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Hunting on public land, any tips?

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Unread 11-29-2011, 06:18 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 693
Hunting on public land, any tips?

My friend came by for Thanksgiving and we spend 3 days looking for deer on the public land, during those 3 days we didn't see any bucks or does or bambys moving and there were not many shots fired for miles. What a disappointment it was! I got my buck on the first day of the season, but I hunted on private land, which is in the wooded area and longest shot I can take is 100 yards, its perfect for bow hunting, but not challenging during regular season. I hunt on this land for many years, but I only take two bucks a year and I refuse to let others hunt there. So how does this work on the public land? We pick a spot on the gorge with a stream running bellow so we can observe anything moving up or down or across, there were deer droppings and tracks and those droppings were fresh, but during 3 days we didn't observe anything other then squirrels and we were there from dawn till dusk. So how does public land hunting works when nothing is moving?
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Unread 11-29-2011, 06:24 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: OK
Posts: 2,132
Re: Hunting on public land, any tips?

don't give up.
walk in further from the road.
get a good spotter and glass better/more.
hunt the small overlooked tracts of public land.
get up an hour earlier than you have been.
when your ready to leave a morning sit fire a scare shot over the cover and see if somthing moves. I use this as practice and actually aim at somthing so I know my bullet is safe, ocasionally you may see deer stand up and or move with-in 15 minutes.
Tell your buddy to go beat the brush for you.
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Unread 11-29-2011, 06:57 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Lynchburg, TN
Posts: 785
Re: Hunting on public land, any tips?

What state do you hunt in? That would help us help you.
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Unread 11-29-2011, 07:43 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 693
Re: Hunting on public land, any tips?

It's NY State and we hunt in region 7R-7S & 8Y-8W, regular season here started on November 19 and will end Dec 11, my friend drove from Virginia and got nonresident buck tag, he might come back on that last weekend to try his luck one more time. I still have DMP in 8Y to fill and I would prefer not to use it on that private land where I usually hunt.
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Unread 11-29-2011, 08:31 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 5
Re: Hunting on public land, any tips?

I hunt in 4o and its been too warm, and very few hunters to move the deer either.
The deer are sitting tight all day and moving at night. Only deer I've seen have been the ones I bumped while walking or seen at night on the road. I'm hoping for some colder weather and maybe some snow.
I've done well on public land after a snowfall.
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Unread 11-29-2011, 09:11 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 96
Re: Hunting on public land, any tips?

That is the reality of public land hunting, there is no secret to it. This fall I did an elk hunt and in five days saw a few cows and a spike bull. Last week I hunted deer and the only thing I saw was a coyote and a small spike buck. Then you also have to compete with other hunters for the best spots.
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Unread 11-29-2011, 09:16 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: S.E. Missouri
Posts: 225
Re: Hunting on public land, any tips?

Ok, if I have to pull one of my sacred tactics from my bag of tricks on public-land whitetails......lol

When the deer don't move well, I go to them. But I'll warn you, the technique is mentally DRAINING if done correctly. But it is also one of the few ways that I've found to kill highly pressured deer that decide to sit tight instead of leaving the areas for quieter digs during the season.

Most deer will stay within their home range regardless of how much pressure they see. They just hunker down and stay hidden during daylight hours.

Here's how I do things when the hunting is tough:

First, a good pair of binos is a must! If you don't have a decent pair of binos, you'll get busted by deer far more than if you used a pair. Next....you need to find good bedding cover. It's obviously preferable if you KNOW there are deer using it. But if not, just try to locate the thickest cover that is near their local food source. This can be anything from acorns in big woods tracts to agricultural fields, to pastures and meadows. Anyway.....once you locate prime bedding cover, try to scout it in such a way that the prevailing winds won't blow your scent directly into it. If you find fresh sign, the hunt is on! If you don't find fresh sign, move to another location where there's prime bedding cover and scout that thicket.

When you get to the "hunting part"....get the wind in your favor on your approach. Then start using those binos. Look for PARTS of a deer. Rarely will you ever see a whole deer while it's bedded. Usually you'll see an ear wiggle, a tail swish, a horizontal line in a mess of saplings, etc...you get the point.

As you advance toward the thicket, take NO MORE THAN TWO SLOW STEPS before you stop and glass again. The part where most people screw this up is by going too fast. Remember, every single step you take changes your viewing perspective. With each step you can now see new things and different angles of the same things. Use your binos to pick apart absolutely everything. I use a grid-type technique. I'll start on one side of the thicket and move my eyes in the binos so that I see everything at the top of my view first. Then once I've determined there's nothing "deer-like" near the top of my field of view, I move my eyes to the bottom of my field of view and search there. Once I've determined that there's nothing deer-like in my entire field of view, I move the binos left or right and start all over. I do this until I've covered the entire field of view in front of me. Then I take two more steps and repeat the whole thing all over again.

As far as walking speed......if the hunting conditions are really quiet (no wind, quiet ground cover, etc....you can get away with 100 yds an hour being covered as you hunt through it. HOWEVER, if it's noisy---high winds, lots of natural movement with tree limbs swaying etc...then you can walk at a SLIGHTLY faster pace of say...125 yrds an hour.

Like I said, this tactic is HARDCORE. It's difficult to tell yourself after that first three hours to keep at it. But if you can handle it, you can completely sweep a thicket and know FOR SURE that you'll see them before they see you.

Like I said,this method is mentally draining to say the least. But what it guarantees is that NO DEER in the thicket will go unseen. If you follow this, as hard as it is to do correctly, you will ALWAYS see the deer first and can plan a stalk or shot, whatever needs to be done at the time.
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