How to Purchase Your Own Hunting Property
By: by Virgil Peritts
Most deer hunters have spent many hours wondering how they could own their own hunting property. In my case, it was a 418–acre property that adjoined another I leased for hunting. I was constantly looking over the fence into a 40–acre field that always contained abundant game. It seemed like the largest bucks were always on this property. I tried convincing the landowner to let me to hunt and fish on his land, but to no avail. Then all of the sudden, this beautiful property came up for sale. Unfortunately, for much more than I could afford. Does this sound familiar?
There is an obvious solution to this problem—simply purchase the property. There will be no more losing your lease, or landowners telling you how to manage the property. But wait a minute, I already stated that I could not afford the property. Believe me, I spent years looking over the fence trying to figure out how I could own a place that big and beautiful.
Sitting in my tree stand one day, the solution came to me. Although I could not afford to purchase the land by myself, why not form a corporation and sell shares? That is exactly what I did! Fortunately, by the time the land became available, I was already leasing it from the owner. This was a real plus. It is always easier to negotiate with someone you already know.
I should tell you up front that this process is not easy, and sometimes you will question your decision (and sanity!). The first step is to start talking with your friends and associates and form a pool of potential investors. Having a property already in mind will help, but is not critical at this stage. When searching for potential investors, invite people you like and those with similar deer management goals. Most importantly, invite people you trust. They are going to become your business partners and you want this venture to be a success.
Since large sums of money often are involved in deals of this nature, inform potential investors that when the money is needed for down payments, improvements, equipment, etc., they will have to be ready to write the check. Everyone is familiar with the saying, “money talks” and that other stuff walks. Truer words were never spoken! When it is time to close the deal, you will quickly see who is truly committed. Later, you should establish a set payment schedule. Our payments are every six months, which allows us time to save.
The next step is to locate a property. Once the property size and purchase price have been established, determine the total cost per acre, and try to get it owner–financed. There are many good reasons to try owner financing. Usually the interest rate is lower and there is no loan qualifying process. Your down payment is usually smaller, and in some cases, all you have to put down is earnest money. There are no bank charges or fees and you can do your own title search to save attorney fees.
Once you have established your group, located a property, and are ready to close the deal, have someone run a title search. This is extremely important and should not be overlooked. If you are attaching a name to your corporation, you also must contact the Secretary of State’s office so they can check to see if your corporation’s name has been reserved previously in the Library of Congress. You will also have to get the corporate name listed in the newspaper for 5 weeks. Once you have been approved by the Secretary of State’s office, you will have to get a corporate seal and papers. You can get a kit containing this information from most office supply stores.
Next, unless someone in your group has accounting experience, you will have to hire a CPA to handle your tax papers and corporation establishment requirements. You should then hold a corporate meeting, elect officers, establish bylaws, and establish a checking account. It is very important to have well planned and well documented procedures in your bylaws for making and voting on decisions related to the property. This will clearly define the voting procedure and how many votes it takes to pass or defeat any proposed action. By addressing these issues in the beginning you can save time, money, friendships, and possibly even your new corporation.
As you can see, this process is not easy or cheap, but it is well worth it in the long run. Remember that you are not going it alone, and it is much more affordable when the costs are divided among several people. Here is an example of some of your expenses once the corporation has been established using a model corporation with 10 shareholders. A $25,000 semi–annual payment for the mortgage divided by 10 shares is $2,500 per share. A tractor and equipment is around $16,000, divided by 10 is $1,600 per share. Just think of all those beautiful food plots you can make with your own equipment! Taxes are approximately $1,300 a year, or $130 per share. Seed and fertilizer costs are approximately $2,000 per year or $200 per share. In this example, the total cost per shareholder for a year would be $6,930. While these costs soon add up, many hunters spend more than this on hunting each year. You will have a few other expenses such as utilities, fuel and oil for the tractor, and some repairs, but I think you get the idea that there is safety in numbers.
Once you own the property you can make it into anything you (and a majority of shareholders can agree upon) desire. You can clear any areas you want. You can plant beneficial trees or cut trees to clear areas for food plots. You can dam creeks or swamps to create wetlands. There is an unlimited variety of things you can do on your own land.
When I am alone on the property, I consider it “my” 418 acres. Obviously, when other shareholders are there, I respect their rights as well. It is just such a great feeling to walk or ride around on your own place without fear of losing it next year because it was sold or leased to another group offering more money.
I have given you just a few ideas, and I am sure you can think of many others. So, don't just sit there, get on the phone and get busy. Another deer season will soon be upon you and, if you start pursuing your dream now, you could soon be hunting on your own little piece of Heaven.
Virgil Peritts is an Engineer for the Norfolk Southern Railroad. He is also the manager of Reid Place Farms, Inc., a QDM–managed property in Georgia. This is his third article for Quality Whitetails.