WGFD shares advice on access to hunting areas | Local News
SHERIDAN – In late summer and fall, Wyoming Game and Fish Department employees answer hundreds of questions about access to land for hunting. Often the inquiries focus on how to access a certain piece of public land.
On paper maps of the Bureau of Land Management’s land management status and most commercially available digital maps, such as OnX, land is color coded by property.
Always check the legend for each map you use, but generally white is private land while public land is color coded green for National Forest, yellow for BLM, and blue for Wyoming state land.
If you can access the state forest, BLM or state land from a public road, an access easement or by crossing private land where the owner has given you permission to cross his private property , you can hunt on public lands during an open season if you have the appropriate hunting license. The key words in the previous sentence are “public highway”.
Roads on digital and paper maps are usually represented by red lines.
However, not all red lines on the maps are public roads. Major freeways and county roads are usually marked with a symbol and / or number, but the remaining roads are also represented by a red line or dashed red line on maps. There is no way to tell if roads not marked on digital or paper maps are public roads just by looking at the “thickness” of the red lines.
The appearance of a road that a hunter might encounter in the field is also somewhat confusing. There are many roads, especially in the Powder River Basin, which are well-maintained gravel roads on private land that were built by energy companies to access oil and gas wells and infrastructure. These may be private roads that hunters are not allowed to use to access adjacent public lands.
Railways are also private property and it is illegal to walk on or cross them to access public property.
A good resource for identifying county and other public roads is the local county assessor’s office GIS website. Sheridan, Johnson, and Campbell counties all have interactive maps available for viewing, printing, or downloading. These websites are also useful in determining the boundaries of land ownership.
There are many other resources for hunters to help find out what public lands are and are not legally accessible.
The Hunt Planner, available on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website, has interactive maps and other useful information about each big game hunting area in the state.
Hunters can also go to the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments website to view and download a map showing state lands that are available to the public.
It is the hunter’s responsibility to know where he is hunting and to avoid encroaching on private property. Paper and digital maps, various state, county, and federal agency websites, and the WGFD website all provide great tools to help hunters prepare for a successful hunt.