Hunters in Colorado grateful for public land

Hunters in Colorado, where public lands are plentiful and easy to access, may buck the national trend reported in a recent survey that said more than two-thirds of hunters nationwide hunt mostly on private land.

This might give you one more reason to be thankful for living in a state where more than one-third of the land is public.

The latest survey from Southwick Associates asked hunters where they hunted most often during the past 12 months, and roughly two-thirds of the respondents (66 percent) said private property.

Only about one-third (30 percent) said they used public lands the majority of the time.

This included hunters from every state, many of which have much less (and in some cases, virtually no) public land.

The survey offered no breakdown on an individual state basis, but it’s safe to assume that in states such as Colorado and Alaska, with large amounts of public land, there is a higher percentage of public-land hunters as compared with Texas and other states where walk-in public lands are only a small percentage of the states.

According to the National Wilderness Institute, Alaska is No. 1 in the nation with more than 330 million acres of state and federally owned lands. Texas is No. 37.

Although public-land hunters account for only a quarter of all sportsmen surveyed, they still far outnumber those who hunt land they own or lease.

Only those who hunted a friend or family member’s land (39 percent) outnumbered public-land hunters. 

Public-land hunters outnumbered those who hunt on land they own themselves (not a family member’s land or a friend’s land) or private land they lease.

“Both private and public land access remains critical in providing opportunity for our nation’s hunters,” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at, and

“With half of all hunters dependent on lands owned by others, the results also underscore the importance of encouraging private landowners to permit free or fee hunting on their properties if America’s hunting heritage is to be maintained,” Southwick said.

That same survey revealed 40 percent of the hunters used lands smaller than 100 acres in size. Another 21 percent hunt lands between 100 acres and 200 acres.

Only 39 percent of those hunters surveyed hunted lands larger than 200 acres.

Something to think about next time you’re hunting the 3.7 million acres of federally designated wilderness in Colorado.


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