Dept of Interior Announces 2.3 Million Acres Will Open to Hunting and Fishing

JWT hunting


By the NSSF

America’s hunting heart is getting a whole lot more room to roam.

Secretary of the Department of the Interior David Bernhardt announced a public hunting and fishing access plan of historic proportions. Sec. Bernhardt is proposing a rule that would open 2.3 million acres to hunting and fishing at 97 national wildlife refuges and nine national fish hatcheries. It’s the largest ever expansion of public hunting and fishing opportunities in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s history.

For hunters, it is a welcome announcement that America’s heart is wild, open and welcomes the contributions of conservation-minded hunting.

The proposal dramatically increased hunting opportunities across the country. It increases hunting on National Wildlife Refuges to 399 locations and will open hunting and fishing on nine units of National Fish Hatchery Systems lands.

When totaled up as one species at one station in one state, it’s nearly 900 distinct new hunting and fishing opportunities. Those opportunities will be in just about every corner of the country too.

New and Expanded Opportunities

  • In Florida, for the first time, migratory bird, upland and big game hunting along with sport fishing will be opened on the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Wyoming’s Bamforth National Wildlife Refuge will gain big game and upland game hunting opportunities.
  • West Virginia’s Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge would see hunters gaining expanded opportunities for migratory birds, upland and big game.
  • Washington state’s Willapa National Wildlife Refuge would see more acres added to areas where hunters pursue big game.
  • Texas’s Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge would gain acres to existing big game hunting there too.
  • California’s San Luis National Wildlife Refuge would see hunters benefit from the expansion of season dates for existing pheasant hunting.
  • Minnesota’s Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge would expand existing migratory bird, upland and big game hunting and sport fishing to new acres.

Hunting at fish hatcheries would be opened too.

  • Michigan’s Jordan River National Fish Hatchery would open lands to migratory bird, upland and big game hunting.
  • Washington state’s Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery would welcome migratory bird, upland and big game hunting.

Paying Dividends

This is another example of how the Trump Administration and Sec. Bernhardt continue to deliver to outdoorsmen and women they know are paying for the abundant wildlife in America.

The administration already opened 1.4 million acres for new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities. This proposed rule change would grow that to nearly 4 million acres for sportsmen and women to take the outdoors.

The firearm industry and hunters and anglers have been footing the bill. Firearm manufacturers paid $12.5 billion since 1937 in Pittman-Robertson excise taxes. Purchases by hunters and anglers supported nearly $1 billion in excise taxes last year, all which sustain conservation programs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported 15 million hunting licenses were sold. These are all funds that combine to purchase and restore wildlife lands, easements and access as well as perpetuate wildlife conservation efforts.

Hunters are the original conservationists. The proof is in the abundant wildlife across the nation today. Just over a hundred ago, the outlook wasn’t healthy. Just half million whitetail deer existed. Today, they number over 32 million. Few ducks were in the marshes, but today, over 44 million follow their migration patterns.

duck hunt dog shotgun remington

Dan Z. for TTAG

Fewer than 41,000 Rocky Mountain Elk bugled in the mountains and today there are over a million. Just 100,000 turkeys gobbled from the roost but today, hunters chase more than 7 million. The pronghorn antelope dwindled to just 50,000 just 50 years ago. Now, because of hunter-supported activities, they number over 1.1 million.

This is a success story and a future investment. As much as hunting and recreational target shooting have supported wildlife and habitat conservation, this move by Sec. Bernhardt creates more than opportunity. It creates tomorrow’s hunters who will perpetuate wildlife conservation for the future.


  1. avatar kahlil says:

    Why would an article on public lands for hunting and fishing feature someone who’s killed a goat that was likely on a preserve? I know I could be wrong and it was a feral but it kinda doesn’t fit the theme of the story.

    1. avatar enuf says:

      Beat me to it 🙂

      Where on public lands in the USA is such a critter to be found?

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Khalid and enuf when I was in high school wild goats were common on the south end of the Robert Brent WMA off Hwy 65. St. Joe since privatized it again and leases hunting rights. Don’t know if the goats are still there. Haven’t hunted it since 1990.

      2. avatar jwm says:

        Goats are an invasive species in CA and can be hunted year round. I don’t hunt for them specifically but if a shot presents itself, Imma take it.

        1. avatar Mark N. says:

          Really? Did not know that. Up here in the north, there are folks who rent out goat herds for weed control. Very effective, since they eat anything and everything.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Feral goats, Mark. At least they were listed a few years back. We have the weed eaters in the bay area also. Very useful critter. But the ferals, like the pigs, are not liked.

    2. avatar SRK says:

      REALLLLLY, REALLLLLY, that’s what you got from the article???!!! OMG!

    3. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Feral goat. That was the best shot of my life. 170 yard standing off hand with the revolver in the picture. I was out clearing pigs for friend of mine and he said that if I saw this goat it had been absolutely hell on his farm and to shoot it without question. That big hole you see in its back side is actually the exit wound. There’s another hole on the other side of its back side. I don’t think the bullet killed it, but it knocked it off a cliff where it fell 60 ft to his death. It is weird gnarly looking thing.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Now that is a story that you have to write up for TTaG!

        By the way that is a pretty darned big exit hole considering that the bullet had to be considerably down in velocity at 170 yards away.

        I just might have to switch over all of my .44 Magnum hunting platforms to heavy hardcast lead bullets with huge flat meplats, given what I see of that exit wound.

      2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        That’s a hunting story that needs to be fleshed out.

      3. avatar MrMax says:

        I agree. Please give us the details of your story!

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          I’m afraid it’s not much of a story. Driving to ambush a pig I saw a goat. I stepped out of the jeep and shot said goat. Goat died.

          Hell, y’all are all stuck indoors. I’ll see what I can do to make that more intersting.

      4. avatar Big E says:

        Shame, shame. “Feral goat”?!?! FERAL GOAT!?!?? How dare you! I think you mean “undocumented immigrant” or “refugee goat”.

        He has as much right to be there as the “indigenous” wildlife. I hope his descendants have been fairly compensated for your racist, mysognistic, homo-phobic, specist, racist (again) gender-assuming outrage.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Well…I mean, I killed the indigs too. #seeimnoraciss

        2. avatar DinWA says:


  2. avatar Esoteric Inanity says:

    Who’s the old man?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      If he’s old I must be an antique.

      1. avatar Esoteric Inanity says:

        lol Esoteric Inanity started this somewhere back in 2014-2015 when a photo of JWT instructing a rather attractive young woman on firearms etiquette was posted with some article that this one can’t recall the topic of. Standing next to her, he did in fact look somewhat old. Ever since then, when Esoteric Inanity sees a serious looking picture of JWT, he asks: “Who’s the old man?”

        JWT doesn’t seem to mind it, in fact he outright ignores this one’s attempts to get his goat. Esoteric Inanity means that in the metaphorical sense naturally, as JWT would never literally relinquish that goat for the fear of what this one might do with it.

        Hang on to that goat JWT!!! It’s no Israeli supermodel but at least he looks young standing/squatting next to it!!!

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          I was old even when I was young. And now I can’t remember that far back. But it ain’t the years, it’s the miles.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Chicks dig scars. 🙂

  3. avatar enuf says:

    What’s the dog’s name?

    1. avatar Esoteric Inanity says:

      Dog?!?!?! That’s a helluva way to talk about the man’s wife.

  4. avatar The Rookie says:

    Beautiful dog!

  5. avatar jwm says:

    What’s the info on that hand cannon you’re posing with, JWT?

    1. avatar Esoteric Inanity says:

      3rd comment down:

      jwtaylor says:
      May 17, 2018 at 19:46
      “Ruger Blackhawk Bisley Hunter .44Magnum”

  6. avatar jwm says:

    They’re opening more pheasant lands near Los Banos. Good. It’s about a 90 minute drive for me and there’s already good dove shooting in that area.

  7. avatar Jeff peake says:

    ive hunted at balcones canyonlands its not bad but the deer were all in the closed areas

  8. avatar SouthernShooter says:

    Wow! how many Snowflake heads are exploding over this?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Hopefully all of them.

  9. avatar SpeedBump says:

    Some very good news!

    Rumor had it, hillary clintonbitch had collateralized millions of acres of national forrest lands to china to back loans to us.

    Also did same to california commercial, and some residential real estate too.

    If so, china just got screwed!

    I’m thinking this is what prompted this move…

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email