Mini Lease: A New Do-It-Yourself Way To Hunt
Back a couple decades ago, just about every hunting buddy I knew was on a “deer lease.” I can remember well, many times I “sneaked” away from work an hour or two early, truck loaded with bags of corn, supplies to “fix up” the old hunting cabin, T-posts, and wire to build a pen around the feeders to keep the cows out, and headed out on a two-and-a-half-hour drive to fill the feeders. Seasonal hunting leases are still popular in Texas, but more people have turned to booking “package hunts” where lodging and meals are furnished. All the hunters have to do is show up and hunt. But, there’s a new do-it-yourself way to hunt.
For many years, Ranell Scott, owner of Ranger Creek Ranch in Knox County, has offered both season leases and “package hunts” for deer and hogs. She still does but to my knowledge, this far thinking lady was the first I know to coin the term “mini lease.” What’s a “mini lease,” you ask? Well, let’s let Ms. Scott explain.
“I’ve noticed a trend through the past few years with hunters wishing to “hunt on their own” much the same way as they did on their season leases, but they simply do not have the time to set up feeders and keep them filled, plant food plots, erect hunting blinds, keep a hunting cabin in good repair, etc. I visited with many of my long-time hunters and the “mini lease” idea seemed to be a good one. We are offering two different type leases, beginning this hunting season, one for deer and hogs and another strictly for hog hunters,” said Mr. Scott.
Here’s the way these leases will work: For both the deer and deer/hog “mini leases,” the ranch provides a fully furnished ranch house with linens, outside BBQ grill, hunting blinds with feeders that are maintained and filled with corn. The “deer and hog mini lease” package includes one mature buck, one cull buck, two whitetail doe and unlimited hogs and varmints. This hunt includes two three-day hunts with three nights.
For the hog hunters, hunters can schedule a total of five, four-day hunting trips with three nights lodging per hunt. This hunt is for two lease holders and their guests, unlimited hogs.
Not to take anything away from the very popular “package hunts” where hunters spend two or three days in a lodge, have meals prepared and are guided, but for many veteran hunters, the opportunity to hunt strictly on their own, is very appealing. To my way of thinking, cooking meals at camp and hunting when, and as much as you wish, makes for a special time, not only in pursuit of game, but for the camp camaraderie as well.
I like this “mini lease” idea so well that I have made plans to spend some time on the ranch this fall enjoying these “do-it-yourself” hunts. With my busy schedule, it would be next to impossible to find the time to make several trips up to Knox County to fill feeders, check trail cameras, clear shooting lanes, and so on, but with all these chores done, when I do show up in November to hunt, everything will be ready. My biggest challenge will be what to pack for the evening meals and which stand to hunt!
If the weather is warm during these hunts, it’s nice to know there is a walk-in cooler at the lodge to insure the meat is properly chilled, another big advantage of hunting on a ranch that is set up for hunters.
The terrain in Knox County is some of the most diverse and beautiful in the state. This is the rugged “Cedar Breaks” country. The higher elevations are comprised of big pastures and agricultural fields, which fall off into some very rugged canyons and drainages. Because of the diversity of terrain and a great wildlife management plan, game abounds. Through the years, I’ve taken whitetail deer, hogs, turkey and javelina here and thanks to plentiful moisture the past few years, quail numbers have rebounded nicely.
It’s next to impossible to predict dove numbers, but annually, dove shooting in this area is very good. Large numbers of native birds nest in the area and when those first cold fronts push the Nebraska and Kansas birds south, the late season shooting is often as good as the opening of the season.
These “mini hog leases” should provide a great alternative to season leases. With five four-day hunts to plan, hog hunters can pick and choose their dates. A couple of hunters can share the lease and each bring a guest. Because hogs are hunted in so many different ways, everything from bow hunting to night hunting with thermal imaging scopes, the flexibility built into these hunts will be ideal.
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