Looking for easy ways to make a little more money off your land? The Hunter Access Program, may be worth looking into. In Michigan, the state Department of Natural Resources will pay landowners up to $25 per acre, with a minimum of 40 acres, to enroll in the state’s Hunter Access Program (HAP). The Hunter Access Program is a way for the state to encourage hunting and provide areas for residents to hunt in free of charge without the state needing to own the land. In some cases this payment can completely offset the yearly property taxes owed. For a land owner with 40 acres this adds up to $1,000, for a land owner with 200 acres this can add up to $5,000!
If you already own a decent chunk of land, why not get paid for doing very little? For farmers this is an especially good deal. By the time hunting season rolls around they are typically done with harvesting, which means the land is sitting there without any activity going on. Allowing hunters access will bring in some extra cash for the farmer generally doing nothing extra, and as a bonus, animals that typically harm crops are thinned from the area.
Assisting The Community:
Participating in the Hunter Access Program assists the community greatly. By providing land where local hunters have access to hunting grounds, the program encourages people to hunt who otherwise wouldn’t be able to. This helps increase the total number of hunters, which is necessary to reduce deer populations in the area and to continue the State’s hunting tradition.
Land Owner Concerns:
The land owner can decide what type of hunting can take place on his land from the following options; all hunting, youth and apprentice hunting, small game only, deer only, turkey only, sharp tailed grouse only. Land owners are also free from legal liability from hunters participating the in the program. Hunters are required to sign in when using land in the HAP program, and the Department of Natural Resources will provide a sign in box or the land owner may require hunters to sign in at his or her residence. Hunters must also get direct permission from the land owners to install a tree stand or build a hunting blind. The landowner can give instructions on where to park and can also limit the days of use. Some owners restrict usage on Sundays, while others restrict usage on certain Holidays.
Several variables determine the payment price per acre, including the type and amount of acreage and the type of hunting the land owner allows. There is no limit to the total amount of acreage one person can enroll. As an example, a local college in my county, Andrew’s University, has the largest amount of land enrolled in the Hunter Access Program, a total of 1,078 acres. This means they can receive a yearly payment of over $25,000 from the Department of Natural Resources. The payments are made from a combination of Federal grants and state hunting license revenue. In the Hunter Access Program the DNR offers 2 year leases, and payments are made at the conclusion of each hunting season.
Currently there are only 114 unique land owners in the Michigan program, with 161 properties and roughly 16,000 acres. The DNR has stated that by 2017 they would like to have over 180 properties and 24,000 acres of land. Now is a perfect time to contact the Michigan DNR to sign up for the program. Live in another state? Michigan is not the only state to have a Hunter Access Program, in fact in 2014 the Federal Government granted over $20 million to expanding HAP programs across 15 states.
In Wisconsin the Department on Natural Resources pays between $3 per acre and $15 per acre depending on the type of land. In Georgia, the Voluntary Public Access Program pays between $25 per acre and $82 per acre.
How To Sign Up For The Hunter Access Program:
Contact your local conservation district, or check out your state’s Department of Natural Resources for more information. For the county I live in the conservation district website has contact information posted for who to contact to discuss getting involved with the Hunter Access Program. There is a limited amount of funding for these programs, so you will want to sign up as quickly as possible!
Don’t Have Enough Land?
Many land owners that can’t qualify for the Hunter Access Program choose to lease hunting rights to individuals. This can work out really well for all parties involved. Be creative in how you draw up a deal in order to maximize the utility between multiple hunters and of course to maximize your income. Some people can only hunt in the mornings, while others may only be able to hunt during the evening or on the weekends. Some people only hunt during bow season, while others will only hunt during rifle season. You could easily have contracts set up with over a dozen people to allow hunting on your land, without overlap by using a system like this. For some hunters instead of charging them cash you could charge them a percentage of their yield from anything they get. In order to market your property to potential hunters, consider getting a game camera to show what opportunities are on your property.
Have you participated in the Hunter Access Program, or leased out your land to hunters in the past?