Numerous studies have identified lack of access to hunting areas as a primary cause of hunter dissatisfaction and desertion (see Highlights of Key Access Research). Assisting hunters in finding places to hunt and providing improved access to public and private lands for hunting is a critical step in reversing the declining national trend in hunting license sales.
At the state level, the scope and variety of hunter access programs appears to be growing. A companion literature review to this report found that the number of states with hunter access programs ranged from 20 to 38 in the 1980s and 1990s (see Highlights of Key Access Research). Given the different descriptions used to define “access programs” in previous studies, the earlier reported numbers of programs are not directly comparable to the programs identified in this assessment. Nevertheless, the total number of states with formal hunter access programs has grown to 43. It is likely that the scope of individual programs within states also has grown, but the absence of baseline comparative programmatic data will not support definitive conclusions.
While there was considerable overlap among the hunter access program-types that the survey addressed, it appears that, at the state level, cumulative hunter access efforts are diverse, innovative and provide substantial hunting opportunity.