Pre-Season Public land prep

Timnterra

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Rapid City SD
I have been hunting public land close to where I live for the last couple years, but I’ve never taken it seriously. I’m wanting to get more into the woods and find where the big deer live. The area I am hunting is the black hills of SD which is heavily wooded and sometimes rocky hills covered with mostly pine and spruce trees. I’ve seen some really nice deer taken in this area but I’ve only seen mediocre deer while hunting. This is a very large area that covers over 1million acres, so It’s pretty hard to know where to start. I bought a couple game cams last year but never set them out. What would you look for in an area to place a game cam?
 

livetohunt

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North Idaho
That depends if putting out salt licks etc... is legal in your state. If it’s not, then put them in high traffic areas, Heavily worn game Trails.

There are some good YouTube videos that show where to setup game cams for the best results.
 

Mike 338

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Boise, ID
Not exactly scientific but I used to just toss on a day pack with a light sleeping bag and dang near no food/a gallon of water, and hike till I got lost. I'd go out two or three days and just throw down my bag where ever I was in the evening and go to sleep. Saw a lot of country and great animals that way. Sometimes I walked so far I found civilization again. It's not about miles. Just go where the spirit moves you and note interesting things. Binoculars were always along but always went light. Do that a few times and your gonna know some things.
 

Ckgworks

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Washington
It takes time and dedication, if I look back at my success on public land is a direct reflection of how much time I spent scouting. Find animals, watch them follow them, learn their patterns. Repeat again and again though out the year. Habitat and patterns change, and if you don't change with them you will eventually stop seeing game where you once did. Eventually you will know where and how the animals react, where they go when bumped, etc. I don't use trail cameras, and I think they would help determine the quality of animals in a given area, but I don't think they will ever replace good old fashioned boots on the ground! Do what Mike said, grab your pack and head out! I think after you do this awhile, you'll find out why many public land hunters are tight lipped about where to go. For me most of my enjoyment of "the hunt" is figuring out animals in my area, and finding them again after another hunter walks out saying he didn't see anything.
 

300whisper

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Macon, Georgia
Public land in the southeast sucks. I don’t know how it is out by you. I gave up on public land hunts since it gets so crowded, and, for the most part, hunters all think the same so we end up in the same spots.

If you have a million acres I would find logging road or service road and drive as far as you can away from any public road ways. I would set up trail cams near water sources, bedding areas (thick brush), and well worn trails.

Can you bait off season to get animals to the cameras? You can bait in Georgia but have to stop baiting two weeks before the start of that animals season.
 

Timnterra

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Public land in the southeast sucks. I don’t know how it is out by you. I gave up on public land hunts since it gets so crowded, and, for the most part, hunters all think the same so we end up in the same spots.

If you have a million acres I would find logging road or service road and drive as far as you can away from any public road ways. I would set up trail cams near water sources, bedding areas (thick brush), and well worn trails.

Can you bait off season to get animals to the cameras? You can bait in Georgia but have to stop baiting two weeks before the start of that animals season.
Baiting is legal in the off season and my neighbor (big time bow hunter) does it. However, all the deer he sees on camera disappear once the food is gone.
 

Timnterra

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My thoughts are there has to be something that the deer eat naturally and places where they go normally that would be good places to set up cameras and find some.
 

300whisper

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My thoughts are there has to be something that the deer eat naturally and places where they go normally that would be good places to set up cameras and find some.
In the SE any kind of fruit tree, acorns, clover fields, peas, winter rye grass, wheat
 

Timnterra

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Rapid City SD
In the SE any kind of fruit tree, acorns, clover fields, peas, winter rye grass, wheat[/QUOTE


The area I can hunt is national forest, mostly pine very few deciduous trees. I’ve seen some scrub oaks but never found an acorn, don’t know if this kind of oak even makes acorns. There is no farming within 100 miles, so any bordering private land will be the same as the national forest land. I know they have to eat something, I guess the diet is mostly grass and leafy vegetation.
 
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300whisper

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Yeah at that point it would be clover, grass, and low hanging leaves. I’ve seen them eat evergreen needles before too.
 

midnightmalloy

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Jun 25, 2010
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OnX maps. I find it best to have a plan when you go out. Also focusing on areas close to good private ranches. Game cameras on most public land can only be left for a short amount of time depending on the type of public land so you would want to check the regulations. Also the deer will likely not be where they are today during the hunting season so look for good spots where they would likely be during the hunting season.
 

dmj

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Nov 16, 2013
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How is the water situation. What I mean is. Lots of water, not to much, only in isolated areas. Animals have to drink. So if you can find areas they are going to water it should at least give you an idea of what's in the area. I am no expert on game cams but when I use them it's usually around watering areas. If nothing else it's quiet interesting to see what is on your camera when you check it. In my case there have been deer, bear, elk, racoons, Bob cat, all kinds of birds, coyotes. Good luck and have fun with it.
 

Timnterra

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Rapid City SD
I don’t really know where the deer near me get water, there are no visible ponds or streams. When it rains there is lots of visible evidence around low spots where puddles form. I assume the deer travel a fair distance to get water. Or they get enough from the green forage they eat to survive most of the time?
 

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