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Best way to hunt public land?

Old 12-03-2007, 09:25 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Waukesha County, WI
Posts: 58
Default Best way to hunt public land?

I hunt the woods of northern wisconsin in vilas county. The land I hunt on is usually fairly crowded opening weekend. Then, the following weekend, there are barely any hunters, but still enough to mess up the deer's routines, especially when a bigger group does a deer drive. In the last two years, I've only seen one deer. Before this, we averaged one deer sighting a year.

Let me give you some of the usual situations I will hunt.
1) Hardwoods with bordering pine thickets
2) Swampy river bottoms
3) Ridges that will funnel the deer past me

In theory, all of the spots I pick should produce. However, I haven't seen jack. What am I doing something wrong, or is that just how it's gonna be at this place?

I won't lie, my dad and I have some knowledge of deer hunting, but I have only been hunting for 6 years, and he has only seriously hunted about the same amount of time. It's pretty frustrating for him lately, since he hasn't ever seen one (all of the deer we have gotten have been shot by me). We used to hunt the land around our cabin, but due to insurance issues, we are no longer able too. During that time, we shot 2 deer within 5 minutes of each other, so needless to say, we were much more successful here. He really wants to get his own land, but I think that there is so much more we can do at the public land to harvest more and better deer. Any help is appreciated. Sorry for the long post.
wiscoshooter is offline  
Old 12-03-2007, 10:41 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 37
Default RE: Best way to hunt public land?

It sounds like you have good spots picked out. But the population and pressure are issues in northern WI.

I hunt on alot of public land in NE wisconsin and it is a real challenge. I envy some hunterson thisforum who talk about seen multiple deer the same day and passing on bucks, etc. I'm a new hunter, 4 years, and I managed to get a deer each time. But, two of three up there were on Sat. and Sunday and were basically chased out by another hunter to where I was. The one I got last year I got stalking slowly through the woods. But I'lll stick around during the gun season until Wed. and never see another deer than the one I shot. I've bow hunted up there two seasons and I feel lucky to see a deer a day. In fact, for the last two years, I haven't seen hardly any deer up there in the off season near the roads. The harvest last year in my unit 49A was down about 50% from 2005.


The link above goes to the DNR website and shows the deer densities by Unit. The ones with lots of public land have low populations and the ones with lots of private land etc. have much higher densities.

So, there is a reason that those northern units don't have EAB or Herd control status. Because there just plain aren't nearly as many deer as there are in the areas where there are more crops and where there is more private land.

Plus, with all the pressure on public land, the deer are tuned into that and I think are more nocturnal than on private land. Think of all the people that go tromping through those public lands. Deer don't like that.

So all said, if you've managed to get a deer on that kind of land at all, you are probably doing things right.
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:29 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 6,634
Default RE: Best way to hunt public land?

Sparky you nailed it. I have been hunting the same public in langlade County for 23 years now and it seems more challanging now then ever. I have manage to figure out how I can get deer later during the gun season. As for bucks though sightings are not very good for me.
I have learned to get deeper into the woods if you can and a lot of times I can find a ol logging rd that nobody has went into and I follow that for a bit near thick cover and can usually get a deer.
This past season I did this and got a 160lb doe on Wednesday before Thanksgiving she came out of this thick hole area and I was watching a shelf type area and it worked great.
Good Luck and keep at it.
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Old 12-04-2007, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: WI
Posts: 338
Default RE: Best way to hunt public land?

Yes, what the others said. Public land hunting up north is tough. This year I hunted Sat - Wed, saw a total of 4 deer, shot two of them. That's about an average season for me, there have been worse.

My advice is to be patient and persistent, and understand that you're not going to see many deer. Be prepared to shoot the deer you do see. Don't hunt hard, you can't force the action. Hunt soft. Just stay out there, hang out in good spots, do what it takes to enjoy being out there and stay in the game. Try still hunting. Don't lock in on a relatively small area, especially if you're not doing well. Obtain some maps, scout out some creeks, swamps, lake edges, etc.

Some of the swamps in northern WI are very huntable. Walk in them, sometimes they're really not all that wet (sometimes they're frozen), sometimes you can see pretty decent, sometimes they're covered up with tracks and trails.
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Old 12-04-2007, 05:26 PM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: vermont
Posts: 91
Default RE: Best way to hunt public land?

When i hunt public land i like to be the first one in the woods. I will get there an hour before shooting light and go to one of the funnels next to the hardwoods and let the other hunters push the deer to me. I hope this helps you.
northernedge is offline  
Old 12-04-2007, 06:12 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Waukesha County, WI
Posts: 58
Default RE: Best way to hunt public land?

Thanks for the advice. Recently I have hunted a lot around where I live. Surprisingly, not very many people hunt here. I guess they figure the pockets of public land are too small or something. I tried a new place tonight and saw tons of deer sign. I didn't have more than an hour and a half to do it, though, so I'm really optimistic. Hopefully I'll have some good news after this weekend!
wiscoshooter is offline  
Old 12-04-2007, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 398
Default RE: Best way to hunt public land?

I hunt public land in south-central Iowa so not sure how will or even if this correlates, but I sit in a semi-potected wooded area near a river that runs through the area. The area is right by a major bedding areas as evidenced by many body outlines in the snow.

Normally, I would expect the deer to run along the river, however lots of people hunt by the river which seems to lead the deer to run through the cover nearest to the river. I've gotten 2 buck (13pt in 05 and 9pt last weekend) and a doe in the past three years hunting this spot, so it's worked well for me.

Good luck!
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Old 12-04-2007, 10:52 PM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Pa
Posts: 4,647
Default RE: Best way to hunt public land?

until someone else shows up with 2 or 3 of his buddy'sThen what???
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Old 12-05-2007, 07:58 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 3,145
Default RE: Best way to hunt public land?

I hunt public land quite a bit. I haven't seen anything out there this year, which is unusual. This year there has been a lot of pressure. Opening week I avoid public land altogether. After it cools down I go out there, but only on Tue., Wed., and Thu.
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:20 AM
Nontypical Buck
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Southeast Alabama
Posts: 1,625
Default RE: Best way to hunt public land?

I have hunted public land a bit and I plan to next week (took a week off to go hunting). What I have found is get in early real early get deep away from all the other hunters and sit all day.

Where I hunt you have to check in before you hunt and most of the hunters stay close to the check in station and the roads. I drive 15 miles to the back side of the 19000 acres and pack 500 yards from my truck. Its a lot quieter out there.
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