Friends, Family and Public Land Comprise Majority of Access

Whether public or private, the amount of land available to hunters is limited and in many areas, shrinking. As a result, the cost to go hunting is expected to rise as sportsmen are obligated to compete for limited access.

DTN  Doe dispersal3For hunters unable to pay for greater hunting access, this is a critical issue, especially in eastern regions where public lands are sometimes limited. To help monitor this issue over time, hunters were asked to identify the types of land they utilized most often. The largest percentage of U.S. hunters depends on land owned by family and friends.

A recent poll finds that out of those sportsmen surveyed, in the past 12 months, 38 percent of the respondents said they most often hunted on a friend’s or family member’s property for free. The next largest group, public land hunters, made up 28 percent of the surveyed sportsmen, and said that state and federal lands are where they most often hunted in the past 12 months. Eighteen percent hunt land they own, while only 11 percent belong to a hunt club or hunt land that they lease. Many hunters use multiple types of land.

“This survey shows the importance of private land that can be affordably hunted,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, whose company designs and conducts the surveys at, and “However, many hunters do not have a family member or friend who owns land they can hunt. Combined with ongoing land development, the future of hunting is dependent on efforts to maintain hunting access on public lands.”

In addition, this same survey examined the size of properties these hunters utilize and found that small tracts of land remain extremely important to providing opportunity for hunting. Of those surveyed, 38 percent of the sportsmen hunt lands 200 acres or larger, but 24 percent hunt properties of 50 acres or less. The next largest segment of sportsmen, 21 percent, hunt lands of 50 to 100 acres. Nearly 17 percent hunt lands between 100 and 200 acres in size.

To help continually improve, protect and advance hunting, shooting and other outdoor recreation, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the bi-monthly surveys at, and/or


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