Public land hunting size?

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hcooper84
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Public land hunting size?

Unread postby hcooper84 » Tue Dec 14, 2021 2:43 pm

What are some different styles or tactics you guys are using based on different public land sizes?

I have hunted public a few times this year. Both came on smaller public land parcels. One is roughly 1000 acres the other about 2500.

I have been implementing beast style hunting on private land and have been having good success the last couple years. When I have tried to translate this to public I keep running into other hunters.

Typically, I am e-scouting what I believe is good bedding usually a good distance from field edges or obvious access points to avoid other hunters. However, with these parcels not being very large people can access pretty much anything without being to much of a hassle.

With my limited experience this year but consistent results (seeing more hunter sign than deer). I feel that I should be jumping straight to overlooked spots.

I'm realizing the spots I'm scouting out would be ideal for private land. Good bedding, maybe a good transition to food. But everyone else is seeing that as well..

I guess I am looking for advice for these smaller parcels. Typing this I feel like I need to go to the spots that no one else would even consider deer would be. Any and all suggestions are welcomed.


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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby Boogieman1 » Tue Dec 14, 2021 4:00 pm

All my public is small, all but 1 are under 300 acres. My advice for small public is to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold em. Not all properties hold good bucks. Sadly took me a long time to realize this. As a general rule I feel you have much better odds hunting public Tuesday-Thursday. I see the better stuff make shifts midday regardless of phase of the season. Small public in my parts usually have a window when they are productive. For example some of the smaller stuff is bow only so it gets pounded early. But once gun season starts it’s a ghost town. That’s when I make my play.
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby dan » Tue Dec 14, 2021 10:33 pm

I hunt properties that are anywhere from 25 acres to a few miles across... I mostly hunt them the same. I go straight to the over looked spots, straight to the bedding. Sitting back in spots you think deer "should be" is not going to get you big bucks its going to get you a bunch of other hunters that also think like that... Even on private thats how my kills are made... The only exception might be on private I do a little more camera work and a little more longer distance observing, but if it applies I do that on public too... There is no difference between public and private to a deer. pressure is pressure whether its from you or other hunters. setting cameras is pressure, scouting is pressure, rabbit hunting is pressure, working on food plots is pressure... Your always seeking the over looked hiding spot, and its not as much pressure as it is thasts just the nature of old bucks to bed and live in those type spots... Even in very low pressure managed lands thats where I find the biggest stuff...

As far as hunting a 25 acre spot vs a 3000 acre spot, in both cases I find all the bedding areas that can hold a giant, I set up just outside of sight, sound, and smell, usually that is 75 to 200 yards from bedding... 200 yards is pushing it as thats about how far they get in daylight and I have seen many times they don't get that far. Sure sometimes they get farther, but I have noticed if you set up to far and they come thru after you leave and smell you were there, well... good lock killing him there even if you get closer after that. The biggest difference between the 25 acres and the 3000 is unless the buck on the 3000 is living on the edge of the 3000 acres you can hunt him down hopping from bedding area to bedding area and on the smaller pc you have one crack at him. But really... You gotta forget public vs private. Deer can't read signs and deer only know pressure a nd security...
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby hcooper84 » Wed Dec 15, 2021 8:03 am

dan wrote:I hunt properties that are anywhere from 25 acres to a few miles across... I mostly hunt them the same. I go straight to the over looked spots, straight to the bedding. Sitting back in spots you think deer "should be" is not going to get you big bucks its going to get you a bunch of other hunters that also think like that... Even on private thats how my kills are made... The only exception might be on private I do a little more camera work and a little more longer distance observing, but if it applies I do that on public too... There is no difference between public and private to a deer. pressure is pressure whether its from you or other hunters. setting cameras is pressure, scouting is pressure, rabbit hunting is pressure, working on food plots is pressure... Your always seeking the over looked hiding spot, and its not as much pressure as it is thasts just the nature of old bucks to bed and live in those type spots... Even in very low pressure managed lands thats where I find the biggest stuff...

As far as hunting a 25 acre spot vs a 3000 acre spot, in both cases I find all the bedding areas that can hold a giant, I set up just outside of sight, sound, and smell, usually that is 75 to 200 yards from bedding... 200 yards is pushing it as thats about how far they get in daylight and I have seen many times they don't get that far. Sure sometimes they get farther, but I have noticed if you set up to far and they come thru after you leave and smell you were there, well... good lock killing him there even if you get closer after that. The biggest difference between the 25 acres and the 3000 is unless the buck on the 3000 is living on the edge of the 3000 acres you can hunt him down hopping from bedding area to bedding area and on the smaller pc you have one crack at him. But really... You gotta forget public vs private. Deer can't read signs and deer only know pressure a nd security...


This past weekend I did a short trip out of state. Only got to hunt on Sunday. I scouted my way in slowly. I eventually started coming across some nice rubs but they were in the open along a mowed path, unfortunately these paths are everywhere on this piece. This path wound around like a semicircle around what I thought to be was good bedding from e-scouting. I discovered a faint trail leading into this area. I followed this trail to a small creek that had cattails growing a few feet wide on each side. As I snuck through the cattails I saw multiple buck tracks in the creek and on the banks. This was the first buck sign I had seen so far. On the other side of the creek it was really thick and opened up into a small patch of crp, autumn olive, and brush. I decided to setup on the edge of this because it reminded me the "buck nest" from some of the hunting publics videos (completely different state). Once I got into a tree I could see above the cattails back the way I came and sure enough I saw someone coming. They ended up coming into the "buck nest" before they heard me whistling. They kindly backed out. I decided to push in deeper after this since they had crossed the paths of the anticipated deer travel. Within 40 yards of going deeper I spot a cell cam. I follow a deer trail past the cam and end up in some undergrowth. These are small diameter trees but very plentiful. In this area I found 5 LARGE rubs. They seemed very fresh, bark was still red, the shavings we're right on top. Some of the rubs were hit multiple times some were just a few gouges. Some coming "in" some going "out". It seemed like this buck had been through here multiple times.
I decided to sit in a bush right there by the rubs hoping he may come back through there. No deer this sit. I work my way out of the smaller trees and back into a more hardwood area. Immediately I spot another cell cam. Then about 30 yards from that a deer stand and then another 10 yards another camera.

It seems it's the same hunter with all these cameras and the stand. He has a good lock on both sides of this thick area and I'm sure has hunted it a good amount (I also saw his estrous wick in a tree). But the sign shows me that a buck is somewhere in there and it seems relatively fresh (within a week old?). I am unaware if the hunter that walked in on me is the hunter that has all that setup. I doubt it because of the way he came in so it seems like this area is pressured pretty good.

Even though there is sign of a good buck would this be pushed to the side due to the pressure that is probably being put there?
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby dan » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:31 pm

hcooper84 wrote:
dan wrote:I hunt properties that are anywhere from 25 acres to a few miles across... I mostly hunt them the same. I go straight to the over looked spots, straight to the bedding. Sitting back in spots you think deer "should be" is not going to get you big bucks its going to get you a bunch of other hunters that also think like that... Even on private thats how my kills are made... The only exception might be on private I do a little more camera work and a little more longer distance observing, but if it applies I do that on public too... There is no difference between public and private to a deer. pressure is pressure whether its from you or other hunters. setting cameras is pressure, scouting is pressure, rabbit hunting is pressure, working on food plots is pressure... Your always seeking the over looked hiding spot, and its not as much pressure as it is thasts just the nature of old bucks to bed and live in those type spots... Even in very low pressure managed lands thats where I find the biggest stuff...

As far as hunting a 25 acre spot vs a 3000 acre spot, in both cases I find all the bedding areas that can hold a giant, I set up just outside of sight, sound, and smell, usually that is 75 to 200 yards from bedding... 200 yards is pushing it as thats about how far they get in daylight and I have seen many times they don't get that far. Sure sometimes they get farther, but I have noticed if you set up to far and they come thru after you leave and smell you were there, well... good lock killing him there even if you get closer after that. The biggest difference between the 25 acres and the 3000 is unless the buck on the 3000 is living on the edge of the 3000 acres you can hunt him down hopping from bedding area to bedding area and on the smaller pc you have one crack at him. But really... You gotta forget public vs private. Deer can't read signs and deer only know pressure a nd security...


This past weekend I did a short trip out of state. Only got to hunt on Sunday. I scouted my way in slowly. I eventually started coming across some nice rubs but they were in the open along a mowed path, unfortunately these paths are everywhere on this piece. This path wound around like a semicircle around what I thought to be was good bedding from e-scouting. I discovered a faint trail leading into this area. I followed this trail to a small creek that had cattails growing a few feet wide on each side. As I snuck through the cattails I saw multiple buck tracks in the creek and on the banks. This was the first buck sign I had seen so far. On the other side of the creek it was really thick and opened up into a small patch of crp, autumn olive, and brush. I decided to setup on the edge of this because it reminded me the "buck nest" from some of the hunting publics videos (completely different state). Once I got into a tree I could see above the cattails back the way I came and sure enough I saw someone coming. They ended up coming into the "buck nest" before they heard me whistling. They kindly backed out. I decided to push in deeper after this since they had crossed the paths of the anticipated deer travel. Within 40 yards of going deeper I spot a cell cam. I follow a deer trail past the cam and end up in some undergrowth. These are small diameter trees but very plentiful. In this area I found 5 LARGE rubs. They seemed very fresh, bark was still red, the shavings we're right on top. Some of the rubs were hit multiple times some were just a few gouges. Some coming "in" some going "out". It seemed like this buck had been through here multiple times.
I decided to sit in a bush right there by the rubs hoping he may come back through there. No deer this sit. I work my way out of the smaller trees and back into a more hardwood area. Immediately I spot another cell cam. Then about 30 yards from that a deer stand and then another 10 yards another camera.

It seems it's the same hunter with all these cameras and the stand. He has a good lock on both sides of this thick area and I'm sure has hunted it a good amount (I also saw his estrous wick in a tree). But the sign shows me that a buck is somewhere in there and it seems relatively fresh (within a week old?). I am unaware if the hunter that walked in on me is the hunter that has all that setup. I doubt it because of the way he came in so it seems like this area is pressured pretty good.

Even though there is sign of a good buck would this be pushed to the side due to the pressure that is probably being put there?
I would think if the sign is fresh he is there... Not all bucks make great decisions. Personally, unless I knew the buck and it was an absolute monster, I would move on... More likely I would try to figure out how the big buck is getting around the guy, and hunt there...
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby Brad » Sun Jan 09, 2022 4:03 pm

I have good sized public land that I hunt, with most of them being over 3000 acres, and several over 6000 acres. The majority of those are within an hour drive of my house, but there really isn't much of any public closer than 40 minutes from my house. The piece of public I took my big mature buck off of this year was only 380 acres, with over 90 acres being a lake. Size isn't what is important, it's what's in the spot that matters. I like having large pieces of public for one reason, and that is to have more opportunities to cover ground and find where the deer are so I can hunt them. On most of those large pieces, I have found myself gravitating toward a small piece of that land where the deer seem to be using or if the spot intrigues me for some reason. Actually even on that smaller piece I find myself spending almost all of my time within about 35 acres of the 285 or so acres of timber that are available. The one thing I hate about smaller pieces is that if I see big bucks on the near by private, I can't always get closer... but I've even found that on large pieces where I find a remote spot, sometimes I get stuck unable to move toward the deer. For instance I have one piece of public that is over 3000 acres, and I've hunted deer there twice in a little 3 acre triangle of timber between a power line and private land. I have only 3 acres to move around in... and both times I've been there I had eyes on two of the biggest bucks I've seen on public land.
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby mobymikeguide » Sun Jan 23, 2022 4:33 am

I find myself on bigger parcels most of the time, but Ive killed a couple bucks on places between 80 and 120 acres. I gravitate towards the bigger areas, I think because if I mess up or someone else messes up that deer is likely still on the public. Small properties can easly get overhunted but also they can easily get overlooked. One guy on 40acres is 40 acres per person, 25 guys on 4,000 acres is one guy per 160 acres and alot of those guys might gravitate towards the same area, i just seem to find those unhunted unpressured pockets more often on bigger tracts. I keep tabs on the small tracts next to my house, I drive by when going to and from work, to grocery store etc. I think it really helps on these small tracts to keep an eye on them and know them well. If i was traveling much id head towards bigger peices
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby OH nontypical » Sun Jan 23, 2022 12:13 pm

My favorite pc of public is 2500 acres but I really only hunt small parts on the edges near private and near areas in the park that are no hunting or where access is difficult. Dan would call some of these overlooked areas. Killed a nice buck in 2019 in one of these spots and came close to killing a booner this year too.

I really like Wed and Thursdays in the pre rut before everyone takes their vacations to hunt and I usually have the woods to myself. Second choice would be Sunday afternoons (Sunday hunting is legal in Ohio) if I hunt on a weekend. For some reason I rarely see other hunters on Sunday afternoon outside the rut.

I have always heard guys like Dan and other accomplished hunters say the same thing. Deer don’t have any idea if they are on public or private. A good spot is a good spot and mostly comes down to timing in my opinion.
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby wolverinebuckman » Mon Jan 24, 2022 1:52 am

I have around 700,000 acres of Daniel Boone Forest behind the house available. I've only begun to crack into it. There is a lot to learn here.
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby MikefromOH » Thu Jan 27, 2022 3:54 am

Mid-week days, bad weather days, late season you probably can hit the more obvious stuff.

Straight to overlooked or difficult access - especially brushy tangles, really steep or water - if it's during the weekend, good weather, early and mid-season.
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby Hunter271995 » Tue Jun 21, 2022 3:15 pm

Mainly hunt on public properties 100-1200 acres, to me anything that is over 320 acres becomes a big piece. A big thing that keeps getting brought up is figuring out the guys and where they are and more importantly where they are not. I have seen where deer quit bedding in the timbered draws on public and are bedding out in brush out in the open of the prairie for example where I live. No one hunts them there, especially with bows. Begin to eliminate where other guys will be and then look for the best bedding in the areas you have found guys don't hunt. You may have to think outside the box. Zig when they zag, zag when they zig. Also I find that Saturday evening- Tuesday AM is often not great unless you can get into an overlooked spot. Tuesday-Saturday AM I have had my best hunts.
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby <DK> » Thu Jun 23, 2022 3:15 am

Great question

On a small property I wouldnt mess w anything besides property lines. Unless you find one living towards the middle or close to access of coarse. I like the lines in general but Id cyber scout the private land touching it as well.

I would hunt it early/late season, on weekdays and bad weather days. I would imagine during the rut its crowded so id hunt elsewhere.

Larger , daunting properties I have definitely found some great bucks living right by parking. In needs to be very thick though. On those properties I will only target the very best looking spots and scout them. It will take years to figure things out so every season I choose 2 spots close to parking, 2 spots deeper in and revisit older spots.
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby Hawthorne » Thu Jun 23, 2022 3:58 am

Years ago I hunted a 100 acre HAP farm private open to the public. I killed a few nice bucks there. Was the farthest thickest spot on the boundary line. Middle of the week wasn’t bad. It did get some weekend pressure. That farm is no longer enrolled in the program. Public I hunt now is thousands of acres
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby Hookslinger » Thu Jun 23, 2022 8:23 am

All the real small parcels of public near me that I have scouted so far I have crossed them off the list. Too much pressure, and not enough secure bedding to hold a good one in my opinion. Not to say there aren't some smaller pieces around here that aren't good, I just haven't found any. The two I'm focusing in on right now are 700 acres and 6000 acres. The 6000 acre one is heavily divided by roads and access points though. I can't really get deep enough to get away from hunters, so I'm instead trying to focus on finding those overlooked spots, and small pockets that might hold good buck bedding.
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Re: Public land hunting size?

Unread postby mpernest » Thu Jun 23, 2022 12:26 pm

dan wrote:
hcooper84 wrote:
dan wrote:I hunt properties that are anywhere from 25 acres to a few miles across... I mostly hunt them the same. I go straight to the over looked spots, straight to the bedding. Sitting back in spots you think deer "should be" is not going to get you big bucks its going to get you a bunch of other hunters that also think like that... Even on private thats how my kills are made... The only exception might be on private I do a little more camera work and a little more longer distance observing, but if it applies I do that on public too... There is no difference between public and private to a deer. pressure is pressure whether its from you or other hunters. setting cameras is pressure, scouting is pressure, rabbit hunting is pressure, working on food plots is pressure... Your always seeking the over looked hiding spot, and its not as much pressure as it is thasts just the nature of old bucks to bed and live in those type spots... Even in very low pressure managed lands thats where I find the biggest stuff...

As far as hunting a 25 acre spot vs a 3000 acre spot, in both cases I find all the bedding areas that can hold a giant, I set up just outside of sight, sound, and smell, usually that is 75 to 200 yards from bedding... 200 yards is pushing it as thats about how far they get in daylight and I have seen many times they don't get that far. Sure sometimes they get farther, but I have noticed if you set up to far and they come thru after you leave and smell you were there, well... good lock killing him there even if you get closer after that. The biggest difference between the 25 acres and the 3000 is unless the buck on the 3000 is living on the edge of the 3000 acres you can hunt him down hopping from bedding area to bedding area and on the smaller pc you have one crack at him. But really... You gotta forget public vs private. Deer can't read signs and deer only know pressure a nd security...


This past weekend I did a short trip out of state. Only got to hunt on Sunday. I scouted my way in slowly. I eventually started coming across some nice rubs but they were in the open along a mowed path, unfortunately these paths are everywhere on this piece. This path wound around like a semicircle around what I thought to be was good bedding from e-scouting. I discovered a faint trail leading into this area. I followed this trail to a small creek that had cattails growing a few feet wide on each side. As I snuck through the cattails I saw multiple buck tracks in the creek and on the banks. This was the first buck sign I had seen so far. On the other side of the creek it was really thick and opened up into a small patch of crp, autumn olive, and brush. I decided to setup on the edge of this because it reminded me the "buck nest" from some of the hunting publics videos (completely different state). Once I got into a tree I could see above the cattails back the way I came and sure enough I saw someone coming. They ended up coming into the "buck nest" before they heard me whistling. They kindly backed out. I decided to push in deeper after this since they had crossed the paths of the anticipated deer travel. Within 40 yards of going deeper I spot a cell cam. I follow a deer trail past the cam and end up in some undergrowth. These are small diameter trees but very plentiful. In this area I found 5 LARGE rubs. They seemed very fresh, bark was still red, the shavings we're right on top. Some of the rubs were hit multiple times some were just a few gouges. Some coming "in" some going "out". It seemed like this buck had been through here multiple times.
I decided to sit in a bush right there by the rubs hoping he may come back through there. No deer this sit. I work my way out of the smaller trees and back into a more hardwood area. Immediately I spot another cell cam. Then about 30 yards from that a deer stand and then another 10 yards another camera.

It seems it's the same hunter with all these cameras and the stand. He has a good lock on both sides of this thick area and I'm sure has hunted it a good amount (I also saw his estrous wick in a tree). But the sign shows me that a buck is somewhere in there and it seems relatively fresh (within a week old?). I am unaware if the hunter that walked in on me is the hunter that has all that setup. I doubt it because of the way he came in so it seems like this area is pressured pretty good.

Even though there is sign of a good buck would this be pushed to the side due to the pressure that is probably being put there?
I would think if the sign is fresh he is there... Not all bucks make great decisions. Personally, unless I knew the buck and it was an absolute monster, I would move on... More likely I would try to figure out how the big buck is getting around the guy, and hunt there...


Literally as I was reading hcooper’s tale, in my mind I was hearing Dan’s voice calling other hunters “deer repellent” :lol:
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