Guide to Buying Hunting Land
The Most Important Things to
Consider in Purchasing Hunting Land
by Ed Covington
QUALITY and ABUNDANCE OF WILDLIFE
Quality and abundance of
wildlife is what most people want and it is probably the hardest
thing to determine. The ways of researching]
the quality of wildlife are:
seller. You may get an honest answer and you may not.
landowners who are selling
their land don't know the difference.
Find out who has hunted the
land before. If it is has been leased for hunting, get the
name and phone number of the people who had leased.
Call the local Texas Parks
and Wildlife (TPW) Biologist since they can be a valuable
resource. In addition, the local game warden can be helpful.
Ask the neighboring
landowner if they hunt or lease their land. If they lease,
then contact the people who lease their land. Most people who
hunt will try to help each other even if they are absolute
Water is a broad subject and is important to people
in different ways, including:
are a waterfowl hunter, you want an abundance of standing
water in the fall and winter whether it is a lake or stock
tank. However, if you are a deer hunter,
you would trade a dozen lakes for a good creek or two running
through property. The best of both worlds
is a lake with a creek or two. Tracks with
a lot of developed water are hard to find and is usually
reflected in the price.
of the time, the seller can answer these questions.
You might need to contact the county’s Cooperative
Extension Agent and ask them about water availability.
In addition, the local Farm Service Agency Administration
is usually very knowledgeable about water availability.
This agency can be found at the local United States
Department of Agriculture office, which is located in the county
seat of most every county in Texas.
people, terrain is a major factor in choosing hunting land.
Again, what you hunting will usually depend
on what type of terrain you want. You can
have too much of a good thing for quality wildlife production,
so there needs to be a balance.
TPandW seminar I attended on quail hunting,
they said that cactus is great for bobwhite quail nesting.
In addition, cattle grazing should be managed as to not
disrupt forb production. We will discuss
this later on when we talk about leasing grass rights for
place has a lot of elevation change, it can make the land more
scenic. In some parts of the country there
is not a lot of elevation change but this still can be
excellent hunting country. You don't need elevation for
quality wildlife production including trophy deer and quail.
can be the most important thing to consider when buying new
land. In some cases, it should be the first
thing to govern your choice. However, this
is one of the hardest things to thoroughly research without
knowing the area.
I recommend are:
Ask the seller.
Get the names of neighbors joining the property you are
considering purchasing and call them to ask if they have leased
their land for hunting or if they hunt it themselves.
Find out if they know of any problems with any of the
Look for deer blinds on property lines. This nearly
always creates potential problems for buyers.
Call the local sheriff and ask if he has had any
trespassing complaints from current landowners in the immediate
Ask the local game warden about trespassing problems on
the land. This may seem like a little trouble, but could save
you many problems in future.
example is a man whom I sold a place to in Archer County two
years ago. He looked at the land and nearly
all questions pertained to the neighbors. He
asked about every place that touched this property.
I satisfied him and after one hour of looking, he asked
what price I wanted, and he bought it.
point, he told me why the neighbors were the most important
thing to him. He said he had owned a place
in Erath County. When he bought it, there
were nothing but big ranches around him. Someone bought one, and
divided it up. All of a sudden he had people all around him. One
had a bunch of dogs and they chased his cattle and every deer in
the area left. He talked to his neighbors
but it didn't do any good so he sold his place. After this
experience, his main concern was the history of area and the
neighbors. He is extremely happy now and has no worry about
ACCESS TO PROPERTY and EASEMENTS
This can be important
if you are going to build on your property.
people want more than one access road along with county road
or highway frontage. On the other hand,
some people would want the county road to dead end at their
gate with no access from any side. The
reason is the poaching and trespassing problems you can have
with easy access. If it is easy for you to
access from more than one direction, then a poacher also has
his choice of entry and exit points.
Easements are important.
You want to have a recorded easement if you have to go
through someone else’s land to reach your property.
There are two different kinds of easements, "EXPRESSED"
EXPRESSED EASEMENT is one that is recorded in the deed records
in the county clerk’s office in the county the land is
located. This is sometimes called a
"deeded easement.” An expressed easement
is the kind you want to have if you pass through someone
else’s land to get to your property.
other type, an IMPLIED EASEMENT, is just what it says. It is
an easement where access has been granted or earned through
use of a road for a period of time. The law governing this
type of easement is very complicated and I recommend that you
consult an attorney that has had considerable experience with
MINERALS and OIL PRODUCTION
let’s talk about current producing wells located on the
property. Oil wells are something that some
people will be adamant about not having on their property.
Don't let this be a "deal killer.”
If you find a place with all the other
things you like, remember that the wells won't produce forever.
example of this is a place in Young County. It was a great
place with hardwoods, a good creek, lots of turkey, and much
more. I heard it was for sale before it
went on the market, so I looked at it. The
price the seller wanted was $220 per acre cheaper than I
thought it should be. When I opened the
gate, I saw why: There were old, shallow
oil wells all over the property. Most were
leaking, and the place had lots of old buildings, scrap metal,
old, rusted tanks, and all kinds of fallen wires.
I saw two 140-class buck and several smaller bucks,
but I never thought about the deer for the mess.
This place sold for $450.00 per acre but it should have
brought $700 per acre. The buyer
eventually cleaned everything up and he now has a great place
that he bought for less than market value.
regulatory agency that controls oil production in Texas is the
Texas Railroad Commission. If you have any
trouble, you can always report problems to them.
original mineral leases have several clauses in them
concerning the day-to-day operation of oil producing wells.
If the wells were drilled a long time ago,
there may not be anything to protect you as the surface owner
in the original lease. An example of
things that are written in several leases today is any
employee of an oil company cannot carry a gun in their
vehicle. This will keep them from hunting.
If your property has oil production, you need to make
friends with the pumper and let them watch the property for
thing I would like to cover is minerals caps.
Everyone would like to own 100% of the mineral rights on
a property. This is nearly unheard of today.
Because of "mineral pros" (people who
speculated on mineral rights, back in the 30's and 40’s), it is
very hard to own mineral rights. You don't
have to own all the minerals to be protected from someone
drilling a well on your property.
would be you owning a 1/8 undivided interest in the mineral
estate. This would nearly enable you to stop
anyone from drilling a well on a property.
This forces the oil driller to carry you through the risk of
drilling and completion of the well. This
means that he would pay 100% of the costs for 7/8 of the working
interest part of the oil. Lets say he
acquires a 1/5 royalty lease on the other 7/8 mineral estate,
that would mean that for every 10 barrel's of oil sold, he would
receive only 7 barrels and assume 100% of the cost for
operations. There are very few oil deals left in Texas that
someone would risk this business arrangement. So in most cases,
because a piece of property has no minerals,
don't let this scare you off.
Also if you can't buy 1/8 of mineral estate, try to buy
the executive leasing rights jointly and let the mineral owner
receive all the oil produced. You would receive all bonus and no
royalty. This also would keep anyone from drilling on the
property from an economical standpoint.
The easiest way to find out about the mineral estate on a
piece of property is to contact the county tax office. They will
have a list of producing mineral interest holders’ names and
addresses. They will be glad to give you a printout of this
list. If the minerals aren't producing and have never produced,
the tax office will not have a record of the current mineral
holder or holders.
The county clerk’s office has all the records of mineral
ownership on a property in its respective county. To research
the mineral division and ownership, you would probably need to
go to local abstract company and hire them to research this for
you. Most abstract companies will research for $25.00 to $40.00
In the State of Texas, "minerals dominate surface" as far
as the law is concerned. This means that in
a dispute over the rights of the surface owner and the rights of
the mineral owner, the mineral owner will dominate.
I think this has been maintained because Texas gets taxes
on all the oil that is produced in the state. Texas is one of
only a few states that still recognize "minerals over surface."
Don't depend on the landowner to tell you what he owns or
doesn't own as far as mineral rights are concerned.
Again, if the minerals aren't producing they will not be
in tax office.
TAX ASPECTS and INCOME OPPORTUNITIES
land can be a good business decision from a tax standpoint if
you have a good accountant.
The property taxes are nominal if you get
an agriculture exemption on the land. This
is a reduction of "appraised value" to "productive value.”
An example of this is suppose a piece of
land has a market value of $47,960. Under
the agriculture exemption, the production value is $3,310.
Therefore, you will be taxed at a lower value.
Some ways to get an agricultural
Run livestock on the property. If you
don't want to be a rancher, then I would recommend someone
paying you to let them graze livestock on your land.
Don't let someone overgraze your property as this can
affect wildlife in a negative way. Talk to
the local Farm Service Agency for guidance.
Get a wildlife exemption. A wildlife
exemption something that is new as far as tax laws are
concerned. You don't have to run any
livestock to receive an exemption.
counties have started taxing recreational land at a higher
value than the conventional agriculture value. You
should inquire about this when you research your taxes.
1031 Exchange to purchase "Like Kind Property."
have other real property you are going to sell with the
intentions of replacing with hunting land, you need to be
familiar with the tax advantages of a 1031 Exchange.
Some examples of "real property" that
qualify for replacement purpose are as follows:
Mineral interest (producing or non‑producing).
Working interest in producing oil wells.
Any commercial real estate (office buildings, warehouses,
apartments, duplexes or houses as long as it is not your
"personal residence), or any other business or investment
property you may own.
Another part of the 1031 Exchange is called a reverse
exchange. The reverse exchange is not
specifically authorized by IRS regulations, but there are
several reverse exchanges taking place today.
A reverse exchange lets you buy property before you
sell your "Like Kind" property. An
example would be that you owned an office building in Dallas
and you found a hunting ranch that you wanted to buy but
were afraid it would be gone by the time you sold your
office building. You could have the
"Exchanger" purchase the ranch and hold the deed until you
sold your office building. This is a
complicated process and you should consult your tax
All of the
things that I have discussed previously are very important to
everyone who is in the market to buy hunting land. Some
aspects will be more important than others will.
Remember that it is nearly impossible to have it all.
Therefore, you should be your own judge as
to what your priorities are.