I’m going to give you a list of ten tips to help you be successful hunting public land. So let’s get right in.
Try parking in other secluded areas instead of the designated parking lots.
Usually there are designated parking areas on public land, sometimes they’re very large parking areas and that’s where most people park. However, if they permit you to park in other areas I like to find a more secluded spot. I drive about a half a mile away, quarter mile away and look for little pull offs where I can get my car off the road and go in those areas. What happens is everyone going in and out of the wood goes through those areas right by the main parking areas and the deer get scared and reroute their travel patterns. If you set up in those less traveled areas you can have deer right in your lap.
Here is an example of what I mean. So here is a parking area on public hunting land and right down the road here, you can see on both sides of the road, you can’t really park here. But as you get down the road about a quarter mile away through this bend, there’s an area right here where you can pull off and park or even right here, pull off right in here, slip up into the woods and cut over there and the deer that will be pushed by those other hunters will be traveling across the woods and you can intercept them over there.
Don’t get too emotionally attached to one hunting area or hunting spot.
A good example is this public marsh I used to hunt quite a bit when I was growing up. I found this spot that was pretty overlooked by a lot of other hunters, it was a nice doe bedding area. It was a spot that I would see does in early season. I shot one of my best public land bucks in there. Years afterwards, I would always think, that if I had one particular evening that I could hunt on a weekend, I want to hunt at the very best chance spot that I have. And so I would always seem to come back to that one spot and it got to the point where I would go into that spot, not see anything, decided it was getting old and wait two more weeks before going in again thinking this was the time the deer would be moving through again. In reality, each time I went in there, I was just getting my scent in there, making it less likely that those deer are going to start moving to that area again. It would have been better for me to just abandon that spot altogether and go find some fresh place to hunt.
Pick multiple locations for your tree stand in your hunting area.
Now where I live, there is a lot of public land, so what I like to do is pick out a tree stand location for each time I want to hunt that year. That way I can hunt one stand one time and never have to revisit it throughout the season. This gives me a lot of fresh stands where I’m not ruining spots because the deer are catching on to me and getting spooked and things like that. The first time in the stand is always your best chance to kill, so I like to have as many tree stand locations picked out in advance as I plan to hunt that year.
Look at ways that you can lighten your pack load and look at ways that you can get in a better shape.
We all know that you don’t need to be in great shape to be a successful deer hunter and that’s especially true when you’re hunting whitetails in the Midwest. But I will say this, there’s going to be times when you’re forced to choose, do I go to spot A or do I go to spot B today and you might know in the back of your mind that spot B is really the spot that you should be on that day, but it might require 90 percent of your effort, versus 50 percent of your effort for spot A. And you can have the mental toughness to get over that and just get back into spot B but you might be more miserable doing it and by lightening your pack load and getting into better shape, you’re essentially making it less miserable to get into some of those harder to get to spots and really get into those spots that a lot of other guys don’t have the mental toughness to get to.
Drive past some of my hunting spots to see if anyone else is parked there.
There are times you’ll see several cars in a parking area and then you’ll go to another and there’s none. That lets you know what areas are getting the most visited and you can avoid those areas when you’re planning the next time you go. Another option would be to have a friend or family member drive pack your spot and let you know if they have cars parked.