Best Farm Size for Deer Hunting

Brandon from Iowa asks,

Bill, I'm in my late 20s and in the early stages of my land ownership journey. I purchased my first property last year (a 40 here in Iowa) and have since sold it and worked my way into a 120. As I plan toward the future, I always like to begin with the end in mind, and I often debate whether I ultimately would like one larger hunting property or multiple smaller ones. You pieced together one large, continuous farm and my question is; if you had a magic wand and could do it all over, would you again opt for purchasing one big farm or would you spread it out with a couple different ones and why? Let's say I'm asking you this with the goal being strictly to have opportunities to hunt mature bucks. Thanks for your time, Bill. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you & your family.

Bill responds,

Topic: Best Farm Size for Deer Hunting:

Farm Size for Deer Hunting

I liked the idea of having my property in one area so I could manage it more easily, but it was also a decent neighborhood before I started buying land there. It can be tough to buy land in the highest profile neighborhoods, so it often makes sense to look for a starting point on the fringe of those areas.


Congrats on buying your properties.  That is an exciting journey.

The answer is a bit philosophical because you should keep a very open mind at your age.  No reason to narrow the plan down just yet.  The focus at your age should be finding undervalued properties (hard to do without spreading a wide net) so you can keep trading up. They aren’t where you want them, they are where you find them. So, you can’t really narrow this plan down just yet until you have traded up a few more times.

So, to the philosophical answer: I know people who bought land that is spread around on purpose. They did that in order to tap into more than one herd of deer in the hopes of finding a mature buck on at least one tract. I can understand that under the right conditions (more on that later), but it was never my goal. I always wanted to have one sizeable piece that I felt that I could manage most effectively.

It is much easier to manage your property if it is all in one location (or very close together).  Just the logistics of getting the equipment around is a pain if the properties are spread out.  With that in mind, I always tried to sell off pieces that were more than a few miles away from our home and replace them with something closer.

If you can accumulate huntable sized tracts (I would try for 160 acres as a minimum goal) in more than one very good neighborhood, I can understand the value of spreading out.  But it is hard to buy land in good neighborhoods.  The people who already own land there snap them up quickly. 

I felt it was easier to find land on the fringe of the high profile neighborhoods and create my own good neighborhood by owning enough in one place to make a difference.  So, that is why I always tried to make my “home farm” as big as possible even though it meant selling off some really good properties in other parts of the state.

Eventually you will decide that one area or neighborhood is your favorite and that is where you are going to want to buy more.  That is naturally where you will put it all together, so just keep an open mind at this point. Good luck. (12/28/21)


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