densely populated as white tails, they would be much easier to hunt. Especially in the rut. Elk are very vocal and give their location from miles away. Whitetail are not vocal. But, elk are not densely populated, that makes them much more difficult to find. And they typically live in much more difficult terrain, compounding their difficulty.
 

conley417

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My in-laws own a ranch in south Texas. It's a little over 3,000 acres. They lease it to a group of guys (5-6 dudes, tops). They pay $50,000 per year to lease it, plus spending thousands of dollars a month on protein, etc. They are pulling 170"+ low-fenced whitetails off the place. My wife will eventually own it and I won't be able to afford to not lease it at that rate.

Does your wife have a sister?
 

Kevin Dill

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I sometimes think what it costs me (in terms of potential lease revenue I don't bring in) a lot of money to hunt deer on my own farm. I have acreage in the hills of SE Ohio. My farm backs up against 65 (more) acres of outstanding huntable deer cover. I routinely photograph nice bucks from our dining table. There's a great location for a campsite or RV with available septic tank and rural water hookup. Very easy access. I could probably lease my farm almost instantly if I wanted, and basically hunt Alaska 'free' every single year until I quit hunting. IMG_1072 (1).jpg
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