Hunting Privately on Public Land
These three bucks were taken with a recurve bow on different parcels of Minnesota
public land. If the author can do it -- so can you!
Some of the greatest places to hunt this year will either be passed up, overlooked,
or ignored. Why? Because hunting on public land isn't always easy
-- but it can be highly productive. And, if you play your cards right,
at least a significant percentage of your hunting on public ground can take
place in private.
Here are five quick tips to help you hunt privately on public land:
Hunt in Unusual Places.
Although many areas designated as public
hunting land hold a variety of wildlife, usually a predominate type of hunting
takes place. It's true that some land makes it possible to hunt deer,
grouse, ducks, etc, but many were originally intended for or are more suitable
for a specific type of hunting. The second largest buck I've seen (and
missed) in close to three decades of hunting was on public land that most
hunters would consider to be exclusively for ducks and pheasants. Don't
be afraid to go against the traditional usage of a public hunting ground.
Learn to Stagger Your Public Hunting with the Predominate Specie Being Hunted
on a Particular Piece of Land. For example, if the area you're
hunting pulls in pheasant hunters and the season doesn't open until 9:00am
(as it does in Minnesota), you'll probably be better off hunting in the morning.
The afternoons will attract plenty of hunters when they get off work.
On the other hand, if the place you hunt is known for its duck hunting, you
might want to save that for an afternoon hunt.
Take Advantage of Other Hunter's Habits as They Enter Public Land
The fact is, some segments of public hunting parcels receive very little
traffic. These isolated areas become populated pockets of wildlife.
Almost all public hunting lands have somewhat predictable parking places.
Since most people who hunt on public land arrive in cars, consider using other
hunters as your drivers. I have had squirrel hunters bring deer right
by my tree. If your private hunt is interrupted, at least let the interruption
work in your favor and let hunters drive some from the well-trodden tracts
Hunt Pressure Spots Early. Some areas attract every kind of
hunter. In an area where there is a shortage of public land, even the
most undesireable area becomes a haven for hunters. If an area is likely
to receive a lot of traffic once the duck season starts, hit it early in
the season before that happens. In some cases, as the hunting season
progresses, the pressure can be so heavy the deer will change either their
time or places of travel through an area. Be ready to adjust your strategy.
Many bow hunters don't think it pays to hunt the first part of the season.
They're wrong! Sure, the odds increase during the rut as the bucks start
chasing the does, but the deer are out there year round. Some public
hunting spots are more productive early in the season.
Don't Judge an Area by Its Size Although an area may appear
small and insignificant, it might hold the whitetail that you're looking
for. If it doesn't, the private land surrounding it probably will. Deer are
highly mobile creatures that relocate when hunting pressure intensifies or
during rutting periods. Both rifle and bow hunters can take advantage
of deer movement. Remember, even the smartest deer can't read a public hunting
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