When hunting public land you are almost guaranteed to run into one of these 15 guys during your hunt.
Let's face it, hunting public land is not the easiest thing in the world. There are secrets out there that can help with your successes including taking the road less traveled. When hunting public land the more successful hunters are the ones who push harder, go farther and spend more time hunting and scouting.
Even with all the hard work and dedication, no matter if you hunt five foot off the road or two miles back, you are almost guaranteed to run into another hunter. Not everyone you bump into on public land is one of these stereotypical hunters either.
Public land has some of the best hunting available to anyone willing to put in the work. Proper etiquette can go a long way when sharing the land. Those that don't understand the etiquette, make the list below grow more and more.
1. The late to the show guy.
Sunrise is at 6:30am, you made it to your spot by 5:45am. You were quiet getting in. You hear movement off in the distance and it's coming your way. Then, there he is, walking right in your foot prints.
It's 7:15am and you now have someone from the pumpkin army walking by your spot. Aren't you glad you made it in there early?
2. The leave early guy.
So as if you weren't mad enough he ruined your hunting this morning, legal shooting light is 30 minutes after sunset. You are the guy who puts in the extra effort and knows the crucial importance of sitting that last half hour. But this guy doesn't and seems to make his way back to the truck just before sunset ruining any opportunity you had at a deer for the evening.
3. The "I was here first" guy.
We've all been there. You are sitting in your favorite spot, early mind you, and this guy comes strolling through the woods. He's probably whistling and skipping as he is coming in, too. Then, you watch as he see's you, but then pretends as if he didn't and takes a seat. In his mind he must be thinking, "This must be a good spot." But then as you walk over to confront him and say, "Hey buddy, did you not see me sitting over there?" His reply usually goes something like, "Oh no, I've been here since dark, I was here first."
4. The guy that never sits (still).
I'm not one to knock anyone who doesn't come in and sit their entire time hunting. I know what covering ground is like and the importance of taking my time to be successful. But there is always the guy who just can't seem to get his spot right.
He comes in, takes a seat and sits for about fifteen minutes and it's on to the next one. This is actually a great strategy, but this guy isn't cautious about it, he walks and moves like he is late to the airport!
5. The (illegal) road hunter.
There is the drive-by scouting guy that drives at 10 miles per hour and there is the drive-by rural thug who looks to shoot. These guys are dangerous. The scouting guy is not and in fact that is how I find some of my best public property by checking out some new property.
The guy who has a gun or bow in the cab and is looking for a deer to take, we have no room for you in this sport. I've gone as far as tracking a wounded deer at night and watched a guy drive by my buddy with his gun barrel hanging out his window and just wave to my buddy as if he was doing nothing wrong. These guys need to go as public and private property have no place for them in this sport.
6. The guy who always sees deer.
This guy is just the best deer hunter in the woods, however he never harvests anything. You bump into him or maybe he is part of your hunting group and when you meet back at the truck he always has the same story. "Yeah, I saw a nice buck and couple small ones. I had about ten does come out to me early but I didn't want to fill my doe tag that quick. I didn't shoot just because I know that bigger one is out here still I saw him yesterday and I saw his track in the mud on my way in tonight."
7. The loud walker.
This is usually a buddy of yours that you are bringing hunting or just someone who walks underneath your stand. You want to yell out, "Pick up your feet!" but you don't want to sound rude. He's moving and he's covering some ground, but every deer in the woods is now aware of his arrival and have left like it was a deer drive.
8. The deer drivers.
It's now gun season and all your work you have been putting in year round you feel as though you can now kiss goodbye. Why? The pumpkin patch is in town and they are leaving their private land to come to the public property to do deer drives. Sure, they are legal and many times produce. It just so happens to always be the property you are on when the weather conditions are perfect for that hit list buck you had your eyes on.
9. The thief.
You may never actually see this guy, he is kind of a ninja. I've lost more things on public property and could only hope to find someone trying to sell them on Craigslist or eBay. You take a chance and leave your stand over night, hang a trail camera or fold up your blind and tuck it under a log.
The next day you come back to find it gone. Better than that, someone steals your climbing sticks but leaves your tree stand. Don't think it happens? Ask my father who bear hugged a birch tree to get my stand down after we had our sticks stolen. We never did find those sticks, or the thief.
10. The "What did you shoot?" guy.
So you just finished taking a shot on a nice deer. Hopefully you made a good shot but regardless, there's always that guy that comes out of the wood works. "What'd ya shoot?" "You get 'em?" I always want to answer, "Nope, just making sure my guns sighted in."
It's one thing to have someone see you take a deer and want to give you a hand dragging it out but the nosey guy who will probably end up in your spot the next time you come to hunt there is usually the one that asks.
11. The "I shot it first" guy.
Let's hope you may never run into this guy, but I'll never forget a story of my buddy Jeff who shot this buck in the picture above. Jeff shot this buck and a younger kid claimed he had shot it first. There was no other shot on the deer and conveniently the kid couldn't find his arrow, however Jeff found his arrow covered in blood.
The kid claimed he shot the deer first and because my buddy Jeff does not like confrontation, decided to let the kid claim the deer as his own, of course asking to take a picture with the buck first. I have to say, this has never happened to me because I wouldn't let it, but kudos to you, Jeff.
12. The "I can't find my deer" guy.
He's walking around in the woods all the time. Many times he winds up on private property pretending to chase his buck or claim he is lost and got side tracked. "It was a giant buck, 180 inches at least. He came this way, you didn't see him?" I'll never understand the logic behind chasing an imaginary wounded buck, but that guy exists.
13. The loud truck/ATV guy.
Let's face it, most deer hunters are country boys. Country boys like their trucks jacked up and loud. I think the louder the truck, the bigger the man you are. That is until they are trying to drive down the dirt road to park for the morning hunt when the woods are extremely quiet.
Better than that, they have an ATV in the back of the truck that they start up, wheel off the bed and head out to their stand in. This has an exhaust upgrade as well and as you sit in your favorite spot you wonder if there is an ATV race underway first thing and you got the best seat in the house.
14. The dog walker.
So he may not be another deer hunter, but he is using the public property as it is intended for as well. He's usually in a yellow jogging suit that makes all sorts of noise as if he was dressed in tin foil. The dog, not on a leash, running around scaring everything in sight. Oh and don't forget the owner has his loud commands and whistle to keep the dog in check.
15. The guy who thinks he owns the land.
Many times we get so set on thinking that spot we found five years ago is our spot. In many ways, it is. You may have spent the time scouting deep in the woods and named it the "Three Cherries" spot after the three cherry trees that form the natural seat for you. You understand that it's still public land and the spot isn't yours but there is always one guy who has rage problems. He sees you sitting near his favorite spot and he confronts you about it. Even during his argument you can tell he doesn't even believe in the things he is saying but he figures if he yells loud enough you won't come back.
Public land hunting can be tough but it also has many rewards if you are willing to put in the time and effort. I know several guys who have shot very large deer off public land. These guys put in the efforts and make every attempt to ensure their success.
They also understand the rules of the road and proper etiquette when hunting on public ground. We all make mistakes and none of us are perfect. At the end of the day if you enjoy what you are doing and sharing the sport of hunting with others, that's really all that matters. Next time you go into the woods and you are on public property however, try to make this list and I can assure you will have more success and happier hunters surrounding you.