Not all of us have acres upon acres of private hunting land at our fingertips. It can be a challenge finding a place to hunt, especially last minute. Yet, every year, many hunters go out into an unknown area and harvest a deer. If you want to hunt, and need to find the spot, these tips will get you in good spots and on bucks.
Contact Land Owners
A lot of private lands are not hunted. That means there are areas with very little hunting pressure that you could be accessing. You can bet that the less hunting pressure there is, the more deer there will be. And, more big bucks. With very few other people in the area to spook the deer, when you go into the field, deer aren’t weary or looking for you.
You can find landowner boundaries and their contact information easily on the HuntWise mapping app. Take advantage of viewing the area of the land, what it looks like without stepping one foot on their property. Do they have a swamp or hardwoods that deer may use for cover? Is there a food source on or near their property like a cornfield?
On the HuntWise app, you can see how many acres property has, the landowners’ name, their address, and even their phone number. You have all the information you need right at your fingertips. The next step is up to you. When you ask someone to hunt on their property, establishing trust is the goal. First, give them a call or knock on their door and ask if anyone is hunting their property. When you meet them in person, be polite, try to look nice, and tell them who you, where you’re from, and the type of hunting you will be doing on their property. Don’t forget to tell them the kind of vehicle you drive, and ask them if they have certain restrictions on where you drive on their property. This last bit of advice might really win them over, bring a small gift like cookies, or jerky. My family makes maple syrup, so my foolproof tactic is to come with a smile and a pint of syrup.
Finding Public Land
As American hunters, we have the privilege to simply walk onto public land and harvest wild game. That is easier said than done. No matter where you live, finding public land to hunt is relatively easy. According to a report conducted by the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) done in 2016, there are more than 50 million acres of state-owned lands open to deer hunting in whitetail states. HuntWise Maps shows all types of public land for all 50 states. Public land can consist of State Wildlife management areas, state forests, state parks, and more. In addition to these 50 Million acres, HuntWise PRO maps also show all of the federally owned lands, such as; national parks, wildlife refuges, military hunting, Us Fish and Wildlife, BLM lands, National Park Service Bureau and of Indian affairs, and more. To see what Public Land HuntWise Maps includes, click here.
Mature bucks made it their old age by avoiding hunters. That means, in order to get a chance at them, you need to go where other hunters aren’t. Sometimes, that means hiking farther than other hunters will go.
Mobile Apps, like HuntWise, make it easy to find public land to hunt, but what should you look for when choosing a spot to sit? Before you venture out into unknown public land, try to look for these three things: a food source, cover, or a travel path. If you are gun hunting, look for a place with excellent visibility, like a hillside, or a field edge. Once you found the public land you are going to hunt, scout the area for these land features using satellite imagery.
Other Hunting Areas
Look for local game preserves. A game preserves also known as a hunting preserve, is a “large area of land where wild animals live and are hunted in a controlled way for sport.” Usually maintained by government-affiliated programs, such as the Department of Natural Resources.
Hunting Co-ops are managed by organizations. Local groups like QDMA maintain many public hunting co-ops. Hunting co-ops often require a membership or have antler point restrictions set.
Strategies for Last Minute Hunting
When hunting public land, get in first. Wake up before the other hunters and set up your spot. This is a good idea for many reasons. For one, it gives you time to settle in before deer are moving. The second reason is to avoid other hunters. Hunters may see your vehicle parked near where you are hunting and choose to hunt different locations, or they may push some deer your way.
Last-minute hunting usually means you don’t have a blind or tree stand set up. So, you have to be strategic when you enter the woods. If you are gun hunting, safety and visibility are vital. Always, always, always wear hunters orange when entering the woods during gun season. A pop-up ground blind is a great way to get in and set up quick and easy. Position your blind so that you can shoot to a clearing and with the wind in your face. Ground blinds help conceal your movement. Maybe the difference from getting picked off by that monster buck. Don’t underestimate the old school method of sitting at the base of a tree. It works. There is something so natural about going out and trying to blend in with your surroundings. Deer have excellent vision. So, if you choose to go the old school route, make sure you wear good camo and try to be as still as possible.
For bowhunting, hunting methods gets a little more technical since the goal is to have deer come in close. Hang-on tree stand setups and tree saddles are all the rage right now, but don’t forget, pre-set stands, climbers, ground blinds, spot and stalk, and wearing ghillie suits on the ground. They all are effective if utilized strategically. Try to blend into the canopy or surrounding cover. A good rule of thumb is to place your stand higher in open hardwoods and lower in swampy wetlands. If tree stands aren’t for you, or you are hunting with a firearm, you can also try a pop-up ground blind. Before you head out, make sure you know the wind direction, and remember that you can check HuntWise to compare your hunting spots by the wind. Once you are out there, be aware of the direction the wind is taking your scent and try to keep the wind blowing in your face.
Being able to go out and harvest a deer whether it is the last minute or not, is an incredible achievement. Utilize your instincts and modern-day resources to increase your chances. Leave public land and other peoples’ property cleaner than you found it. if you pack it in, pack it out.