Side-by-Side Comparison: Leasing vs. Outfitted Hunts

Before I started outfitting in 2016, I was strictly offering annual, seasonal, and short-term hunting leases to people. I was new to the game, but I wasn't new to hunting. I preferred the leases because the lack of headache and time it took to do. I was leaving the hunter's success solely up to them. This is what lead to me wanting to start outfitting. The lease hunters were not having success, and I thought to myself, "what if I could provide guidance to them and tell them where to go and when?"... "Wouldn't that provide a better service?"


Yes. Yes, it would. Let's breakdown the benefits of each below.


LEASING BENEFITS:

- truly hands-off operation

- free-reign of the farm the entire season

- everything is up to you to decide upon

- no sharing of the farm, stands, blinds, etc.

- usually fair pricing but depends on farm & landowner


OUTFITTED HUNT BENEFITS:

- Expert guidance

- Reward-based operation

- less physical workload on hunter

- sharing of farm, stands, blinds, in your favor

- fair cost at or below leasing cost but depends on outfitter


I know of guys who lease farms to gun hunt as non-residents in Iowa and they spend a combined $20,000 to $25,000 per year ($10k-$12.5k each). That's a fraction of what we spend each year on our operation, but the per hunter rate there is 3-4 x higher than our rate per hunter. What does that mean? We get you a better bang for your buck? Maybe. Could you benefit from spending more on your hunting? Sure. Look at the Drury's or the Lakosky's and their hundreds of thousands in overhead (if not $1M+) that goes into them killing big deer. They definitely benefit from it, but even they don't kill a 200" buck every year. I think their ratio of year hunted to 200" bucks killed is like 10:1 or so... they hunt for an average of ten years like they do (big operation) to harvest a 200" whitetail. Probably a 3:1 to 2:1 ratio on just "hunting" deer of that size. Pretty interesting facts, huh? I think so!


I have nothing but mad respect for the guys who refuse to use an outfitter because they want to be solely responsible for their access, their hunting, and their success or failure. They own it all. Hat's off to them! Yet, I have a large sense of appreciation for guys who know that they don't have the time, energy, knowledge, or simply the ability to put in the amount of time that is needed to produce a great hunt with hopeful opportunities. It all comes down to what you want and what you can do about what you want. I see people bashing hunters who go with outfitters, but I can't understand any logic behind it. It's silly to me for them to do such. If I lived out of the state of Iowa and had only 7-14 days to hunt all of 2020, I would be going with an outfitter. If I had the ability to adequately operate and hunt my own lease as a non-resident, I would do it. To each their own. Both work. Both are viable options.


In the comments below, please share your thoughts about why you prefer one option over the other. Share some pro's and some con's. I'd love to hear the feedback because maybe it could give me information relative to my operation and what I provide. Thanks in advance!

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MDL Outfitters is an Iowa-based Limited Liability Company owned & operated by Matt & Jill Petersen. 

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