Deer hunting is one of the most popular outdoor hunting activities with millions of Americans hitting the woods each season. While some luck hunters own or have access to private farms, wood lots or other white tail havens, the majority rely on public land for their outdoor adventures. Unfortunately, this level of pressure means that the hunting can be harder than normal. If you are going to tag out you need to bump your game to the next level.
Hunting public land is a blessing and a curse all rolled into one. Americans are fortunate that most states as well as the several federal agencies have dedicated a great deal of funds to securing land for such a purpose. But the number of other hunters who utilize these lands, not to mention those who use it for other purposes, can be a curse. The pressure this level of activity puts on the deer population, and in turn you, can make success difficult to come by.
If you are going to hunt public property it is important that you give yourself every advantage. Let us help you with a few tried and true tips.
1. Know the property like the back of your hand
One of the reasons those who hunt private property succeed when others fail is their detailed knowledge of the land. If you are going to hunt public land you need to develop your own knowledge as well. Use topographical maps to learn the terrain and identify where deer are likely to be, and where they may go when pressured. Next, go into the field and see these areas first hand. Identify potential travel routes, bedding areas and sanctuaries. Do not forget to learn where other users frequent and what activities they may be involved in as well.
2. Let the other users become an asset
Many hunters become frustrated with the others who use public land, especially those who may not be hunting or are doing so in a manner that interferes with their own plans. But you can use this to your advantage as well. Let the hikers, bird watchers and hunters who sound like a freight train as they come and go be a driving force, pushing deer in your direction. Of course, this means learning where these users will be and where the deer will go. (See #1)
3. Go to places others will avoid
After hunting public land for a season you will learn one important fact; most hunters are lazy. They will hunt as close to parking areas as possible and generally take the most direct route to their stand. If you want to increase you own chances of success you need to do the opposite. Hike deep, past where other may be to find new untouched stand locations. Find harder to reach, more obscure wood lots, trails and feeding areas that provide you an opportunity to see deer first.
4. Change your hunting times
Public land is most popular on weekends and opening days, when the majority of people are off work. You can increase your success rate by hunting when the majority of hunters are doing something else. Hunt mid-week, stay on stand all day while others are going home and do not let poor weather be an excuse to stay in bed.
If done right hunting public land can be very rewarding. For additional tips on making your next public land deer hunt a success check out this YouTube video.