You’ve decided that you’re tired of renting out ranch stays for the weekend or asking your buddies if you can use their property to catch looks for a few big deer. Between the hours spent driving location to location and setting up stands and campouts, you’re so tired you couldn’t shoot the broadside of a barn. It’s time to make the change you’ve always told your family, your friends, and that one guy who sits next to you at $5 drafts on Thursdays.

You’re going to start your own hunting ranch. 

It seems easy enough right? You just need an agent, some land, wild game, a cabin, a water source, a sewage system, maybe a land expert, and the list runs on and on. Starting a hunting ranch is no small undertaking and as crusaders of ranch living, we want you to have the ammo you need to get this ranch going. 

From purchase and development to growth and expansion, this is the knowledge you need to get your new ranch up and running. Grab your notebook, this is good stuff.

First of all, you can’t just go buy a ranch.

Have you ever gone to the grocery store hungry? If you have, you know how easy it is to wander away from your list. Soon, your cart is brimming over with unnecessary indulgences, when all you came for was eggs and butter. The list is where you start and where you finish.

Create a list of requirements and preferences.

You don’t want any kind of ranch. Owning a property specialized for bow hunting is very different than that of a gun property. Ask yourself some of the basic questions: What type of hunting are we going to do on the property? What kind of wildlife are we trying to hunt there? How many people are going to hunt on this property? These are fundamental questions that will set the foundation in your search for the best hunting ranch.

Find a specialized ranch agent.

This list is best partnered with an agent who knows a thing or two about hunting ranches. This is not your everyday real estate agent or local cowboy, these are real ranchin’ experts. They take your list of requirements and help find a property that is tailored to your desires and within your price range. Whether it be big-game and upland hunting or fishing, there are specialized agents who know the regions and what they provide. 

If you’re looking for those agents we’ve been talking about, look no further, they are here.

Be proactive in the search process.

Yes, hiring an agent will get you on the right track, but finding the perfect spot requires you take your own actions. This means going to potential properties, looking at the land, and understanding its possibilities and pitfalls. Here are a few simple tips: 

  • Look at the signs of wildlife. This is an obvious one, but if there is no wildlife…you’re not hunting. Easy right? 
  • Observe the health of the trees. If the trees are healthy, the land will yield some form of vegetation for your game. 
  • Is there a nearby water source? Having a location in proximity to a water source increases the foot traffic on your property. 

Spending time to focus on the details helps you to uncover properties that are more fit for your hunting needs and gets you closer to a purchase.

I found a hunting ranch I want to buy, what do I do now?

If this you’re asking this question, you’ve probably already decided whether or not this is a commercial or personal endeavor. Many property owners take advantage of the ability to lease their land for commercial use when they aren’t there or in during hunting seasons. If your intention is such, there are some things you should consider.

Understand the expenses and find the experts. 

The cost of operating a hunting ranch isn’t cheap, but can pay off if properly managed. Evaluate the expenses of running your ranch during the hunting season. Knowing your bare minimum operating costs and your optimal operating costs helps set a baseline for future evaluation. 

Connecting with regional specialists like biologists, land conservationists, and game wardens is also essential. These individuals will help you understand what wildlife is on your land, what it takes to supply that ecosystem consistently, and what the bag limit (animal count) is. Having these resources will ensure that your property runs smoothly. 

Establish a payment plan that fits your budget.

Most of the time a ranch property is not a one time purchase. Whether it’s through financing or a land contract, it’s important to have a financial plan that can sustain the property, especially if you’re planning on making a profit. 

Do not forget, this is a long-tailed investment—nothing happens overnight. The more you commit to developing your property and the surrounding area, the more value you add to your investment. This first investment can serve as the downpayment for future properties. 

Now if you’re more about the personal hunting ranch, bear in mind some of the expenses that apply to commercial use will also apply to your solo operation. Items such as food plots or future game species are to be considered even for personal ranches.

I officially bought a hunting ranch, what’s next?

Before you do anything, take it all in. You’re the owner of a hunting ranch. Maybe this was a vision come true, something you saw in a childhood dream, or maybe you joked about it with your high school friends—no matter the circumstances, you’re now ranching. 

Take it in, but be observant. Use the next 365 days to take note of everything you experience. Watch the wild game travel across your property, scope out the seasonal traffic, track operations and expenses as you go. The more you document, the more information you have for future growth. 

Check animal population and property quality. 

An investment this big deserves attention. If this is a commercial operation, one of the biggest priorities is ensuring a steady animal population. Losing game animals means losing business, and nobody wants that. Similarly, you should be constantly evaluating the land and making sure proper precaution is taken to ensure its sustainability. You’re out there to enjoy nature, let’s keep it thriving.  

Take advantage of feedback from family and friends

You know all those people you wanted to visit your new hunting ranch? Invite them! Their feedback is the perfect first step toward evaluating your ranch. Ask them questions about the entire experience. Sure, grandpa might give you a hard time because he couldn’t shoot anything but no matter, the more you know, the better you can make it. 

Look for new expansion opportunities. We’ve said it before and we will say it again, this is a long-tailed investment. The time you took to find your perfect hunting ranch will also be required to grow it. As the land grows, so does the value and before you know it, you’ll find yourself craving more acreage. That’s why exploring your local market is important in the growth of your ranch.

Take it in, you’re ranch livin!

Chances are you’ve been waiting a pretty long time to finally buy yourself a hunting ranch. You even took the time to read this article about how to start one, which means it’s getting pretty serious. If you’re really thinking about it, we are telling you, go for it! Oh, and just to get you one step further in the process, here are some of our newest properties. Enjoy!