One of the reasons we at Belle Meade Hunt enjoy access to nearly 35,000 contiguous acres is because we are willing and able to share the land with deer hunters.

Deer hunting is big business in our area. Most of the land we hunt includes institutionally-owned and privately-owned timber tracts, in which deer are plentiful. Land owners defray costs such as property taxes by selling hunting leases to deer clubs. If we didn't get along with the deer clubs in our area, then we might not have anywhere to hunt!

In general, every deer club has a President. We place as much importance on our relationships with those club Presidents as we do the landowners themselves. Just as with landowners, showing respect for club Presidents goes a long way.

If we plan to hunt on a day other than our usual Wednesday or Saturday, we always check with the club Presidents first to find out if any of their members will also be hunting and to get the club President's permission. Similarly, if hounds chase quarry into a tract that is restricted to us, we will contact the club President before retrieving hounds. We generally have "hot pursuit" permission for staff only but, out of respect, we will attempt to contact the club President before proceeding. Cell phones make that possible. Staff and field masters know to ride only on the perimeters of planted food lots. If the MFH learns of an infraction, he will contact the club President promptly to acknowledge and apologize for the infraction, hopefully before the club President sees hoofprints through his plot!

We also learn to compromise. For example, we commit to stay out of some tracts on Saturdays in order to be granted full access on Wednesdays.

Another way we foster harmonious relationships with the deer hunters is to share the burden of trail maintenance. Generally, any trail maintenance by the deer club members benefits us, so we endeavor to ensure that our efforts benefit them, too.

We find that most of the deer hunters that we share the land with welcome our presence. We get the deer moving and many just enjoy hearing our hounds and watching them and the horses. It's a spectacle to them! Click here for a fun video that one of our deer hunter friends shared with us.