If you’re like me at all, public land is just about your only hunting ground. Hunting on public land takes a bit of a hustle. At times it just further frustrates the juggle of a full time job and a full time obsession. Over the ten years of being a public land hunter, I’ve come across at least ten common frustrations that come with being a public land hunter.
1. Everyone has been hunting your spot for ten years
After months of scouting and planning and hunting a location, it never ceases to amaze me just how often we meet another hunter claiming to have hunted that location for over a decade. What adds to the enigma of this is that we have neither seen them in the past year nor any year previous year despite their constant presence. Fortunately, their claims to the location are as invalid as our own. It’s public land after all.
2. Your tree stand has become community property
We have all been in that awkward situation when we arrive at our tree stand only to find someone already in it. Our reactions might be a bit different in intensity, but we can all agree just how frustrating this is.
3. You end up standing next to a tree, because you can’t find your tree stand in the dark
We’ve been waiting for that perfect morning where the cold snap ensures good deer movement. We motivate ourselves to get up that much earlier, because it’s the day. So in the cold dark of the morning, as we try to not make a sound in the crunchy leaves, we walk and walk only to fail to find the tree stand we’ve walked to a million times before. Our flashlight strikes through the darkness and our element of surprise. The beam lights upon where the tree stand used to be—before it was stolen.
4. Trail camera purchases are based on a one-for-me, one-for-them model
We often find ourselves buying a lot of trail cameras. It’s not because we want more. It’s because we need to replace the ones stolen from last year. While we might be used to this as public land hunters, it’s still maddening to never see the pictures that were on our camera. This leads to the next big upset.
5. Posting trail camera photos of thieves is as common as posting photos of big bucks
Sometimes catching a thief on your trail camera is more exciting than finding a big buck. A lot of websites and social media outlets can often look a lot like online manhunting boards.
6. The sight of trucks pulled over on the side of the road turns your stomach
Our spot has been unhunted by other guys for years now. One day while driving down the road to check things out, there happens to be another truck. Our once exclusive spot has turned into a shared playground.
7. Out-of state plates incite fury
Nothing fires up public land hunters like out-of-state plates. That’s because hunters are territorial. We feel the dread, anger, and irritation of these invaders taking over our areas with their out-of-state tactics. At least, that’s the reason we give ourselves for not wanting them in our area.
8. The opening day army
We’ve found the perfect location for opening day of gun season and haven’t seen a single public land hunter scouting the area. When we pull up to the spot extra early, we’re excited to see no other trucks. We wait in the dark, sure that we’ve heard a number of deer moving around us. The coming dawn, however, reveals the orange blobs visible in almost every direction.
9. Mature bucks often behave like monstrous creatures of the night
Public land whitetails are as clever as they come. They have been conditioned for years to survive the onslaught of amateur hunters and experienced woodsman. That means that they have developed the survival habits of vampires, becoming active in the darkness to avoid humans during the day.
10. The humorous buck legends
There is so much inaccurate information surrounding bucks living on public land. Public land hunters tell their tall tales of seeing one buck and his amazing fifteen year lifespan. Other hunters are committed until the end to find the supposed den of the next world record whitetail.