How to Find Great Places to Hunt (Now Get Off the Sofa and Get After It!)
We hunters face many obstacles to success, forever analyzing factors such as weather, hunting pressure, moon phases and food sources. The list could go on, but those issues assume you have a place to hunt.
And what if you don’t? Increasing numbers of hunters live in urban and suburban areas, so finding your own hunting paradise might seem impossible.
Don’t be discouraged. We’re here to discuss different types of hunting properties, and suggest some resources to help you get off the couch and into the woods.
Federally funded and managed, our nation’s national forests include wide-ranging woodland habitats, with each presenting unique hunting opportunities. As with other federal lands, national forests sometimes include site-specific regulations for recreational hunting, so be sure to learn and abide by these laws before gearing up and trekking into the forest.
For more information on hunting national forests and grasslands, including wilderness areas and topographical maps, click here.
National Wildlife Refuges
These federal properties often serve as refuges for the continent’s diverse waterfowl species, but vast amounts are open for hunting deer, elk, bears and other game. These properties are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and range from large wetlands to rolling plains and rugged hills, depending on where you hunt.
Check this website for a list of refuges near you.
Wildlife Management Areas
WMAs are properties allocated by the state and scientifically managed by wildlife biologists to provide quality public hunting. WMAs often have site-specific regulations for hunting, such as antler-point restrictions for deer. All relevant regulations can be found on your state wildlife agency’s website.
Heritage Preserves Trust Programs
Heritage preserves are funded by state programs that conserve specific natural features and historical/cultural resources that need to be protected from development. These properties range from 40-acre meadows to sprawling forests. Many hunters do not realize these preserves often allow hunting. Check your wildlife agency’s website or nearest office for a list of heritage preserves.
Much like federal forests, state forests were established for the public’s enjoyment. Though typically smaller than federal forests, state-owned forests often provide excellent opportunities for bagging that big buck you’ve been day-dreaming about at work.
Many corporations own large tracts of land for investments, logging and industrial purposes. For example, in South Carolina, the MeadWestvaco paper company owns thousand of acres, and leases hunting rights to large areas. Although logging operations can pose access challenges, many industrial forests offer low-pressure hunting opportunities. Gaining access might require some research and spending, but the reward of hunting large, private lands could be worth the costs.
Many property owners lease hunting rights to individuals and groups. This means the landowner charges money for hunting privileges, which can be a great way to hunt private land without the expenses of property taxes and never-ending maintenance. Hunting leases can be found by Internet or word-of-mouth, so stay in touch with local contacts and archery stores.
Hunting clubs offer great opportunities to hunt private property without the costs of buying your own land. They’re also a good way to meet other hunters and learn the secrets to hunting a specific property. Hunting clubs range from lavish to affordable, so if you don’t have a state or national forest near your back door, look into hunting clubs.
Were you in a conundrum about where to hunt, or are you just new to bowhunting? We hope this article helped simplify the issue and introduce you to the vast amounts of hunting opportunities awaiting your review.
Also check out fws.gov and your state wildlife agency’s website. They’re informative, user-friendly resources that help you find choice hunting properties. Always check local regulations before heading into the woods, and then get out there as often as possible. With some skill and a little luck, you’ll soon be at full draw this season.