details_rabbitI was talking with a friend and he said you have to have an Arizona State Trust Land  Recreation Permit to hunt on State Trust Land.  I was sure he was wrong.  An Arizona Game and Fish Officer told me that the Arizona Hunting/Fishing License was a valid permit to hunt on Arizona State Trust Land, certainly a recreational use.  Of course my friend insisted that I was wrong, and of course, I thought I was right.  So I did some research, here is what I found:

http://www.azland.gov/support/faqs.htm

Q: Why do I need a permit to go on State Trust land for recreation purposes and how do I obtain a recreational permit?

Arizona State Trust lands are not “public lands”, as are Federal lands under the management of the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management. Federal “public lands” are managed for the benefit and use of the public, while State Trust lands are managed for the benefit of 13 Trust beneficiaries, which        include the public schools and prisons. The Land Department’s trust management responsibilities include requiring a permit or lease and charging a fee for use of Trust land. Exceptions to this requirement are licensed hunters and fishers, actively pursuing game or fish, in-season, and certain archaeological activities permitted by the Arizona State Museum.

The exception mentioned above is called the Sportsmen’s Exception.  Lets flush out the Sportsmen’s Exception just a little bit.  Arizona Cottontail Rabbits season is year around and they inhabit the entire state and can be taken with a .22 caliber firearm.  If you posses an Arizona Hunting License and at least a .22 caliber firearm, you have the right to be on State Trust Land in the pursuit of the rascally rabbit.

http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/game_cottontail_rabbit.shtml

My friend said well you can’t camp on State Trust Land, I said wait a minute if I am legally on State Trust land in the pursuit of the rascally rabbit and that pursuit carries over multiple days, you say I can’t fall asleep?  That just doesn’t make sense to me.  While the Sportsmen’s Exception does not exclusively say you can camp, it also does not exclude over night hunting trips(camping) on State Trust Land.  I have never been on a big game hunt where we didn’t stay multiple nights maybe we were not good enough hunters.  But, in my defense we usually arrived to the hunting grounds in the afternoon after a long drive.  Well the first thing we do when we get there is to set up camp, but according to my friend we can’t do that.  I am sorry but the hunt is already off to a bad start.

This summer I intend to scout areas for the fall Elk Hunt on horse back, I also expect that scouting trip will be over a couple of days.  So, if asked by anybody I will simply say that I am in pursuit of the rascally rabbit and of course I will have at least a .22 caliber firearm with me.

Based on the Sportsmen’s Exception, I just can’t see a case where a hunter could be denied access to normally accessible State Trust Land.  If hunting were specifically banned in that area I wouldn’t want to be there anyway.

So, if you have a valid Arizona Hunting License then Arizona State Trust Land is available for your use and enjoyment.  I only ask that you be a good steward and clean up after yourself.  Thanks!