Hunters prefer private land. In many cases it’s where they can get away from others, their ATVs, camp trailers and the fray associated with regular open seasons.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game knows this.
That’s one reason the department began securing land under a program called Access Yes! Working in conjunction with private landowners, the department has opened the doors to 549,635 acres of private property in Idaho to hunters and anglers.
Through a program, the game department pays private landowners to allow hunters access to their property, and new acreage is opened annually statewide.
Many of the Access Yes! Panhandle properties are geared toward big game hunting although a few, such as the 8,500 Trout Creek acreage east of Calder, along the St. Joe River includes fishing access.
Biologist JJ Teare of Fish and Game hunted the 4,500-acre Trout Creek Access Yes! property along Pack River east of Sandpoint for turkey and deer.
“I did not get a deer, but there were a lot of deer out there,” Teare said. “It’s pretty nice country. It’s a nice piece of ground.”
The Panhandle has five Access Yes! properties including many in prime elk hunting areas such as the John Creek drainage near Emida, an 18,500-acre swath with easy access, and 28,700 acres at Hugus Creek in the St. Joe River basin.
Bird hunters can consider 6,500 acres of mostly agricultural land near Genesee, and a 2,300-acre parcel southeast of Moscow, and many of the properties provide a variety of terrain, vegetation and hunting opportunities.
The department annually reviews its inventory, and calls for bids from landowners who want to lease land to the department to be used by outdoor enthusiasts.
“Anyone can turn in a bid for property,” Teare said.
The properties may have restrictions, such as foot access only, or youth hunt restrictions, or anyone using the property may be required to fill out a brief survey. Some have no strings attached.
“It’s just go ahead and go,” Teare said.
To find Access Yes! properties, maps and descriptions, click “access” on the IDFG website and an array of maps from the state’s seven hunting regions, including the Panhandle and Clearwater show new and old Access Yes! properties.
“They all have different characteristics and opportunities,” Teare said.