UGA Survey Shows Average Deer-Lease Prices

Interesting data provides a picture of Georgia hunting leases.

JOINT | November 7, 2014

In the spring, we asked GON readers to tell us about land they leased in 2013. The GON staff and publisher allowed us to post a notice in the February 2014 and March 2014 issues. Readers were directed to an online survey link and given the opportunity to answer 10 questions about their 2013 hunting leases.

We had 145 people respond to the survey, and they identified 134 leases. We received some interesting information about the leases GON readers hold, but nothing really surprised us in the results. However, since we are hunters, we thought it would be fun to learn what other hunters said about their leases. With almost everything related to hunting, the survey results will spark a discussion (or argument) around the deer camp.

The total number of acres reported was a little more than 129,000 acres. Acreage ranged from a high of 8,900 acres in one lease all the way down to just 73 acres in one lease. The average acreage of a hunting lease was 934 acres.

Price: Lease prices ranged from $62,000 to $150. The average price of all 134 leases was $10.10 per acre. The range in prices was $1 to $21.15 per acre. More interesting than average is the median. The median is the middle price—half the lease prices are above the median and half below. In our survey, the median price was $9.97 per acre.

Hunters: The average number of hunters on these leases was eight people.

Game: Not surprising, deer and turkey were the most popular game species hunted. Deer were hunted on 100 percent of the leases, and turkeys were hunted on 81 percent of the leases. Other species hunted on leases included feral hog (46 percent), duck (15 percent), bear (3 percent) and quail (3 percent).

Contracts: Of those surveyed, 98 percent of respondents who lease land have a written contract for the leases.

Renew: There were 98 percent of respondents who said that they would lease again in 2014.

Counties: Hancock County leases had the most representation in the survey with nine, followed by Stewart and Talbot (six each), Greene and Oglethorpe (five each). Responses came from a total of 72 counties across Georgia.

North vs. South: Of the 134 leases represented in the survey, 74 were located in Georgia’s Northern Zone, and 60 were located in the Southern Zone. The average acreage of the Northern Zone leases was 793 acres, while the average acreage of Southern Zone leases was 1,153 acres.

The average price of the Northern Zone leases was $10.11 per acre, while the average price of the Southern Zone leases was $10.09 per acre.

The average number of hunters associated with leases for both Northern and Southern zones was eight.

WRD Zones: We also split the 134 hunting leases into Georgia’s WRD Game Management regions.

The most reported lease sites were in Region 3 (45 sites), while the fewest reported leases were in Regions 7 and 1 (four and eight sites, respectively).

Lease acreage was highest in Regions 7 and 6 (3,306 and 1,612 acres, respectively) and lowest in Region 1 (370 acres).

Lease price was highest in Region 5 ($11.13 per acre) and lowest in Region 7 ($5.97 per acre). Generally, lease prices were greater in the middle and southwestern portions of the state (Regions 5, 4 and 3) and lowest in the southeastern portions of the state (Regions 6 and 7). Looking at the average number hunters on a lease, the greatest number were in Region 7 (11 hunters), while the fewest were in Region 1 (six hunters).

Land Type: Of the 134 hunting lease sites identified in the online survey, 81 sites contained mostly a mix of hardwoods and pines, 29 sites mostly contained pines, six sites mostly contained hardwoods, five sites contained recently cut or harvested forestland, and one site was mostly fields or pasture.

Besides fields or pasture, which was reported only once, the land-cover type with the greatest lease price was pines ($10.33 per acre). In contrast, the land-cover type with the lowest lease price was harvested forestland ($7.25 per acre).

We would like to thank all the respondents to our survey. We appreciate that you took the time and interest to tell us about your hunting activity. According to the 2011 National Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife Watching Survey, there are 392,000 hunters in Georgia. We spend more than 8.9 million days hunting. We contribute a little less than 1 billion dollars to the economy each year ($964,887,000).

Just from the UGA survey, you told us that you spend $1.3 million dollars for leases. We know this is just a small amount of the total. However, these dollars are very important, because often the folks leasing the land are private landowners who value land ownership. Leasing helps them balance their budget and maintain their land. We should all thank private landowners for giving us the opportunity to enjoy hunting on their property.

We plan to repeat this survey next year. Keep watching GON for the link to the future survey, and tell your friends about our survey. We would like even more responses next year.

Editor’s Note: If you have any questions about this survey, you can contact Dr. Mike Mengak, professor and wildlife specialist at the University of Georgia, at [email protected] or (706) 583-8096. If you would like a speaker for your next club or organization meeting, contact Mike at the e-mail address or phone number given here.

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