Hunter Perspectives on Obtaining Hunting Access to Private Land in Alberta, 2021–2022

Final Report


Phil Rose, B.Sc., M.Sc.

Amanda MacDonald, B.Sc.

Robert Anderson, M.Sc., P.Biol.


Alberta Conservation Association and several partnering organizations surveyed Alberta hunters to gather insight into their experiences and perspectives on gaining access for hunting on private property. The Hunter Access Survey was conducted to complement the 2021 Landowner Hunter Access Survey, which asked landowners for their perceptions. The hunter-focused survey was active for 36 days in 2021–2022. We asked hunters a series of questions pertaining to their demographics, their general hunting activities, as well as their perception of gaining access on private lands. We received 3,455 valid responses from 97% of the postal code regions in Alberta. Two-thirds of the respondents were between the age of 45 and 75 and had been hunters for an average of 34 years. Respondents hunted on private land an average of 16.7 days per year and 85% contacted ten or fewer landowners per year to request hunting access.

Most survey respondents often had success gaining access to private land to hunt, were satisfied with their experience accessing private land, and did not perceive a change in their rate of success gaining permission over the previous five years. However, there are certain demographics that appear to have greater difficulty accessing private land: hunters who have not lived in Canada their entire lives, speak a language other than English at home, live in the southern portion of the province, or live or hunt near large urban areas. Respondents who hunt ungulate big game, particularly elk, and primarily hunt in the Foothills or Mountain regions were also more likely to have difficulty gaining permissions on private land.

Our survey results imply that respondents who were older, had hunted for more years, relied heavily on private land for hunting, contacted fewer landowners, and/or had larger social networks were more likely to have a greater success gaining permissions on private land. They were also less likely to perceive a change in their rate of success gaining permission over the past five years, and more likely to be satisfied with their experience accessing private land. Because our survey used a non-random (voluntary) sample of hunters, we cannot know if these trends pertain to the entire population of hunters in Alberta. However, we were able to learn about the types of hunters that are more commonly given access to private land, some of the challenges that hunters face, and the areas of common interest that may help to build and maintain hunter–landowner relationships over time. The importance of developing hunter–landowner relationship skills deserves greater emphasis among those seeking permissions, and especially for those entering hunter education systems.

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