URBANA - Fee hunting can be an option for some farmers and land owners to develop another source of income from their property. Pike's Hunting Club in Marion is an example of a successful fee hunting operation and is the site of a tour scheduled for Wednesday, October 29.
John Pike, whose family owns the 530-acre club, is also a University of Illinois Extension educator for economic development. He draws on his experience in creating and operating his fee hunting business to help farmers who want to develop additional streams of income from enterprises such as roadside markets, alternative crops, and fee hunting.
"Location is the main consideration for farmers who are considering adding a waterfowl fee hunting operation to their farm," said Pike. "Just about any farm that has some non-tillable acreage might be able to add deer or turkey hunting, but for waterfowl you need to be located along a major flyway like the Wabash or Mississippi river or close to a wildlife refuge that attracts major concentrations of geese and ducks."
Pike's Hunting Club is located near the 44,000-acre Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, which attracts many species of waterfowl including Canada geese. "The demand for hunting opportunities is growing rapidly, and this trend is expected to continue in the future," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program co-coordinator at the University of Illinois. "The leasing of private lands for hunting is becoming an alternative that can supplement other income and land uses."
Pike said there are several farms around the refuge that have developed hunting areas. "The profit in our particular area of southern Illinois is better from fee hunting than from growing corn and soybeans," said Pike.
The farm acreage is planted with corn, millet, buckwheat, winter wheat and clover to make sure that an adequate food supply is available to attract geese and ducks throughout the hunting season. There are several large ponds, a wetland impoundment and an extensive levee system has been constructed to flood grain fields. Over two miles of levees have been built to control the water levels in seven impoundments totaling more than 100 acres.
In addition to Pike, other professionals in the area of fee hunting will be available for questions, including Mel Gajewski from Base Camp Leasing. Base Camp is a firm owned by Consolidated Grain and Barge that works with land owners to evaluate land for recreational hunting purposes. The evaluation is used to put a value on the property for hunting leases. Base Camp lists available hunting land on their website in order to put hunters in contact with the land owners.
Tony Korando, district conservationist from Williamson County, will present information about some of the conservation programs to enhance wildlife habitat that are available through Soil & Water Conservation Districts.
For more information about Pike's Hunting Club, visit http://www.pikeshuntingclub.com.
A registration form for the tour is available online at http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/asap/index.html or by contacting Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant at (217) 968-5512 or email@example.com. The cost of the tour is $10 per person and registration at least one week in advance is required.
The tours are sponsored by the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program and the Illinois Small Farm Task Force.