Hunting is one of America’s favorite pastimes and it is rooted in our culture and history, but can you hunt on conservation land?
Yes, you can hunt on certain conservation lands such as National Parks, State Parks, National Forests, National Monuments, Wildlife Refuges, and Conservation Easements. However, each conservation land has its own regulations for hunting and you should be aware of the restrictions for each land.
In the United States, we commonly associate any land that has been classified for conservation use to be strictly prohibited for activities such as hunting. While this may well be the case for a lot of our nation’s conservation lands, you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that you actually can hunt in a lot of lands marked for conservation. With that being said, these lands generally have much stricter guidelines for hunting and many of them do not allow this practice, which is why you should be very cautious when approaching your hunt on conservation land.
Hunting in the United States is strictly enforced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and before you pursue this hobby, you should be fully licensed with this government agency. In addition, conservation lands vary greatly in regulations and restrictions, which is why you should always be well aware of the guidelines for the specific area you are considering for your hunt.
Conservation Lands You Can Hunt On
Conservation lands have a lot of appeal for not only hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, but hunters as well. These highly protected lands offer the most gorgeous landscapes and scenery that our nation has to offer, which is why many hunters tend to like to pursue their hobby here.
Conservation lands can be found scattered throughout the entire United States and take up millions of acres of land in our country. As we’ve begun to adopt more environmental values and sustainable ways of living, the mainstream appeal of protecting our conservation lands has only increased.
This sort of environmental awareness is encouraging our government to expand areas of our country to include more conservation lands, which means more room for hunters to pursue their hobby.
While some of these lands may be open for hunting, you will find that many of them are not. In fact, some have very harsh penalties that prohibit hunting and other invasive human activities, which is why you always want to be aware of where you are looking to hunt and what the guidelines for the conservation area are. Let’s dive into some conservation lands you may be able to hunt on.
There is no type of conservation land within the United States that is more cherished and protected than our national parks. These incredible nature parks offer some of the most iconic views that the world has to offer, which is why many people flock from all over the world to come here to hike and hunt.
With that being said, you may find that most areas within national parks do not allow hunting within the primary region of the park. This is due to the, often very busy, foot traffic created by hikers passing through these areas, which can prove to be extremely dangerous for hunting.
However, the National Park Service manages millions of acres of land connected to national parks and beyond, which very well may be open to hunting. One of the most common places in the United States where hunting is allowed in national parks is in Alaska. The beautiful state of Alaska is the wildest and most dangerous state in our country, which is why carrying a firearm may not just be a good idea for hunting but for personal protection as well.
In addition, there are currently 75 areas in the United States managed by the National Park Service that permit hunting and the majority of them allow recreational hunting. If you’ve always wanted to hunt in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, you should look into the hunting regulations of your nearest national park to find out if they permit your hobby.
Another incredible place you may be surprised to find yourself hunting in is our nation’s various state parks. These parks can be found all over the country and they greatly vary in landscapes and scenery.
While not all state parks allow hunting by any means, you would be surprised by just how many of them do. With many more options around the country than national parks, you may find that state parks may be much more accessible to your local area.
In addition, state parks tend to have much less oversight than national parks as they are managed on a state level and not by the Federal Government. These incredible parks often offer just as many beautiful settings as most national parks, which makes them a perfect place to go hunting.
What you may find, however, is that state parks will follow a similar procedure for hunting regulations as national parks. Although state parks tend to have fewer conservation guidelines, they will still likely prohibit you from hunting within the primary area of the park.
Aside from hunters, state parks are very popular among local tourists and visitors and may have a lot of hikers and campers in the area. If that is the case, the state park rules will likely designate you to hunt in a specific area that is further away from people passing by.
The United States is full of beautiful forested areas that are managed by the United States Forest Service. This government agency manages more of our nation’s land than almost any other government department.
While not all of the land managed by the United States Forest Service is open to hunting, you will find that a large portion of it commonly is. When looking for hunting spots, be sure to check out areas that are labeled as National Forest.
These large forested lands are scattered throughout the United States and occupy nearly 200 million acres of land - that’s a lot of land for hunting. These areas are protected by the Federal Government but generally follow much lighter restrictions for hunting than most federal lands.
While these areas typically have much less foot traffic, which is great for hunters, they are often overlooked as gorgeous environmental areas to experience nature. It’s common to have national forests border national parks in our country and share a lot of the same natural qualities as some of our nation’s most beautiful parks.
In addition, national forests do not typically require a hiking permit or any registration and are very easily accessible to the public. You should, however, always confirm whether hunting is legitimately allowed in the specific national forest you are considering.
One of the major reasons why you may not be allowed to hunt in a national forest is due to these conservation lands commonly being used for resource harvesting such as logging, which can be hazardous to the public.
National Wildlife Refuges
The United States Federal Government has established many conservation lands within the country as National Wildlife Refuges. These conservation lands were generally established specifically for the purpose of protecting wildlife and habitat, but they are usually open to the public.
These nature areas are lush, beautiful, and may well be open for hunting. While not as commonly seen as other conservation areas such as state and national parks, they can be found throughout the country.
Most wildlife refuges were established to help preserve a habitat from being harmed but not given the usually strict regulations that have been in place in other areas. You will likely find that they are relatively relaxed for outdoor recreation and even hunting.
What you should be mindful of when reviewing your hunting options in national wildlife refuges is whether there is a specific type of endangered or at-risk species in the area. It’s highly unlikely that the species would be anything you are hunting, but you should confirm this before you pursue your hobby. The likely at-risk species you may encounter are a plant or animal species that you can interfere with if you do not approach your hunt conscientiously of the local environment.
In addition, each national wildlife refuge area is different and has specific guidelines for hunting, which is why you want to do thorough research before commencing your hunt. If you are finding a hard time identifying whether hunting is permitted in these conservation areas, you should try to reach out to the local authority that manages the nature area.
National monuments are found less frequently throughout the United States than most other Federally managed parks, but they are without a doubt home to some of our most beloved natural wonders.
These conservation areas are often teeming with wildlife and have stunning scenery. Hunting in these parks is not always common but is by no means impossible. National monuments that are especially popular with tourists and visitors will likely not allow hunting.
With that being said, hunting can be practiced in even some of our nation’s popular national monuments during certain times of the year. Given that tourists tend to flock to these nature areas during peaks seasons such as summer, it’s likely that you may be able to hunt in certain off-season months.
In addition, national monuments that have less popularity around the country may have much more relaxed policies regarding hunting and could have the hobby open year-round. If you are finding that there is not enough adequate signage that gives specific regulations on hunting, you should always reach out to an authority that manages the national monument to confirm whether you are allowed to pursue your hunt.
A common trend occurring throughout the United States since the late 20th century is the conversion of private properties into conservation lands. This occurs when a private property owner goes through an appraisal process to convert their private land into protected conservation land.
Alternatively, this practice is carried out by non-profit land trusts that acquire and convert conservation lands for protection or responsible resale. In addition, the United States Federal Government acts similarly as a land trust in certain situations to help conserve land for various environmental benefits.
With that being said, hunters will be pleased to find that many conservation lands that have been classified as conservation easements are open for recreational hunting. These lands have may have just as many gorgeous landscapes as some of our nation’s nature parks and can be accessed with less government regulation.
Where conservation easements become tricky is that they are not always labeled in the same way that other various conservation areas are such as state and national parks. Given that these are still typically private properties, it’s not likely that you can look them up on the internet as easily.
However, if you hear of private property owners that have a conservation easement in place on their land, you can always reach out to them to ask permission to hunt on their land. In fact, it’s quite common for landowners in these situations to have parts of their property open for public outdoor recreation. To play it safe, you should always ask permission from the landowner before you decide to start hunting.
If you are having trouble locating a private individual, contacting a land trust directly, which likely has a lot of property classified as conservation land is going to be your next best bet. These organizations are easy to reach out to over the phone. You may find that they even have their hunting regulations listed on their website.
Bureau Of Land Management Properties
The Bureau Of Land Management is a government agency that oversees 245 million acres of land in the United States. You will find the majority of their land located in the Western United States.
The Bureau of Land Management is overseen by the Federal Government, however, these lands are generally quite loose when it comes to restrictions - including hunting.
The majority of their land is desolate and has been left raw and untouched. With that being said, these lands offer plenty of space, which offers safe and relatively unregulated hunting.
You should be able to find guidelines for hunting listed online for the specific region you are considering.
However, if you are finding it difficult to locate this information on the internet, you should reach out to a representative of the Bureau of Land Management to confirm whether hunting in the area is allowed.
About THE AUTHOR
James Parker has a Masters degree in Sustainability with a focus on land management, permaculture and regenerative agriculture. He also has experience managing sustainability projects, and is passionate about conservation and sustainability.Read More About James Parker