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.