Suburban Hunting Leads to Real Estate Networking in Virginia
Every fall throughout the country, hunters get ready for their long-anticipated hunting season. Prey species like waterfowl, small game, whitetail deer, turkeys, and coyotes are often listed for tags to purchase depending on local availability and regional regulations. It's no different in Virginia, but for some creative bowhunters, they’ve found a way to hunt nearly all year long in the backwoods of the Old Dominion’s multi-million dollar neighborhoods.
Local real estate agent Taylor Chamberlin found his passion in Virginia’s neighborhoods: Bowhunting in homeowner’s backyards to support conservation efforts. He discovered this new avocation accidentally. After teaching himself how to bowhunt during his college years, Chamberlin moved back home to join the family real estate business. Originally struggling to find land where he could hunt, Chamberlin’s poor fortune turned around after meeting local landscaper and suburban hunter, Billy Phillips. Now the pair work together to hunt wildlife in local neighborhoods so as to assist in managing local fauna populations.
Virginia’s Suburban Hunting Works
While Virginia isn’t known for its hunting scene in comparison to other states, whitetail deer and turkey numbers continue to rise. This increase has led to a food shortage for both of these species and others that inhabit the area. To make up for this loss in food choices, these hungry animals move onto uncommon food sources like homeowners’ landscaping, which is where Phillips’s landscaping business comes in. With local intel and a little bit of charm, the duo receive permission from landowners to hunt on their property.
Over the last few years, the team has reported seeing lower numbers of animals, which is exactly their goal. “The deer population is so high, they’re virtually starving in the wintertime,” Phillips said in an interview with OutdoorLife. If suburban and urban hunters like Phillips and Chamberlin legally lower the overall population numbers for whitetail deer and turkeys to the proper carrying level, then the remaining animals have greater access to resources. As an effect of these actions, the ecosystem’s overall quality of life improves.
Hunting Private Property
There were over 400,000 hunting licenses purchased in the state of Virginia in 2019 and over half a million purchased in 2020. Clearly, hunter numbers in the state are increasing. This boost is a great sign for both federal and state conservation efforts, but it also leads to more competition. Getting creative and taking unconventional approaches to your hunting can lead to some very rewarding results.
Taking notes from Chamberlin and Phillips, look in your backyard for new game. With permission, check out your neighbors’ backyards, too. If you are a landowner or if you have permission from the landowner in Virginia, you can likely shoot an animal on private property. Just be sure to check your region’s local guidelines to ensure you’re in compliance before letting your arrow fly.
Chamberlin initially gained access to a handful of properties by persuading his grandmother to ask her bridge club for permission. Hundreds of properties now request the pairs’ assistance, ranging from half-acre woodlots to sprawling estates. Homeowners call weekly, offering a place to hunt in exchange for herd management.
Virginia’s Whitetail and Turkey Population
Thanks to state wildlife agencies and national organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation, turkey numbers continue to remain stable as herd growth is managed. These organizations put a great deal of effort to help improve habitats and stabilize turkey populations across the country.
- Currently, 180,000 gobblers call Virginia home.
- The prehunt population of whitetail deer ranges from 850,000-1,000,000 in Virginia.
These population numbers vary each year due to external factors like severe weather, predation, weather conditions, and access to bedding and food.
If you’re looking to get outside and take in Virginia’s endless natural bounties, you’re in luck. The state has great public land options, both in Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest and Highland Wildlife Management Area. If you or your clients want to try your hands at gaining access to private property like Chamberlin, here are some tips when seeking permission to hunt.
Do your clients want to be closer to the action? Buckingham County is a small rural community that will put the State Forest in your backyard. The median home value is $114,977, with a forecasted 5.7% increase in home value over the next year. Highland County is another great small-town option for those looking to be closer to the Highland Wildlife Area. The median home value in that county is $173,568, with a forecasted 5.6% increase in home value over the next year.
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