21 of the Best Colleges for Hunters and Anglers
These universities are equally friendly to hunting, fishing, and both kinds of shotgunning
We’ve all heard it from our parents a million times: School comes first. And, sure, while that bit of wisdom is true and well-intended—it doesn’t mean that college has to mark a four-year hiatus from hunting and fishing. After all, everyone needs a break from the books now and then. And college can be a great opportunity to explore and discover new, exciting ground. After the spirited debate following our initial list of the 10 best schools for hunters and anglers, here are 21 more institutions of higher learning where sportsmen and sportswomen can enjoy phenomenal hunting and fishing—and, yes, Mom and Dad, still earn a great education.
1. Penn State
Location: University Park, Pennsylvania
Cost: $17,900 (state resident); $32,382 (non-resident)
Enrollment: 84,686 (undergraduates)
Penn State is home to one of the nation’s only forestry-focused fraternities, but the campus’s hunting-friendly culture extends beyond the Tau Phi Delta chapter room. During deer season, the university-owned land is open to public hunting. For anglers, the Penn State bass fishing club competes in various collegiate fishing tournaments and is sponsored by companies like Shimano and Bass Pro Shop. The school also has a flyfishing club that is over 80 members strong. —Jack Tien-Dana
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Cost: $24,916 (state resident); $40,162 (non-resident)
Just Northwest of Ozark National Forest is the University of Arkansas, a great school for young hunters and anglers. The Razorbacks have a collegiate bass fishing club, and won the 2012 Bassmaster College National Championship. There are also numerous public hunting opportunities for whitetails, waterfowl, and small game in the surrounding area. Ozark National Forest, just a 30-minute drive from campus, offers small game, waterfowl, and big-game hunting. And for die-hard waterfowlers, the world capital of duck hunting, Stuttgart, Arkansas is a three-hour drive southeast. —Ryan Chelius
Location: Boise, Idaho
Cost: $7,080 (resident); $21,530 (non-resident)
Although the school is in a big city, the Boise State Broncos are a fly cast away from fantastic trout streams. The Boise River, which runs through campus, has excellent fishing year-round. On the hunting front, opportunities are similarly plentiful, though some traveling may be required; the Sawtooth and Salmon-Challis National Forests are a short, day-trip away, and the mountains surrounding Boise are home to big-game species, such as elk, pronghorn, black bears, and mountain lions. —J.T.
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Cost: $30,178 (state resident); $54,312 (non-resident)
The University of Colorado might be one of the best schools for the total outdoorsman. The school has its own flyfishing club where members can learn fly tying, fly casting, and stream ecology. The club takes trips to local rivers, as well as participates in competitions throughout the year. The state provides opportunities for big-game hunting, including deer and elk, as well as waterfowl, and upland hunting. Students can go just south to Ralston Creek State Wildlife Area for big- and small-game hunting. There’s no shortage of hiking trails and slopes in Colorado, so bring the skis if you want. But whatever you do, don’t forget your fly rod. —R.C.
Location: Syracuse, New York
Cost: $27,303 (state resident); $36,953 (non-resident)
There is no shortage of hunters and anglers at SUNY-ESF. Located in central New York, this small college has a strong focus on environmental and sustainable studies. Full disclosure: I’m a student here. I’ll be a senior this fall, and the hunting and fishing possibilities are endless. The campus is only a short drive to many public Wildlife Management Areas and world-class fisheries; a 45-minute drive from campus is all that separates students from chasing steelhead on the famous Salmon River. Ducks and deer at the Cicero Swamp Wildlife Management Area are just 20 minutes away. There is also a Ducks Unlimited college chapter, collegiate bass fishing team, and flyfishing club. My college career has been filled with mornings spent shooting ducks followed by afternoons of landing steelhead. I might have missed a few classes here and there, but I don’t regret it one bit. —R.C.
Location: Fort Myers, Florida
Cost: $20,390 (state resident); $38,527 (non-resident)
If the warm weather and beaches aren’t already enough to bring students here, the world-class fishing should be. Located on the southern gulf coast of Florida, FGCU is minutes away from some of the best sportfishing on the planet. A kayak can open tons of opportunities. Just a few miles west of campus is Estero Bay, which holds strong populations of snook, redfish, sea trout, jack crevalle, and tarpon. FGCU also has a fishing club that competes in both collegiate bass tournaments and saltwater tournaments, and the club welcomes anyone interested in fishing—beginner or expert. —R.C.
Location: Hampden Sydney, Virginia
Hampden-Sydney might not be on the radar for many college-bound high-schoolers, but it’s a hidden gem for outdoorsmen. For anglers, the nearby Briery Creek Lake and Sandy River Reservoir offer great bass fishing, and there are three on-campus lakes stocked with bass. For hunters, the campus’ central Virginia location provides easy access to some great deer hunting and waterfowling. —J.T.
Location: Iowa City, Iowa
Cost: $22,607 (resident); $44,251 (non-resident)
For the college student looking to tag a trophy whitetail along with a bachelor’s degree, the University of Iowa is the place to enroll. South of campus lies some productive public ground where students can explore and have a chance to kill a buck. Students also have access to solid pheasant and goose hunting opportunities. Although intimidating at first, asking permission from landowners can increase success rates tenfold. Non-resident students can enjoy the benefits of residency and avoid costly Iowa non-resident tags. This goes a long way on a student budget. —R.C.
Location: Manhattan, Kansas
Cost: $23,339 (resident); $39,696 (non-resident)
Kansas State University is another prime location for chasing whitetails during the fall semester. The university also has a bass fishing team who have taken home multiple national championships—and there’s a Ducks Unlimited collegiate chapter for waterfowl hunters and conservationists to join. There are many public hunting opportunities in the area where students can pursue deer, pheasants, ducks, and other small game. Visit the Kansas wildlife, parks, and tourism website to locate public hunting ground. —R.C.
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Cost: $10,814 (resident); $27,491 (non-resident)
Louisiana State University, located in Baton Rouge, is a hotbed for hunters and anglers. The Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge is just 37 miles from campus and contains the Atchafalaya Basin, which is larger than the Florida Everglades and home to 250 species of birds and 100 different species of fish. If this all is not enough, Venice, Louisiana—home to some of the best deep-sea fishing in the world—is just a day-trip away. —J.T.
Location: Bozeman, Montana
Cost: $6,687 (resident); $23,186 (non-resident)
The alma mater of Bud Lilly, the “Father of Flyfishing,” Montana State University has assumed the moniker Trout U. And with good reason. To be sure, Montana State is certainly close to any number of trout hotspots, but even better, it offers the opportunity to transform your fishing obsession from a hobby into a career. In the ecology department, students can study Biology Teaching, Conservation Biology & Ecology, Fish & Wildlife Ecology & Management, and Organismal Biology. Trout U is proof positive of one of the world’s oldest, cheesiest idioms: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. —J.T.
Location: Murray, Kentucky
Cost: $8,400 (resident); $22,680 (non-resident)
At Murray State, the ample hunting and fishing opportunities should have students racing outside. The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, where anglers can fish Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, is a half-hour drive from campus. What’s more, the Land Between the Lakes is open to hunting 250 days a year. —J.T.
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Cost: $25,062 (state resident); $40,182 (non-resident)
Maybe one of the best places for a diehard waterfowler to attend school, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has one of the strongest collegiate Ducks Unlimited Chapters in the country. In May 2019, Ducks Unlimited named the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s DU club an All-American Gold Chapter in recognition of their fundraising and overall chapter strength. This isn’t to say that ducks are the only type of game to pursue here; Nebraska has great deer hunting and plenty of public lands to explore. —R.C.
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Cost: $8,880 (resident); $26,399 (non-resident)
There may be no better school for a young bass angler than N.C. State. The Basspack, as the fishing team is known, has won three national championships this century and are a national powerhouse. Even better, the team is open to any and all skill levels. Additionally, the university runs a sportfishing instructional program and organizes two excursions to the Gulf Stream every year. In terms of academics, N.C. State’s agricultural school (ranked tenth in the country by US News & World Report) is nearly as renowned as the Basspack. —J.T.
15. Ohio University
Location: Athens, Ohio
Cost: $11,744 (resident); $21,208 (non-resident)
At Ohio University, you cannot swing a bobcat without hitting a state forest. Burr Oak State Park and Wayne National Forest are both renowned big-game spots and are crawling with whitetails. Additionally, both parks offer hunter-ed classes and instructional courses for novice hunters. To be sure, fishermen have their fun too: The 421-acre Fox Lake is open to bass and catfish anglers year-round. The best part? All three of these locations are within a 45-minute drive of campus. —J.T.
Location: Corvallis, Oregon
Cost: $26,046 (state resident); $44,706 (non-resident)
Oregon State University offers a great destination for all kinds of anglers. The school has a successful bass fishing club with a strong membership; the competitive team won the 2018 Yeti FLW College Fishing Tournament on Lake Havasu. OSU is also close to some of the best wild steelhead rivers in the country. Hunters have a great opportunity for big game in the area, including whitetails, mule deer, black-tailed deer, and elk. Oregon also has a decent amount of public land. Visit the hunting access map on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website to locate areas. —R.C.
Location: Paul Smiths, New York (Adirondack Park)
Paul Smith’s College is located in the heart of the Adirondacks. With a short drive to Lake Champlain or Lake George, students can get in some really good freshwater fishing. The numerous small lakes and ponds scattered throughout the Adirondacks are filled with bass, pike, and panfish. Hunting may be a little more challenging—the Adirondacks are notoriously tough for encountering deer—but there’s always a chance to run into a big woods buck. Waterfowl hunters can also get in on the action, as Lake Champlain offers good puddle- and diver-duck hunting. Unlike most colleges, students may keep a firearm at the school armory during the fall semester. —R.C.
Location: Sewanee, Tennessee
At Sewanee, there’s a scant separation between your hunting day-dreams and your actual days spent on campus. During deer season, portions of the 13,000-acre campus (known as the Domain) are open to hunting, allowing you to step right from the dining room to a deer stand. Beyond the on-campus hunting opportunities (once more, with feeling: On-campus hunting!), the nearby Elk River is a prime flyfishing spot. —J.T.
Location: Vermillion, South Dakota
Cost: $22,274 (state resident); $25,521 (non-resident)
South Dakota’s hunting and fishing need no introduction, and pheasants, ducks, and big whitetails are all on the table. With over 5 million acres of public land in the state, students shouldn’t have a difficult time finding spots to bird hunt in the world’s pheasant capital. The University is also a 15-minute ride to the Missouri River. This location makes it easy for sportsmen and sportswomen to also hunt and fish across state lines. If you fill your tags too quickly in South Dakota, head across the river and start your season over in Nebraska. —R.C.
20. Unity College
Location: Unity, Maine
Unity College is a small liberal arts school in Maine, and has plenty of nearby opportunities for hunters and anglers. In Maine, students are eligible to purchase hunting and fishing licenses for resident prices, and the school offers a bevy of related courses (including the adventure-based Environmental Education Program) to deepen your understanding of the outdoors. —J.T.
Location: Laramie, Wyoming
Cost: $5,055 (resident); 16,215 (non-resident)
Sharing a state with prominent national parks such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton, the University of Wyoming is perfect for wilderness lovers. Wyoming is the site of some of the best big-game hunting in the country—pronghorn, elk, and moose all populate the land around the Laramie campus. In fact, the area around Laramie is one of the premier moose hunting spots in the nation, granted that you receive a tag (non-residents have to apply, but most units in Wyoming virtually guarantee that you will draw a tag), giving you ample opportunity to mount a trophy on your dorm room wall. —J.T.