How to Find a Good Deer Hunting Spot on Public Land
In our latest blog, we talked about the Best Whitetail Deer Hunting States. And one of the factors that plays a huge role in those states is accessibility to public land. Now, learning how to find a good deer hunting spot on public land will help give you more chances to harvest mature bucks. In doing so, you’ll find that there is a good deal of work that goes into it. Essentially, you’re outworking other hunters by scouting more and hunting longer and harder; sitting stand from can’t see to can’t see, in farmer terminology.
Get Time on Your Side
Deer hunting on public land and doing it with success takes a lot of time. Time to scout, time to plan, time to hunt. It means being there when other hunters aren’t. So, if you can, get time on your side. Take vacation days either in the early season when you’ll catch deer still in their summer patterns or during the rut. Those weekday hunts, when everyone else is at work, are some of the best. If your job allows you to work remote as many do these days, get a wifi hotspot on your phone and work from the stand or ground blind. Put in the hours the night before so that while you hunt, you may only have to answer an email or two to make it look like you’re working. We don’t want to put poor ideas in your head, but killing that buck of a lifetime on public land is a memory that will last much further into the future than a single work day.
Find the Sources
Deer herds require three things to thrive: water, shelter, and food. It’s where you find those three things with little to no hunting pressure that your chances get pretty good. And obviously this comes with lots of scouting.
“My attitude these days is to find areas with food, water, and cover, and gauge the pressure,” said CJ Davis, Montana Decoy’s president. “Then it’s boots on the ground and you have to be willing to cover a lot of different places to find them.”
Scout a Lot
Physically go to the area you plan on hunting and scout on foot. You simply won’t be able to gather the same type of information using technology as you will on the ground and in person. If law permits, hang trail cameras where you find travel corridors between bedding areas and feeding spots under white oaks or persimmon trees. Some public land parcels have agricultural fields that will draw a lot of deer in the early season. They will also draw more hunters since they’re typically easy to get to.
One of the cool things about scouting an area heavily is finding different entry and exit points that are relatively unused. Sometimes the best way to enter a piece of public ground is as far away from the parking lot as you can get. To do that, you may need someone to drop you off. Best start earning a lot of brownie points right now.
Bring a Whole Lotta Patience
You’ve gotten away from work and domestic duties, rolled out of a warm bed at three a.m., walked a long way through the dark woods, and arrived at your perfectly situated stand in a fruitful white oak that has not seen another human for quite some time. This is a routine that’s taken place three days in a row. The yield is seeing two does and more squirrels than you care to remember. But you know a big buck has passed through this way on at least a few occasions.
Don’t give up! Three full days in the stand after getting up so early is tough. If you can stay in it for as long as time permits, then hang in there.
*ENTER TRAIL CAM PHOTO
Take a Sharp Knife
In the event you are successful, it’s quite handy to have a sharp knife. One of the biggest challenges of deer hunting public land is knowing how to haul out an animal. Dragging a big-bodied deer by yourself is tough let alone one that hasn’t been field dressed. If you need to quarter it, then you may consider taking two blades or a knife sharpener.
Learning how to find a good deer hunting spot on public land, like anything else, takes time. Make it a three-to-five-year project, where every season you get to know the area a little better. They say persistence pays off and whoever they are must have been deer hunters.