Unlike national forests that often include areas of high elevation, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)  features more low-elevation land with marginal value for agriculture, rough and rugged. For hunters, this is important because many animals — from wild game like elk to predators like coyotes — vacate high-elevation areas in late fall and winter, making lower-lying BLM areas a favorite winter-ranging destination, especially during harsher, less mild autumn seasons when snowfall comes early and often.

More than 245 million surface acres in the U.S. are under BLM management and open to hunters. Much of that is found in the heart of the Rocky Mountain West. Below, you’ll find two trophy-rich areas teaming with wildlife. Two other hotspots are profiled with the predator hunter in mind.

Let’s begin with Big Sky Country.

1. Montana

Hunters have access to 8 million acres of Montana BLM land. A large portion of that block is located in central and eastern Montana. If you’re looking for a hotspot to target, take advantage of the BLM area adjacent to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge where the Missouri River breaks along the Fort Peck Reservoir. The country is rough and rolling with pockets of agriculture to boost wildlife populations. Honestly, this spot has a ton of wild game species and there’s great fishing in the area too. Bull elk, bighorn rams, Merriam’s turkeys and a notably large population of mule deer are all here.

2. Wyoming

Wyoming is blessed with nearly 18 million acres of BLM scattered statewide. If you want access to BLM land, plan to hunt in a triangle from Pinedale east to Lander down to Rock Springs. The country is big, remote and tends to be sweet, mule-deer territory. The Pinedale area has big-game hunting seasons for: elk, moose, deer, pronghorn, big horn sheep, bear, mountain goat and mountain lion. Plus, here’s a quick fact: an estimated 75,000 elk live in the state.

3. Colorado

Like Montana, Colorado has approximately 8.3 million acres of BLM land with the largest concentration in the western half of the state. Here, we throw some intel out there for the predator hunter. Coyote densities vary, but the vast parcels found northwest of Craig, a city in Moffat County,

offer a good starting point since it abuts to some of Wyoming’s coyote-rich BLM in the southwest corner. From there travel south to Meeker and head west where another large block of BLM is available for calling.

4. New Mexico

Lastly, there is New Mexico with its 13.4 million acres of BLM. Like other states, the tracts are dispersed. Still, large concentrations of hunting land can be found south of Roswell and south of Truth or Consequences. Despite being fairly open, New Mexico’s desert terrain can make coyote hunting difficult. Large stands of chollas and prickly pear cactus actually tower over coyotes giving them ample cover to sneak in close for a surprise encounter.

These four BLM hunting spots are some of the big players nearest to East Coast and Midwestern hunters. There are many others from which to choose. Check out the map below and click here for the downloadable version.

(Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management)

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