Skip to main content

8 Public Hunting Lands to Try

If you're looking for a new place to hunt this season, public land abounds.

8 Public Hunting Lands to Try

You don't have to be a landowner to get into great hunting because here in America we are all landowners. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Looking for a public land adventure? Here are eight different places that are worth a try. As always, make sure properties are still open, that you have all required documentation, and all rules are being followed before entering the properties. Buy your hunting license ahead of time, sign your duck stamps, take the proper surveys and print out a hard copy for when that phone of yours dies. 

1. Arkansas: Muddy Creek

Muddy Creek consists of 150,000 acres of moderate to rugged mountain terrain and narrow valleys. The predominant timber types are upland hardwoods, shortleaf pine and mixed pine-hardwood. Typical of the Ouachitas, the ridges run in an east-west fashion. Hardwoods are generally found on the north and east aspects of the mountains while pine occupies the south and west aspects. Numerous streams are found on the area.

8 Public Hunting Lands to Try

2. Connecticut: Mansfield Hollow Lake

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns 2,472 acres, of which the State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection leases approximately 2,300 acres for recreation and natural resource management. The state of Connecticut manages Mansfield Hollow Lake, which is becoming an increasingly popular recreational attraction. On a graceful, pine-covered bluff overlooking the broad expanse of water, picnic tables and fireplaces for both families and large groups are available. Many acres of open field lies adjacent to the bluff and may be used for softball, touch football, volleyball, and other team sports and group activities. A 4.5-mile walking/cross-country skiing trail leads through former pastures and the stone foundation remnants of former homesteads. The persistent hiker may find evidence of habitation by the Nipmuck Tribe. Other park facilities include a boat ramp, drinking water, and parking and sanitary areas.

The lake provides excellent boating for sailboats, canoes, and small power boats. Fishermen can expect to find trout, bass, horned pout, and perch. In-season hunting of pheasant, quail, partridge, and small game animals is also permitted.

8 Public Hunting Lands to Try

3. Florida: Apalachicola WMA

Big game, small game, waterfowl, trapping, frogging and fishing are all available on the 582,691 acres of Franklin, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla counties. The Apalachicola Wildlife Management Area is part of the Apalachicola National Forest.

Quail hunting is prohibited in the Quail Enhancement Area (QEA) except during the quail season, but other wildlife may be hunted in the QEA as described in the brochure that is linked above. All hunters must log their harvested deer prior to moving it and report their harvested deer within 24 hours.  See Florida Hunting Regulations handbook for deer harvest reporting instructions.

8 Public Hunting Lands to Try

4. Georgia: Altamaha WMA

The Altamaha Waterfowl Management Area consists of 3,154 acres of managed waterfowl impoundments and some 27,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods and cypress-tupelo swamps. The property offers hunting opportunities for deer, turkey, small game, waterfowl, and dove. The waterfowl impoundments are in three units, and each unit provides a different type of hunting opportunity.

8 Public Hunting Lands to Try

5. Illinois: Mississippi River Pool Areas

The Mississippi River Pool Area is comprised of the navigation pools of the Mississippi River formed by Dams, 24, 22, and 21. There is no Dam 23.  This river reach is composed of private properties, federal lands owned by the USACOE, managed by the IDNR, and land and water areas owned by the National Wildlife Refuge System which contains its own hunting and trapping regulations.

With 24,878 acres open to hunting, you're sure to find plenty of game, particularly waterfowl.  Private inholdings exist within these pools, and not all public areas are designated by signage. Refer to accompanying maps for proper boundaries.

8 Public Hunting Lands to Try

6. Indiana: Clark State Forest

Clark State Forest, established in 1903, is the oldest state forest in Indiana. The original appropriations to purchase a 2,000-acre tract took place during the administration of Governor Winfield Durbin. In the ensuing 96 years, additional acquisitions have increased this area to the present 24,000 acres. Much of this land was originally part of Clark's Grant, lands provided by a clause in the Virginia Cession of Claims to the Northwest Territory on December 20, 1783.

Clark State Forest was used as an experimental forest for many years, early in the development of forestry into a science and profession. More than 150 experimental tree plantings, established from 1905 through 1935, can still be observed in many areas throughout the forest.

8 Public Hunting Lands to Try

7. Louisiana: Maurepas Swamp

Maurepas Swamp WMA is mostly flooded cypress-tupelo swamp. Water levels in this area are influenced by rain, wind, and tides. Heavy rains accompanied with east winds can cause extensive flooding in the area for days at a time. Other vegetation found on the WMA includes bulltongue, cattail, submerged aquatics, red maple, American elm, sugarberry, and nuttall, water, and obtusa oak. Invasive species include water hyacinth, Bidens sp. “fourchette”, and an aquatic fern known as common salvinia. 


Maurepas Swamp WMA consists of two tracts totaling some 61,633 acres donated to LDWF by the Richard King Mellon Foundation in the summer of 2001, 12,000 acres of acquisitions and donations between 2002 and 2011, an additional 29,630 acres (M.C. Davis Tract) acquired from the Conservation fund in early 2012, and subsequent property acquisitions, including the Boyce and Crusel tracts.

8 Public Hunting Lands to Try

8. Ohio: Dillon Wildlife Area

Over half of the area is woodland with bottomland hardwoods (species including the sycamore, willow, and cottonwood) comprising 65% of the woodland acres. Small acreages of mast-producing oaks and hickories occur on the slopes and ridges of the surrounding uplands. Openland occupies about one-third of the area with 90% of the openland acreage under cultivation including corn, small grains, and meadows. The remainder lies in well-dispersed fallow fields of grasses and forbs and associated brushy field borders. Brushland covers less than 10% of the area.

This area supports good populations of cottontail rabbit. Gray and fox squirrels, ruffed grouse, and white-tailed deer occur at population levels consistent with available habitats. Woodchuck and raccoon are abundant. Red and gray fox, opossum, skunk, beaver, muskrat and mink are also present. The woodchuck population is usually high. In late summer, flocks of blue-winged teal appear on the area. Twenty-one different species of ducks have been identified, the most common being the mallard, wood duck, blue-winged teal, pintail, wigeon, ring-necked duck, and scaup. Canada geese are common in the vicinity.

8 Public Hunting Lands to Try

Current Magazine Cover

Don't Miss

The Essentials Gear Box.

Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.

Learn More

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Petersen's Hunting Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Petersen's Hunting stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now