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You’re listening to how to make your land well for you.
Giving you a little bit about my background. My family’s from East Texas, a place called Grapeland, Texas. My mother and father grew up as sharecroppers in East Texas. I spent my whole life as I grew up pretty much as a young person in middle school and elementary school, and the summers, Christmas holidays, every holiday in East Texas, and when I think about my youth, I think back on the time I’ve spent in rural America and East Texas.
As I grew older, though, getting into high school and college, I tried to run from my rural roots and try to run as far away as possible, even to the point I did everything and trying to be a city boy and becoming a corporate securities lawyer.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve reconnected to my rural roots, and I have a passion for rural America and specifically a passion for maintaining land ownership by limited resources landowners.
So welcome to How To Make Your Land Work for You by Deer Texas Leases.
Introducing Brandon Leonard
My name is Brandon Leonard.
I guess some would say I’m a city slicker from Houston, Texas, but I’m also a husband, a father, and a lawyer by day.
Here recently, I’ve been on this journey to reconnect with my East Texas roots and learn about rural land ownership benefits.
Today’s show is an introduction to our brand new podcast — How To Make Your Land Work for You.
Our Mission at Deer Texas Leases
Our mission for this podcast is to have a conversation and talk about the benefits of rural land ownership. Hence the name of the show.
We hope that these conversations will encourage, empower, and educate landowners, especially in rural America — especially limited resource landowners, so that they use their land as a wealth-building tool for themselves as well as for future generations.
This is our first attempt at a podcast, but we’re going to give it a shot because it’s a topic that both Greg and I are passionate about. We believe these are conversations that need to be discussed and hopefully will be beneficial to you.
We’re not claiming to be experts or pretending to have all the answers regarding land ownership and turning rural land into an asset. But we hope to have some good conversations about the real value of one of the most precious and forgotten about resources in America — and that is rural land ownership.
(Brandon Leonard) So Greg, I got a question for you.
When are you going to take me hunting? I mean, we’ve got Deer Texas Leases up and rolling; you got to let me hang in the deer stand with you. I promise I won’t miss a shot. (laughter)
So folks, just to let you know, Brandon — full disclosure is my cousin. His family’s from East, Texas too. But when he said he’s a city slicker. He’s a real city slicker. He doesn’t even know how to get back to East Texas. (laughter)
We have to give them directions on how to get back home. So yeah, you heard him? He said he wants to go hunting, do you? Okay? Yeah.
(Greg Phillips) I’ll tell you what, Brandon, I’m definitely going to take you deer hunting, but you can’t walk out there in Timberland boots and nice designer jeans, but I’m going to get you out there, and we will see what happens.
(Brandon) I’ll be ready.
What is Deer Texas Leases?
(Brandon) So before we get into the reasons for doing the show, Greg, why don’t you tell the listeners exactly what Deer Texas Leases is about?
(Greg) So Deer Texas Leases is a company founded by myself and two other business partners. One of them being Brandon Leonard, and the other is John Jacobs.
John is a long time friend, and he’s my hunting buddy. We hope to have John on the show from time to time.
But you can find us online at deertexasleases.com.
Purpose for Deer Texas Leases
Deer Texas Leases is a platform that allows Texas landowners who have underutilized land — that is great land for hunting — hunting all kinds of game — to connect with individual hunters who are looking to enter into year-long leases to allow them to have their own property, that they can really design and customize it for their own hunting needs.
So it works both for the landowners — they can make money on underutilized land that otherwise it’s just sitting there as a burden.
And for the hunters — they get property that they can pretty much call their own, to allow them to set things up to hunt, whatever game, whether it’s deer or quail or duck.
So that’s Deer Texas Leases, and we urge all of you to go visit our website.
(Brandon) So Greg, what size properties are we talking about? Who owns these properties? Are we talking about wealthy, multi-acre properties? What type of properties are we talking about here?
(Greg) When we say smaller landowners or limited-resource landowners, we’re talking anywhere from 25 acres to 500 acres. It’s not the big landowners that we are talking about. We’re talking about the smaller landowners or limited-resource landowners across the United States and Texas. They’re the ones that are losing their land.
These landowners are losing their land for many reasons. I mean, across the United States, millions of acres of land are being taken away from these smaller families that own land.
And in Texas, it’s hundreds of thousands of acres. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve seen it happen to families; it’s a big problem. In rural America, people are moving away from rural America back to urban cities. And what happens? When an older family member has land in their families for hundreds of years, and they pass away, they’ll deed that land or will it to the younger generation. Well, you have a young lawyer, a Brandon Leonard living as a big-time prosecutor in the big city of Houston— he inherits this land, having never really spent time there. There’s no connection. He’s living his life, raising his family in the big city, and he’s got this wonderful property, but to him, it’s a burden.
I got to pay taxes on it.
I don’t make any money on it.
So you know what I’m going to sell it.
I’m going to get rid of it.
And then you got the other issue where there’s not proper legacy estate planning, someone passes away, and the land doesn’t get passed down properly to the next generation. You got to partition out a title, you have clouded title, and then you’ve got one person paying the taxes, and they get tired of it because the other family members aren’t contributing.
So what do they do?
They stop paying the taxes.
And then the land ends up on Tuesdays tax foreclosure at the courthouse.
So what we did with the idea of Deer Texas Leases, we said, that’s a problem. We want to address the issue of land loss. And we want to come up with a way where landowners who have land that’s just sitting there and not making money and show them how they can make money by leasing it to hunters who have a problem themselves because most hunters can’t afford to buy a 100 acres or 200 acres. So they’re looking for property to hunt on.
So what do we do at Deer Texas Leases?
It solves the problem, which is a really a big problem in this country.
(Brandon) Greg, I’m excited to be a part of the Deer Texas Leases mission and excited to have this opportunity to have these conversations with you over the next several shows.
I want to ask you which I already know the answer, but just for our listeners to hear it from you. You are a successful corporate lawyer yourself. You live in Houston. You have a family in Houston; why start a company that focuses on deer leases for small and limited-resource landowners?
Like what’s in it for you?
(Greg) That’s a good question, Brandon. I grew up as a young child, pretty much through high school, spending my time in rural America. As I’ve gotten older, I said to my mom; I wish I could move back there. And she said, Greg, “It’s in you, it was embedded in you as a young child.”
I grew up hunting everything in East Texas. As a little boy starting at age five, I’ve hunted rabbits, I’ve hunted coons, I’ve hunted squirrels, I’ve hunted quail — it’s in me. Growing up as a kid at age five, going coon hunting with my grandfather at 2:00 AM in the dark, scared as all get out. But I’m there with my grandfather, with his coon dogs, hunting dogs.
My dad, my uncles, introduced me to deer hunting. I shot my first deer with my single shot 410 that my dad bought me at age eight. I grew up hunting; it’s in me. As you said, it’s in my DNA. The thing that stuck with me is deer hunting. I love to hunt.
That’s my break. And that’s a refuge for me. I go deer hunting.
That’s what I do.
So deer hunting is in me.
So when I was thinking about this idea of underutilized land and land not being used, you know that we have about 220 acres every year for deer season. That’s been in my family for over a hundred years in East Texas. I get people who know that we have land begging me to hunt, 20, or 30 people a year. I can’t take that many people hunting. I wouldn’t get anything done.
So I thought, let’s create a company for hunters looking for land to hunt. Hunters need hunting land. And then I said, you know, there’s this big problem of underutilized land. Let’s put landowners and hunters together. And that’s the idea of Deer Texas Leases.
Because of my passion for hunting and my passion and trying to save land that’s disappearing in rural America, people can actually turn their land into an asset that generates income and generational income.
So, Brandon, I’ll ask what about you? You’re a big-time criminal lawyer, ex-prosecutor —and you know, city slicker, as they say.
You know, you’ve never been hunting, but I’m going to take you; I’m going to get your boots dirty and then a party chat there. I’ve been car hunting and all kinds of other hunting, I bet. But what makes you want to be a part of Deer Texas Leases? What makes you want to want to do this? That’s a great question, Greg, you know, and, and really I will, you know, just attributed.
Many of the conversations that I’ve had with you over the past few years about this issue and this problem of land loss in America. You know, I’ll admit I had no idea that this was an issue, that this was a problem. And just through our conversations, through me doing my own research, and truthfully, after seeing how this issue has touched me personally, and how it has touched my family personally. I really want it to get an opportunity to be a part of the mission. The mission really resonated with me, and I thought it would be a great way to help while also getting the opportunity to be involved in building a great company. So that’s really what has motivated me and inspired me to join and be a part of the mission of Deer Texas Leases.
Why a Podcast?
(Brandon) So guys, as an extension of Deer Texas Leases, we decided to do a podcast because we believe that this is a great platform to have conversations about land loss and a way to combat that problem by giving landowners the tools for wealth building. And that’s what we hope to do with the show.
Why The Name — How To Make Your Land Work for You?
So Greg, why the title, How To Make Your Land Work for You?
Why was that name chosen for this podcast?
(Greg) So, How To Make Your Land Work for You — Is we met, we talked about this is for the smaller, limited-resources landowners. Most people — and I use my family as an example; we’ve run cattle on our family for 40 to 50 years on the 220 acres we own in East Texas.
Years ago, my great uncle ran cows. He lived there. My uncle lived there and ran cows. My uncle passed away, my father passed away, so all of a sudden, now you got me living in Houston, and I have another uncle that lives in Central Texas, and we have cows. And what happens at 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM? There’s a storm, and a tree knocks down a fence. You get a call at 2:00 AM that your cows are out. I don’t’ have two-and-a-half hours drive to East Texas to take care of the cows — nor can my uncle.
We said, this is crazy, but you know, we have to figure out a way to utilize this land. So I started looking at different things about how we can use this valuable land. I don’t want it to go away.
So we got involved with an organization that we’ll have on the show, soon called the Landowners Association of Texas, to learn about other ways to put rural land to use.
I learned a lot of things. For example, I learned how the government wants more forests, so they’re incentivizing landowners to plant certain types of pine trees, and they’ll pay you or incentivize you to do that.
They’ll pay you to plant a certain type of grass because they want native species grass to come back.
They’ll want you to put in conservation plans for your land to allow the wildlife to grow and thrive on the land.
All of these different programs that were available, and I never know about them. I had no idea that any of these programs even existed. I think that’s a big part of it, and I realized that folks don’t know about these things — that’s why the name Making Your Land Work for You. That’s why we have this podcast.
How to take this land that you think is of no value and put it to work for you to generate income.
It’s an asset.
It’s not a burden.
And it has the potential to generate generational income.
You know, training, planting tree farms for timber is something that can create generational wealth. So that’s the whole idea that we wanted to come up with. We wanted a podcast that can educate. We wanted to have discussions and present information to the small rural limited-resource landowners so that they could have tools to build wealth and have the tools and knowledge to generate income that lasts for generations.
So we hope our conversations on each show will be enlightening and entertaining, as well as fun. And with each show, we want to bring you a story from the vault of strange but true landowner stories — so here is today’s story.
Today’s Feature Story
So game wardens in Texas responded to a trespassing call concerning a group of hog hunters.
The hunters reportedly entered a property without permission and released their hog dogs. The dogs chased a hog and locked it in on an adjoining property. And it just so happened that the landowner’s agent was watching this whole thing unfold. So he whipped out his phone and took pictures and sent it to the warden.
While patrolling the area, the warden passed up a pickup with the dog box in the bed that matched the photo that the landowners sent earlier in the day. The wardens made contact with the landowner. They questioned the drivers of the truck about the dog box.
After a brief conversation, the truck occupants admitted to trespassing and hunting without the landowner’s consent.
Needless to say, these guys were charged with several crimes.
Strange, but unfortunately true.
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We’re going to talk about topics that educate the small, rural landowners that provide you with the resources that can enhance your wealth using your land.
So we hope you will join us on this journey.
This is our introduction to our new podcast, and we hope that you will find it entertaining, light-hearted, and fun, while at the same time it’s going to enlighten you as we explore different ways to transform rural land that was once a burden for a family into an asset that generates wealth for generations to come.
Until next time, thank you for listening to How To Make Your Land Work for You.