Jeremy S. hunting turkey Remington 870 DM
Jeremy S. for TTAG
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By Larry Keane

Another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic that no one saw coming: hunting. While consumer demand for firearms is at record level, and while non-essential activities have been shut down in most states, it is no surprise that Americans would be looking forward to hunting seasons.

Hunting is a perfect opportunity to be outside, alone or in small groups, enjoying nature and perhaps being able to bring home local game meat for yourself or to donate to others.

Hunting Closures

Unfortunately, several states have taken measures to limit this naturally-social-distanced activity. NSSF has learned that Alaska is closing spring bear hunting to non-residents. Nebraska is not issuing any more non-resident spring turkey permits.

Illinois has canceled all hunting and fishing on state land. In Washington state, all wildlife areas and water access areas are closed for at least two weeks starting March 25. The spring youth turkey hunt has been canceled, and bear season will remain closed for now.

Here are what several other states are doing:

Alabama: The Executive Order does not include hunting to be specifically closed as it does with other businesses, industries, activities. From Alabama DNR website: WFF unmanned shooting and archery ranges remain open. The manned shooting ranges at the Cahaba River WMA and Swan Creek WMA will be closed until further notice.

Florida: Executive Order includes the following as “Essential Activities”: Participating in recreational activities (consistent with social distancing guidelines) such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running, or swimming… Open/Closed Status of FWC Offices, Facilities and Managed Areas

MarylandCan I go huntingLimited hunting is allowed if you are seeking food for you or your family, but the social distancing guidelines and the prohibition on social gatherings must be strictly followed.

Mississippi: As part of the “Essential Activities” list in the Executive Order, it includes, “To engage in individual outdoor activity and recreation.” MDWFP Wildlife Management Areas will remain open.

North Carolina: Order mentions allowing outdoor activities, but not hunting specifically. Per the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (4/2/20): There have been no changes to North Carolina hunting or fishing license requirements, seasons, or bag/creel limits. Link for closure of game lands and shooting ranges.

South Carolina: Hunting remains open, but DNR has closed certain areas.

Texas: Executive Order deems hunting and fishing as “essential activities.”

Tennessee: “Essential Activities” includes “Engaging in outdoor activity, provided that persons the Health Guidelines to the greatest extent practicable, including, but not limited to, driving or riding in a vehicle, walking, hiking, running, biking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, golf, tennis, or other sports or recreational activities that can be performed while maintaining the aforementioned precautions or utilizing public parks and outdoor recreation areas…” From TWRA: Tennessee’s 2020 Turkey Season Will Be Open for Business.

Utah: The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ two public shooting ranges will be closed beginning Friday, April 3, until further notice.

Virginia: Hunting is not prohibited.

  • Per Virginia DGIF: The upcoming turkey season, including youth and apprentice weekend, are still on schedule. For more information on turkey season and other open seasons, visit our website.
  • Q: Are the woods and waters still open? Yes, Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and DGIF lakes and rivers are still open. However, please check with your local county and city for any additional closures of parks, lakes, or piers.
  • Since the WMAs are open, the ranges are open. However, the ranges are normally only open from September 1 through March 31, so they will close at the end of the regular season on March 31.

West Virginia: The Executive Order allows “Engaging in outdoor activity…”From WV DNR website: Spring Turkey Hunting Season – The spring gobbler season is still scheduled to start on April 20. The youth season will begin on April 18-19. All hunting license requirements and regulations remain in effect. Shooting ranges are open, but with some restrictions.

The top priority for all right now is to stop the spread of COVID-19, and these well-intentioned measures are aimed, although inaccurately, at that common goal. We hope that as lawmakers seek out information about hunting and how to ensure that it may be done safely during this time.

Hunting Helps

Hunter Hunting In Rural Field Nearby Woodland At Sunset During

NSSF urges all to abide by CDC guidelines, practice social distancing and take preventative measures to prevent infection. Most hunting activities can be conducted that not only allow for such practices but is actually dependent upon them.

In fact, NSSF has urged hunters to become part of the solution to the effects of the pandemic by digging into game freezers to and share clean and truly free range meat with those who cannot get to grocery stores or are suffering through unexpected financial difficulties due to emergency orders.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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  1. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee says “go outside, get fresh air, get excercise” yet hiking trails are closed, boat launches are closed, fishing & hunting is prohibited. Pot shops/dispensaries have been declared as essential, even for recreational purposes, yet all other recreational facilities are closed.

    • I was blown away when they closed off all fishing/crabbing, etc.
      I’ll try to find it, someone added up the miles of coastline and both sides of rivers and figured that if every person in the entire state, (from infants to the infirm), went fishing, there would be a fisherman every quarter of a mile. I’m off by the numbers, but essentially, no one would really see each other.
      My kind of grocery store! Oh yeah, but grocery stores are open so people can congregate next to each other wearing nonexistent masks that people can’t buy.

      Fracking government. Only inslee can be that stupid.

  2. Florida. I know two guys that were fishing on local fresh water earlier this week that a Game & Fish officer told to pack up and go home. I know several others fishing on salt water this weekend for grouper in salt water this weekend and had no problem. Obviously there is confusion. I only know my annual turkey hunting safari is cancelled. Mark and I did that because our favorite restaurants and other activities would be closed. Not because of anything S.C. had to say about hunting. Even that may have changed.

    • I think confusion in policies and enforcement is going to be the name of the game for the next couple of months. And some of the restrictions might be motivated by a desire to free up LEOs to work in other areas.

      • God forbid people might actually have to act civil or suffer the consequences without ticket writers on constant patrol.

    • I spent yesterday in the Green Swamp WMA. No one was at the check station (at the 471 entrance) to issue daily permits though. I just cruised on in and went hunting.

  3. Add Iowa to the list of open for business. In regards to hunting, fishing and range use. They cannot be suspended by law. In times of Emergency or Natural Disasters.
    Missouri has suspended the need for a fishing license and hunting is still allowed.
    Illinois has suspended hunting and fishing on public lands. Closed all public parks. No word about activities on private lands.

  4. With so many guys laid off or “ working “ from home, the upcoming Turkey season will have a lot of guys in the woods .

    I went shed hunting today , found three dinks .

  5. Speaking of hunting – or at least the tasty critters you get from hunting – thought I’d share a Youtube cooking channel I’ve been following for quite a while. The guy’s got some really great recipes for all sorts of game, and also shows how to dress/butcher a lot of critters (he’s a butcher by trade):

    The Scott Rea Project

    • Thanks for that. I’ve got books by Scott lyseth, Steven Rinella and others on cooking wild game.
      Youtube is great for this kind of thing. I follow a guy named PK on tips for fishing for surf perch at the coast.

  6. Yeah the idiocy of such closures at the same time as urging exercise in the Great Outdoors just goes to prove the incredible stupidity of politicians.

    Another outdoor activity is what I enjoyed for years when I was younger. Cross country wilderness, backpacking, mountaineering. Layout a course of exploration on 7.5 minute topo map, use trails only to access where the vehicle would be parked or where a friend would drop you off and pick you up. Then spend a day navigating some wild country where others are rarely seen.

    You do share the plan, the intended route and expected time out of the field with someone trust worthy, naturally. It is not about being foolish, it is about applying your wilderness skills. One of my favorite activities was identifying where trails had been shown on old maps, and finding the old tree blazes and rock cairns or switch-back corners of a long ago abandoned trail.

    For a period of isolation during the ALIEN VAMPIRE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, this sort of wilderness adventure kicks virus ass. In forest, desert, mountains, from the heat of summer to snowshoeing it in deep winter. From a day to a number of days on your own.

    Oh, and you get to take a gun along, because, well, it just goes with wilderness good sense after all. No less so than the old explorer’s rule of “Rotate Your Socks at least once a month whether they need it or not”!

  7. Australian politicians are just as bad! All east coast states have shut all hunting areas and forests. Plus all camping and most fishing.

    Local Fallow deer season would normally start about today. Where I go it would be 60 km (36 miles) to closest town. That’s fairly socially isolated. Lots of swearing from me.

  8. Wisconsin seems to be open for at least hiking. I have been walking some of the rsils-to-trails with Ranger Moe. Been packing my 45 since the Bears are awake. Gave up spring turkey season a couple of years ago because I never seem to draw the first week. After week one the Turkeys seem to disappear.

  9. Called in and took down a big long beard yesterday morning on my property. 28 pounds, 10 1/2” beard, 1 3/4” spurs, huge fan.Took me an hour to get him to commit, when he did those 3 1/2” #5s did the job. It was awesome.

  10. I wonder if our political class will have distancing rules for sexual intercourse. Because they sure as hell are controlling everything else.

    • “I wonder if our political class will have distancing rules for sexual intercourse.”

      The one on this end has been rather insistent her needs be met.

      Yes, ma’am! 🙂

    • Don’t give them any ideas. I seen on the tube a couple of days ago. A country I think it was Malaysia or the Philippines. Where the government ordered that women could go outside on Monday.Wednesday and Friday. Men on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. No one goes out on Sunday. Ain’t Tyranny Fun. Keep Your Powder Dry. Even if you can’t hunt game with it.

    • Won’t happen. Without sexual deviance there wouldn’t be a dim party. It’s either trannies and sodomy on demand or pump and dump the hetero way and get your taxpayer funded baby euthanasia or a bump in your food stamps and welfare. The tyrants know their base well.

  11. Insleeze is such a turd. My mother in law voted for his broad jawline and now I can’t fish or hunt. Fuck everyone. My guess is a few weeks it won’t matter and I’ll be doing whatever the hell I want anyway. The frightening part about that is so will everyone else.

    • You wrote a lot in few words. We may be about to see how civil everyone can be when the fuzz is afraid to show up. I hope not, but some areas no doubt are going that way. If you can survive the dangerous liberty you may just have a chance to enjoy it.

  12. My real time work with facebook Im making over Many Buck a month operating low maintenance. I continued hearing distinctive people divulge to me how an lousy lot cash they can make on line so I selected to research it……Details Here

  13. Don’t care what Jay Inslee said, I still go hunting. Take me to court if I am caught and I’ll fight it. . It is not poaching, I have my license and tags. He is a total asshat. His opinion does not trump my rights.


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