Total Public Hunting Land Acres Available by State for USFS, BLM & State Owned Lands

I researched data about public land for various states to see where public land was as part of some DIY hunt planning.  I have heard that certain tags are easy to get in some nearby states, so I thought I would check it out. I am generally only interested in hunting the Intermountain West because that is close to home for me and that’s also where most of the public land is found, but I included all states in my research.

public land ownership map

Finding accurate data of public land distribution between Federal and State agencies, including Forest Service and BLM lands, was challenging. So I did some research & gathered the data state-by-state & published it in the tables below.

Before the internet, a search like this would start with an encyclopedia or a trip to the library.  It might have taken a long time to find what you wanted, but once found, you would write the number down and that would be the end of that. But now, you can find all kinds of information on the internet in seconds. I must have found 10 different results in about 10 minutes, once I figured out how to tweak my key word search to eliminate all the search results trying to sell real estate.

But what I found was 10 different results with 10 different answers. Very little of the information agreed and much of the land acreage data differed by as much as  10-15%  from one result to another. It was very difficult to find the land acreage data at different places that was even close to agree. So I took it as a challenge and dug a little deeper until I found the data I wanted.

Table 1. shows what I believe to be the most accurate data available for the total land area of each state, the acreage of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands within each state and the amount of State owned lands within each state. The table is ranked by the total public land available to hunt. Note that numbers are reported in thousands, so the 365,210 (x 1,000) acres of total land area in Alaska means 365,210,000 acres.

Table 1. Total Public Hunting Land Acres Available by State

State Total Land Acres (x1000) USFS Acres (x1000) BLM Acres (x1000) State Owned Acres (x1000) Total Land Open to Hunt (x1000) % of State Open to Hunt Acres Per Person to Hunt
Alaska  365,210 21,974 73,000 105,200 271,174 74.3 381.8
Nevada    70,260   5,826 47,800       126  53,752 76.5  19.9
California    99,699 20,653 15,300    2,243  38,197 38.3   1.0
Idaho    52,892 20,459 11,600    2,748  34,807 65.8  22.2
Oregon    61,432 15,656 16,100    2,996  34,752 56.6   9.1
Utah    52,589   8,111 22,800    3,825  34,736 66.1  12.6
Arizona    72,700 11,255 12,200    9,084  32,539 44.8   5.1
New Mexico    77,631   9,327 13,400    8,700  31,427 40.5  15.3
Wyoming    62,140   9,238 18,300    3,865  31,403 50.5  55.7
Montana    93,149 16,886  7,983    5,196  30,065 32.3  30.4
Colorado    66,331 14,509  8,300       550  23,397 35.3   4.7
Washington    42,532  9,202    400    3,865  13,467 31.7   2.0
State Total Land Acres (x1000) USFS Acres (x1000) BLM Acres (x1000) State Owned Acres (x1000) Total Land Open to Hunt (x1000) % of State Open to Hunt Acres Per Person to Hunt
Minnesota    50,961  2,838       0    5,379   8,217 16.1   1.5
Michigan    36,185  2,857       0    4,489   7,346 20.3   0.7
Florida    34,320  1,147       0    4,737   5,884 17.1   0.3
Wisconsin    34,661  1,521       0    3,646   5,167 14.9   3.1
Pennsylvania    28,635     513       0    3,657   4,170 14.6   0.3
New York    30,161        0       0    3,824   3,824 12.7   0.2
Arkansas    33,303  2,579       0       653   3,232   9.7   1.1
Missouri    43,995  1,495       0    1,030   2,525   5.7   0.4
South Dakota    48,519  2,012    274        90   2,376   4.9   2.9
Tennessee    26,390    634       0    1,722   2,356   8.9   0.4
Virginia    25,274  1,659       0       347   2,006   7.9   0.3
North Dakota    44,161  1,106     58       812   1,976   4.5   2.9
Texas  167,188   755     11       825   1,591   1.0   0.1
West Virginia    15,384  1,033       0       449   1,482   9.6   0.8
North Carolina    31,115  1,244       0       136   1,380   4.4   0.1
Louisiana    27,650   604       0       745   1,349   4.9   0.3
Mississippi    30,031  1,159       0       109   1,268   4.2   0.4
Georgia    36,809   865       0       350   1,215   3.3   0.1
Alabama    32,413   665       0       396   1,061   3.3   0.2
State Total Land Acres (x1000) USFS Acres (x1000) BLM Acres (x1000) State Owned Acres (x1000) Total Land Open to Hunt (x1000) % of State Open to Hunt Acres Per Person to Hunt
New Hampshire     5,730   827       0       164    991  17.3   0.8
Maine    19,739    53       0       889    942   4.8   0.7
Oklahoma    43,901   397    100       435    932   2.1   0.2
South Carolina    19,239   613       0       206    819   4.3   0.2
Kentucky    25,271   693       0       111    804   3.2   0.2
New Jersey     4,707      0       0       740    740  15.7   0.1
Nebraska    49,167   352    100       247    699   1.4   0.4
Illinois    35,532   292       0       406    698   2.0   0.1
Ohio    26,151   229       0       422    651   2.5   0.1
Indiana    22,929   196       0       306    502   2.2   0.1
Vermont     5,899   368       0         95    463   7.9   0.7
Kansas    52,326   108       0       312    420   0.8   0.1
Maryland     6,213      0       0       344    344   5.5   0.1
Iowa    35,749      0       0       266    266   0.7   0.1
Massachusetts     4,992      0       0       232    232   4.6   0.0
Connecticut     3,099      0       0       173    173   5.6   0.0
Delaware     1,247      0       0         61    61   4.9   0.1
Rhode Island        662      0       0         60    60   9.0   0.1
Hawaii     4,110      0       0         24    24   0.6   0.0
Total 2,260,380 191,938 247,726 189,285 697,921 30.9   2.3
Top 12 States 1,116,564 163,096 247,183 148,399 558,678 50.0   7.9
Top 11 w/o AK   751,353 141,122 174,183   43,199 358,504 47.7   5.1
Remaining 38 1,143,817   28,842       543   38,886   68,271  6.0   0.3

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Did I learn anything? Yes.

The Western States have Most of the Public Hunting Land

I knew most of the public land was in the Western States and Alaska, but look at the totals for the Top 12 States (all Western States; Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington & Wyoming) compared to the Remaining 38 States. To start with, the total land area of the Top 11 States plus Alaska are almost as large as the rest of the 38 states combined (49.3% of the total). Without Alaska, the Top 11 states make up 33% of the total land area of the U.S.

public land map western u.s.

85% of all USFS lands and 99.9% of BLM land are found in the Western States (includes AK).

85% of all USFS lands and 99.9% of BLM land are found in the Top 12 states. 73.5% of USFS lands and 70.3% of BLM lands are found in the Top 11 states excluding Alaska. The majority of State owned lands are also found in the West. 79.5% of state lands are in the Top 12 states.

89% of combined public lands that I assume to be available to public hunting are found in the Top 12 states and even with out Alaska, the Top 11 states have 57.3% the total land available for public hunting.  According to my calculations, 31% of the the total U.S. land area is available for public hunting, 50.2% of the total area is in the Top 12 states and 48% of the Top 11 States. Only 6% of the total land area of the remaining 38 states is available for public hunting.

The hunt-able acres per person is 2.1 acres nationwide, with 7.9 acres per person in the Top 12 States and 5.2 acres the Top 11 States. Less than 1/3 acre (0.3 acres) is available per hunter in the remaining 38 states.

Ignoring Alaska for the moment, based on the amount of Public land, especially USFS lands and low populations, states like Wyoming, Montana and Idaho have higher ratios of land to hunt per person (55.7,30.4 & 22.2 acres respectively) than popular hunting states like Arizona and Colorado (5.1 acres each). Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Oregon are in the middle with 19.9, 15.3, 12.6 & 9.1 acres respectively). I was surprised that Washington state has only 2 acres of hunt-able public land per person. And then there is California.

California Seems to Stand Alone

California can not be ignored for hunting because of it’s 20 million acres of National Forests and 15 million acres of BLM lands. Over a third (38%) of the state appears to be available for public hunting, but we also can’t ignore California’s huge population (37 million) which drops the hunt-able acres to 1 acre per person. If you hunt in California, just hope everyone in L.A. stays home. My last trip to California was not a hunting trip, but we saw some amazing country. I also have to admit that I’ve never been so glad to get back home from a trip. There were just too many people for me.

Alaska Public Land

Alaska Togiak Wilderness

Alaska Togiak Wilderness

Who hasn’t dreamed of hunting in Alaska. Alaska has over 271 million acres of public Land, including 71 million acres of Land owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). There is an additional 119 million acres of National Park Service (NPS) Lands in Alaska and some hunting is also allowed there. Based on the amount of public land and the low population (710,231), I calculated there are almost 382 acres for each person to hunt. All I can say is wow! But there is a reason for that.

When I lived in the East, I used to wonder why states like Wyoming had so few people until I drove across the entire state on I-80 when I moved to the West. It’s hard to make a living in sagebrush and people tend to like having water on a regular basis.  Now that there seems to be Natural Gas deposits under that sagebrush and wind farms are popping up everywhere, more people can make a living there. I don’t want to be the one costs anyone a job, but this “drill baby drill” kick we seem to be on doesn’t seem so great when you have to look at it everyday. Places that used to be virtual wilderness areas; not real Wilderness designations by Congress, but places that only a few cowboys, sheep herders or hunters would go through once or twice a year, now have well maintained roads with heavy equipment traveling there on a daily basis.

Back to Alaska. Yes, there are reasons that so few people live in Alaska. It’s a hard climate to live in and there are few job opportunities outside of the biggest cities. The state still has very few roads and it is very expensive to buy things that have to be imported. I know people that live in Alaska and they say it’s hard to find good hunting and fishing the without spending lots of time and money trying to get away from the towns and the crowds. Maybe they are just spoiled and the rest of us would be happy as clams hunting and fishing in the areas they reject.

Yes, I would love to hunt and fish Alaska, but for the money it would take for a single trip, I could make 3 or 4 trips to other Western States. Alaska might be one of those remote places that your first trip should be guided since it is so far away and so expensive. I will still dream about it, but will concentrate on trips that that I can realistically do.

Some Big States Have very Little Public Hunting Land

I knew Texas was a large state with a lack of public land; 1.5 million acres, which is only 1% of the state, but I was also surprised to see other states such as Kansas, Iowa and Oklahoma also have very little public land. I guess most of the big Kansas and Iowa white-tails that everyone is chasing in the hunting shows must be on private land. All three states; Texas, Kansas and Iowa have only 0.1 acre per person of public land to hunt. I had to look very hard to find that Texas has 11,000 acres of BLM land that is available for public hunting.

Small States offer Hunting Too

I never even thought about anyone hunting Rhode Island except for waterfowl, but believe it or not, they have deer and turkey hunting (archery, shotgun and muzzleloader seasons). Rhode Island even allows non-resident hunting.

I knew people hunted wild pigs and goats in Hawaii, but they also hunt Mouflon Sheep, Feral Sheep (and hybrids), Axis Deer and Black-tail Deer.
And in case you didn’t know, wild cattle and brush-tailed wallabies are protected on the Hawaiian Islands.

Data Sources for Table 1.

  • Source for USFS land data http: //; see Table No. 1147. National Forest System Land—State and Other Area: 1998 –
  • Source for 2010 U.S. and State Population data:
  • Source for BLM Land data:
  • Source for Land area by State:
  • Additional report used for more accurate BLM data for Texas, (
  • Additional report used for more accurate BLM data for North Dakota:
  • Additional report used for more accurate BLM data for South Dakota:
  • Source for State Owned Lands;
  • Alaska data includes 71 million acres of USFWS lands that allow hunting (

Data Assumptions and Calculations For Table 1.

  • Hunt-able acres are assumed to be the total of all USFS, BLM and State Lands.
  • Not all USFS, BLM and State lands allow hunting – Some of the lands included in the table include areas such as administrative, campgrounds and parking areas etc that do not allow hunting, but this amount is assumed to be small.
  • The table does not include all public lands. There are many FWS and NPS lands that allow public hunting, while others do not. FWS & NPS lands were omitted for all states except for Alaska, since hunting in these lands is generally allowed in Alaska.
  • The Total Land area for each State omits surface water that may be included in the boundaries for each state. This is not a big deal for some states, but it greatly changes the total area of many states; 13 states have at least 12% water area within their boundaries (examples: Delaware (58% water), Michigan (41.3% water), Wisconsin (17.1% water), Alaska (14.1% water), N.Y. (13.4% water) and Connecticut (12.6% Water)).
  • The problem with many sources for USFS lands, is the inclusion of state or private lands included within the boundaries of a National Forest. The data in the table provides only USFS acres and has omitted the enclosed state and private lands.
  • I used 2010 population data to calculate the number of hunt-able acres per person (per capita) by using my estimate for total hunt-able acres for each state divided by the population. I realize this is not a perfect indicator of how much hunting pressure an area might get. There is no doubt that public lands close to large population areas get more visitors than more remote areas.

diy elk hunting guide

My DIY Elk Hunting Guide is now available as PDF


  1. john podebradsky says

    Amazing amount of public land out west. Even more amazing is that millions of these acres are landlocked by private land and are not accessible to the public !

    • John I totally agree. Public land should have public access right of ways. I can see why private land owners disagree, but it should also be legal to cross from public to public across the corners in checkerboard areas.

  2. Dwight Cramer says

    This is amazing information! Thanks.

    The only thing I have to add is that it would perhaps be useful to measure hunting pressure, not by state populations, but by the number of hunters in a state, which is available here:
    When you do that for the states out west the only thing of significance that changes is your discussion of California–with a large population and few hunters. Of course, there are other recreational demands made on public lands in California that may offset the reduction in hunting pressure.

    On a trivial note, New Mexico goes to the head of the Lower 48 class with only 69 thousand hunters on 31.5 million acres of public land–probably a combination of no major metropolitan area (Albuquerque isn’t Denver or Salt Lake) and no well developed outdoor recreational industry (far fewer professional outfitters than Idaho or Montana).

    Again, thanks

    • Thanks for the comments Dwight:

      Yes, hunting pressure is part of what we are trying to measure, but you can’t ignore mountain bikers and dirt bike riders when you are trying to hunt.

      I have used the number of hunter days in other posts (Top 3 Reasons to Shoot and Hunt with a Muzzleloader) and in some of my posts about OTC elk tags. It is a very useful metric when trying to compare hunting units, but very time consuming and sometimes difficult to find the data from the State websites. I appreciate the link to the hunter census data.

      I also agree with your comments about New Mexico, but I think part of the reason they have so few hunters is the difficulty in getting tags for out of state hunters unless you want to pay to hunt private land. There are no OTC elk tags in N.M., all tags must be drawn or bought.

    • I can’t agree more with Dwight. Living in CO and hunting in several other states, I know there is a big difference between the number of people who live in a state and the number of hunters who regularly go there. It would be even more interesting to break it down further by acres of land open which could contain big game by the number of tag holders. CO is mostly OTC for elk but the woods gets inundated with archery and muzzle loader hunters, especially in recent years. The quality of hunts in CO have gone way down (hunters bumping into each others and herds getting pushed to private land early) and there is a big push to make the whole state drawn only.

      • I do to… This is obviously very coarse data. The best data would be number of hunters per acre during specific hunting seasons in specific units. Even better would be to eliminate acres of public or private land that are not considered good habitat for particular species during that time of year. For example, most high elevation units have many thousands of acres that are good habitat for mountain goats and bighorn sheep, but poor habitat for elk.

        As our human population continues to grow and we develop the remaining habitat, the ultimate result will be lottery system for all tags. I hate to see that day coming, but don’t see any evidence we will do anything to prevent it.

        Most people still say conservation is important until their job is at stake.

        I see more people in places I used to have all to myself. So I keep looking for new areas. As I get older, it is harder to get to those places. But I also keep finding areas with elk that are close to where people camp, because many people still do not get far off the roads. Especially if you have to drop down into a steep canyon or climb a steep hill.

        The raw numbers still tell me that each hunter has 15,000 acres of public land during my local general muzzleloader elk season. Yes, that includes land that are not likely to hold any elk that time of year, but the opportunity is still there and to me is still worth doing. And thanks for reminding me… I need to thaw some elk if I want to eat a steak tomorrow.

  3. Jesse Morris says

    I just came across this page and have not yet explored the rest of your website, but really appreciate your effort in sharing this information. Thank you!

  4. Public lands must remain public!

    • Amen Brother!
      And they will stay public! This is where we draw the line.

      Kelton is referring to the attempt to transfer Federal Lands (mostly National Forest lands and B.L.M. lands) to the States. Some have the presumption that the States can manage the land better than the federal government. That may be true, but what do they really mean by manage?

      You know what they mean. They mean so the land can be developed or sold. It’s always has been and always will be about jobs and the economy. But what happens to public access? What happens to the fish and wildlife? We need to get all politics out of land management.

      We should ask many questions to understand what is the real intent of land transfers.

      Do the States intend to sell (privatize) the land?
      Will the states be more responsible fiscal managers of the natural resources than the Feds.?
      Will the states be better environmental managers of the natural resources than the Feds.?

      I live where I live because of access to Federal and State lands and I can tell you Federal Lands need some management (law enforcement, selective harvest, natural fire regimes and invasive plant control), but Fed. lands are in better condition than most state lands.

      If the States or Congress want to hand over Federal lands to the States, they (mainly Republicans) will make an enemy of me for life.

      Everyone that cares about keeping Federal Lands in Federal hands should call their Congressmen and Senators.

      Don’t waste time with emails they can ignore or are answered by interns with the standard political spin.

      Call them on the phone. Be polite, but be firm to make sure they understand your position and that you will vote in the next election.

      Find your Senators here.
      Find your House Representatives here.

      • This article is totally inaccurate. I live in Florida and just around my house there is the Ocala National Forest with 350 thousand acres, the Lake George Wildlife Management Area (WMA) has 40 thousand, Relay WMA 25 thousand, Farmton 50 thousand and that’s just in my county. The Everglades is 1 million acres, Oceola is 500 thousand all of these are open to hunting and there is a bunch more.

        • Cale: After reading your comment, I stick by the acreages of public lands (National Forest lands and State lands) published in the table for Florida.

          Perhaps you are reading the table incorrectly. Notice that each number must be multiplied by 1,000.
          The table shows that Florida has over 4.7 million acres of state owned lands open to hunting and over 1.1 million acres of National Forest lands. The state lands (Wildlife Management Areas – WMAs) and National Forests you mentioned make up only a fraction of the public lands in Florida.

          Since you mentioned hunting in the Everglades, I want to make it clear to other readers that hunting is not allowed inside Everglades National Park (1.5 million acres). You must be referring to the Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA, which appears to be about 670,000 acres.

  5. Chris Jurney says

    So given the fact that public lands belong to ALL people of the United States, and even Federal Pittman Robertson and Dingell Johnson funding goes to each state proportionately, what should be the appropriate proportion of resident vs Non resident license allocations?


    • Good question Chris. Regulation of wildlife (usually non-migratory) is given to the states, but all states do receive money from the Pittman Robertson act. The Dingell-Johnson act funds fish management and I’m not aware that sport fishing licenses are limited.

      Can I assume you can’t get the out of state tag you want? Or can’t get tags for non-resident hunting clients? I also assume you are only talking about the western states that have substantial public lands.

      In most cases, the states would love to sell more non-resident tags, but residents (including state congress) start to balk when they believe the state is selling too many out of state tags.

      I always notice the numbers or percentages of non-residents tags that the western states sell, but haven’t given much thought if they were fair or not. I don’t consider the 10% my state gives out to be too many or too few. I never see out of state vehicles parked where I hunt, but assume many non-residents are with the hunting guides. I can tell the “city folk” by looking at them, but can’t tell which state they are from.

      I have offered to help a non-resident veterans organization this year during the general elk archery hunt, but these tags are not limited.

      The only way non-resident tags would get equally proportioned (if we need such a thing) would be by the Feds holding the money hostage until all states complied. Do we need (or want) the Feds to get involved with state hunting regs.? Since the federal government is the only entity that could screw up an ice cream party (and they have in my opinion), I say no.

      • I don’t know the answer, but should the federal government be telling the states how many licenses they are required to sell to nonresident hunters? Several years ago, the feds forced South Dakota to end its ban on out-of-state waterfowl hunters. The ban was implemented because wealthy people living outside the state (and guides living inside the state) were buying up or leasing the best places. A similar situation could appear most anywhere. South Dakota does allow a limited number of non-resident hunting licenses now, drawn each year from a lottery system.

        • I am not familiar with the specifics, but waterfowl are migratory species and are subject to Federal laws. I can see how the state could keep non-residents from hunting on state lands, but could not prevent them from hunting waterfowl on private lands.

          I am sure there are part-time residents that do not qualify for resident hunting license, but own land in South Dakota. Should they not be able to hunt on their own property?.

          This is why public land is so important for public access. There will always be people that can afford to lease land for exclusive rights. But if there is enough public land, everyone has a chance.

          I grew up in the south and when I was young, my grandfather had permission to hunt many areas. But now, everything is either posted or leased and this why I no longer live in the south. My relatives have either given up hunting or have their own property or leases.

          If the state doesn’t have enough public land, they should lease private lands for public hunting and most states have some kind of program to do this. But then the public hunters also have to treat the property with respect. Would you lease land to the state for public hunting? Not sure I would, so this is why these programs are not as successful as they could be.

          We also need programs to support wildlife habitat and nesting areas so more public and private lands can offer quality hunting.

          Waterfowl hunting is different than wildlife and upland game hunting because in most cases, ducks and geese are produced somewhere else and fly in to where you can shoot at them. Many of these flyways and stop overs along the rivers are so well established (and everyone knows it), so most of the good private land would be locked up by now.

          I feel your pain. There is a large state wildlife area (wintering area for elk and deer) near me that also joins National Forest lands. There are also sections of other state lands that are mixed in this area. The State wants to sell these sections. We hope the Division of Wildlife will buy it and add it to the management area, but if not it will turn into summer homes and mini-ranches. It won’t be ruined instantly, but will not be as good as it is now and will not be as good as it could be.

          Everyone claims to be for conservation until conservation butts heads with the economy.

          Hope you draw you tag.

      • I would just like to point out the declining number of licenses sold every year and that before the Feds will pay matching funds the states must come up 25% of those funds.

  6. Phil Selleck says

    Your article does not mention the acreage in national parks that is open to hunting, particularly in Alaska. For example, Delaware Water Gap (PA and NJ) is 54,000 acres open to hunting except for safety zones. All of the preserves in the park system are open to hunting at some level. The National Park Service website at has hunting information by park. Unfortunately they do not have a list of parks. You’ll have to go park-by-park.

    • You are correct. I do mention there is a lot of hunting land on National Park lands in Alaska, but the information (identifying ares where hunting is allowed and the acreage) is difficult to find. Part of the reason I titled the post “Total Public Hunting Land Acres Available by State for USFS, BLM & State Owned Lands“. Since you provided the NPS link, I looked and chose Denali as an example. This was on the Hunting Information Page.

      Sport hunting is prohibited within Denali National Park, including designated wilderness lands and the 1980 park additions. Sport hunting is only permitted within Denali National Preserve. Subsistence hunting and trapping by eligible local rural residents is permitted on park and preserve lands added by ANILCA, but not within the former Mt. McKinley National Park.”

      And that was most of the information on the hunting page. They provide additional links to Map information and Federal Code, but nothing that is particularly useful except for the very first stages of planning a trip.

      After more searching, I was finally able to find that the preserve is 1,334,118 acres (see park statistics).

      If I lived next to a National Park, I would learn about areas I could hunt as I assume you did for the examples in the NJ/PA area.

      I am sure I also left out some State Park lands that are open to hunting. I live near a state park that I do not hunt because it is ambiguous where hunting is or is not allowed based on a one mile buffer around all park facilities during rifle seasons.

      One square mile is 640 acres, but a mile buffer around a single point is over 2,010 acres. My local park can’t tell me how much land can be hunted and do not have buffered maps so I could estimate.
      Thanks for the comment Phil.

  7. Jim Bering says

    Sorry but it is legal to hunt wild cattle in Hawaii. I know people that have done it.

    • Hi Jim:
      I’m not sure if you are making your comment to my post or to the link in your comment…
      I clearly stated: “And in case you didn’t know, wild cattle and brush-tailed wallabies are protected on the Hawaiian Islands.”
      It is interesting the web site said “no closed season or bag limits that restrict feral cattle hunting in the state“…
      Lots of bad information on the web. I removed the link since it does have bad info.
      Thanks for your comment.

  8. Interesting . But apples vs oranges in many respects .

    As noted above the biggest thing is comparisons based upon total population rather than number of hunters .

    And it arbitrarily gives acres of all types parity . Of generalized multi use for logging, mining, grazing , general recreation vs managed specifically for wildlife and habit .

    A large percentage of the State Lands in the “East” are Wildlife Management Areas/ State Game Lands . Additionally in some states, Cooperative agreements have designated USFS land actually being managed by the state wildlife agency as a WMA .

    And in the “East” , no quotas on licenses , special drawings are only for specific parcels of public land not otherwise open to hunting .

    Not taking anthing away from Western hunting , but the comparison isn’t as one sided as suggested .

    • Yes, it should be obvious the comparisons are not perfect and that acreages of various lands are not are equally valuable for small or large game or for hunting. Just looking for a way to attempt to compare available public hunting lands between various states and relative populations. Total amounts of public lands are mostly in Western States, but arid lands are not as productive as areas that get more rainfall.

  9. This is a valuable breakdown and its amazing to see how much public land is available for hunting. Here in South Carolina, we have some pretty cool opportunities for draw hunts. I think in South Carolina we have closer to 1.1M acres available. See here:

    • Hi Freeman. You bring up a good point about the public land data. I was using public land that allowed hunting defined mainly as USFS, BLM & State Wildlife lands. I included some USFWS lands where it is published that hunting is allowed, but did not include BOR, DOE or DOD lands (or most state lands in Colorado).

      But as the publication points out, public hunting can also allowed on some of these other Federal, State and even on private lands.

      From your link to SC DNR data, the largest land owners in SC are USFS and SC Wildlife (as expected) and both have more land in SC than my estimate (3% more USFS & 13% more State).
      It is interesting to see private land owners like Clemson University and Duke Energy are on the list.

      It is also interesting to see City properties listed as open to public hunting and I know every bit helps the Eastern States (The hunt unit where I live has more acres on USFS & BLM lands than all public land for the entire State of SC).

      Thanks for the comment

  10. Your information seems to be incorrect, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission claims 2 million acres of public hunting lands, about 600,000 acres more than your list

    • It has been some time since I posted this. Perhaps NC has been either buying or gaining access to lands, especially private timber lands (like Champion paper) to allow public hunting.
      The data I used showed lands owned by the Feds and the State, but except for Colorado, does not take into account lands leased for public hunting.

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