Lakecaster Online



Week of October 17, 2005

It can be tough to justify the cost of a deer lease, especially to a spouse. With deer leases costing many thousands of dollars, today's budget minded hunters can get maximum value for their investment by taking advantage of other species of game that are most likely available on their hunting property. For example; when you improve land for deer hunting, most other species of animals benefit as well. Improved habitat results in healthy animal populations of small game, non-game and exotic species of animals, not just the whitetail deer. As a result of increased numbers of animals so goes the need to maintain healthy numbers. This means opportunity for those that look to get the best bang for their buck.

We had a lease in Central Texas with so many exotic animals that the owner offered his hunters the opportunity to take as many exotic animals as they wanted at no extra charge. His reasoning was simple. Several years ago he began a supplemental feeding program of Record Rack deer feed for his whitetail deer and he's seen great results. But the protein rich feed as attracted too many other animals. So much so that now the exotics dominate the feed stations and the whitetails (being less aggressive) don't get the feed they were intended to receive. Exotics are widespread in the hill country and roam freely on many ranches and unlike whitetails; they can be hunted year round.

This particular landowner only allowed each hunter to take one whitetail buck. Most of us on the lease took advantage of the exotics by allowing wives and children to hunt for them. Involving family members helps justify the cost of a deer. Hunting other species like rabbit, squirrel javelina, turkey, dove, duck, feral hogs, raccoons, coyotes, bobcats and even bullfrogs have also helped me justify the cost of a deer lease. Many leases also have small ponds or what Texans call stock tanks that have tremendous fishing.

When negotiating with landowners for a deer lease, you may want to consider what other opportunities a particular piece of property may have. If only whitetails are your priority it can be tough to justify the expense.

Many ranchers are now involved with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department in special management programs that actually offer extended hunting seasons for deer hunters. One such program called MLD III (which stands for Managed Lands for Deer) allows a landowner and those hunting on their land to hunt with a firearm from the beginning of archery season until the end of February. Each year these dates do change so consult area game laws. The extending of the hunting season allows landowners much needed time to harvest the number of deer they should take each year. This long season also allows hunters the chance to spend more time afield. As a result, it helps justify the cost of a hunting lease.

Keith Warren is the host of two weekly outdoor television programs that broadcast on The Outdoor Channel. For questions or comments about our shows or the outdoors, contact Keith at

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