Deer Hunting Public Land

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deer hunters use aerial photos while deer hunting
Using aerial photos can help deer hunters quickly understand the lay of the land. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

Hunt Overlooked Public Ground

Most deer hunters have hunted in a variety of states. If a deer hunter knows a state holds trophy bucks then they will hunt there. Sometimes a deer hunter will find himself in places most deer hunters would never dream would hold trophy bucks. Some deer hunters also believe in hunting tiny parcels of land.

Sometimes deer hunters will find trophy bucks on parcels of property less than 50 acres. Some deer hunters are always looking for that little piece of ground other deer hunters don't think about. Sometimes it is a chunk of ground along a highway; other times it's a parcel behind a subdivision. If deer hunters have lots of time to do homework and are willing to utilize topo maps, they can find trophy bucks if the bucks live in the area you are hunting. That statement may sound obvious, but many deer hunters waste their time hunting in states that don't hold trophy bucks which is why they don't go home with a trophy buck.

topo maps are a great deer scouting tool
Topo maps can be downloaded off the internet and are a great scouting tool. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

Using aerial photos can help hunters quickly understand the lay of the land.

There is no point in hunting in areas that don't typically hold large deer. Some deer hunters will always go with the odds and hunt states that are known to hold trophy bucks. With the cost of gas on the rise, some deer hunters try to hunt in states close to home.

Hunt a Wildlife Refuge

Some deer hunters pride themselves on deer hunting in out-of-the-way places and places overlooked by others. Wildlife Refuges are public grounds that offer enough space to get away from other deer hunters. There are over 500 refuges across the country. Some offer hunting; some don't. Spending a little time online locating the ones that offer deer hunting and calling a biologist on that refuge can be time well invested.

Many refuges have waterfowl production areas on them which are great for duck hunting and deer hunting. To grow a large rack, a buck needs a place to hide and escape from hunting pressure. Waterfowl production areas are often that place. Many of them are overlooked by deer hunters and the lowland habitat is perfect for deer. Most western hunters are after big elk or mule deer. Whitetails live on many refuges throughout the west and don't see much hunting pressure. Serious whitetailers may want to consider taking a road trip and hunting a western Wildlife Refuge.

Hang a Trail Camera

deer hunters use trail cameras
Trail cameras can provide deer hunters with valuable info about where trophy bucks live.

In the past, finding trophy bucks on large chunks of ground or small parcels was equally difficult knowing you had trail cameras. Whether you are hunting a large refuge or a twenty-acre parcel behind a farmers' house in Iowa, trail cameras can provide you with the clues you need to score.

During the last several years, trail cameras have helped a lot of deer hunters find trophy bucks. If a deer hunter finds a runway they think is being used, they will hang a trail camera. After a few days if the camera doesn't have any photos on it, it is typically a good idea to stay away from that area. Some deer hunters have found bucks in places deer hunters would never dream bucks would live because it is a small parcel or a chunk of ground near a town. The truth is that big bucks will live anywhere hunters will leave them alone. You can use trail cameras to locate the big bucks in the places hunters wouldn't dream of finding a Pope & Young Buck.

Invest Your Time

deer hunters look for fresh deer scrapes
Deer hunters are always looking for fresh scrapes and rubs in the field. Once you find a fresh sign it is a good idea to hang a tree stand and a trail camera. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

Some deer hunters will say that most of the bucks they harvested were taken while hunting public land. The key to success for public land hunting is made up of several ingredients that make a great recipe for harvesting a trophy buck. All serious whitetail hunters that are regularly successful spend a lot of time doing research. Some deer hunters do a lot of research from home by scouting areas from their computer. Deer hunters will use their computer to find out harvest information from previous years, locate biologists, and put in for tags. You can also spend a lot of time in the field scouting and getting off the beaten path where others are unwilling to go. You can't kill a deer in camp or in an area that doesn't hold big bucks.

So as you begin scouting for next years' hunt, remember that you can be successful. You simply need a camper or tent, a little time on your hands, and an area that holds trophy bucks. Although finding an area that holds trophy bucks is harder than ever before, if you are willing to take a road trip, spend some time putting miles under your boots and look in areas that others don't, you might experience success. The requirements include lots of time, lots of commitment, and a little money.

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