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Do you hunt whitetail deer on public lands? Would you like to know how to be more successful in hunting deer on public lands? It is the common belief that hunting on public land is not rewarding as it once was because of the hunting pressure that the public land receives during the hunting season.
While it is true that there is a lot of hunting pressure on public lands during the hunting season, there are ways to achieve a great deal of success hunting deer on public lands. In this article, we discuss how to hunt deer on public land.
How To Hunt Deer On Public Land
- E- Scouting
It is always a good idea to research the public land before you put a foot on the land. Use Google Earth or hunting apps like onX to get a good idea of the landscape and habitats by studying satellite images or topographic maps. Look for areas of cover, hard-to-access areas, travel funnels, areas close to roads, water sources, fallow fields, marshes, transition lines, access points, crops, cedar thickets, pine plantings, hardwoods, and drainages.
You can gather a lot of information from studying the images of these areas on the land. Additionally, study the images to determine possible areas where hunting pressure might exist and potential sanctuaries for whitetail deer. Also, look for any private land nearby that maybe escape routes and sanctuaries for deer.
- Talk To The Authorities
After you have studied the satellite images and pinpointed possible areas of interest for hunting whitetail deer, you should talk to the local authorities. It could be the area manager or wildlife biologist. Find the department of natural resource website and find the contact information for that person.
When you finally talk with the local authority, ask detailed questions from your research that demonstrate that you have done research about the public land. Ask about where there is the most hunting pressure during the hunting season, food sources, hard-to-access areas, overlooked areas, and private lands adjacent to the public land that can serve as sanctuaries, specific locations, information about the deer on the land, etc.
You will get a lot of valuable information from the wildlife professional that would have taken you years to acquire. My advice is to record the conversation instead of trying to take notes while talking; don’t make that mistake.
- Boots On The Ground
After e-scouting and talking with the wildlife biologist or area manager from the department of natural resources, you want to get on the public land and physically scout it with the information from the e-scouting and chat with the local authority. This is a visit to confirm all of your findings.
The visits you make to the public land will help you get to know the landscape, identify the locations you found from the satellite images, confirm information from the area manager, etc. This time spent on the public land will improve your chances of success when the hunting season begins.
- Follow The Rules
Many public lands have rules and regulations. The wildlife biologist or area manager might bring this up when you talk with them. Learn the rules and regulations and follow them. Most of these rules concern hunting methods, bag limits, season dates, legal weapons, antler restrictions, methods of access, permits, etc. Often you can find the rules on the website of the public land, in its printed booklet, or on their mobile app. It is also a good idea to keep a copy in your vehicle or on you when you hunt the land.
- Well Known Spots
Don’t make the mistake many hunters make. Avoid the well-known hunting areas. If you are aware of these areas, then just know that many other hunters are also aware of them and planning to set up their stands there. Even the deer will be aware of the hunting pressure and move to areas that give them more protection. When you arrive at public land, don’t park where every other hunter will park in the parking spots.
Instead, using the map of the public land, try to drive around the public land and mark on the map where you find hunters have parked their vehicles. Mark areas of the public land where you didn’t see any cars parked and find a way to park and quickly walk in a take a look around for any human activity. Look for areas off the beaten path that are often overlooked.
- Hard To Access Areas
From the research, you did with satellite images and topographic maps, try to find hard-to-reach areas. It may be areas with very rough terrain, ravines, large hills, lakes, areas cut off by a river, creek, swampy land, very thick vegetation, or property boundaries. If you can locate hard-to-access areas for human beings, those just might be the areas whitetail deer will move to as sanctuaries when the hunting pressure increases during the start of the hunting season. Find areas that are hard to access that other hunters are simply not willing to go to.
- Weekday Hunt
If you can hunt during the week, chances are you may not run into many hunters and also come across deer. The hunting pressure gets intense on the weekends as more people hunt on the weekends when they are free. This hunting pressure makes the deer move away during the start of the weekend and up to the beginning of the week. If you can hunt on Tuesday to Thursday, you just might have more success as the hunting pressure may have subsided and allowed deer to come out when they sense the danger is not high.
- Trail Cameras
Set up trail cameras to collect information. I know what you may be thinking, but it is well worth it to set up trail cameras on public lands if it is not against the rules and regulations. You can use metal lock boxes and cables to reduce the risk of theft.
You can also minimize the risk by only placing the trail cameras in those areas you discovered that are well off the well-known areas. Additionally, you can also place them during the week and take them down at the start of the weekend like on Friday morning. If you want to get trail cameras, you can read our review of the best trail cameras available today.
- Small Plots
From the satellite images and topographic maps, hunt small plots of wood that you may have discovered. These may be plots that are overlooked because they are small. Many hunters usually are of the opinion that they won’t find deer in these small plots of land. Most of these small plots of land have travel routes or serve as funnels to a farm field. These often overlooked areas can prove to be a treasure trove for deer.
- When To Call
There is a time to call in bucks. When you have bucks in sight, observe them to figure out their mood. Observe their behavior. If they are lively are moving about, that is a good sign to call in the bucks by rattling the antlers, grunting, and bleating. However, if they are not in a good mood, then they may not respond to your calls.
- Setup Many Treestands
When you identify a potentially good hunting area, set up many tree stands. Don’t set up only one tree stand. Scout the area and study the different locations and set up tree stands in different locations where deer might travel. As you set them up, you want to take into consideration of different wind directions. We researched the best climbing treestands on the market today and you can read that review from this link.
The Bottom Line
Many hunters believe that it is not worth it to hunt deer on public land because of the amount of hunting pressure that is present during the hunting season. While it is true that there is an increase in hunting pressure during the hunting season, there are still pockets of public land that can be very productive to hunt for deer. To find those areas, you have to plan well before the season begins to identify those plots. In this article, we discuss how to hunt deer on public land.