provided by John E. Phillips
Scott Sharp of Lebanon, Tennessee, a Mossy Oak Pro Staff member since 2013, hunts whitetails with a bow, a rifle and a muzzleloader, and during turkey season, he hunts with a shotgun. He and his brother D.W. have discovered a way to have their outdoor cake and eat it too. Scott explains, “We buy small properties, improve them for hunting, hunt them for 1-2 years and then sell them for a profit.”
How many properties have you and your brother bought, developed for hunting, hunted them and then sold?
Sharp: About 12 pieces of land as best I can remember. The largest property we’ve ever bought, improved for wildlife, hunted and sold was about 100 acres. But most of the land we buy will be 60 acres or less. After we develop the land, we’ll generally hunt there the first deer and turkey seasons after we’ve bought the land. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to hunt that land for two years.
The 40 acres that we bought before deer season in 2018, we improved it through the summer and hunted the deer seasons of 2018 and 2019 and turkey hunted the 2020 season. It sold this past summer of 2020. The folks from North Carolina who bought the land already have begun building. After we closed on the property, they said, “Since we’re from North Carolina, we need someone to take care of the property when we’re not here. So, y’all can continue to hunt here, if you’ll bushhog it, set up the food plots and keep the stands in good repair.” These people weren’t hunters. So, we still have permission to hunt that fine property, as long as we keep it up. Besides taking Body in 2018, D.W. took a very nice 10-pointer there.
The feature that makes this property so special is the farm that’s located above this land has a high ridge on its back end. The deer come off that ridge down to the end of the point to a natural spring there. We’ve added a mineral lick close to the spring. That ridge historically has been a travel corridor that deer use to reach the spring. So, once we’ve put out minerals near the spring, the deer not only can get water there but also minerals. Plus the deer have some relatively thick cover that they can come onto this property we’ve once owned to reach the edge of the corn and then move into the green field. Numbers of oak trees are on that ridge that drop acorns during the early season.
We’ve learned over the years that if we can identify land where a ridge drops off to a point in a bottom, that’s usually where we’ll find deer and turkeys. By planting food plots and corn around the food plots and adding mineral licks and not overhunting the property, that land will attract and concentrate deer and turkeys all year. That’s the type of land we search for and want.
I guess what we really do is when we hear of a large piece of land that will be divided and auctioned off, D.W. and I look at the property and determine what portion of that large tract we want to buy and develop.
How did you get in the business of buying and developing hunting land, hunting it and then selling it?
Sharp: My family has been in the automobile business for years. In 1984, we moved from South Carolina, where my dad had been the general manager for several GM dealerships there, to Lebanon, Tennessee. When I graduated from high school in 1984, my dad told my brother and me, “We’re moving and opening up our own GM dealership.” That’s when we moved to Lebanon and opened up our dealership, Sharp’s Truck Sales and Accessories.
At first, my dad, D.W. and I started buying and selling raw land in the Lebanon area. Dad and our granddad always had taken us fishing and hunting. The outdoors was a big part of our family. As more and more info about planting green fields and opening up thick-cover land to allow the sun to reach the land came, we started developing the raw land we bought, putting in food plots, cleaning up a good portion of the understory with a forest mulching machine and managing the property for wildlife. We noticed that the people who would look at the land, thinking about buying it, were very impressed with what we’d done to improve the habitat and the wildlife. So, then we would hunt the land until it sold.
We have numerous cedar trees in our forest lands in this section of the state. We’ll go in and clear out many cedar trees and plant green fields, while leaving some cedar where the deer can bed. We also make each property ATV and truck accessible to show off the land and have easy access to the wildlife openings we’ve prepared.
We have one tract we hunt that’s only 15 acres that belongs to my father-in-law. I’ve often had people ask me how we take deer on 15 acres. I explain that to take a deer, you only need enough land for a deer to put four feet down. The size of the property isn’t nearly as important as where the property is (good deer and turkey areas) and what you do to attract and hold wildlife on that property. On the 15 acres, we took a forest mulcher in and put in a road through the center of the property. Then we went to the back of the property and created a big food plot. We put another food plot at the front of the property. We’ve taken several nice bucks off this land. That small 15-acre property is one my father-in-law bought 20 years ago, and although it still belongs to him, my brother and I manage it for hunting for us. Although this land has numbers of nut trees that produce nuts, we’ve also added food plots.