The dream of owning your own private hunting property is a desire shared by many in the hunting community, and in British Columbia it is still very attainable.
The dream of owning your own private hunting property is a desire shared by many in the hunting community, and in British Columbia it is still very attainable.

Buying a Hunting Property

Do your homework to make your dreams come true

Few experiences elicit the sense of excitement, pride and responsibility than reigning over your own private hunting domain. Think about it – no other hunters, uninhibited access and the ability to monitor and maintain habitat for the betterment of game populations. The dream of owning your own private hunting property is a desire shared by many in the hunting community, and in British Columbia it is still very attainable. With that said, there are several imperative factors to consider prior to commencing such an undertaking.

As a rural real estate agent focusing on hunting, and agricultural properties, across the wildest regions of British Columbia, I am frequently inundated by outdoorsmen and women searching for that special place where they can live out their hunting dreams. A common underlying thread exists amongst these dreamers – most people have no idea where to start and what to look for. All they know for sure is they wish to one day act as steward over their own piece of paradise. To help ease the burden for a first-time buyer, I have compiled a list of four main considerations deemed as paramount for the decision-making process.

Whitetail deer. Photo by Nick Trehearne.
Photo by Nick Trehearne.

Property Location

This may seem fairly obvious; however, there are a wide variety of factors to take into consideration. From my experience, the reasons expressed by outdoorspeople for dissatisfaction with a hunting property are surprisingly not lack of game, the mortgage payments or the maintenance costs associated with the property. Rather, the most common grievance is that they do not get to utilize the property as often as they would like.

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This may come as a shock, but think about it: what does it matter how many animals roam your property if you never get out to enjoy it? With the hectic pace of today’s society and with our lives seemingly becoming busier and busier, your time spent in the outdoors is truly precious. Purchasing a hunting/recreational property that you can comfortably access on weekends is a sure-fire way to maximize your time in the outdoors. Another option for increasing access is purchasing hunting/recreational property in areas where there are regional airports close by. This strategy allows you to extend your potential purchase area if you are willing to contend with frequent airport travel.

A second important consideration, when deliberating the location of your recreational property, is the game species available in the region. British Columbians are amongst the most fortunate outdoorspeople in the world, as the province possesses unrivalled bio-diversity in comparison with the rest of the continent. From moose to Stone sheep, British Columbia truly has it all.

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It’s important for any outdoorspeople to complete their homework prior to purchase, which will ensure they are buying a property in an area that satisfies their species objectives, while balancing the distance of a property from their place of residence. Photo by Nick Trehearne.
It’s important for any outdoorspeople to complete their homework prior to purchase, which will ensure they are buying a property in an area that satisfies their species objectives, while balancing the distance of a property from their place of residence. Photo by Nick Trehearne.

With that being said, different regions of the province hold varying games species and in variable quantities. For instance, if it is moose you wish to pursue each year, then a recreational property on Vancouver Island is likely not for you. There are areas of the province which maximize hunting opportunities simply by the sheer diversity of the game populations, such as the Peace River region, and other areas where a specific species dominates, such as blacktails on Haida Gwaii. It’s important for any outdoorspeople to complete their homework prior to purchase, which will ensure they are buying a property in an area that satisfies their species objectives, while balancing the distance of a property from their place of residence.

Physical Characteristics Of The Property

When referring to the characteristics of a hunting property, typically that is indicative of timber coverage, water sources, food sources and access to Crown land. If you want your property to consistently hold game, then the first three items are a necessity, and self-explanatory. The importance of access to Crown land on a property is often understated. Few elements of hunting are more frustrating than pursuing an animal to the boundary of a property, knowing you must then call off the hunt in order to avoid trespassing. Although sometimes difficult to find, purchasing property adjacent to Crown land vastly increases your hunting opportunities and adds immeasuarble value to your overall hunting experience.

When searching for a hunting property, think about timber coverage, water sources, food sources and access to Crown land. Photo by Nick Trehearne.
When searching for a hunting property, think about timber coverage, water sources, food sources and access to Crown land. Photo by Nick Trehearne.

Unfortunately, it is often not possible to locate and purchase a property with all of these elements intact. This is especially true when purchasing hunting property in some of the more fragmented regions of the province. If budget is a concern, or if you reside in a more densely populated area, a sound strategy is to then look to the wider neighbourhood for all of the aforementioned elements. The property you are looking at might not possess a large alfalfa field, or it may not have a permanent water source, but perhaps it has the largest block of contiguous forest coverage amongst the surrounding deeded parcels. A prudent outdoorsperson would then rationalize that game animals in the area could feed and drink on adjacent parcels, only to return to your property to seek refuge during the day amongst the timber. The lesson here is not to get so wrapped up in finding that one perfect property that you put up blinders, causing you to miss out on the hunting productivity of the wider area.

Maintenance Considerations

Although perhaps less exciting, the ongoing maintenance associated with owning your own hunting parcel is an important consideration. Even if the primary objective of purchasing a hunting property is recreational enjoyment, no one wants to spend large sums of money only to have their investment deteriorate over time. The maintenance requirements of a parcel will obviously vary drastically from property to property. For instance, purchasing 160 acres of hay land in the Peace River region will come with a different set of responsibilities compared to purchasing a 40-acre wooded parcel in the East Kootenays.

One of the most frequently asked questions from individuals when purchasing hunting land is, “Should I lease my property out for agricultural purposes to a local farmer?” To this question, I almost always say, “Yes!” If your property has agricultural potential, permitting a local farmer to grow crops on the land provides numerous benefits to an absentee landowner. Firstly, most famers are willing to discuss what species of crops they elect to grow on the leased land. Climate permitting, a farmer may do you the favour of planting a viable food source that will attract game to the property at no expense to yourself. Secondly, by leasing the land to a farmer, you now have someone with a vested interest in maintaining the condition and security of the land. This will prove to be an invaluable service if you live at any distance from the property. Not only will this help you keep up with the property’s maintenance (fencing, weed prevention etc.), you now have an around-the-clock security guard for deterring trespassers and vandals. The peace of mind alone is enough to convince most absentee landowners to lease out their land for agricultural use.

Purchasing a hunting/recreational property that you can comfortably access on weekends is a sure-fire way to maximize your time in the outdoors.
Purchasing a hunting/recreational property that you can comfortably access on weekends is a sure-fire way to maximize your time in the outdoors.

The accomodations you want to have on your property is another important consideration. Do you want the property to be free of structures, have a rustic cabin or a complete house? The maintenance costs associated with each option rises, as we go down the list. Bare land is the simplest to maintain, but you must make alternative accommodation arrangements. This is not always easy in some of the more remote parts of the province where hotels are few. Campers and travel trailers are very versatile and excellent options for any hunting property, but come with their own set inconveniences. Ideally, a potential purchaser should weigh their own personal circumstances against the outdoors experience they wish to enjoy each fall. Personally, I find complete serenity while enjoying a warm cook stove in an old rustic cabin at the end of a long hunting day, despite the annual maintenance required.

Nothing Matches Your Wish List

If you have your heart set on a specific region of the province and have exhausted your online search for that ideal property to no avail, is it time to give up? The answer is, absolutely not! Sometimes the most effective way to locate the property of your dreams is by going around and knocking on doors the old fashioned way. It is amazing what you can learn by going door-to-door and chatting with locals. Just because a property is not online does not mean it is not for sale. Maybe the owner never considered selling, or maybe their neighbour’s property is for sale, but they do not have a realtor. You won’t know until you put boots on the ground.

The dream of owning your own private hunting property is a desire shared by many in the hunting community, and in British Columbia it is still very attainable.
The dream of owning your own private hunting property is a desire shared by many in the hunting community, and in British Columbia it is still very attainable.

When utilizing this property search method, there is the added benefit of meeting the area locals and possibly obtaining some hunting permission along the way. You would be surprised at the kindness and receptiveness of most people. Be sure to set some time aside, as you will often be invited in for a cup of coffee.

The list presented above is neither exhaustive, nor concrete. Every situation will vary depending on both the region of the province and personal circumstances. Of utmost importance, prior to purchasing the hunting property of your dreams, is taking the time to contemplate and fully grasp your personal goals. You should then try and find a property which aligns with these goals. Do not get caught up in the excitement of the process only to rush the purchase and potentially make a mistake. Rather, enjoy every step of the process and remember the true overarching objectives – respecting and enjoying the great outdoors.