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4 Reasons Why Hunting in National Forests is Awesome

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Here are four solid explanations for why hunting in National Forests is worthwhile.

This post was contributed by Wes Swaffar, NFF Ecosystem Services Program Manager

If you’ve never hunted in one of America’s many National Forests, you’re missing out on some great opportunities.

To make it easier to decide on the location of your next hunting trip, here are four good reasons why hunting in National Forests is a good idea.

1. Amazing Access

The National Forest System encompasses 193 million acres in 44 states. While not all of this land is open to hunting, a whole lot of it is.

Whether it’s venturing into the one-million-acre Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in the Northern Rockies or taking an after work hunt on Arizona’s Coconino National Forest, the hunting access on our National Forests and Grasslands is nearly endless.

Since hunting laws are established on a state-by-state basis, it’s important to check in with your state Fish and Game department before deciding where to hunt.

Bull Elk Bugling

2. Fair Chase Challenge

Hunting on public lands often presents more of a challenge than hunting on private lands. Because of its amazing access, hunting on public lands often means encountering competition from other hunters and game animals that are wise to hunters.

Additionally, in many areas, National Forests and Grasslands still provide habitat for native predator species that make game animals all the more wary. For these reasons, you’ll find that hunting on public ground presents a unique challenge that will require you to understand animal behavior, hone your hunting skills and work hard to find your quarry.

3. Excellent Habitat

National Forests provide habitat for 80 percent of the country’s elk, mountain goat and bighorn sheep habitat in the lower 48 states; as much as 12 million acres of waterfowl habitat; 28 million acres of wild turkey habitat; and plentiful habitat for myriad species of other game animals.

National Forests and Grasslands offer wildlife habitat throughout the year – from high-elevation elk summer range to waterfowl-rich wetlands. With this excellent habitat and game numbers, you have innumerable opportunities for finding the quarry of your choice.

Mary's rock, shenandoah, in Autumn

4. Geographic Variation

Our National Forests and Grasslands provide many different options for hunters – often year round! Depending on your time and budget, you can hunt on coveted public ground across the country.

On Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, Sitka blacktail deer can be found on beautiful and remote islands. On Idaho’s Salmon-Challis National Forest, you can find majestic elk on snow covered hillsides. Further east, you can find bountiful small game hunting opportunities on Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest. You get the point, there’s a lot of opportunity.

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While hunting on National Forests and Grasslands, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

  • Proper hunting etiquette will ensure that your public land hunting experience is good for everyone.
  • Always check with your local state Fish and Game department to understand rules and regulations before hunting.
  • Be safe with all firearms and weapons.
  • Respect the animals, their habitat and the National Forest or Grassland where you’re hunting.

Click here to support the National Forest Foundation and help ensure our National Forests and Grasslands provide healthy and bountiful wildlife habitat for generations to come.

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4 Reasons Why Hunting in National Forests is Awesome