A Whitetail Honey Hole – Public Lands

Scott Bestul |

Despite those bad experiences, public ground continues to be an important part of my deer hunting plans each fall. For every experience like those listed above, I’ve had dozens of absolutely stellar hunts, all on land that I didn’t have to ask permission to hunt. With that in mind, here are four tips for finding great deer hunting on Uncle Sam’s lands. By the way, all the bucks pictured above had their photos snapped on public grounds. They serve as a perfect reminder of why it’s important to not neglect public areas!

Tip One: Timing is everything

Of course the absolute worst time to hunt public ground isM2E1L0-0R350B362 when everyone else wants to. I generally avoid weekends, opening days (for any species), and holidays. But hunt a public spot during the week, or late in the season, and it’s not uncommon to have the place to yourself. Deer move about pretty freely, and you’d be surprised at some of the bucks you see, especially if you follow…

Tip Two: Look for barriers

Hunters are no different than humans in every other endeavor; they seek the easiest path in almost everything.0324:082616:63F:SCOTTB2 :6 Some of the best public areas I hunt feature some type of physical challenge that deters 99.5% of hunters; a steep hill (or series of them), a creek or river that needs crossing, a marsh or swamp that must be waded. There’s a huge, well-known state wildlife area near my home that produces great bucks every year….but only to the hunters willing to access the remote spots that no one else wants to surmount.

Tip Three: Think outside the box

When it comes to chasing deer, most hunters haveM2E1L0-0R350B362 tunnel vision. We want lots of classic deer cover, which for most of us means trees. And if we’re really dense, we demand a sign with a big trophy buck that advertises the spot as a sure bet for whitetails. But I’ve had some absolutely fantastic hunts on Walk-In Areas meant to lure in pheasant hunters, and a buddy from South Dakota has shot some dandy bucks on Waterfowl Production Areas that sported more cattails than trees.

In summary, “trophy deer” and “public land” are not mutually-exclusive terms. If you’re willing to sweat a bit and think creatively, you can have some fantastic hunts on lands you
don’t have to buy, lease, or even ask permission to access.

Popular Tags