After a longish winter (snow on the 26th of April is a bit over the top), the annual rights of spring are finally upon is – the fishing opener is but a weekend away and the wild turkey season is in full swing. For those not familiar with these activities, both are exercises in which the participants spend far more than is strictly sane to obtain a food stuff that could be had at a reputable grocer for a tenth the price. For those of us who spend our time participating, these rights are about more than simply nurturing our inner hunter-gatherer, they mark the transition when snow-shoveling (sure there is skiing & snowmobiles, but it all has to do with that frigid white stuff) gives way to far more varied ways of being outdoors.
Turkey hunting is something of a solo activity – after all, if you are armed, dressed like a bush, and making sounds like turkey, the last thing you want is another armed, turkey sounding bush anywhere in the vicinity – while fishing tends to be more a small firm activity – 2 or 3 gathered together to wash worms, sit in contemplative silence or to debate the great problems of the world as mood suits. When fall comes around, the big law model hits the woods and fields as groups head out to spend time in the deer camps of the great north woods.
But places to hunt are fading away as more landowners close acreage to hunters – set aside acres are being put back into production, woodlots and non-tillable lands are being put into private preserves, and some are simply closed thanks to, I’m sorry to say, the poor husbandry of the hunters themselves. As more and more land is closed or put to more profitable use than simple outdoor recreation there will be people interested in preserving their ability to pursue their form of communing with the great outdoors.
I’m not sure that a recreational land practice would ever be a full-time profit center, but then again it might with the right mix of estate planning, real estate, contracts, and entity formation; after all, hunters are not the only ones wanting to preserve the space needed for their outdoor activities – there are equestrians and mountain bikers looking for places to ride, snowmobilers looking for places to run trails, and cabins on the lake to preserve for the next generation. The potential client pool encompasses anyone with a hobby that takes place outdoors and requires a bit more space than your average backyard.
Marketing this type of practice is may be a little tricky – most likely it will be mainly be by word of mouth and will involve a delicate balancing act so as narrow the niche too far; the recreational land practitioner would need to recognize that the various elements of their client pool may have divergent requirements (equestrians aren’t going to want to share trails with dirt bikes, and those looking to spend a quiet snowy evening alone in their cabin tend get a mite peeved when a herd of snowmobiles shatters the mood) and that the best marketing would project this understanding to the client pool.
The only other caveat I can think of at this juncture, is that this would not be the type of practice that confines itself to a small geographic area. At the very least, this is the type of practice that would span counties if not an entire state – the recreational land practitioner should expect a bit of travel time in their future.
I should note that I’m not the only one thinking about the niche practices offered by the outdoorsy folk – sdrurallawyer offers this prospective as to why a lawyer should be included in a hunting party.