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Questions on the unwritten rules of public land hunting during high pressure situations


Chelsea FC

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Hi, relatively new hunter here who hunted the Coeyman's Creek WMA on opening day in Nov. 2023. Let me preface these questions by saying it was BUSY. When I showed up at 6 a.m. there were already 13 cars in the parking lot for a 360-acre property. Which brings me to a set of questions about hunting in this type of situation, if anyone wants to take a stab.

1. Is a blind a must for hunting public land? I assume you don't really want to set up a tree stand on public land because what if another hunter doesn't see it (or does) and sets up his blind in the same area? The only alternative to those options is just going out and sitting under a tree, hopefully with some elevation (which is what I did). How far away from another hunter is considered acceptable to set up your blind? 300 yards or so? I'm assuming the law of the land is first come, first serve, so get their early or not at all. But you still run the risk of someone not seeing you and setting up on top of you.

2. If everyone is setting up their blinds more or less quietly and in the dark, how do you know you're not setting up on top of someone or directly across a field from someone in a mutual field of fire? Do you hang an orange vest from the top of your blind?

3. Say you shoot a deer but you don't drop it and need to start tracking. You can't really go tromping around after it and ruin everyone else's hunt, right? If it wanders into another hunter's territory, is it fair game? It seems like if you shoot one you better shoot it dead, and that you can't really track during a pressure situation on public land. Is that accurate?

4. In terms of deer behavior on public land during medium to high pressure, how much value is there to hunting the afternoon/pre-dusk hours? In general are most of the deer too spooked and wary by then? Or can it be worth it to stick it out until sundown?

Thanks for reading/engaging if you still are. I'm obviously trying to get at some of the unwritten rules of hunting public land and any insight you have would be appreciated.

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1) Wear lots of orange .

2) Be sure of your target and what is beyond.  Getting up high on a ridge or something helps with that.

2) If you see another hunter move .

3) Aim for the center of the shoulder blade and don’t hesitate to use follow up shots (in accordance with #2), if the deer is still on its feet in range. 

 

 

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Don't hunt public during gun. Unless it's over 3000 acres, and is a real nightmare to access. Thick nasty and steep, long walks to get to where your going to hunt. Talking 45 min or better. You will be totally  alone. Most people are to scared to lose sight of a landmark and get lost. Learn land nav and use topo maps. Walk it alot during the winter and spring  and learn where the deer run when you kick them out of spots and be there when the sun comes up first day. Get a rifle that hits hard, fast and straight. And learn how to use it.

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You don't need a blind when gun hunting. Just find some brush or fallen tree to tuck into in an area you like. A blind set up on the same day won't go over well with the resident deer.

Usually it is a first come first serve thing on public. some guys try to claim an area by putting their stand in but it means nothing if you get there before them. if someone is setting up close to you let them know you are there. Lots of orange is a must. like others have said,find somewhere else if it is that crowded. best thing is to scout some different forests so you have options. 360 acres is not big enough to get away from people. Find some land with ridges that stop people,or water that they are not willing to cross. Or big enough that you can hike a good ways from the access points.

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I hunted Rattlesnake hill wma this year on Saturday and there weren't a lot of guys there I saw only one other guy where I was hunting with my son. Last year I hunted Keeney swamp on Thanksgiving day and me and my son were the only ones there. I hunt there once a year because that's where I killed my first deer. I don't think state land gets hit as hard as it use to. As for blinds I always put a orange vest on top if I'm hunting in it. No matter where I'm hunting. As a hit deer that runs off and say I shoot it and drop it if your shot is a kill shot to vitals then it's yours if not and my shot is in the vitals and yours is not then it's mine

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  1. Don't  be afraid  to walk around. Plenty of Turkey Hunters who are used to Sitting all day in 1 spot while Deer Hunting will hunt in May the same way and expect you to follow suit.  Move around to the next setups as often as you want.

2.  Be careful what you divulge to other Hunters who are arriving  in the parking lot or you meet afield. Some Guys who have parked later then you may be Bold enough to say- I am heading to such + such a Field. If that was your destination also- let them know. After all-- You Parked there First.  And start walking in right away. I always have everything ready to go to avoid 5 Minutes of Rummaging  through the Vehicle. 

  Big Problem  on Public now is Trail Cameras around Big Public Fields,Open Hardwoods, Wetlands- my favorite area, areas leading to Swamps. I don't  use Trail Cameras myself.  First Come- First Served. If you see a Trail Camera on Public and you are there first- Hunt the Area.

  Same thing with Blinds that are Left on Public on Purpose.  They could be just a relatively  Cheap 5-Pole setup. If you are there first- you have every right to Hunt that area.

  3. Most important- Don't Tell anyone exactly  where you were on the way out and don't  tell anyone exactly  where you are going. 

    Where Are You Going? It may seem like a Safety Question- but,I assure you Good Guys finish last in this situation.  Any hard earned Scouting Knowledge should not be shared with a Stranger.

  4. Avoid any Negative Verbal Exchange. Keep on Walking.

Take The Multiple Use Area Challenge. 

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As @Land1 said always have a plan b,c,d if you hunt public.  Always were some sort of orange.  Around me after thanksgiving it’s right back to being like bow season nobody is out and deer go back to normal until last day when guys do final drives. 
 

 I only hunt public and use a tree stand 90% of the time.  It’s important if you leave it take bottom 2-3 sticks so nobody can take it or just pack it in every time.  I’ve also killed a bunch sitting on a bucket under a tree or in a blow down before. If you see someone coming in the dark/ daylight just get their attention. If they still see you and setup you have 2 choices give up your spot or go have a conversation with them.  

as for after the shot go track it.  I don’t like interrupting peoples hunts but if I shoot a deer and it heads towards someone I’m still tracking. Just a part of it on state-land. 
 

key to hunting public is to first figure out the hunters.  People are easy to figure out and once you do you can find the pockets of deer.  I hunt a piece that’s 600 acres and I hunt 2 spots combined are 50 acres but I never see people and usually see deer.   Big thing for opening weekend is be in early and get to escape routes. 
 

if you find those little pockets people don’t go deer move naturally, they won’t leave those areas until after dark and usually back in early. However if you can find an area they are comfortable they will get up, feed, change beds throughout the day. 
 

#1 thing is scouting and once you think you’ve scouted enough do it some more.  Takes time to learn each piece so just be patient and keep working at it. 

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21 minutes ago, broomeguy said:

Agreed. That's like 25 acres per vehicle. 

Lol  we use to hunt 8 guys  on 30 acres. Love 25 acres to one person.   It's all about getting along .  360 is a small piece of state land  im sure there are more parcels nearby.. lots  of accessible state land. Can always try new piece.

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