Last December, I spent a few days chasing whitetails on a National Wildlife Refuge in the remote and beautiful Sandhill country of Nebraska. In my entire time on the refuge, I never saw another hunter. I had a great deer hunt, and saw loads of pheasants and waterfowl. And with access to 40,000 acres of prime public land hunting and fishing, I made a plan to come back to hunt birds and fish the area’s many pothole lakes.

Now, an additional quarter-million acres of public National Wildlife Refuge lands could soon provide more opportunities for America’s hunters and anglers. The Department of the Interior has issued a plan to increase hunting and fishing access on thirty National Wildlife Refuges in twenty-two states. Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke’s current proposal sends a positive message to hunters and anglers in the United States. If the plan is implemented, a total of 377 National Wildlife Refuges will be open to hunting and 312 will be open to fishing.

These days, it’s easy for hunters and anglers to get discouraged by the constant barrage of threats to access on our federal public lands. But it’s not all bad news coming out of D.C. We’re encouraged by the Department of the Interior’s proposal to open up more of our National Wildlife Refuges to hunting and fishing, and on behalf of MeatEaters everywhere we applaud these efforts.

The Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 30 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register in the coming days. To voice your support for this proposal, go to, enter in docket no. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2018-0020. An interim copy of the proposed rule is now available here.

Brody Henderson and the MeatEater crew