Advice on "common use" private land

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Nsghunter

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Blount co tn
My family graciously lets me hunt on their property. It's my grandparents old family farm. Its now owned by three separate family members who all join together to create around 100 acres in a nice organized chunk. It's mostly reclaimed farmland on a large hillside split in the middle by a ridge. There are alot of thick areas, very little mature timber (the primary owner uses it for wood for selling firewood and milling lumber.) and quite a few overgrown fields.

I usually always see "meat deer" while hunting/visiting there but I've never used it enough to see any big bucks. I have permission to improve the habitat on the property (burn plant cut) but I have always felt reluctant to do much with it as far as habitat management. I live two hours away and all the owners will allow mostly anyone to hunt or use the property (my grandfather did the same thing so the owners now feel the same way.) I think its great they offer such a great resource to so many people but therein lies my dilemma, I am unsure about doing an type of property management for hunting improvement because I am concerned I would use my family's money, time and sweat equity while a random person may be the ones who reap the bulk of my reward.

I see deer most of time I go to the property but they are usually "meat deer" I have seen one big buck but couldn't get a shot. I believe the property either holds deer or that deer use it. I also feel that if I do nothing to the improve the property and hunt it sparingly my family and I will still be able to take a few deer a year.

Also worth mentioning, we don't have much in the way of money laying around to spend on habitat improvement, we don't have an ATV, UTV or tractor to do anything major, also living two hours away is also a limiting factor due to the investment of time and fuel.

What are your thoughts on investing in this property or what I could do?
 
cbhunter

cbhunter

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You say you have a lot of thick stuff and some overgrown fields. Leave the biggest fields overgrown and hunt the edges, especially if you can get high enough to see into it. Big bucks love those areas. If you want to put on a couple food plots then use the smaller fields. I understand your dilemma but I think the bucks are probably there and maybe your just not seeing them. My opinion ain’t worth much but there it is. Lol
 
S

Ski

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Unless your family gives you exclusive rights, meaning nobody but you can hunt it, then I would not invest the money & effort enhancing it. Your work will be taken advantage of by any hunter with permission to do so. And you can't really blame anybody for doing so. I agree with the others above.

I put in a couple small plots and a water hole on my dad's place. I figured it would possibly make things a little easier for him as he's in his mid 70's and finding it harder to hike the big hills. It worked out way better than I imagined. The place was crawling with bruisers in short time and my father, brother, and myself all killed big bucks on that property that year. The next year, however, the place was now crawling with all my dad's church buddies. Everybody was asking him to come hunt and dad being dad, he didn't say no. They indiscriminately killed any deer that moved through the place, even fork bucks. Now the property is worse than it was before I added the enhancements. Deer avoid the place. Dad doesn't complain but he recognizes the situation. Rather than tell everybody they can no longer hunt, he decided he was getting too old & worn out to continue hunting so he thinks maybe he's done. It demoralized him. Went from the highest of highs with him and his two sons having a banner year, to the place being destroyed by something for nothings. I did it for dad and it's his so he can do anything he wants with it, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't sting a bit that he allowed folks to take advantage of my efforts & money. I did it for him, not the community.

My brother and I each have our own properties that we manage and hunt together, but we don't allow other hunters without a specific invite. Even then it's not an open invitation, but rather a short window when the guest can hunt with one of us. Nobody enters the properties at their own whim or while one of is not there accompanying them. We spend a lot of money, time, and effort grooming the properties for deer hunting. There's not much pressure on the deer. It's dang good hunting. But it wouldn't take but one season for it to become a deer desert if we openly let people hunt.

I know the temptation is strong for you to enhance the hunting, but I caution you to just save that money & time to buy your own piece of ground. Work some overtime or take on some extra work as you can, whatever it takes to save up & buy a property. It doesn't take as long as you might think, as long as you keep your eyes on the goal. Only then when it's yours and yours alone are you safe to manage it without threat of others taking advantage of it. And I promise you, if you build a nice hunting property, people will want to be there. You'll be making all kinds of new friends. Everybody wants to chummy up with the guy who owns a property that produces big bucks, but not everybody wants to do what it takes to have it for themselves. If you're willing to spend what money you have and do the work to manage your family's land, then you're driven enough to focus that energy into having your own land. I promise it will be way more rewarding.
 
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BSK

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Unless your family gives you exclusive rights, meaning nobody but you can hunt it, then I would not invest the money & effort enhancing it. Your work will be taken advantage of by any hunter with permission to do so.
Sadly, I agree with this. I wouldn't want to pour money and sweat equity into a property only to have any random person be the beneficiary. Not to say I wouldn't hunt and enjoy it. I just wouldn't pour a whole lot of time/money resources into to it.
 
Old_Doc_Brown

Old_Doc_Brown

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Agree with above and would add two points:

1) Have a conversation about managment with your family- What do you all want to get out of the property? Manage for trophy? Manage to just have fun? Do they want to regulate who hunts there and what they take? That will guide how much you want to do.
2) TWRA will come to your property and offer their thoughts on managing for wildlife. They also can provide assistance with cost. As for their advice, you can take it or leave it.
 
H

Hduke86

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As mentioned before I wouldn’t spend the time, money, or hard work on it. Someone would be benefiting from it that didn’t have any sweat equity in it. I say leave it be and find where you think the majority of deer are moving at and hang cameras. Also IF IF IF you see a good buck DONT TELL ANYONE.
 
D

DMD

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The more work you put in it, the more random hunters will be showing up to hunt. Just enjoy it as it is. Sounds like it has lots of good browse and hiding areas.
 
Deer Assassin

Deer Assassin

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I agree with CBhunter. Keep it thick and they will bed in there. If you spend money and make it look like a hunters paradise everyone will hunt it. Not as many will hunt it when its thick and takes some sweat equity to get on deer.
this
 
R

redblood

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Lewisburg
Sadly, I agree with this. I wouldn't want to pour money and sweat equity into a property only to have any random person be the beneficiary. Not to say I wouldn't hunt and enjoy it. I just wouldn't pour a whole lot of time/money resources into to it.
Agree 100 percent. Just enjoy it as you are now
 
huvrman

huvrman

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Sometimes it is hard to not want to put in plots, etc, to believe you’ll enhance your hunting, but logic will tell you (unless you don’t have a problem with folks reaping the rewards of your work) this is not the best place for it.
 
Ladys man

Ladys man

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Lots of great advise above. If it was me I would leave it as is. Everytime I was there I would just section it off scouting finding the best areas. Keeping atv/tractors off not to show or leave any trails. Find the best areas and set up cams or just go out and have fun hunting the unknown.

But I wouldn’t put a great deal of money into it for others to enjoy.
 
R

Rancocas

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Ocoee Country/Cleveland
Plenty of good advise here.
This "common use" is how it mostly was back 50 years ago and more. In 1962 when I was 14 years old I lived with my parents in a small suburb. There I was, a teenager, carrying my double barrel 12 gauge while walking though our neighborhood for a couple of blocks until I reached the surrounding farmland. Then, I had about 5 miles of fields and woodlots to hunt before I reached the next small town. I don't know who owned the property. I never asked. It didn't matter. If it wasn't posted it was considered okay to hunt there. If I saw a farmer in his field, I waved. He waved back and we both continued on with our own business. I was never stopped, never questioned.
Things began to change in the late 1960's. I returned from Vietnam and took my little brother to hunt a farm where my family had been hunting for years. New owners! They blocked in my car with several tractors, chased us down in the woodlot, and read us the riot act about trespassing even though the property was not posted. I sure was surprised, and disgusted. I had never encountered anything like that before.
It has just gone downhill since then.
Even before the 1960's, as young boys my friends and I roamed all around for several miles. We built tree "forts" and dug "underground forts" in any spot we thought was good. Who owned the property? I have no clue. We were kids and we went wherever we wanted. It was never a problem.
I was about 10 when I cut down a small tree and built a raft so I could play "Huckleberry Finn" on the local creek. I do know that property was owned by a local gun club. They shot trap and skeet there, and I earned a few bucks working the clay bird throwing machine for them. I fished in their pond regularly for bluegills and catfish.
Of course, back in those days deer were scarce, and nobody managed their property solely for hunting purposes. Small game was plentiful.
Also, of course, we respected the land and didn't throw trash around. We stayed out of crop fields. Gates were left however we found them; open or shut. Yes, we did build our tree forts and underground forts, but they were in hidden places and I don't think any lasting harm was done.
Times have changed. Much for the worst, in my opinion. Private property that is generally open for "common use", as this thread is all about, is a very rare item these days.
 
B

Bushape

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If it was my only/main parcel to hunt I might be inclined to put in one or two easily accessible rye or oat plots just to keep heavy human traffic in those areas and away from where you really want to be. If it's being hunted as you fear then there is a very slim chance that anything mature is going to come around those plots. See if you can use the extra people to your advantage but whatever you do keep your mouth shut
 
N

Nsghunter

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Blount co tn
Plenty of good advise here.
This "common use" is how it mostly was back 50 years ago and more. In 1962 when I was 14 years old I lived with my parents in a small suburb. There I was, a teenager, carrying my double barrel 12 gauge while walking though our neighborhood for a couple of blocks until I reached the surrounding farmland. Then, I had about 5 miles of fields and woodlots to hunt before I reached the next small town. I don't know who owned the property. I never asked. It didn't matter. If it wasn't posted it was considered okay to hunt there. If I saw a farmer in his field, I waved. He waved back and we both continued on with our own business. I was never stopped, never questioned.
Things began to change in the late 1960's. I returned from Vietnam and took my little brother to hunt a farm where my family had been hunting for years. New owners! They blocked in my car with several tractors, chased us down in the woodlot, and read us the riot act about trespassing even though the property was not posted. I sure was surprised, and disgusted. I had never encountered anything like that before.
It has just gone downhill since then.
Even before the 1960's, as young boys my friends and I roamed all around for several miles. We built tree "forts" and dug "underground forts" in any spot we thought was good. Who owned the property? I have no clue. We were kids and we went wherever we wanted. It was never a problem.
I was about 10 when I cut down a small tree and built a raft so I could play "Huckleberry Finn" on the local creek. I do know that property was owned by a local gun club. They shot trap and skeet there, and I earned a few bucks working the clay bird throwing machine for them. I fished in their pond regularly for bluegills and catfish.
Of course, back in those days deer were scarce, and nobody managed their property solely for hunting purposes. Small game was plentiful.
Also, of course, we respected the land and didn't throw trash around. We stayed out of crop fields. Gates were left however we found them; open or shut. Yes, we did build our tree forts and underground forts, but they were in hidden places and I don't think any lasting harm was done.
Times have changed. Much for the worst, in my opinion. Private property that is generally open for "common use", as this thread is all about, is a very rare item these days.
Funny you mention this, just tonight as I am reading through the comments again I got this overwhelming sense of just how happy I am to have the land. It’s not mine but I’m so pleased that my people let us use it. I don’t really mind that other people get to hunt, cause I can’t find a soul in my area that will let me use their property. I’m confident most property I ask about isn’t really used for anything. That thought really hurts somehow, that people own land and don’t seem to use it for anything that it would be good for.

I understand that the landowner has the right to do what they wish and maybe not doing anything with it is what they enjoy. I accept that but somehow it hurts to think about.
 
FLTENNHUNTER1

FLTENNHUNTER1

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SE Tennessee
I wouldn’t change anything. 100 acres isn’t big enough to hold deer. I just sold my 80 acres. Every year, deer sightings decreased for each day I hunted the property. Meaning, most of my sightings were within the first 3 to 4 days then the deer were on to me and moved to other properties or went nocturnal.

It also would depend on the surrounding properties hunting habits.
 

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