Waterfowl Leases | What to look for When Leasing Waterfowl Property Having your own piece of waterfowl heaven is every duck or goose hunter’s long term dream. Owning or leasing a small marsh, flooded corn field or grain field pit blind in the middle of a major flyway can lead to many a spent shotgun shell, and even more memories with friends and family! Owning your own waterfowl property can be doable, but it can be very costly as well. Leasing however, can be a viable option for even the most novices of waterfowl hunters. Although leasing is not as permanent as purchasing, it is not without risk. There are specific things that any waterfowl hunter should look for before signing on the dotted line. Before signing into a lease of any duration, waterfowl hunters need to be sure and do their homework and spend some time researching a few key points to ensure that they are getting exactly what they are looking for, which will ultimately lead to a satisfied waterfowl hunter. Where to start When it comes to looking for a waterfowl lease, it is all about location, location, location! There are many different aspects of the search that duck and goose hunters need to consider, so here are a few things to keep in mind. Not every location is going to be dynamite duck or goose hunting spot. Just because it has produced a few ducks or geese in the past, doesn’t mean it will every time. Finding the perfect waterfowl lease really starts with knowing the areas that waterfowl frequently use like the back of your hand. Understanding how ducks and geese utilize public lands, as well as private lands in the area in critical to your search. You need to know what areas are in the “normal” flight paths of the birds, and which are not. It is also important to note if the waterfowl use in the area that you are searching is consistent or reliant, or hindered based on certain weather conditions. In other words, in a dry year will ducks and geese still frequent the area? Likewise, on a wet year will the birds be spread too thin to make much of difference on the area? Obviously you cannot control Mother-Nature, but understanding this dynamic can really help you when it comes to narrowing down your search. Pound the pavement Once you identified the core area that you wish to focus on, then it is time to start pounding the pavement. Sometimes finding that right waterfowl lease is more about who you know then what you know. Sometimes the best leases never really hit the “open market” and become available by more word of mouth than open advertising. Keeping an eye on the leases in the area can really help you nail down that perfect location. One of the fastest and most efficient ways to become familiar with the leases in your area is to simply begin making phone calls. Being plugged into the local network of landowners and waterfowl hunters in the area can help you stay in the loop in regards to a lease coming available. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and make a few call to some of the landowners in the area that are currently leasing properties, even if those properties are currently leased. Most leases are on an annual contract and are renewed every spring. Landowners will often keep the contact information of waterfowl hunters that have contacted them and expressed interest in leasing their property. It is important to keep your name on the minds of the local landowners, as it can pay big dividends in terms of snagging the perfect waterfowl hunting lease. While it is important to keep your eyes on current and established waterfowl hunting leases, it can also beneficial to keep your eyes peeled for new opportunities for waterfowl hunting leases that are not yet constructed or are in the process of being established. Sometimes, if you do your homework, you can be the first to snag a brand new piece of real-estate. While a lot of these locations never hit the open market, you can still find an excellent waterfowl hunting location on sites such as Hunting Lease Network and Whitetail Properties. Know What You’re Buying Most of us would never purchase a new truck without taking it for a test drive and checking the vehicle history report. You shouldn’t sign on the dotted without performing a test first. When you finally locate a potential waterfowl lease location, the most important next step is taking a trip to the site make sure you are getting exactly what you think and hoped. Here are few things to consider when it comes to a waterfowl hunting lease that you should always keep in mind before slapping any cash down. Restrictions It is always important to make sure there are not any major restrictions associated with the hunting lease you are looking at. Some common restrictions that some locations may have are things related to habitat management, number of hunters, and the types of hunting that can occur on the site. For example, if the lease is in a program such as WRP, you may not be able to do extensive habitat management based upon the restrictions of the program, so if you are looking to hunt a lot of flooded crops, that may not be possible in a situation like this. Some leases will only allow for hunting during the waterfowl season, nothing more and nothing less. So if you like to chase to deer or turkeys, or even upland game, then this might be a deal breaker for you. While this is may not be a major hang up for most waterfowl hunters, it is still something to keep in mind. One final restriction that is common in the world of duck and goose hunting leases is the number of hunters allowed on the property. While some landowners will not necessarily prohibit the number of duck or goose hunters that make a trip to the field, some will. Habitat Not every waterfowl lease is created equal. Without high quality habitat be that moist soil, emergent marsh, flooded crops or a combination you may not put as many birds in the spread of duck or goose decoys are you might otherwise. It is important to keep this in mind when selecting a waterfowl hunting lease. Also associated with the available habitat on any given lease, and probably the most important aspect of selecting a waterfowl hunting lease, is the availability of a reliable water source. There are many wetland or flooded cropland areas that are completely dependent on rainfall or high water levels in order to provide water to the waterfowl lease. Ensuring a dependable water delivery system is paramount to success. Ensuring that you don’t find yourself high and dry come opening day is very important to every waterfowl hunter, so locating a waterfowl lease that has a water delivery system such as a well, or at least a pump and water supply such as lake, pond, or river available. Obviously these locations may cost you a little bit more, however knowing that you have a reliable water source is worth it in the long run. Locating your own piece of waterfowl paradise can sometimes take several seasons and a lot of time spent making phone calls and following up leads. In some cases it can sometimes take leasing a less ideal property for a season or two before you are finally able to locate that dream location. Having your own reliable location that you know can slip out to and time you wish can make for some extremely memorable moments spent with friends and family in the marsh, and the best part is with a little for thought and planning, anyone can find themselves signing the dotted line on their own piece of waterfowl paradise. If you follow these simple tips and thoughts that have been outlined in this article, then there is a good chance that you will be better prepared to begin your search for own slice of duck and goose hunting heaven. If you find yourself in the market for a waterfowl hunting lease, remember to start early and stay persistent. You may not find your dream location for the first couple go arounds, however, with persistence and perseverance you can locate that perfect duck and goose hunting location.