5 Hard Truths About Public Land Whitetail Hunting

5 Hard Truths About Public Land Whitetail Hunting

As a hunter living in the United States, we are truly blessed by the recreation opportunities public land provides us. It’s a privilege we shouldn’t take for granted. As wonderful as it is, attempting to tag a mature whitetail on public land can certainly be humbling.

However, by adapting to your surroundings and being prepared for specific difficult situations you may face, you’ll undoubtedly become a better whitetail hunter. Whether you’re venturing out on public dirt for the first time this year or a veteran whitetailer seeking reinforcement, here’s what to expect this fall.

Someone Will Interrupt Your Hunt

The fact is, most public land deer are used to living amongst human disturbance. If another hunter blows out your area, chances are those deer are going to bound away, but will go back about their business within a half hour.

If your spot is being blown out several days in a row, those deer are going to adapt and find a more peaceful place to spend their fall. The key is deciding when to stay optimistic and ride it out or if your fleetingly valuable time is best spent elsewhere.

Booners Aren't Around Every Corner

It’s important to have fun out there. Sometimes our expectations get too high and watching big bucks get killed on YouTube probably doesn’t help. Be honest with yourself, what do you want from a public land whitetail hunt?

If you’re okay eating your tag for several seasons in a row, go ahead and hold out for the grandaddy of all whitetails. However, if you want to put meat on the table and experience the rush every year, not to mention sharpen your hunting skills, managing your expectations can make the overall experience 10x more enjoyable.

Your Honey Hole Will be Found Out

This one hurts the most. Imagine it’s taken you five-plus years to hone in on your favorite public land spot. After years of trials and tribulations and botched hunts, you’ve finally found the spot on the spot, right down to the exact tree. The unfortunate truth is that you may have never seen anyone in your favorite November haunt, but don’t be fooled. Cherish your find while it lasts, because old Murphy is bound to peak his head.

After your newfound hunting companion shares the spot with his buddies, you will soon learn it’s time to pull the plug. If you can feel the pain in your gut right now, don’t fret. The silver lining is that this unfortunate circumstance can be used to help you grow as a hunter. There are new spots out there waiting to be found, go find it and add hard-earned knowledge to your arsenal along the way.

You'll Have to Work Harder Than Most

Don’t be discouraged by all the big bucks your buddies kill or the hunters you follow on Instagram. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Odds are, those hunters likely have exclusive access to primo property, or frankly worked way harder than you’ll ever know.

As bowhunters, we live for the thrill of accomplishing something difficult, something that is sweeter the harder it was to acquire and the longer it takes to accomplish. That’s what public land whitetail hunting is all about, freedom to roam, defying odds, and getting it done on ground open-to-all. Remember, harder doesn't always mean farther.

Sometimes, All It Takes Is Time

You’re tired of waking up every morning, hours before sunrise. You’re tired of being bored and cold. You’re down on your luck and losing hope. I think it’s safe to say that this feeling creeps in on every hunter.

However, if you’ve hunted long enough, you know that your luck can change in the blink of an eye and often when you least expect it. This could be the most important hunting advice you’ll read this fall, the key to success is sometimes as simple as staying positive and mentally tough. It’s impossible for bad luck to continue forever. The key is to ditch what isn’t working and keep trying new ideas and new areas until you stumble upon something positive.

Ask any successful public land hunter about the biggest deer they’ve ever taken and I’d be willing to bet that most will tell you they hadn’t seen a single deer all day until Mr. Big showed up. You’ll also find that another common denominator is time. Like most things in life, the more time you dedicate to your goal, the more likely you are to find success.

Feature image via Captured Creative.

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