Spend an afternoon with Jeff Lageman at his 941-acre property in Wheeler County, Georgia, not far from the town of Glenwood, and you’ll talk a lot about forest and wildlife management, deer hunting, and the differences between land in Georgia, Florida, and Virginia. Lageman, 46, is happy to talk football—he’s a longtime radio color voice for the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he spent the last six seasons of his 10- year NFL career—but he’d rather talk timber yields, food plots, fire breaks, loblolly and longleaf. Lageman’s email address includes the word “logs” and his name is pronounced, appropriately enough, “LAHG-uh-mun.” If he comes across like a forest industry veteran, it’s because he’s spent the last 15 years becoming immersed in it.
Jeff, who has an impressive resume in the National Football League is a relative newcomer to forestland ownership. This first round pick of the New York Jets had a 10-year career as a player and continues to be active in the Jacksonville Jaguar organization. After his career in the NFL, Jeff wanted a place to hunt and fish and get away from the hustle and bustle of his Jacksonville life. He also knew that he wanted to be able not only to enjoy the land, but use it so that it could help pay for itself. Living by the four “Fs” that have come to dictate his lifestyle: fishing, farming, forestry, and football, Jeff purchased property in Georgia and now successfully manages it as a tree farm.
“Most rewarding part for me is the benefit and enjoyment of the family coming together to enjoy the resource of our land and forest.”
Before becoming a landowner, Lageman explored hundreds of properties online, along with a dozen in person, before pulling the trigger in 2006 on land previously owned by International Paper. Lageman rarely goes more than two weeks without visiting his Georgia property, which he’s improved dramatically in eight years of ownership.
“People are always asking me who is my property manager. I look at them and just grin because I do all the work. Every piece of equipment I own, I can operate. When people want to come visit I tell them ‘Sure, put your work boots on and get your gloves and come on’ ”
“It’s important for me to preserve the history of the property. I probably go a little overboard working but I enjoy it. People say I work my butt off and don’t ever relax here. To me this is relaxing. It’s an investment, but it’s emotionally meaningful and it's what I enjoy doing. It’s so pleasing to the heart to watch a tree grow, thin the woods and tap into the recreational aspect of the land.”