Ask any deer hunter, and they will surely tell you that there is something truly mesmerizing about the sight of antlers shining across a crisp frosty landscape. Whether you’re talking about whitetails in the Midwest or mule deer in the West, deer can capture and captivate the imagination. For many, exposure to hunting started chasing small game like squirrels or rabbits, and eventually moved up to larger species like white-tailed deer. You would be hard pressed to find someone who, once exposed to the magic of a deer stand sunrise, refused to be hooked for life.
For those of us that love the sport of deer hunting, or just hunting in general, it can be hard to fathom that interest and participation in the experience is decreasing across this Country. It is sad, but still a very true statement. Though hunter decline is a complicated issue, many claim that it is simply the lack of convenient opportunity that has caused them to hang up the Hoyt bow or Browning rifle. The reality is that a misconception exists that leads deer hunters into believing that, unless you have deep pockets or are well connected, that you are simply unable to find fruitful opportunities. The belief is that public land deer hunting is simply overcrowded and impossible. While those statements may be true in some small areas, the reality is quite the opposite. Public land deer hunting can offer an excellent and affordable opportunity for interested and hardworking deer hunters. With a little grit and few tips, a DIY public land deer hunt can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences you can have this fall.
Going the Extra Mile
Many states across the Country offer the DIY deer hunter plenty of opportunities to get out and hit the woods. From publicly owned State and Federal lands to walk-in access areas, hunters interested in pursuing a deer need only do a little research, and you will find that we are a Country that is rich in deer hunting opportunities.
Deer hunting on public land is both challenging and rewarding. The challenge of hunting public land is what often draws hunters to take it on in the first place. It is often not easy and requires you to go the extra mile to find success. However, if you are willing to put in a little bit of work and time, then chances are high that you will have an opportunity to send a Grim Reaper down range.
South Dakota Deer Hunting | Pure Hunting S.2, Ep.8, “Revenge of the Badlands”
“Join me as I head back to South Dakota to redeem myself from last year’s hunt. I shot a nice buck, only to search for him for a day and a half and never recover him. It was tough South Dakota deer hunting last year. It’s a great country and terrain for a spot and stalk archery deer hunt, so hopefully this year’s South Dakota deer hunting!”
Effort is Everything
Public land deer hunting is very interesting, especially when it comes to hunting pressure. Hunting pressure is what makes the world go-round in the whitetail woods. When it comes to public land, pressure can often wax and wane. Hunters who take to the field on public land can often be reluctant to really get out and explore the area they are hunting. As with any type of hunting, taking the time to scout is a critical piece of the puzzle and all too often public land hunters do not venture too far from the parking lot. So while there can be an increased level of pressure on an area, it can often be “inflated” to some degree. If you are willing to go the extra mile and venture into the heart, or far boundary of the area you can not only find yourself away from the other hunters, but you just might be surprised at how good the area can be for deer hunting.
Scout, Scout, Scout
Success on public land all boils down to persistence and effort. The foundation of success always comes down to scouting, and when we are talking about public land whitetail hunting, the frequency of your scouting is often increased. Aerial photography, maps showing land ownership like the Hunt App from OnXMaps and a great set of optics from Vortex are critical in helping you be successful when scouting the public land.
When it comes to scouting the public land, don’t be too quick to judge a book by its cover. Often a tract of land may not look like much from the aerial photos, but in person, it can tell a much different story. A big buck doesn’t need more than a shallow depression with some cover to hide in. Often, these are the areas that receive less hunting pressure and can truly be a diamond in the ruff, so always do your homework and do your due diligence to weigh out all of your hunting options before putting a game plan together.
Be Mobile and Roll with the Punches
Successful deer hunting on public land is all about rolling with the punches, and going with the cards that you are handed. You need to do your homework and make a game plan to start, but much like any other DIY hunting effort, you need to anticipate that there will be issues and you will need to adjust.
On facet that can help you accomplish this task, and can lead you down the path to success is simply having the ability to be mobile. Using tree stands that are easy to put up and take down, utilizing pop-up blinds, or being prepared to spot and stalk and cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time can all be critical pieces to success. When whitetail hunting on public ground, put simply you need to be prepared for all of it!
Opportunities to get out and chase whitetail deer exist all around us. If you are willing to do a little homework, put the time in scouting and not be afraid to venture out from the parking lot then you have an excellent chance of finding success on your next DIY whitetail deer hunt. You don’t need deep pockets to harvest a nice whitetail this fall, so get out and give the public land deer hunting a try!