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Finding a Large Piece of Land at a Reasonable Price is Becoming Ever More Difficult

Posted on 01 September 2015

FarmlandFinding a large piece of land at a reasonable price is becoming ever more difficult, especially when looking for land close to a large city. Ever since my husband and I started dating, we had the dream of owning our own land and finding a place we could build a home, hunt, and fish. Around a year ago, I casually started looking at land to see what was out there and what the going rate per acre was. Land right outside of Omaha was going for over $10,000 per acre and land on the other side of the river (in Iowa) was going close to $8,500 per acre. After doing that initial research it looked like our dream of finding our own paradise was going to have to wait quite some time. Even though we felt it was out of reach, I would still look to see what land was for sale within 30 miles of Omaha from time to time. One day I happened to come across 40 acres of land south of Council Bluffs that was heavily timbered with two ponds and a pasture area. It was listed around $5,300 per acre. I quickly crunched the numbers and it looked like if we sold our house we could potentially afford the land. We called the agent right away and asked to see the property the next day.

When we got out to the land we were blown away, but realized nobody had touched it in over 6 years. It was going to require a lot of work! The pasture areas and driveways were covered in 5-6ft tall weeds and the poison ivy and ticks were endless. We quickly recognized the price on the land was so low due to the all of the work that needed to be done. After thinking on it for a day, we decided that despite all of the work that would have to be done, it was definitely worth it. We put in an offer and closed on the property at around $4,500 per acre. We felt blessed and extremely lucky we found this gem of a property that was a diamond in the rough. We were amazed that just like there are rehab houses there are pieces of rehab land, and if you are willing to put in the work these properties can make one heck of an investment.

The first order of business once we closed was to buy a powerful tractor and heavy duty implements (a blade, disc, harrow, and rotary mower). With all of the clearing and brush we had to contend with, we had to ensure the implements we bought were tough enough for the job. We initially thought we were going to have to spend thousands on a brand new tractor and implements, but soon realized that was not the case. We found a 1971 Allis Chalmers 180 that was in great shape, had a good amount of horsepower, and also came with a 7ft blade. Our next order of business was finding a rotary mower. We shopped around and did our homework as this was one area we did not want to skimp on. After comparing models that were well over $1,200 to models that were under $800, I determined there was not much of a difference at all. We settled on a 6ft Mahindra Rotary Mower that had a great warranty package (with how much brush we had this was a concern of ours as we did not want to spend that much just to hit a small tree and have it break). Once our mower was bought we started looking for a tandem disc. We initially thought we wanted a disc that would attach to the three-point for the sake of maneuverability and transportation, but realized for how much land we had we should stick with a pull behind hydraulic disc. After looking around on Craigslist for a couple of weeks we found a solid John Deere disc for sale not too far away from our land. The thing to keep in mind when buying a disc is that unless you are purchasing a smaller one, most will not fit on a standard trailer. We ended up having to attach the disc to our truck and pulled it home (it took us over an hour to get 12 miles, but we made it!). The last thing on our list was a 4-wheeler. We debated getting one as we figured we could get a hand sprayer to spray the fields and make due, but for how big the food plots we wanted to put in were going to be, we ended up biting the bullet and bought a 4-wheeler. We then purchased a 26 gallon sprayer to go on the back to make spraying for weeds and bugs easier. The only items we bought new were the mower and the sprayer for the 4-wheeler. By doing this we were able to save thousands of dollars that we can later invest in the land.

4wheelerBefore using any of the equipment to do any clearing, we set out trail cams to determine what areas of the property the deer were spending the most time on and if they had any bedding areas we should leave as is. Once we had an idea of the pattern of the deer we meticulously walked the overgrown fields looking for anything that may pose a threat to our tractor (trees, stumps, old pieces of equipment, etc). We cut any trees larger than 1” in diameter with a chainsaw and cleared them out. We then took the blade and bladed over the less dense areas to easily knock the weeds and brush down. The next task was to start mowing down the thick weeds. We started mowing with the mower a couple of feet off the ground and gradually lowered it with each pass to ensure we did not damage the mower. Once we got the weeds cut down as low as we could, we then started to disc up the land where the food plots were going to go. The weeds were so thick we had to disc the field six to seven times in the period of a couple of weeks to get it down to the dirt. Once we were left with bare dirt, we used the 4-wheeler and the sprayer to spray for weeds and then let it set for a couple of days. We selected the type of food plot seed we felt would work best for the area and planted it. Another article on just this step may come later! It was only a short couple of weeks before our food plots started to grow and we were in business.

Another aspect we worked hard on was bug control. We noticed on the initial trail camera pictures that the deer on our land were covered in ticks. We researched different types of tick and mosquito spray and started to walk their trails in the timber with a hand sprayer and sprayed like crazy. We would do this almost every time we would go out and also started to spray the pasture areas. This was a win-win as we started to see the number of ticks on the deer decline and also noticed that we were not finding as many ticks on ourselves. 

Recovered Farmland

Although it took the majority of the summer and there is still plenty of work to be done, it has definitely been worth it. We now have a couple of acres of food plots established and will continue to work on turning the land into a deer haven. Having your own hunting paradise may not be as far out of reach as you think. Keep a close eye on land for sale in your area and checkout properties that may require quite a bit of work. Pre-established farm ground typically sells for a bit more than timbered/recreational land so keep that in mind. You can always clear trees and brush like we did to create your own wonderful, farmable land.

© Archery Squad, Inc.


Lindsey Bauer

Lindsey Bauer

Lindsey Bauer grew up shooting everything from revolvers to shotguns but did not start shooting a bow until 2013. Her father-in-law and brother-in-law got her hooked on the sport of archery and she has not turned back since. Lindsey has competed in several 3D and paper target competitions and even placed 3rd at the National Field Archery Association FITA held in Lincoln, Nebraska in January of 2015. Her and her husband recently purchased 40 acres in Iowa that they are looking forward to harvesting monster bucks on for years to come. She loves spending time outdoors and when she is not hunting or working on the land, she enjoys spending time on the water either bow fishing or bass fishing.


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1 comment

  • Carol Kopecky Rath: September 24, 2015

    Your Grandpa Kolb and I are friends. He forwarded both of the articles that you have written, and I enjoyed reading both of them! I, too, enjoy the outdoors and love the land! Keep up the good work and your property will be very valuable some day! If you write any more articles, I would like very much to read them!!

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