Most states have huge amounts of public land hunting! Let’s go get him!
Just as few of us own lakes and rivers for fishing, private land options for hunting may be limited or non-existent for many. Let’s talk about public land hunting!
This article will expand our horizons to understand that not owning or leasing land for hunting doesn’t have to be a negative. In fact people across the country see it as being a good thing. Let’s dive in, and I’ll explain .
Public land hunting can be as successful as leased land .
We all know that if you plant a food plot and place ladder stands, tower stands and lock on stands around it that you will see deer at some point, and with the right stand placement and wind direction we may even see a big buck or two !
In fact since I started hunting in the early 1980s the trend has continued to grow towards private leases, land permission and food plots .
Being able to set permanent stands and cultivate for success is a major advantage towards filling your tag, And the setup can remain there year after year and be improved on as you go.
Add to that the security of posted signs and knowing who is there, or supposed to be there helps put your mind to ease. Heck with any luck your stuff might even be there when you return !
But there are other options. While maybe not conforming to the comforts of a private lease or hunting club Public land hunting can be a bonanza of opportunity ! .
Hunting public land opportunities you won’t get in a lease
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When I began hunting and fishing in the early 80s on my own, most opportunities came on public lands. These days 80% of my hunting time is spent on a small tract of leased land that is leased by family, I still have an affinity for public land hunting and find myself on public lands more and more. Why you ask ?
Well the first of many reasons is the sheer amount of public land available with only the purchase of a license and maybe a W..M.A. permit (Wildlife Management Area).
When you really think about it public lands and the amount that is open for hunting is incredible ! It gives you an opportunity to have multiple spots in different terrains and areas without breaking the bank.
While there are some challenges to hunting public land that you don’t have on a lease, in my opinion the pros far outweigh the cons ! Yes you have to actually use and hone your scouting skills.
No, you can’t build a tiny house tower stand, and if you place ladder stands or other stands you leave you take the chance that either someone else will be using it or it will be stolen. And believe it or not many folks don’t consider those issues as cons .
Leases, like the paid hunting trips phenomena are great for the purpose. Who wouldn’t want to hunt in Alaska or Iowa, or maybe catch an early season hunt in South Carolina where you can tag a buck in August. The truth is, you can and it’s far less expensive and troublesome than you think !
That Deer, Bear, or elk hunt in Alaska is closer than you might think and can be accomplished by taking advantage of 271 million acres of public land. No that isn’t a typo or exaggeration !
90% of the land mass in Alaska is public land that can be hunted with a simple license and for certain species a tag or permit, which is far less expensive than the average hunting lease membership dues cost across the country !
Let’s say that you’ve been watching a real wall hanger on your trail cameras on your hunting lease, but the season in your state doesn’t open until October or November. Why not make a trip to South Carolina to hunt velvet antlered bucks in August on 1.1 million acres of public land ?
All you need is a non-resident license, a big game permit and a W.M.A. permit. All together in the $200 range ! It’s a unique opportunity to say the least. Just make sure you remember your Thermacell !
You know what would be a blast? Let’s go to Iowa to hunt the rut and try filling our tag on a big old corn belt bruiser ! You should be able to find a hunting spot on 375,000 acres of W.M.A. land shouldn’t you ?
I’ll bet you can find a bunch of spots to hang your stand on 375,000 acres. Just get some maps, check the regulations at the D.N.R. website and get started. It’s really that easy ! You don’t have to be rich to have an adventure in the land of giants !
Getting back to the basics with your tactics
The top of the discussion for success when planning a public land hunting trip is getting back to the basics !
Nothing mind boggling. Deer are still deer ! In the present day G.P.S. technology, maps, and cell phones are amazing tools to make scouting and planning your tactics as easy as 1,2,3, !
Pretty much every D.N.R. in every state offers free maps for W.M.A., B.L.M. and trust lands within their state. And for $29 a year the OnX app on your phone will tell you the names and boundaries of every tract of land. With that info, you may actually be able to get some written permission too !
You might find that getting back to the basics and hunting is more interesting, exciting and memorable than private lease waiting in the same stand year after year.
A properly planned experience is the best one ! Waiting till the last minute and spending half your season or trip trying to find a place to hunt is a joy kill of an experience. So why not start now. Take your time and start planning for success. Whether you are planning an out of state hunt or the public land right down the road .
The possibilities are limitless, but there are some things you can do that will make your experience more memorable and successful !
Public land hunting tips
Here are some tips that will help you get closer to the success you are after on public land .
1-.The Golden Rule. No matter who you are or where you use public lands you will interact with other people. It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are, there is no arguing this one !
The Golden Rule is simply treating others the way you want to be treated. Be polite and respectful of others. If you adhere to this first tip, you’ll find that much of the rest becomes easier.
2- Get there early and stay later. When you hunt or fish on public lands, the early bird gets the worm. While not always the case, you’ll find that if you are there early, late arrivals will give a pretty wide berth.
If you are hunting in an area where there may be others hunting in fairly close proximity, try staying a little later than normal.
When the others get down and start moving through the woods there is a good chance they will bump wildlife and get it moving. Quite possibly in your direction .
3- Get away from the road. Most public land hunters will usually hunt within 200 yards of their vehicle. If you take this into consideration while scouting and get off the beaten path you will see your success increase .
4- Watch your bread crumbs ! It is typical of most hunters to use flagging tape or other markings to mark the trail to their hunting location. Use your imagination here. GPS is a good alternative. If you must use trail markers, start the trail 50-75 yards inside the wood line, and maybe you won’t get up early to find someone else has already used your trail.
5-Scout a year in advance. When hunting scout at different intervals of the season to discover how travel corridors and other sign changes during different parts of the season. It will give you a leg up on next year .
6- Backup plans. Always have a minimum of 2 spots as your primary hunting spot. More will be better. There are always gonna be those times when you aren’t the first person to that spot.
That is another reason I prefer a higher caliber rifle as my public land rifle when big game hunting. If your first choice was a swamp and you have to go to your backup on a power line, you might be under gunned with your 30/30 .
7-Clean up after yourself. Like rule #1 be considerate of others. It’s also no news that the property owners won’t be happy that the land they allow hunting on has become a trash dump.
8-Don’t bother property that isn’t yours. It’s true that in most states a stand on public land is first come first served. But being considerate never fails ! If it isn’t yours leave it alone.
While you may be understanding if you find someone in your stand or blind, that other person might not be as understanding.In a situation where both parties are usually armed, discretion and respect is the better part of valor .
And make sure you watch the boundary signs ! In many circumstances it can become very easy to find that you have accidentally wondered onto private property!
9- Safety. Wear international blaze orange and never be scouting and sneaking around during hunting hours. Save that for a Sunday or another day when there is no hunting. They call them accidents because they aren’t on purpose. It is a good idea to make sure someone knows where you will be.
A broken ankle or other injury will not only ruin a hunt, but may become a life threatening situation in the wild. I always take a backpack with an extra bottle of water and a couple of protein bars in case I get hungry. It’s a good idea to be prepared in case of injury or a situation that isn’t planned arises. My backpack contains a cigarette lighter, a whistle, and a small first aid kit as well.
If I’m on a true wilderness hunt I have a better supplied backpack as well. You never know. And I’m not about becoming subject matter for a movie !
10- Enjoy the experience ! There are enough tips for me to do an e book, and that may come later. But there aren’t enough tips and tricks in any book that make you enjoy yourself. We only have so long on this beautiful planet. Don’t be so serious that you can’t enjoy the journey for stressing over the outcome !
I refuse to invest the time, energy and money in something I don’t enjoy ! Whether you are hunting on a 1000 acre lease in the corn belt of Amnerica or wild public lads in Idaho, TAYLOR YOUR EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT !
If you’ve never hunted public land take enjoyment from the learning experience. And until we meet again … see you in the great outdoors !
Thanks for reading this post! If you have comments or questions please leave them in the comments below !