Public land deer hunting is challenging, but don't be intimidated.
We interviewed several public land deer hunting enthusiasts to get their take and advice on hunting public ground. Obviously public land differs from private land in that technically anyone who wants to hunt it just needs the proper licensing from the state where that public land is located.
It may require a draw, a quota hunt, sign-in some other kind of form, depending on the state. The point is, the possibility exists for most if not all hunters to deer hunt public land. In order to find these available public lands in your home state, search your local Department of Natural Resources or other wildlife division website.
However, with public land often comes hunting pressure which can make it challenging. Let's take a look at what each recommended when hunting public land.
"Be willing to put in work and think outside the box. Like anything preparation is key," Jordan Barnes of Close Proximity TV said to me.
Jordan also mentioned analyzing maps sufficiently and mark off spots that don't produce. Nothing will sufficiently replace putting boots on the ground when hunting public land bucks.
Whether you're seeking mature bucks or any whitetail proper preparation and scouting is key to success on public land. Sometimes this entails scouting before hunting season.
There are many scouting apps including google earth available for deer hunters to scout remotely before they even drive to a piece of public land. Public hunting is a blessing and a curse at times, but the good outweighs the challenges of public ground.
Secondly, my next interviewee, Brian Grossman of Georgia Afield, recommended in addition to scouting deer scout hunters, too.
"Mark off the obvious spots that get hunted to death and look, for those out-of-the-way places that get overlooked," he said. "(It's) definitely better to have a plan B, and C and D."
Sometimes that might mean a long hike, but not always. It may be a thick area where you can't hang a treestand or a steep area, or it may even be an area by an access point or parking lot that others walk right by.
My third guest was Park McDonald of Southern Ground who had a stellar year hunting public land bucks, and similar advice to go along with it.
"Scout, scout, keep scouting. Don't ever be content with a couple of good spots. Eventually someone else is going to find it like you did."
General Public Land Advice
When hunting public land it's important to dot your I's and cross your T's.
Brian Grossman encouraged, "READ the rules and regulations for the area and know exactly what you can and can't do."
Each year people makes avoidable mistakes simply because they didn't read the rules and regulations. This can save a lot of headache down the road. Brian also gave this piece of wisdom. He said, "be the first one in and the last one out, if you are in a heavily hunted area."
Parker McDonald gave similar advice, "Don't get down when you aren't getting on deer immediately. Public land hunting isn't a short sprint, but a long-distance race. That's why the reward is much sweeter."
Whether you're hunting wildlife management areas, national forest or bureau of land management land, scouting and being open to a change of plans is key.
Obviously, if you have a lot of time to scout deer sign, including deer tracks, rubs, scrapes, food sources and bedding areas, this will give you even more of an edge.
It's definitely a thrill and an adventure when hunting whitetail on public land. It does, in fact, require a lot of hard work and determination, but the these methods can pay dividends.