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Hunting Public Land

Old 03-10-2009, 08:45 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 23
Default Hunting Public Land

I'm confused about hunting public land. I'm new to deer hunting, only been going a couple of seasons, now I'm hooked. My family and my wife's family both have land that's great for deer hunting, and most of the time I'm the only hunter withina mile section unless my brother is hunting.I'll probably never use public land, I'm just curious:

*Do you reserve a spot before the season and put a stand up that nobody else can use and that spot is yours all season?

*Or is it early bird gets the worm everyday?

*What kind of unwritten rules are there when it comes to public hunting?

*I can see where there would be many instances where other hunters would ruin your chances of getting something. Any personal experiences?

*What are the keys to successfully hunt public land when competing against other hunters?

These probably seem like stupid questions, but please wade throught the ignorance and enlighten me.
oujeff25 is offline  
Old 03-10-2009, 09:16 AM
Typical Buck
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: North Central Idaho
Posts: 539
Default RE: Hunting Public Land

1. Early bird gets the worm, first come first serve.

2. Unwritten rules are don't do to other hunters what you don't want done to you. Make friends in the woods not enemies. Give other hunters there space, even if it is your honey hole refer to rule 1.

3. You will encounter some hunters that don't follow any of the rules, just avoid and ignore, fist fights and profane gestures in the woods where everyone is armed is a recipe for disaster.

4. If you encounter other hunters with downed game offer your help, you will often make friends this way, and get good advice on areas to hunt. Hunting public ground is all about knowing the area, so the more brains you can pick the better.

5. Spend a lot of off season time getting to know the area you want to hunt, get out and hike and learn the terrain and the game trails and feeding areas.

6. Try and get back into places most hunters won't or can't go. Being able to out hike your competetion can be very valuable on public ground.

7. Study topo and Google earth maps of your hunting areas looking for secluded pockets and ridges where game can hide out. Think like a deer, where would you go to avoid hunting pressure.

8. Laws may vary, but out here a tree stand or blind on public ground can be used by anyone. I never have had a problem with someone camping out in my blinds, but it could happen. I am blessed with huge amounts of public ground nearby, this could be more of an issue for those in smaller public ground areas with higher hunter density. If someone is in your spot, try talking with them and maybe offer to share the blind, refer to rule 2 and 1.

9. Try and make yourself visible to other hunters, use hunter orange. If you see other hunters that haven't seen you yet make your presence known so you don't get yourself shot. Be sure of your targets and what's behind them, don't just shoot movement, there is no excuse for shooting another hunter, none!!!!!!

I am sure there are more rules to follow, just use common sense, and if you lack that then you have no business hunting anyways.
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Old 03-10-2009, 09:16 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: PA
Posts: 9,085
Default RE: Hunting Public Land

actually, they are GREAT well thought out questions....if every hunter asked those questions, there might be less trouble...

PA is different from most states...we have a fairly large amount of public land...but we also have near 1 million hunters...most of them hunt opening morning of our rifle season...it can be very crazy out there...

guys may THINK they can reserve a spot by putting in a tree stand or blind or whatever prior to the season, but reality is it is PUBLIC land...its open for everyone. if your not in your stand, its fair game to hunt that area. best spot is usually just out of view of those tree stands deer learn to skirt around heavily hunted stands....you will hear of guys fighting over stands and that sort of thing...but thats the answer...even if you have a stand or blind its still fair game if your not in it....and, dont leave ANYTHING on public land and expect it to be there when you return...someone can and very well may take it...locked or not...living in PA it happens regularly on public and private land....

theres really no unwritten rules...have common curtosey and that sort of thing...if you see someone else stop walking that direction and sneak out of the area as quietly as possible so you dont ruin the hunters day...he was there first...if he can see me i will give him a wave and turn around...

i can write a book on hunts that were ruined by other hunters...i will tell my favorite deer hunting one...

dad found an absolute hot spot on public land...it was very deep back in the woods and a hike from the truck...the first few years we slammed deer back there...we were both meat hunters and usually shot the first does we seen, but we had a blast and ate well those first couple years..we only seen 1 other hunter in the area that actually hunted there, and he said we didnt effect him and didnt mind us hunting in our spot...we talked to him every year...one year we had a couple inches of fresh snow on the ground for the opener...dad shot a doe at first light..while he was gutting that one i dropped another...a short while later i killed my first buck...a small 6 point...but it was like 9am opening day...we packed up and knew we had a LONG drag out with 3 deer...on the way out on the trails, we naturally ran into alot of hunters wandering those same trails....we seen about 30 deer that morning before 930 opening day

the next year we got into our same honey hole EARLY like always...we were usually the first truck in the parking areas...we had a long walk and wanted to get into our spot so we had it...settled in and noone else around...right before first light here comes a parade of flashlights down the main trail...they all turned and split up and walked right at us...dad and i started shinning our lights towards them and whistling to get their attention...they thought it was a joke and blinked theirs back at us....they didnt care. light broke and we were absolutely surrounded by hunters...dad managed a doe early on....it wasnt till 1pm i seen my first deer and dropped her...i could hear deer winding those other hunters all day...they were setup all wrong and just totally ruined the spot and ruined our hunting...they were setup within 100yds of us all around...i actually had to let my doe run past me before i dropped her to have a safe direction to shoot...

cant prove it, but im about 100% sure they seen us the year before dragging 3 deer out and followed the drag marks in the snow to our spot....fair game after we left i suppose...but they should had the curtosey to go elsewhere after we shined lights and whistled at them....

best tactics on public land is to get deep and far from the roads and off the trails...i think studies show most hunters are within a few hundred yards of the road...dads honey hole was also effective because it was a bottle neck or funnel...an area that deer prefer to take instead of other areas...or an area they HAVE to come through...those 2 tactics work well for us...if you can find a funnel pretty far back in the woods, you can have a good chance at seeing deer....

not ALL public land expiriences are BAD though...dont take my post wrong...ive killed alot of game on public land...met alot of nice guys...that same guy that hunted near our spot every year offered me and dad to come up there and flintlock hunt with him and a bunch of other guys in the late season...nice guy...

if everyone had common curtosey and respected others it wouldnt be bad...but like always, theres some bad apples that can make things sour sometimes...

last year i was bow hunting...had FRESH snow on the ground that just fell...a guy was walking my foot prints right to my stand...what was he expecting??? i was over 1 mile from the truck and 300yds in the woods off the trail and he kinda looked shocked to see me...which he didnt see me till he was under me and i coughed to get his attention...funny how many hunters NEVER look around when they are walking..i always have my orange on or hanging from the tree and most times i have to alert them that i am there...they never see me for whatever reason....

good luck
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Old 03-10-2009, 09:17 AM
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 473
Default RE: Hunting Public Land

No reserving anything on public land, land belongs to everybody, in fact a lot of area's here in Wi. you have to take your stand down every day. Now the good part is that a lot of the public tracts are huge 100,000 acres and more, so a person can move around a lot, make deerdrives and hunt new territory everyday.
The problem arises when you have small public area's surrounded by private land and those can get very crowded. You are very fortunate.
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Old 03-10-2009, 10:01 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 23
Default RE: Hunting Public Land

Great answers, guys. I appreciate the time that you guys took to educate me and maybe a few others that might have had the same curiousity or had been violating some of the unwritten rules.

Millagerobert, I guess I always envisioned that there would be a lot of competition and heated altercations, which even though it could bea likely occurrence,it sounds like most guys there are willing to help each other out. That's good to hear.

Mauser06, I'm impressed with the success that you've had, even with other hunters practically stepping on your toes. You know you're a great hunter when you can still harvest multiple deer in a day with that much working against you. Very impressive.

Redclub, I think that most of the public lands in NC Oklahoma are smaller crowded areas, maybe that's where I got my bad vision.Somebody else here might be able to tell us different about Oklahoma public land though. Yes, I think I am very fortunate also. I'm 30 and just getting started. I just wish I would have gotten into it 15 years ago I guess I didn't know what I had.

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