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  • Public Land Hunters

    Today I drove through some of the forest service roads that cut through the public hunting grounds down here. At home we all hunt 50-200 acre tracts of private land, quite a bit different from many thousands of acres of highly pressured land that we have down here. From an arial map most of this looks the same, just pine forests, real thick briers, and flat ground. How would you go about pin pointing one area to hang a stand out of all that land-especially when the brush makes a lot of it virtually inaccessible? And how far would you get from the road? I've heard most hunters won't go further than a mile from the road, but the way these are set up, getting further from your road is bringing you closer to another. I have a few more days off and while my wife is in her morning college classes I'm going to be out scouting, what would y'all recommend to look for?

  • #2
    What state are you in? Talking about whitetails?

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    • #3
      The biggest thing is you want to hunt the places other people are too lazy to go. It is a LOT more work, but it pays off. My strategy is a variation on what Randy Newberg teaches. Instead of looking for places to focus on, I first try to eliminate as much as possible.
      Depending on how big the area is, I sit down with the map and cross off everything close to a road. Depending on how close together the roads are, this might be everything within half a mile, or a mile of the road.
      Next, I will cross everything that can be easily accessed from a marked trail.
      Any areas that can be accessed by a walk across flat, open ground gets marked off.
      Usually, this strategy will eliminate most of the area you are looking at and you can narrow it down. I then start looking at places that have something else that would keep people out. The areas you described as “virtually inaccessible” sound perfect. I would definitely focus on those. I would also look at places that you can’t access without crossing a creek or river. Bringing along waders isn’t much work, but it eliminates nearly all of your competition. The other things that eliminate areas are just distance and terrain. If it is a really long walk, or really difficult walking, most people will skip it.
      Only at this point to I look for areas that seem attractive to my game. Just getting away from people does 90% of the work.
      One of my favorite places to hunt has a system of horse/hiking trails that are loose sand. I take a mountain bike with huge tires that can handle that stuff and get several miles in. Nobody walks that far, and most bikes can’t ride the trail, to keep out the few people who hunt from bikes.

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      • #4
        Depends on what you are scouting for and what area you are in. I usually go more than a mile when hunting public land, and I usually bust through some nasty brush to do it. I want to make it as difficult as possible for someone to follow my tracks to the area I plan to hunt. That being said, I am not putting up stands, permanent structures are not allowed on public land where I hunt.

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        • #5
          For bowhunting look for water, pond or creeks, and edges wood/thicket or wood/field. Then find the acorns. For gun get between two fairly close thickets, up in a stand will work better than ground for this, and ambush them as they dodge other hunters. Opening day will probably be like world of Warcraft to the deer and they'll run thicket to thicket dodging and catching their breath. Forget the scents and calls in this scenario just stay sharp. I also advise using something that'll put them down fairly quickly as possession is 10/10ths of the law.

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          • #6
            outlaw, this from a public land hunter from days gone by.
            A lot of these guys carry in climbing tree stands.
            I prefer to hunt on the ground. I like the flexibility and mobility and not being constrained by excess weight or a "single" tree.

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            • #7
              It's tough when there aren't any obvious terrain or cover factors that will influence deer movement. The advice about getting as far from the road as possible is good, and I'd still try to do that. Any time you're dealing with high hunting pressure, you pretty much have to get away from the crowd to be successful. I'd go out and scout more for other hunter sign than anything else. Write off anywhere you see stands, boot tracks, etc. If you stop seeing hunter sign, you should be getting close to where the deer are, if there are deer in the area. There still have to be some differences in the cover or terrain - are there any creeks or bodies of water that might positively or negatively affect the way the deer travel through the area? I'd try to find edges of cover, too - wherever one type of cover transitions to another. Brush to more open pines, for example. Try to find what the deer feeding on, too. That's another valuable piece of information.

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              • #8
                More details: state, species?

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                • #9
                  I hunted public areas a lot when I was younger. I used to still hunt most of the time during gun season. When you practice it is amazing how effective it can be.
                  I now have my own place and still hunt the same ways I did when on Public. I see a lot more game that way as not a lot of other hunters come on my land.

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                  • #10
                    Food, food,food! I would be looking for oaks. A nice stand of hard woods would be on my list or fresh clear cut. Or one that is just a few years old with shrub growth great bedding and travel corridors.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Greenhead View Post
                      What state are you in? Talking about whitetails?
                      North Carolina......Whitetails/Black Bears.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Milldawg View Post
                        Food, food,food! I would be looking for oaks. A nice stand of hard woods would be on my list or fresh clear cut. Or one that is just a few years old with shrub growth great bedding and travel corridors.
                        I found one good oak stand this morning, unfortunately it was only about 200 yards wide, right beside the road.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jhjimbo View Post
                          I hunted public areas a lot when I was younger. I used to still hunt most of the time during gun season. When you practice it is amazing how effective it can be.
                          I now have my own place and still hunt the same ways I did when on Public. I see a lot more game that way as not a lot of other hunters come on my land.
                          Still hunting is the only way I've ever hunted with a rifle. I agree I'm able to see much more game that way than I would if I sat in a stand all morning. That's how I plan to do it here and I'm not overly worried about that. But with my bow I'd prefer to use a treestand.

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                          • #14
                            State Land with planted pines, that's a tuff order to fill, look for swampy area, streams,creaks. they generally have small open areas with some oak trees+/-.
                            As for Ladder stands "Check your local Laws". In Fl FWC lets you have only 3 days for a ladder stand, One day out then 3 days again. And NO Overnight Camping.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dougfir View Post
                              More details: state, species?
                              Eastern NC. Talking mostly about white tails, but if you have any advice on quail, grouse, doves, waterfowl, squirrels etc etc I'm always up to learn some new stuff

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