Anyone who hunts public land has had it happen. You’re setup, waiting for that buck you have hunted to walk right by you. The wind is perfect, the time is right, when you hear something. Problem is, its not a deer, its another hunter, walking right through the middle of your setup. This is about the time most people pack up and go home.
Getting past the public part of hunting public land can be the hardest thing to accomplish when hunting these land tracts. I would say its the number one reason people don’t like hunting public land, especially in the east, where the hunters per square mile can be up to 20. But If you embrace your situation, and follow these three tips, you can score big on the tracts.
1. Don’t get frustrated
This may be the hardest thing to do (it was for me anyway). Just because you keep seeing other hunters doesn’t have to mean your hunt is ruined, as a matter of fact it could help. The deer that live on public land have grown to live with the pressure and are adept at dealing with it. I have lost count the number of times a hunter has walked by me and ten minutes later, the deer will walk right down the same trail behind him. These deer think they know where the danger is, so they keep him a safe distance and go about their day.
2. Get away from everybody
This may sound like a no-brainer and easier than it is, but most hunters hunt within a half mile of a road. So if you want to find that big buck, your gonna have to do some “bushwhacking”.
I know there might be a bunch of sign on the field edge or a logging road, but chances are, everybody else knows they are there too. If you can try to get closer to the bedding grounds, deeper into the woods, chances are the other hunters will push the deer right to you.
3. Find the deer’s “danger zone”
When big bucks get pressured they do two things, go nocturnal and get to their “danger zone” as I call it, and because jack lighting deer is illegal, I focus on the latter. The danger zone is an area where the deer can bed and feel safe when they are in danger. This could be a stand of pines or a ridge where they can see long distances or the thickest, gnarliest place in the woods where you have to step on them to find them. Again, the latter is where I like to focus. I try to find swamps or thickets adjacent to food sources and ambush them coming into or out of these areas.
Hunting public land can be a challenge, but if you adapt to your situation according, you can kill some giants on public tracts.