May 14, 2013
Why We Lose Hunting Access - 6
In just the last four years, Cory Peterson’s outfitting business has doubled in size to nearly 60,000 acres of deer- and turkey-rich ground in Nebraska’s Sand Hills. But Peterson, who also farms corn and raises beef cattle in the area, didn’t pursue many of his leases. Instead, neighbors came to him, offering to lease their land for annual payments that range between $1 and $3 per acre.
The main reason Peterson’s Hidden Valley Outfitting has grown? His neighbors find it increasingly difficult to allow free public hunting.
“Most traditional farmers understand the idea that hunting is something that should be free,” says Peterson. “But these guys have had gates left open by hunters, cattle shot by hunters, and water tanks shot by hunters. After a while, they just run out of patience.”
In Peterson, they find a neighbor who is familiar with their property, knows how to behave around their livestock, and has the ability to compensate them for the use of their land. Plus, he sometimes hires their sons as guides.
“We don’t pay a ton of money, but it’s enough to help cover farmers’ property taxes, and they don’t have to put up with the headaches that come with letting everybody hunt,” says Peterson. “It’s not that these guys want to lease. It’s just easier than the alternative.”
Why We Lose Access
1. Legal Beagles
2. Fear of Fire
3. Gate Gripes
4. Off-Road Rage
5. Wake-Up Calls
6. Thankless Hunters
About Open Country
Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: Access.
Outdoor Life’s Open Country program aims to tackle that issue head on and with boots on the ground. The program highlights volunteer-driven efforts to improve access along with habitat improvements to make existing public lands even better places to hunt and fish. The program's goal is to substantially increase sportsman's access across the country by promoting events that make a difference.
The Open Country program culminates in an awards system with top projects and participants being honored during a gala at the 2014 SHOT Show in January.