For many, the thought of hunting public land sends icy shivers down their spine. They’ve heard stories of truck windows being shot out and fights over competing claims for dead deer. For others, it’s a great opportunity to cover countless acres and enjoy the excitement and adventure public land has to offer.
Across our Nation, millions of acres of public land are set aside for sportsman to enjoy. We should enjoy that land, too, because our hard earned license fees and tax dollars contribute to the costs of maintaining that ground.
But problems arise when hunters treat public land like a freshman frat house, checking their courtesy and consideration at the front door and dumping their junk wherever they go. In order for the whole concept of public land hunting to work properly, it means every hunter—starting with you and me—has got to make it his first priority to abide by the rules of common decency when utilizing public spaces. Here are 10 public land deer hunting tips that every hunter must live by.
“Every year we have people processing deer at our check stations after they close for the evening,” Wefer said. “They use our gambrels and end up leaving a big mess for someone else to clean up. We also have people calling about hunters who have left gut piles in parking lots.”
Nobody wants to pull into a parking lot to see or smell a ripe gut pile.
The same goes for boning out an animal and leaving the carcass behind. Cheryl Trewella, a wildlife conservation officer in Pennsylvania, said they often receive complaints about people leaving the entire deer carcass behind after removing the meat. If you decide to bone out your deer in the field, make sure you properly dispose of the remaining carcass.
“We had to make a regulation in Kansas to limit the amount of treestands a hunter could hang on public land,” Simpson said. “We got complaints that some people were hanging between 40-50 stands in a certain area to try and scare away any other hunters. These hunters were trying to lay claim to a certain area in hopes that nobody else would bother hunting there.”
Always keep in mind that everyone else has the same right as you to be on public land. It goes with the territory that interactions with other hunters may occur. Don’t be selfish or try to scare others away. Instead, show up early and let those procrastinators drive the deer to you.
Make sure to check hunting regulations in your state. Most states have regulations against anything that could damage a tree, like screw in tree steps. In that case it’s best to invest in a high-quality portable lock-on ladder stand or climber.
Ken Fitz, of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said another major concern is the use of deer drives in areas where other hunters are set up. It’s for this very reason Illinois bans the practice on public land. Not only is it inconsiderate to run a deer drive with hunters in treestands right above you, it can also be dangerous.
Second, treat others’ time like it was your own. Weather permitting, try to wait until midday to drag a deer out.
There are exceptions, of course, but the idea is to be as conscientious as possible about how your actions affect other hunters.
Along these same lines, try not to morph into a monster truck driver once your truck leaves the road. A strange phenomenon overtakes even the best hunters when we see a muddy track, and a few of us give in to the temptation to tear the trails apart.