Whether you are a first-time beginner or a hunting season veteran just trying to plot out for schedule for the next few months, one of the questions you will inevitably ask yourself is whether it is better to hunt on public or private land. The truth is, of course, that both hunting experiences have their staunch defenders, and both also have their drawbacks. Deciding whether to go for private land or to take your chances in more public areas will depend on a range of factors, from your weapon of choice to how many hunting enthusiasts you know in your area. Many hunters are successful by mixing their game between private and public areas, but if you need to choose one or the other, we are here to help.
First of all, ask yourself whether you’re primarily a rifle hunter or if you prefer the challenges of archery while chasing whitetail deer. Often, landowners have certain restrictions when it comes to the use of weaponry on their property, and those restrictions often bar the use of rifles. Bowhunters, then, have a much wider array of hunting locations to choose from, and since private property is generally much less crowded than public ground, a hunter who considers the compound bow his or her weapon of choice should do the majority of their hunting on private land.
Of course, there are considerations beyond simple weapon preference that will dictate whether private or public land is the right choice for you. In order to hunt on private property, you need permission from the land owner, something that can be hard to come by if you are new to the area and don’t have a lot of contacts in the hunting hobby.
If you are trying to plot out a hunting season schedule in and around a new hometown, try to make friends who are also enthusiastic about hunting. Ask around at work, look around on the internet for hunting groups in town, or try getting to know some people in your neighborhood. Contacts will help you not only to find the best private property hunting opportunities in town, but they will also help you secure the permissions you need to hunt on those spots. If one of your co-workers is friendly with a farmer with ten-point bucks roaming on his property, and if that co-worker can put in a good word for you, you will stand a much better chance at getting the owner’s blessing.
Sometimes though, finding contacts is tough and getting permissions is tougher. If you are, for whatever reason, striking out on the private property front, remember that hunting on public land is not a death sentence. In fact, public hunting often brings its own benefits to the table, from more open-ended weapon preferences to a much wider slab of land for you to hunt on. Public land can present challenges on opening day or during peak hunting hours on the weekends, just because so many other hunters are using the land and spooking the deer, but a talented and patient hunter can easily hack it on public property. In addition, hunting on public land is often the perfect way to form connections with other hunters in the area, a fact that may help you land permissions for private property in the long run.