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10 Signs You are Hunting Public Land

10 Signs You are Hunting Public Land

public land hunters

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. Doesn’t matter if its whitetail deer or upland birds. 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 even using cameras turkey hunting is a thing. 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.

View Comments (6)
  • years ago we put up a tree stand on public land , and it has been there for years . there was a sign on it saying first come gets it . it is used all the time , over looking a field to the right and in front is a stream and on the left is a bull briar patch . easy to get to in the dark and can be seen from a long distance off , if you where to look .

    • My main question is, with all the money spent on replacing gear, why not start by buying 5 or 10 acres???
      Every year since 1990, I have kicked a my least one trespasser on my posted private property. I am talking about posted every 20 feet around the perimeter. I have collected no less than 5 trail cameras, and 8 deer stands…

  • you forgot to mention that inevitably every hunter in a 50 km radius picks a spot 100 m from your “territory” to sight in his gun the afternoon before the season opens.

  • Or opening day, I go out extra early, eat my subway sub, drink my coffee, etc. At like 4 am. You see flashlights, so you signal back to let them know your already set up and within range’ only to see the flash lights signal back but stay on while they set up their blind 100 yds from you.
    In this case, as it begins to get light, I start shooting rounds into a tree ( not in their direction). So about every 15 minutes I fire off 2/3 rounds my 30.06 has a muzzle brake and is extremely loud. There will be no bucks coming round here this morning!

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