Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

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jonsimoneau
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Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby jonsimoneau » Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:49 pm

I have taken most of my deer on public ground. But I eventually started getting into some private and though I am a slow learner I thought I would pass on a few if my findings for some of the younger guys that are constantly subjected to the ridiculous hunting shows on the tv these days.
Just because a piece of land is private ground does not make it better. The very best properties to hunt are always private but not all private is good. As an example. I have had sole permission to hunt two twenty acre parcels of private ground for years now. Not only have I never killed a big buck on either place...I have only seen one big buck between the two in years of hunting there. I hunt a lot but I try to hunt smart. I finally realized that whether the land is public or private deer need three things. Food water and cover with cover being the most important at least in the Midwest. And they need all three. A twenty acre piece of ground with no good bedding cover means that piece of ground will likely only be good during a magical few day window during the rut. It's that simple. It does not matter if you never step foot on the place. If there is no permanent bedding cover the deer will not live there. On the other hand a large chunk of public ground may be big enough that it contains all the ingredients deer need. Yes the pressure will be greater but if your buck relocates due to pressure you may have a chance to relocate him.
But if you have a small piece of private that the deer do not live on you are out of luck with the possible exception of the November rut.
Another example. The place I killed my first deer is near my home and is a 300 acre farm. Of that 300 acres there are 90 acres of woods. In the last twenty years no less than 21 people who live nearby have had permission to hunt there. So yes..it is private land but it sees as much or more pressure than a larger public land.
Take this into consideration before you waste a lot of time hunting a piece of privat ground just because it is " private".

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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby Zap » Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:55 pm

Good points.
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby kenn1320 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:04 pm

This was a turning point for me as well. I have always had private ground to hunt and thought I had an edge. However private large tracks of private ground are rare in Mi, and when your not there, neighbors are. My current belief is if the private isnt thick enough to protect a buck from deer drives, its not as good as a big public chunk that can. In an ideal world where you were the only one pressuring that private land, it would be way better then the public. However that is rarely the case. Unfortunately Ive been walking a lot of thick nasty public ground and can hardly find a buck rub. I find hunter sign everywhere! Im also going to check out some public land in other states I hunt, cause it could have better habitat then the private Im on. Plus I think a lot less law breaking/poaching goes on in the public ground, versus secluded private. I could be way off base on that assumption, but Id bet banks by the police station get robbed way less then the remote ones. 8-)
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby Brad » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:20 pm

I can honestly say almost all of the huge bucks I have seen have been on public. For a deer to get that big it needs to get old and even with the hunting pressure on public, the deer are probably safer than on most private land, and they know it too. If you are being bothered by other hunters you are probably not hunting the right spots anyway. I used to see public land as a place to hunt if you had no where else to go, now I see public as premium places to hunt that will give you back what you put into it. If you don't work hard you won't kill deer, if you do you will kill deer. I am more excited over the public land I have found this year than the great private land I have. I will only hunt the private a few times during the rut and gun season, maybe an early season hunt or two but that is still up in the air.


kenn1320 wrote:This was a turning point for me as well. I have always had private ground to hunt and thought I had an edge. However private large tracks of private ground are rare in Mi, and when your not there, neighbors are. My current belief is if the private isnt thick enough to protect a buck from deer drives, its not as good as a big public chunk that can. In an ideal world where you were the only one pressuring that private land, it would be way better then the public. However that is rarely the case. Unfortunately Ive been walking a lot of thick nasty public ground and can hardly find a buck rub. I find hunter sign everywhere! Im also going to check out some public land in other states I hunt, cause it could have better habitat then the private Im on. Plus I think a lot less law breaking/poaching goes on in the public ground, versus secluded private. I could be way off base on that assumption, but Id bet banks by the police station get robbed way less then the remote ones. 8-)
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby jonsimoneau » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:31 pm

Great point Brad. But I will add that there are public places where it is absolutely impossible to get away from other hunters. I know Illinois receives less pressure than other areas but in northeastern Illinois the public Lands are small and there is nowhere you can walk to get away from them. For example. The Kankakee river state park nearby sees roughly "6,000" hunter efforts according to our DNR. This means 6,000 people sign up on the sign in sheets in total. Last season 23 deer were taken. This area is 1200 acres I think. To me that is intense pressure due to being so close to Chicago and the cover is long and narrow along the river. You cant get away from other hunters here and because the public is small I feel most of the deer simply leave as soon as season starts. So I think it is important to take a look at public areas and find one where you have a reasonable expectation of taking a deer.

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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby kenn1320 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:38 pm

Exactly. All public land is not created equal, same as private for that matter. You will have good and bad, its finding the good that can be frustrating. Eberhart says if you dont need a boat, chest waders, or crawl on your belly for a considerable distance, your not going to "get away" from other hunters. In my part of MI, it appears the DNR's main goal has been to provide easy access to every inch of the land. Its not entirely their fault, our roads are laid out every square mile for the most part. :cry:
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby jlh42581 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:31 pm

A place a buck can hide is the key anywhere to them getting big. Thats why they get big in the city, they can hide.

Where I live theres a TON of public land. I can think of an easy 200,000 acres off the top of my head without looking at a map. Some places are 10 acres, some are 100,000. The places that are 10, when you find the right conditions can have decent bucks. The places that are 100,000 offer pockets of good hunting but being the tradition of the camps being put here in north central region you better get on it before rifle season. Deer drives are in full force here beginning day one of the rifle season and dont stop for two solid weeks. The way a lot of people get around the point restriction in such situations is they bring junior hunters and in the event someone shoots a buck that doesnt make the restriction a junior tags it, sad but true.

Gun hunting pressure in pa rifle season is insane on the opener. I opted to not even go last year and its probably THE DAY you have a chance of being damn near anywhere and shooting a bigger buck. I say bigger because I have seen very few true giants around here, most end up dead at the hands of a poacher. Some sneak by but a lot of guys have loose lips, someone spots a big buck and half the county knows it. The difference here is there is not the vast swamps to discourage people from going in after them. If they get on the private, they can travel the private and never step foot onto the public. The big tracts of public can be daunting for sure. Areas that if you got turned around you could walk for a week and never hit a road.
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby Southern Man » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:58 pm

I think private land makes hunters lazy for the most part. It seems hunters tend to get comfortable thinkin they have it "figured out" and end up hunting the same stands year after year. Especially on small acrage farms. They end up gettin in a rut and miss out on good opportunities. It's a forced effort to take a fresh look at a farm on a yearly basis. I do think there are many excellant small private farms and can pay off good with smart thinkin.

Down here in my end of the state, the public ground gets deer hunted far less than private ground. There are several chunks of public that are 5000 acres of so that are seldom deer hunted. The biggest is around 90,000 acres. Most of the deer hunters are out of state hunters. The locals in most cases don't want to hunt. Not for deer anyways.
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby Ridgerunner7 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:38 am

In my area the private parcels are broken up very small. Add several hunters to each parcel depending on size and you have hunters sitting on top of hunters. It's crazy. In my best spot...I can view 4, yes 4 raised box blinds and 3 tree stands. They are 200-500 yards off but its amazing how the hunters here have every tree and angle covered. It's a miracle anything survives..but some slip through..often with injuries and we get some decent bucks the following year. The public land in southern Michigan is very over crowded. Finding a place to park is a challenge. Many go an entire season without seeing a buck or anything bigger than first year buck. I had my best success and sightings next to a very large piece of private land just into the public. Compare that to Ohio public where we found 6 sheds off 140" deer in a day and a half and very little hunting sign past the first 200-300 yards. Some of the guys never ran into another hunter there during the season.
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby NatureBoy » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:51 am

jonsimoneau wrote:I have taken most of my deer on public ground. But I eventually started getting into some private and though I am a slow learner I thought I would pass on a few if my findings for some of the younger guys that are constantly subjected to the ridiculous hunting shows on the tv these days.
Just because a piece of land is private ground does not make it better. The very best properties to hunt are always private but not all private is good. As an example. I have had sole permission to hunt two twenty acre parcels of private ground for years now. Not only have I never killed a big buck on either place...I have only seen one big buck between the two in years of hunting there. I hunt a lot but I try to hunt smart. I finally realized that whether the land is public or private deer need three things. Food water and cover with cover being the most important at least in the Midwest. And they need all three. A twenty acre piece of ground with no good bedding cover means that piece of ground will likely only be good during a magical few day window during the rut. It's that simple. It does not matter if you never step foot on the place. If there is no permanent bedding cover the deer will not live there. On the other hand a large chunk of public ground may be big enough that it contains all the ingredients deer need. Yes the pressure will be greater but if your buck relocates due to pressure you may have a chance to relocate him.
But if you have a small piece of private that the deer do not live on you are out of luck with the possible exception of the November rut.
Another example. The place I killed my first deer is near my home and is a 300 acre farm. Of that 300 acres there are 90 acres of woods. In the last twenty years no less than 21 people who live nearby have had permission to hunt there. So yes..it is private land but it sees as much or more pressure than a larger public land.
Take this into consideration before you waste a lot of time hunting a piece of privat ground just because it is " private".

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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby headgear » Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:25 am

I have some great hard to reach public land that buts up to some pressured private land. Sure hunting this private land would be cool because it hold nice bucks but many of them bed on the public ground and that is where I chase them. The guys hunting private have ladder stands all over so right there you know they overhunt them. I jump around and hit the best bedding areas and I have a huge advantage over the private landers in these situations. A rut rifle season is kind of the great equalizer here, I'm sure they bag some nice ones every year but there alwasy seem to be one or two nice bucks in the area that slip through the cracks so I will alwasy have something decent to hunt. In a way them bagging a few nice bucks is a good thing, it keeps them hunting the same old stands and leaves all the bedding to me. 8-)
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby Autumn Ninja » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:24 am

The #1 reason I love hunting large tracks of public land is....I have access to everything the buck wants or needs. I'm not tied down with property lines throughout his home range. I can hunt him on my terms, not just where I have access.
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby jlh42581 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:46 am

I dont completely agree with thinking that private makes most lazy. If the cards are played right you really could have the upper hand. The ability to jump ship and be in another stand minutes later, sneak in, super slow and not make a noise. To kill a big buck on the public some of those cards in the hand have to be played a little differently.

You might win the hand with a flush on private but you better have a royal flush in your hand on public.
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby Southern Man » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:08 am

jlh42581 wrote:I dont completely agree with thinking that private makes most lazy. If the cards are played right you really could have the upper hand. The ability to jump ship and be in another stand minutes later, sneak in, super slow and not make a noise. To kill a big buck on the public some of those cards in the hand have to be played a little differently.

You might win the hand with a flush on private but you better have a royal flush in your hand on public.


I agree you can develope a really sweet spot to hunt on private land. But most here will not put in the effort. Leasing land is the norm here. If you were to ask people here why they don't pack their stand in and out on each hunt, (hunting mobile) 8 out of 10 would say, "Why? I have the ground leased, nobody else hunts there and I've got them figured out." Most will hunt the same stand day after day, year after year. Over confident might be a better word than lazy. Before long they'll be out there in August cutting or clearing trails so they can ride their 4-wheeler in. But hey, if that's the way they want to hunt, more power to them. It's their choice. Doesn't make any difference to me.

My point was public ground seems to make one work harder for the hunt than hunting the same farm year after year. At least it will me. It's hard to keep on your toes on private ground, be it laziness, over-confidence, or fallin into a rut if you hunt that exclusively, time after time. I learnt that the hard way. :mrgreen: And it's not like that for everyone, just most people here. It's so much easier to hunt that way and that's why public ground around here is underhunted.
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Re: Private vs. public. It's not always that simple!

Unread postby PLB » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:27 am

Autumn Ninja wrote:The #1 reason I love hunting large tracks of public land is....I have access to everything the buck wants or needs. I'm not tied down with property lines throughout his home range. I can hunt him on my terms, not just where I have access.

X2!! Well said

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