Walk in Hunting Areas
For many, hunting has been a great pastime, an activity and skill that has been handed down from generation to generation. Many who wanted to hunt could do so by stepping out the back door or visiting a relative’s farm. Today, hunting is a whole new game – with absentee landowners and corporate owned farming, gaining permission to hunt on privately owned ground is increasingly difficult. However, hunting as a sport and passion has not dwindled. States and local entities could do well by offering access to hunting on private lands. For a small fee, hunters will come and bring with them much needed economic activity to rural communities.
This page will describe what the program might look like (each state may have its own rules and regulations in place) and offer examples of a few state programs.
Many states have or are considering implementing an incentive program to landowners who open their ground for hunting. Walk in Hunting Areas (WIHA) are sections of ground that a land owner has agreed to give access to hunters during particular hunting seasons. In most cases, the state offers a financial incentive to the land owner.
The Nebraska Open Fields and Waters Program provides financial incentives for allowing public access and the opportunity for private landowners to wirh with Game and Parks biologists to improve wildlife habitat. There are numerous benefits to the landowner:
- Receive payments on a per-acre basis for land or water enrolled.
- Protection under the Nebraska Recreation Liability Act for allowing access.
- Hunters and anglers would be provided walk-in access. No vehicles are allowed, except on trails specified by the landowner.
- Help ensure Nebraska's rich outdoor heritage by allowing expanded hunting and fishing opportunities.
- Play a role in conservation by providing a means to control problematic wildlife populations.
- Signs will be posted on enrolled lands by Commission staff.
- All enrolled lands will be published in an atlas.
- Encourage hunting and fishing, which will lead to increased conservation funding and actions.
South Dakota's Walk-In Area program works to maintain the state’s rich hunting heritage by providing public hunting access to privately owned lands that contain valuable wildlife habitat. The landowner opens the land to free public hunting, (foot-traffic only) in exchange for a small payment and immunity from non-negligent liability. Landowners with land enrolled in permanent habitat conservation programs like CRP can receive an additional upfront bonus payment by opening it to public hunting for multiple years.
Since 1988, Game, Fish, and Parks has worked cooperatively with landowners to provide hunting access on privately owned lands. This program currently has more than 1.2 million acres enrolled with 112,000 undisturbed habitat acres working in partnership with over 1,300 landowners.
Colorado – Walk-in Access Program
Idaho – Access Yes!
Illinois – Access Illinois Outdoors
Kansas – Walk-in Hunting Access Program
Nebraska – Open Fields and Waters Program
North Dakota - Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS)
Oregon – Access and Habitat
South Dakota – Walk-in Area Program
Texas – Walk-in Hunting
Utah – Walk in Access Program
Wyoming – Walk-in Area
Contact your state department of game and parks or wildlife.
- Posted on 7.10.2019
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