PRE-APPROVAL: Get Pre-approved. This is probably not the first thing we want to think about. You may ask, “isn’t getting pre-approved putting the cart before the horse?” Absolutely not! Trust me, when you find that piece of hunting or farmland in Michigan that you fall in love with, you are not going to want to wait the 5-10 days that it will take to get pre-approved before you can make an offer. This will also help determine your budget for the property and making sure you are financially responsible in knowing what size payment you can take on.
DEFINITION: Have a clear definition of what it is that you want out of a piece of land. Do you want the land to be just for you and your wants and needs? Are you buying so that you and your family can have a place to hunt, fish and camp? Are you buying as an investment, if so, how much of a return on investment (ROI) percentage do you need? These are just a few questions that you should answer before getting to serious about buying.
ADVICE: Work closely with someone you trust who knows hunting and farmland. This may be a farmer, a wildlife habitat consultant, a Realtor (Stoney Creek Outdoor Properties) who specializes in hunting and farmland, or a friend or coworker who has gone through the buying process. Getting a couple different opinions is never a bad idea. For example, let’s say you are a serious hunter and you want some land to be able to plant apple trees and some food plots. Soil types are very important when it comes to planting trees and food plots. The more fertile the soil, the less lime and fertilizer you will need to apply to that soil in order to get the most out of whatever you plant. You will pay more money per acre for good quality soil, but in the long run you will save time, money, and labor by buying land with good quality soils. This is just one example of many.
SIZE: Sometimes this is the factor that intimidates us to think about the purchase in the first place. Too many of us think only an 80 acre piece is capable of producing the whitetail habitat we are after. Take a look at your current properties you have access to. Many often are 3-10 acres or even 20-40 acres. Some small properties “Hunt Big”. By that, I mean they have the food, bedding, funnels, etc. that allow for multiple stand locations on high deer traffic areas even though they technically may not be a huge parcel.
TIME: How far are you looking to drive? Is this a weekend retreat or a quick after work spot? Or are you after a U.P. tract of land for gun season? Remember the time investment in driving and scouting. Also consider the time of year and your availability to hunt. Is this the perfect spot for a youth hunt or an early season food plot? Or do you plan your two weeks vacation for the chase phase? Consider distance and time of the season you will be focusing on this property.
NEIGHBORS: This one is often overlooked. So many neighbor relationships have gone sour because of hunting issues. People are passionate about deer and that can negatively or positively build relationships. Before you buy, meet the neighbors and see if they hunt and what their goals are for their property. In all likelihood, your property will border 3+ properties and having a good relationship with all sides is good!
Co-editors: Chad Thelen and Calvin Beeke