goosifer

Noob questions on hunting on public land

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I've had a bunch of noob questions about hunting on "public land" that have been floating around in my brain for a while. I realize different types of public land may have there own rules, but I am trying to keep it generic. I don't expect one person to answer all of my questions, but please take a shot at what you can/are willing. Thanks in advance for your responses to any of them.

1. how much scouting do you do of an area? preseason? during the season?

2. What time (minutes before sunrise) do you walk in in the morning? What if the official park open time is sunrise?

3. How far is is recommended to walk in (distance and or timewise)? Do you pack some of your layers in a backpack so to not overheat?

4. Is it common or advisable to hunt till sundown, so you are walking out in the dark?

5. Is it allowed, common or advisable to bring in a sled or deer cart? chain it to a tree? leave it overnight?

6. Is it allowed, common or advisable to leave the following overnight?: a. hanging stand (but maybe walk in with the ladder/sticks part)? b. climber stand. c. popup blind

7. Is it allowed, common or advisable to make a natural blind with downed trees and branches?

8. How common is it to hunt on the ground vs. in a tree?

9. Is it allowed, common or advisable to put out trail cams? with locks, fwiw?

10. Has anyone ever hunted on public land where you legally camped overnight and then hunted in the same area?

11. Is it better to hunt weekdays instead of weekends?

12. Any internet source that discusses which public lands are better for deer hunting than others? Particularly in WNY? Or is that not generally discussed as hunters don't want to let others know about their good spot?

13. Is it allowed, common or advisable to enter the public land from other than the parking lot, if any? From the side of the road? Have someone drop you off so you can enter different than the parking lot?

Edited by goosifer

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I’ll go with Number 4.

Yes, hunt till sunset and walk out in dark.


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"The sportsman lives his life vicariously. For he secretly yearns to have lived before, in a simpler time. A time when his love for the land, water, fish and wildlife would be more than just part of his life. It would be his state of mind."

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1. how much scouting do you do of an area? preseason? during the season?  

Most scouting  is done after the season and right after snowmelt, runs scrapes and trail are all evident. Preseason summer scouting will tell you what foods are available, acorn, apples, hickory nuts, ect.

2. What time (minutes before sunrise) do you walk in in the morning? What if the official park open time is sunrise?

At least a 1/2 hour before daylight if allowed

3. How far is is recommended to walk in (distance and or timewise)? Do you pack some of your layers in a backpack so to not overheat?

Terrain is the bigger factor than distance most will take an easy route deer  learn this and hid in nast places sometimes far in sometimes behind the neighbors house. 

4. Is it common or advisable to hunt till sundown, so you are walking out in the dark? 

Always hunt till last legal time . Learn to walk out in dark using compass if need be.or gps

5. Is it allowed, common or advisable to bring in a sled or deer cart? chain it to a tree? leave it overnight?

I would carry drag rope maybe a roll up sled if going long way in. Carry less = less sweating

6. Is it allowed, common or advisable to leave the following overnight?: a. hanging stand (but maybe walk in with the ladder/sticks part)? b. climber stand. c. popup blind 

Check rules regs for land your going to hunt some can be set up and left as long as your info is attached

7. Is it allowed, common or advisable to make a natural blind with downed trees and branches?

 

8. How common is it to hunt on the ground vs. in a tree?

Use to be only legal way.. it's better imo to be on the ground and mobile on public ground as you can move to where deer are if need be

9. Is it allowed, common or advisable to put out trail cams? with locks, fwiw?

check regs. 

10. Has anyone ever hunted on public land where you legallycamped overnight and then hunted in the same area?

Allegany state park even has cabins you can rent.

11. Is it better to hunt weekdays instead of weekends? my best luck is Tues thru Thursday for walking/ still hunting.. everyone is off on weekend pressure become much more intensive 

12. Any internet source that discusses which public lands arebetter for deer hunting than others? Particularly in WNY? Or isthat not generally discussed as hunters don't want to let others know about their good spot?

contact dec , rangers are good sources. And if they have an interactive educational center maps are usually available. Do this in summer not season

13. Is it allowed, common or advisable to enter the public land from other than the parking lot, if any? From the side of the road? Have someone drop you off so you can enter different than the parking lot? 

People park where there are no cars. If you can get dropped off between parking  areas , many have rules about not leaving vehicles on roads ( plowing limit dates or seasonal roads closings)

Edited by G-Man
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I've hunted almost everyday of my life.. the rest have been wasted!

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I scout everytime i go into the woods especially newer pieces. I like to be sat atleast a good 45 mins before it starts getting light.( not as much for bow).  Bow im in the trees gun usually on the ground. ive killed deer 50 yards from my truck all the way up to 1mile, hunt where the sign is.  All of the stateland i hunt if you can park on the road you can go in.  I have 4 pieces i walk right onto from private land and one of my better spots i just pull close to the ditch.

Edited by Swamp_bucks
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For many years I only hunted state land on the Tug Hill, and still partially do. I pretty much hunt it as I would private, just being aware of the potential of other hunters. It took us a number of years working an area to really know how and where to hunt it...and be sure, there are plenty of chunks of state land that simply don't hold any deer. That is where post season scouting, especially when snow is on the ground, comes in. 

Most state forest and game management land you can park wherever you don't block a road. Many areas have parking spots, primarily I think to keep folks from getting stuck on the side of the road.

I no longer need to, but still would go into the woods to be on stand a good 1/2 hr before sun up and usually plan to stay until legal dark. Game Cameras...depends on your take on the chance of them being found.  I would allways get a compass bearing in and out, and of course be sure to do the route several times in the daytime to be familiar with it. 

I allways have paracord with me to help drag, but if I am going back in further than I care to rough drag it, I put a small tarp in my day pack to wrap the deer in...makes draggin ALOT easier. I also keep a couple glow sticks in my bag....if it is more than I can drag, I leave them on it until I can get back or come back with my ATV (shssss, quiet).

I tend to be in the woods year round, so I start scouting seriously in September, also looking seriously for signs of other hunters, and in prospective areas, other stands/ signs of activity. I have put stands up and left them over night, frequently longer if no one is around. I have two stands on public land that have been up for over 7 years. I bolt the sections together and cable lock them in place. They are in areas that are difficult to get to from the road, but easy for me from my camp. My neighbors know they are there and also know they are welcome to use them if I am not in them.
You can pull wind falls together to make ground blinds, no problem with that. I certainly feel safer in a tree and of course usually you have better views.

We used to camp quite frequently. Most state land and game management areas allow it, check for the current regs….As I recall, a small party can camp a couple nights without a permit....be wise about where you do, and not on waterways.  More frequently we would just camp in the back of the truck. 

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Scout now, there’s no better time


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I find a duck's opinion of me is very much influenced by whether or not I have bread

-Mitch Hedberg

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8 minutes ago, The_Real_TCIII said:

Scout now, there’s no better time


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On the land I currently hunt, over the course of the season the overgrowth in the fields has thinned out considerably, and I've seen a tremendous amount of deer trails crisscrossing the fields and through the hedge rows. So much so that I wonder if some are leftover from the prior year. Could that be the case? Or more likely, if it's a noticeable trail, then it's from this year? Unfortunately, I never got a decent amount of snow this year, which would have been useful for identifying active deer trails.

Also, for off-season scouting purposes, can I forgo the scent control? Is it OK to go in what I believe to be "sanctuary" areas?

Edited by goosifer

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I think the prior have covered a bunch. The other advice I would give... If you don't do it already, advance e-scout the public land to familiarize yourself with the topography before you put boots on ground. Look for natural pinches, saddles, benches with the right exposure for bedding, etc. Helps put some priority on your in person scouting missions. I use huntstand, but any GPS mapping app is a great assist.

Also, start turkey hunting if you don't already. You can combine scouting / hunting for turkey with early scouting for deer.

Good luck!

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Scout constantly.  Even during the season.  It might take you a couple of seasons to get a feel of a public land.  Not only do you need to know how the deer habits are normally but also how they react when the orange army shows up.  Go deep.  Deeper than others are willing.  Especially after the first few days.  With that scouting information, you can set yourself up for when the orange army pushes the deer to you.

The public lands around me allow you to leave tree stands but all tree stands must have some ID/info on it and removed at the end of the year for rangers remove it for you at the end of the season if you know what I mean.  But public land also attracts all kinds of characters.  Leave stuff at your own risk.

Natural ground blinds are the best.

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"We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." - Native American Indian Proverb

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7 hours ago, goosifer said:

I've had a bunch of noob questions about hunting on "public land" that have been floating around in my brain for a while. I realize different types of public land may have there own rules, but I am trying to keep it generic. I don't expect one person to answer all of my questions, but please take a shot at what you can/are willing. Thanks in advance for your responses to any of them.

1. how much scouting do you do of an area? preseason? during the season?

2. What time (minutes before sunrise) do you walk in in the morning? What if the official park open time is sunrise?

3. How far is is recommended to walk in (distance and or timewise)? Do you pack some of your layers in a backpack so to not overheat?

4. Is it common or advisable to hunt till sundown, so you are walking out in the dark?

5. Is it allowed, common or advisable to bring in a sled or deer cart? chain it to a tree? leave it overnight?

6. Is it allowed, common or advisable to leave the following overnight?: a. hanging stand (but maybe walk in with the ladder/sticks part)? b. climber stand. c. popup blind

7. Is it allowed, common or advisable to make a natural blind with downed trees and branches?

8. How common is it to hunt on the ground vs. in a tree?

9. Is it allowed, common or advisable to put out trail cams? with locks, fwiw?

10. Has anyone ever hunted on public land where you legally camped overnight and then hunted in the same area?

11. Is it better to hunt weekdays instead of weekends?

12. Any internet source that discusses which public lands are better for deer hunting than others? Particularly in WNY? Or is that not generally discussed as hunters don't want to let others know about their good spot?

13. Is it allowed, common or advisable to enter the public land from other than the parking lot, if any? From the side of the road? Have someone drop you off so you can enter different than the parking lot?

There are no clear cut and dry answers to your questions. 

I will say you need to put more time in boots on the ground scouting public land then private. Trail cams might help, but on public land, just because you have a big buck on cam, doesn't mean someone else isn't out for that same buck and have him on their cams.

 

You need to figure out how you want to hunt a specific parcel of public land. How much pressure from other hunters, should help you decide how far back you need to go. You should also make damn sure you know the boundary lined of public land, and if need be, at least try to get recovery rights on private land.

 

I have camped on public land and hunted. You need to make sure that land allows camping. many WMA's do not allow camping, while most state land will allow it. 

 

As I said, all your questions depend on circumstance for the area you want to hunt. We can't honestly state what you can and cannot do in every area of the state. You need to do your homework for areas you want to hunt.

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I would start out by studying the topographical and satellite maps for the public land you are wanting to hunt. That will show you the terrain, some boundaries and help pinpoint spots of interest. youtube has a ton of informational video's on scouting and hunting public land as well, and not a bad idea to watch some just to know what to look for.

Nothing beats boots on the ground though, and as others have mentioned, this is a great time of year to scout.  Fresh rubs still show, all the scraps are still in place and to me, it's just a fun time of year to be out in the woods and keep the deer thoughts churning. Walk the area as often as you can and take notes. There are apps out there now like scoutlook that uses GPS so you can see where your at when out there and mark  spots that you wish to return to.

You could set out a trail cam or two just to see what deer are out there, but use caution on public land with that or you may lose them quickly. Placing them in more remote areas far from the road, up out of site and having them locked in are all highly recommended. S0 get out there to check it out and enjoy the time in the woods. Good luck.

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On the land I currently hunt, over the course of the season the overgrowth in the fields has thinned out considerably, and I've seen a tremendous amount of deer trails crisscrossing the fields and through the hedge rows. So much so that I wonder if some are leftover from the prior year. Could that be the case? Or more likely, if it's a noticeable trail, then it's from this year? Unfortunately, I never got a decent amount of snow this year, which would have been useful for identifying active deer trails.

Also, for off-season scouting purposes, can I forgo the scent control? Is it OK to go in what I believe to be "sanctuary" areas?

Those trails that are popping out now because of the snow melt have probably been used by generations of deer. Scrapes too. Go into the sanctuaries, bedding areas, wherever you can. This is the time. They won’t abandon them because you walked through there once in January. I have a very difficult time finding bedding areas, I find beds all over the place they seem very random

 

 

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I find a duck's opinion of me is very much influenced by whether or not I have bread

-Mitch Hedberg

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Also the OnX map is the best $30 I’ve spent on hunting in a long time. The property lines are very accurate from what I can tell


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I find a duck's opinion of me is very much influenced by whether or not I have bread

-Mitch Hedberg

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I have learned much more about hunting in general then hunting on the old farm my folks had.First always let someone know your aprox location not your exact seat.Never leave anything of value try not to give other hunters hikers a sign that your there.After many years of hunting on public land I located an area and see many deer and other game so from the fallen trees I built a small scale trapper shack only using the logs/sticks never nothing like nails or screws.

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Lots of good info provided by others. I will echo a few and add my perspective. Post-season scouting is great for getting to know the lay of the land, and at this time of year there are fewer ticks and you might even find a shed antler. Post-season scouting info on deer movement may or may not be useful for early season, as movements tend to change with food sources hunter pressure, etc. Look for and make a mental note of where other hunters have set up tree stands, such as marks from use of climbers, trimmed branches, etc. It at least gives you an idea of what other hunters thought were good places to hang a stand, for whatever that might be worth.

For early season, I use most recent info, by low impact scouting - looking for fresh sign, early season food sources, like a white oak loaded with acorns, etc. Many scoff at the idea of scouting just days before the opener, due to disturbing deer, but it has helped rather than hinder my opportunities. Your results may differ.

Put in as much time as you can, but don't burn yourself or your best stand sites out. Try to keep hunting in perspective and I think you will get as much enjoyment out of it as the time you put in.


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