By Wade Bourne
All waterfowlers share the dream of having their own private marsh, where they can hunt without the pressures and restrictions of public areas. No crowds. No racing to claim the best blinds. No calling contests to leery ducks or geese. No artillery duels. Just hunting the way it should be, an encounter between man and bird.
This desire has changed the face of waterfowling. The last several years have seen a major trend toward the leasing of hunting lands and the establishment of private clubs. In all four North American flyways, many of the best marshes, sloughs, fields, and flooded woodlands have come under the control of hunters who could afford the asking price. In many cases, this requires a princely sum. Still, hunters’ quest for their sport’s best has kept the competition for prime spots keen.
But as many know from experience, finding, securing, and managing a new hunting lease takes a lot of work, and it can also be a gamble. Just because you hunt behind a locked gate doesn’t mean ducks or geese will fog into your decoys. Instead, bad research, bad management, or just plain bad luck can cause your best laid plans to go awry.
This is why hunters should do everything possible to stack the odds in their favor. By understanding what it takes to make a new lease work, and by borrowing from the experiences of others, hunters have a much better chance of turning hopes into high fives over the success of their new club.
Here are some valuable tips for finding, setting up, and managing a hunting lease from three veterans who have proven track records in developing prime waterfowl hunting spots.