Archery season is in full swing throughout the West. This time of year I curse my love of fine walnut and blued steel over compound bows. To be sure, I lose six weeks of hunting opportunity here in Montana by not picking up a bow and chasing elk during the rut. One day though, hopefully soon, I’ll take up the challenge.
Archery season is also when we start to hear more and more about lost access to public lands. That’s no different this year. Recently, Southwick and Associates, a firm that specializes in measuring participation in and attitudes toward hunting, angling, and the shooting sports, released a survey that showed 23% of America’s hunters and anglers have lost access over the last year. The report is eerily similar to what I’ve heard throughout Montana when it comes to decreased access for hunters and anglers:
1.) Increased leasing of private land
2.) Decreasing budgets for land managers to keep roads open
3.) Decreased budgets for game agencies to work with landowners to open up more areas for hunting
4.) Increased illegal closures of public roads
5.) Changing landownership patterns closing traditionally open ranches and farms