13 Things Public Land Deer Hunters Despise You For

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Avoid doing the things that make other hunters mad

The public land scene is much like the private land venue, but with subtle twists. For those who’ve never hunted public land, these things might (or might not) be new to you. Some even apply to private land. But if you’ve spent any length of time hunting open-to-all properties, these things are likely on your radar. If you’re a public land hunter, for the sake of us all, avoid doing these 13 things. And if you’re already doing them, well, please just stop.

Walking Loudly to and from Your TreestandScouting and Hanging Stands During Prime TimeFailing to Watch the ClockHiking, Riding and Bird Watching During Peak Hunting HoursPurposely Sabotaging Someone’s HuntHunting in Someone ElseGiving Away a Good Spot Someone Else Showed YouHanging a Treestand Near Someone ElseClaiming a Deer You DidnDumping Your Gut Pile in SightMaking Fun of OthersNot Respecting the LandEmbellishing Stories of Giant Bucks5 Deer Hunters Who Tick Everyone Off

1 | Walking Loudly to and from Your Treestand

First off, even though two-legged animals don’t sound like four-legged ones, a hunter might think you’re an approaching deer if you walk loudly through the woods. So the primary reason to walk quietly is safety. The next reason is courtesy to other hunters. And lastly, you don’t want to spook game do you?

Do This Instead: Use good entry and exit routes. Walk heel-to-toe. Don’t step on every stick in the woods.

Photo credit: Jesse Garrett

2 | Scouting and Hanging Stands During Prime Time

As will many of these, this one boils down to having respect for others. Don’t be walking through the woods, scouting, or hanging treestands during prime time. It’s not a good way to accomplish your goals and it disrupts others, too.

Do This Instead: Scout and hang stands during the heat of the day and times when deer movement is at its lowest.

Photo credit: Realtree

3 | Failing to Watch the Clock

Many public lands have strict rules. It’s important to follow them. Some have entry and exit times. Pay attention to legal shooting light, too. Nobody likes to hear gun shots go off on the next ridge five minutes before legal light starts. It's illegal and puts a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

It’s also important to walk to and from your stands at times when it’ll affect other hunters the least. If you can only hunt for an hour or two, choose a stand location with an entry and exit route that won’t affect other nearby hunters as much.

Do This Instead: Wear a watch. Be considerate.

Photo credit: Brad Herndon

4 | Hiking, Riding and Bird Watching During Peak Hunting Hours

Some of the worst enemies of a public land deer hunter are hikers, bird-watchers and horseback riders. Now, nothing against those guys and gals. Technically, they have just as much right to be on that piece of dirt as deer hunters. And I love each of those things. I like to hike. I’ve been a horse owner and enthusiast for many years. I love to watch nature. But dadgumit, there’s no worse feeling than a horse or hiker spooking a deer as it’s walking into range.

Do This Instead: Hunters would sincerely appreciate it if other enthusiasts at least let them have the first and last two to three hours of daylight.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

5 | Purposely Sabotaging Someone’s Hunt

This is pure evil. Never purposely sabotage a hunter’s efforts. For one, it’s illegal. Secondly, this kind of malice is simply juvenile and immature. Don’t steal cameras. Don’t take treestands. Don’t interfere with someone’s hunt in any way, shape or form. You respect them. They respect you. All is well in the public land world.

Do This Instead: Try being kind.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Dmitry Galaganov

6 | Hunting in Someone Else's Treestand

Technically this is legal to do in many states. If a treestand is unattended by a certain time, it’s free game. That said, it’s very unethical and distasteful to hunt from someone else’s treestand. Do the work and hang your own stand. Don’t mooch off of someone else and reap the rewards from their labor.

Do This Instead: Hang your own perch.

Photo credit: Realtree

7 | Giving Away a Good Spot Someone Else Showed You

It’s an unspoken rule that you don’t give away a spot that someone else shows you. That’s bad ethics and a good way to never get invited again. If someone shows you a good spot they like to hunt, don’t turn around and invite all of your buddies, too. Respect others. It’s that simple.

Do This Instead: Find a new spot to take your other pals.

Photo credit: Josh Honeycutt

8 | Hanging a Treestand Near Someone Else's

Remember the phrase “first come, first serve?” Well, that applies to public land hunting, too. If someone else is already hunting in a spot, or if there’s already a stand there, find another location to hang yours. Don’t hang one 10, 20, or even 100 yards away from theirs. No one likes it when you sit right on top of them.

Do This Instead: Try to get away from other hunters. Less pressured areas will likely yield better results anyway.

Photo credit: Brad Herndon

9 | Claiming a Deer You Didn't Shoot

This is about as bad as it gets. If you didn’t shoot it, don’t claim it. And if someone else mortally wounds the deer before you shoot it, it’s theirs. If they didn’t mortally wound it, and you get a crack at it, it’s yours. That’s how you decide who the deer belongs to if two people shoot it. Plain and simple. But never under any circumstance claim another hunter’s deer. That’s about as low as it gets.

Do This Instead: Think about how you’d feel if someone did this to you. Then do the right thing.

Photo credit: Josh Honeycutt

10 | Dumping Your Gut Pile in Sight

Are you that hunter that dumps the guts right where you (and others) hunt? Don’t be. It’s inconsiderate. Plus, it hurts everyone’s morale when they see gut piles on their way to and from the treestand.

Do This Instead: Drag the deer away from where the bulk of the hunting takes place and leave the gut pile in a spot where coyotes and other predators/scavengers won’t mess with the deer hunting.

Photo credit: Bill Konway

11 | Making Fun of Others' Deer

Are you a game shamer? Then shame on you. Every legally taken wild deer is a trophy, regardless of size. I’m all for quality management practices. But I don’t go as far as shaming someone for killing a smaller buck than I would. And I wouldn’t expect someone else to shame me for killing one smaller than their standards.

Do This Instead: Congratulate the hunter on their success.

Photo credit: Josh Honeycutt

12 | Not Respecting the Land

It’s illegal to litter. It’s disrespectful to the land and critters that call the place home. It’s disrespectful to all of the other hunters who use that piece of ground, too. Don’t litter. Don’t leave garbage behind. Carry all of your trash out with you.

Do This Instead: Keep a plastic bag in your pack and put trash in it as needed.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Celyi

13 | Embellishing Stories of Giant Bucks

This one is a half-hearted disapproval. We all have that little fisherman inside us that likes to make things seem bigger and grander than they really are. But there comes a point in any legendary tale where enough is enough. Long story short, don’t tell somebody you saw (or killed) a Booner when it wouldn’t have even met minimum Pope & Young requirements.

Do This Instead: Tell it like it is, brother. Nothing wrong with the truth. There’s no such thing as a hunting super hero.

Photo credit: Josh Honeycutt

14 | 5 Deer Hunters Who Tick Everyone Off

Not a public land hunter? Just need to know what not to be as a private lander? Here's five hunters who tick everyone off.

Illustration Credit: Ryan Orndorff

Editor's Note: This was originally published June 14, 2017.

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