Biggest Threat to Deer Hunting

posted land

A poll by found that 23 percent, or one in 4 hunters, lost access to private land they had hunted for years, or at least had their access to that land significantly restricted. Looking inside those numbers, 52 percent of the respondents who had lost access said their hunting time was reduced as a result; 11 percent said the loss of land/access kept them from hunting altogether.  In short, they threw in the towel.

Land changes ownership…properties are sold and subdivided…well-off  sportsmen and clubs lease up ground–all reasons the average deer hunter is getting squeezed off the best lands with the best deer hunting. This loss of access is the biggest threat to whitetail hunting. How can we retain our numbers and bring in new hunters if there is less and less good private ground to hunt?

When I was a boy growing up in VA, I could hunt almost anywhere I wanted. Today, all those lands have been developed or locked up. Today I could never have developed to be the hunter I have become.

How has loss of access affected you? Have you lost your best properties in recent years? Are you hunting less because of it? I suspect some of you are.

13 thoughts on “Biggest Threat to Deer Hunting

  1. Mike you are correct, I am big on tradition and my dad started my hunting career hunting a farm in Pa. that he had hunted from the 1950′s to the 1980′s.He Knew the owners well and we would hunt there every Saturday of the season. One day we went to the farm and the son took it over and told my dad no more hunting and to leave, well my dad was heartbroken and gave up hunting because of this, loosing so many memories!!!

  2. Count me in that group. Of 5 different pieces that I hunt, several of them have been severely restricted or lost over the past few years, and the remaining hunting ground is marginal habitat. Lease prices are high. We lease one piece of sorry ground simply because it is adjacent to a property we have permission on.

    I’m not hunting less, I’m just seeing less deer and poor quality.

    Everyone likes to talk about video games being the decline of hunting, but it’s not. It’s access to QUALITY property. There are many more young hunters that would love the opportunity to hunt, but our private land is inaccessible or expensive, and our public land is a joke.

  3. Mike,
    I began hunting as a kid on our farm in Pa. When we moved to Va. in 1979, we had no access to private land, only Quantico or AP Hill. It was/is so restricted that my Dad just lost interest after awhile. That led to me not hunting for years. I finally was able to join a hunt club in the area, but they ran dogs, of which I am not a big fan! Then through my job, I was able to hunt undeveloped subdivision lands. Those were slowly developed which squeezed me out. I have now joined a new hunt club that practices good deer management. But it ain’t cheap! I actually spend more time in the woods than ever before. Because we have 24-7 access, I can hunt groundhogs & predators, fish and just jack around in general….much to my wife’s dismay! I know of very few people that have access to private land that is not leased. Sad!

  4. Many people have recognized this trend and are leasing or buying land if they can afford to. A lot of people I know hunt on public ground or very small (less than 10 acre) parcels.

    In the end, there will be fewer places for hunters and those who own/lease land will likely find themselves spending more time running off trespassers than hunting……

  5. Back in the early 80′s when I started hunting, I could walk across the street and hunt some prime habitat. As the years went by I lost every one of my hunting spots. I’m down to one private land site. But every year I have to explain to trespassers why they aren’t supposed to be there. I went from hunting as much as 60 days a season to less than 14 in the past 3 yrs. I’m not giving it up, but it’s definitely more difficult these days to find an undeveloped and quiet piece of land to hunt on.

  6. great discussion…next question people are asking is what do we do about it? I don’t know. some states experimenting with cooperatives between private landowners and DNRs (DNR controls the lands in the programs and determines hunter access); these are far from perfect, but at least a visionary option. it will never be the same on private lands as it was in the good old days.

  7. Every time I hear someone ask “what can we do about it”….the truth is there is nothing that can be done about it. They aren’t making any more land and hunters will pay more every year to lease/buy ground.

    My advice is always the same….Buy land if you can, lease if you can, and if you’re lucky enough to have access to private ground don’t take it for granted.

    For those who have to hunt public ground…..learn to hike in farther off the road to get where the deer are and the hunters aren’t…….

    Or….you can save you money and hunt through outfitters.

  8. Here is a different idea, if a hunter has to pay or lease property to hunt, the anima harvested cannot be entered into a record book. Our hunting is becoming more and more like high fence hunts. We manage and feed for the largest animals and charge to hunt….not what hunting is all about.

    I like the old days, when meeting Farmers or Ranchers was half the fun. you became friends and had real concerns about each other. I feel pay hunts have destroyed all of that.

    Where I hunt, Pheasant hunts sell for $1,250.00 for three day hunts. I understand some of the cost is room and board, but what is shooting a bird worth? I no longer hunt Pheasants, Chicken taste much better.

    • Shed,
      I couldn’t disagree more! Just because I belong to a club that leases land does not mean there are high fences or a lack of ethics! A group of 15-17 guys lease a 1000 ac farm that has cows & horses on it. A neighbor also farms crops on the land. We help the farmer by maintaining the place and taking a large amount of mature does off the property. Eventually, I am sure someone will out bid us for the property or a new generation of family will deny future hunting privileges. We leave it better than we found it! Have fun! Respect the game! Nothing wrong with those ethics!

  9. i live in indiana same here not to dis leasing property but this is the number one reason landowners will not let u hunt there land, they eather have it leased out, or other people have messed it up , the days of knocking on a land owners door and asking for permission to hunt there property in return u offer help around the farm or just respect it if u do get to hunt it , im lucky i still have a few spots like this, but when there gone there gone, im a self employed tree service i deal with the public daily, if im at a client and i suspect they have property to hunt i usally ask i have done this for yrs and 90% of the time the answer is eather, i have let people hunt and they didnt respect my property or iv leased it, all a part of this money hungry world.

  10. I really don’t see how leasing property is incorporated to a money hungry world. Lets face it, there’s more people and less property to hunt now days than back in the day of knocking on doors. If your cant afford to buy your own property to hunt then find a piece to pay a lease on so you know your at least locked In for a year or five. That’s a lot better than showing up one day on a property that you have permission to hunt and finding out someone else took it over and your not allowed anymore. Or simply they just let someone else hunt there instead.

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