One of the most reprehensible and repressive things about hunting in Texas is the concept of “lease hunting,” which fosters the idea that the landowner owns the game. Game is the property of the state, and it belongs to those who pay for it, i.e., the people who buy hunting licenses. It’s a landowner’s prerogative to allow whom he likes to hunt on his property, but to permit him to charge a fee for someone to shoot native game species is nothing short of legalized theft from taxpayers and hunters.
It should be illegal. In most places in the East, where there is public hunting land, the concept of hunting leases is completely unheard of, and landowners do not charge hunters anything at all. The peculiar situation of Texas in having virtually no public land at all has led to a system that is corrupt, exploitative, and abusive of the rights of the majority to have access to what they pay for in taxes and license fees. It should be abolished and prevented from occurring anywhere else. These comments don’t apply to exotic species, which (like beef cattle) are raised for profit.
The argument that the landowner is “charging rent for the use of his property” is specious; if the game weren’t there, no one would be interested in using the property. Furthermore, this system leads to interference with proper game management. It was well into the mid-1980′s (about 1985-86, I think) before the Game Department in Texas had the authority to regulate hunting in all counties; prior to that time “statutory counties” were subject to regulation by the Board of Supervisors, most of whom were landowners with a financial stake in the selling of public property, i.e., game. This led to mismanagement on a grand scale, and the deterioration of game populations.