8 Reasons to Hate Public-Land Deer Hunting

What Are Your Beefs with Public-Land Hunting?

By
No Such Thing as “My Spot”

Image 1 of 9

1 | No Such Thing as “My Spot”

I can’t count how many times I’ve poured over maps (both digital and hard copy) prior to a hunt, only to hike in to predetermined stand locations and find another hunter’s stand(s) already in place. They found those spots first, and even though I could hunt that location anyway since it’s public land, it’s not the upstanding or even productive thing to do. On private land, you can claim spots, but forget it on public land. After all, it isn’t your spot, even if you’ve been hunting it for years.

Don't Miss: 3 Deadly Public Land Rut Stands

Photo Credit: John Hafner

Image 1 of 9

Pressure from Small-Game Hunters

Image 2 of 9

2 | Pressure from Small-Game Hunters

They’re equally entitled to the woods, but I’ve had some unfortunate encounters with small-game hunters that not only chased deer out of the area but also risked safety.

On one occasion while bowhunting in Kansas, a father and son who were pheasant hunting spooked a doe I’d been watching, and then proceeded to walk by me with guns cradled in their arms and pointing in my direction. I stood up in my treestand, waved my arms, and even whistled and talked out loud, but my antics went unseen/unheard. Once they had passed by, the son finally noticed me in the tree.

Another time while hunting near home in Wisconsin, a shotgun-toting squirrel hunter appeared. Maybe I should’ve shouted immediately when I saw him, but I didn’t, and he soon sent BBs raining all around me. That shook me up, and even though I wasn’t hurt, I was pretty ticked the kid hadn’t thoroughly considered his surroundings before shooting.

Don't Miss: 13 Things Public Land Deer Hunters Despise You For

Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

Image 2 of 9

Lots of Young Bucks

Image 3 of 9

3 | Lots of Young Bucks

As much as I cherish every deer encounter, seeing only does, fawns and young bucks gets old. Buck age class generally suffers on public land for two reasons. First, every hunter has differing definitions of a trophy, and many folks consider any legal buck a trophy. Second, greed takes over, and many hunters reason: “If I don’t shoot it, someone else will.” How ignorant.

Don't Miss: 5 Overlooked Public Land Deer Hunting Hotspots

Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

Image 3 of 9

Nocturnal Activity

Image 4 of 9

4 | Nocturnal Activity

Many folks hunt public land without a definitive plan. They tromp around until they find ample deer sign, then hunt that place repeatedly all season long. They don’t consider the invasiveness of this approach, nor do they choose particular ingress and egress routes to minimize impact.

Additionally, the sheer number of hunters and the pressure they impose on public land promotes substantial nocturnal movement. For hunters like me who’re more methodical, this means that our greatest efforts to reduce impact won’t always yield results. But, it’s our only hope of nailing a whopper.

Don't Miss: 7 Factors When Deer Hunting New Properties

Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

Image 4 of 9

Weekends Are Busy

Image 5 of 9

5 | Weekends Are Busy

Seldom do I hunt public lands on weekends (except during out-of-state hunts with limited time) because that’s when everyone hunts. The more bodies in the woods, the greater the impact. Think about it: the woods is a whitetail’s home. If six people walk into your home, you’ll know about it. Enough said.

Don't Miss: 5 Reasons You Can’t Kill a Public Land Buck

Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

Image 5 of 9

What You See Is What You Get

Image 6 of 9

6 | What You See Is What You Get

Not all ground is equally suited for quality deer hunting. If your private land lacks whitetail necessities, you can improve it. Perhaps that entails hinge cutting to establish bedding grounds, and planting food plots in strategic locations to beef up your nutrition program.

On public land, you can’t do that. What you see is what you get, and the land is only as productive for whitetail hunting as its existing allures or lack thereof.

Don't Miss: How to Kill the Biggest Buck Where You Hunt

Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

Image 6 of 9

The Grass Is Usually Greener Across the Fence

Image 7 of 9

7 | The Grass Is Usually Greener Across the Fence

It’s common to see bruisers across the fence on adjacent private property. It happens to me quite often. And despite my best efforts to beckon them onto public via calling, it has yet to work for me. The fight continues.

Don't Miss: No Trespassing

Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

Image 7 of 9

It’s Becoming More Difficult

Image 8 of 9

8 | It’s Becoming More Difficult

When I first started bowhunting on public land, it was less common to encounter other hunters’ stands or see a full parking area (except during firearms season). Today, public lands are being pounded. As an example, two falls ago while hunting Kansas, I encountered hunters and/or stands in every location I intended to hunt except one.

Don't Miss: Top 8 States for Non-Resident Deer Hunting

Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

Image 8 of 9

On a Positive Note

Image 9 of 9

9 | On a Positive Note

There’s another side to all of this. I love public-land deer hunting. The eight things I outlined above are just things I hate about it.

I love hunting deer on public land because all it requires is a weapon, a plan and a positive attitude — no knocking on doors or paying for a lease. Beyond that, it represents a challenge. Being a DIY hunter, I welcome those challenges.

It all boils down to perspective. If you focus on the negative aspects, you’ll probably have only negative experiences. But, if you’re truly thankful to have places to hunt, you can see public-land deer hunting through a new lens.

Of all the deer I’ve taken, none were sweeter or more memorable than the ones I claimed on public land. Why? Because those are the ones I worked my tail off for. I overcame the eight hurdles above — and many more — and God rewarded my efforts. In my opinion, that can’t be beat.

Don't Miss: 15 Best States for DIY Deer Hunting in 2018

Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

Are you a deer hunter wanting to learn how to accomplish your goals? Check out our stories, videos and hard-hitting how-to's on deer hunting.

Follow us on Facebook.

Image 9 of 9

I’m a positive, optimistic person, so I apologize up front for my headline’s negative spin. However, after 16 years of hunting deer on public land, I’ve about had it. Understand: I’m not throwing a pity party for myself, nor am I quitting. I’m just frustrated. And if you’ve hunted public land long enough, you’ll relate to the following eight subtopics.