Public land hunting

Snake

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Let's see which one is the best far away or close to camp ? 6 in one half a dozen in the other , thing is go where others ain't, correct ? Good info guys thing is what works , younger days I went to as far as I could go legal , now easiest :) Physical limitations will put you where you are able but this info actually means to me is some have got it figured out by scouting with success !
 

Mescalero

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Franklin TN
Living in NW Alabama I have always wanted to approach Pickwick WMA from the river. I am sure this isnt an original thought but there has got to be a large portion of that area that a man would have all to himself.
I’ve thought the same about accessing Yanahli in middle TN. But I don’t know the Duck and don’t have the time between family and work to learn it in a canoe. In the dark I’m liable to get hung up on a rock or submerged tree and that’s all she wrote for me.
 

DoubleRidge

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That's the way to do it. After doing numerous elk like this in the mountains of CO, a deer feels like a half sack of potatoes carrying around.

This is of no surprise to me, but good to see the actual numbers. I would bet the same is even MORE so on most private lands. On private lands, folks have their shooting houses, ladder stands and just "favorite" places to go in general. I know that's the way it is on our place and would venture to say that 60-70% of our place does not get hunted by the heavy majority of hunters. Myself and maybe one other hunter (very rarely for him) on our place venture to the "undisturbed locations".

On private land I love undisturbed locations.... actually we have designated much of our property as off limits.... large sanctuary areas if you will....giving the deer a place to go where they will never or rarely ever have pressure from humans while they are on our property....we run cameras on the edge of these designated areas but never walk through them....ever.

On public land I read an article once that said to take a map of the WMA and highlight 300 yards to the right and left of every road and you will eliminate the majority of areas other hunters will be....and this practice wouldn't necessarily mean you would be walking miles...but it could reveal areas you are less likely to bump into other hunters and in turn find less pressured areas...makes sense.
 

Weegee

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Davidson County
I’ve thought the same about accessing Yanahli in middle TN. But I don’t know the Duck and don’t have the time between family and work to learn it in a canoe. In the dark I’m liable to get hung up on a rock or submerged tree and that’s all she wrote for me.
I hunt Yanahli and am all about some canoe access. ***Do not*** try to canoe that river in the dark. I flipped mine there last December and am lucky to be alive. I do plan to get back after it this year, but will not do it in the dark or if conditions are not right. I've got a great spot in mind for rifle season...
 

Rackseeker

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On private land I love undisturbed locations.... actually we have designated much of our property as off limits.... large sanctuary areas if you will....giving the deer a place to go where they will never or rarely ever have pressure from humans while they are on our property....we run cameras on the edge of these designated areas but never walk through them....ever.

On public land I read an article once that said to take a map of the WMA and highlight 300 yards to the right and left of every road and you will eliminate the majority of areas other hunters will be....and this practice wouldn't necessarily mean you would be walking miles...but it could reveal areas you are less likely to bump into other hunters and in turn find less pressured areas...makes sense.
Just wondering, how many acres would you say is off limits designated sanctuaries on your property?
 

13pt

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Cookeville, TN
I find it interesting no one in this thread mentioned using an e-bike to go where the other hunters don’t go. I use mine to ride a hiking trail on a WMA (where ATV’s are not allowed) and go 2.2 miles, then have cut me a trail wide enough for my bike to ride 700 yds off the hiking trail. I have a deer cart I can hook up and pull out a 200 lb buck. Takes me 10 mins of easy riding to get to my spot…no sweating at all. I’m riding in this weekend to put up my camera on a mineral lick. It’s amazing how easy it is to get off the beaten path with this bike. I did spend a few days in the off season getting the 700 yard extension trail cleaned of limbs and fallen trees, but all set for this season. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how many different bucks (some dandies) I got pictures of after season earlier this year. I love getting away (far away) from the other hunters, and me and my e-bike know how to do it.
 

DoubleRidge

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Just wondering, how many acres would you say is off limits designated sanctuaries on your property?

The largest area on the property is probably 90 to 100 acres....then there are other smaller pockets 20 to 30 acres.....two years ago when we were walking the place with our Forester, before a timber harvest, I walked ground I hadn't set foot on in years.....guys I work with look at me like I'm insane when I tell them there are places on our property I hadn't walked since I was a teenager and I'm 51 this year.....but I will admit during turkey season I have been lured into the largest sanctuary before.....but it's extremely rare....and two of the smaller 20 to 30 acre sanctuary areas haven't had human foot traffic in years and we do not enter them period.....only exception is to retrieve a deer.....I'm a believer in giving deer a place to go where there is little to no pressure....and any land manager can do this regardless of the size of the property....low or no pressure areas can even have more of an impact when neighboring farms receive allot of pressure.... lastly creating sanctuary areas is an affordable project that can greatly improve hunting property.

Apologies...think I went way off the original thread topic.
 
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BSK

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Nashville, TN
Let's see which one is the best far away or close to camp ? 6 in one half a dozen in the other , thing is go where others ain't, correct ? Good info guys thing is what works , younger days I went to as far as I could go legal , now easiest :) Physical limitations will put you where you are able but this info actually means to me is some have got it figured out by scouting with success !
You are correct. The trick is simply to find where no one else has been hunting, for whatever reason: terrain to rugged, too far from a road, too close to the parking area/camp, etc. Older deer that have experienced a lot of hunting pressure quickly learn how to find the areas with the least human activity.
 

BSK

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The largest area on the property is probably 90 to 100 acres....then there are other smaller pockets 20 to 30 acres.....two years ago when we were walking the place with our Forester, before a timber harvest, I walked ground I hadn't set foot on in years.....guys I work with look at me like I'm insane when I tell them there are places on our property I hadn't walked since I was a teenager and I'm 51 this year.....but I will admit during turkey season I have been lured into the largest sanctuary before.....but it's extremely rare....and two of the smaller 20 to 30 acre sanctuary areas haven't had human foot traffic in years and we do not enter them period.....only exception is to retrieve a deer.....I'm a believer in giving deer a place to go where there is little to no pressure....and any land manager can do this regardless of the size of the property....low or no pressure areas can even have more of an impact when neighboring farms receive allot of pressure.... lastly creating sanctuary areas is an affordable project that can greatly improve hunting property.

Apologies...think I went way off the original thread topic.
We make it simple; the best cover areas are off limits to human traffic except for any habitat work in spring or early summer. As long as it's thick cover, we stay out. Hunt around the edges for sure, but don't go into the cover except to retrieve a deer, and then do it as quickly and as quietly as possible.
 

beefydeer

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NW TN
I hunt public land exclusively but it is not WMA's. It is land the state owns but it is not part of a WMA but land around lakes or rivers. We go in by boat and NEVER, yes NEVER, see another hunter. We also hunt Federal refuge land that is bow only and closes Nov. 14 for the ducks. Again we have NEVER seen another hunter here. We literally have thousands of acres to hunt that feels like it is all to ourselves but it is open to the public. The archery only spots are really good. Last year saw 10 different mature bucks. Had only one shot opportunity but these areas are super thick.
 

DoubleRidge

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We make it simple; the best cover areas are off limits to human traffic except for any habitat work in spring or early summer. As long as it's thick cover, we stay out. Hunt around the edges for sure, but don't go into the cover except to retrieve a deer, and then do it as quickly and as quietly as possible.

Essentially this is how our sanctuary areas were developed....over the years learning the areas the deer want to go as well as learning the areas that are difficult to get into and out of without being detected....some of these area are old field growth...some are timber areas....but all are thick....and we absolutely hunt travel corridors going too and from these areas....but giving deer quiet places to go on your property when the pressure is on in surrounding areas is another tool the land manager can implement to improve their hunting property.
 

BSK

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but giving deer quiet places to go on your property when the pressure is on in surrounding areas is another tool the land manager can implement to improve their hunting property.
Exactly. And in our situation, it is essential, as we put FAR more hunting pressure on our property than neighbors do. Because we're applying so much pressure, if we want to hold older, more hunter-wary deer on our property, we have to give them sanctuary from hunting pressure, or they will quickly leave.
 

sun

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Forest roads, logging roads and trails can influence deer movements.
They move in circuitous routes that parallel a forest roadway, say within 100 yards, and cross in habitual locations.
It depends how much they're pressured, the terrain and their daily routine.
I'll try to identify their routes, looking for sign, and then get to know the boundary areas where they enter and leave state land.
The deer don't know the boundaries, but I think they know pressure and gun fire.
Sometimes the gun fire is coming from nearby private land and drives them out.
Not all deer are the smartest of animals, but there needs to be a number of them per square mile in the given range of your chosen habitat to increase the odds of finding one in the open that will provide a shot.
If you locate an active scrape, and learn the area where the deer is primarily spending time, then that improves the odds of staking it out.
Roads can help to provide some access, but if a deer has a 2 - 3 mile route in any direction, then you may need to find where the does are grouping.
Deer sign is everything., the more you find the better the odds are whether it's near a road or up and over the hill a ways.
Needless to say, I'm not hunting out of a tree stand, but remain free to move on the ground.
If an area feels empty then I'll move out on foot.
 
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Midnight rider

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Houston County
I hunt public land exclusively but it is not WMA's. It is land the state owns but it is not part of a WMA but land around lakes or rivers. We go in by boat and NEVER, yes NEVER, see another hunter. We also hunt Federal refuge land that is bow only and closes Nov. 14 for the ducks. Again we have NEVER seen another hunter here. We literally have thousands of acres to hunt that feels like it is all to ourselves but it is open to the public. The archery only spots are really good. Last year saw 10 different mature bucks. Had only one shot opportunity but these areas are super thick.
This sounds like what I am scouting right now since I just moved to this area. I have been doing this in other parts of the state and it works out really good.
 

JCDEERMAN

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NASHVILLE, TN
On private land I love undisturbed locations.... actually we have designated much of our property as off limits.... large sanctuary areas if you will....giving the deer a place to go where they will never or rarely ever have pressure from humans while they are on our property....we run cameras on the edge of these designated areas but never walk through them....ever.
Same here. We have about 60 acres scattered out (2-20 acres a piece) that we do not step in, except for retrieving a deer. On top of that, I'd say we have close to 300 acres that haven't been stepped in by any of our hunters the last 5 years, for the exception of me. No one is keeping them from it, they just don't want to go too far from the access roads or fields. That's where I put forth my hunting effort 🤷‍♂️
 

TheLBLman

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The trick is simply to find where no one else has been hunting, for whatever reason: terrain to rugged, too far from a road, too close to the parking area/camp, etc.
Older deer that have experienced a lot of hunting pressure quickly learn how to find the areas with the least human activity.
NOW you're talking my language.
Also, it doesn't take "a lot of hunting pressure", as I'm convinced older deer simply prefer to "hang out" most wherever they are least "disturbed" by whatever, but in particular humans (with exception to some VERY regular daily human activities, such as farmer regularly feeding his livestock).

What's more, some of the things we might think "disturb" older deer, do not.
Routine highway traffic is often found more tolerable than a whiff of human scent.
Older deer will often bed for the day within 75 yds of a major road.

They will also often bed in very open hardwoods, defying what we often hear about them bedding mainly in heavy cover. When not feeding, not particularly hungry, not preoccupied with the rut, most older deer simply like to spend their "resting" time wherever they are least "bothered" by whatever, even if that's in the most open hardwoods in the middle of several hundred acres.

Last but not least, I believe hunters' "scouting" often puts more "pressure" on older deer than those same hunters' actually "hunting".

In that vein of thought, one of the best public land strategies can be simply to note where the most hunters go "scouting" the day before a "quota" hunt. Then forget about looking for deer "sign" yourself, and instead hunt for "pockets" that would typically be over 200 yds from anywhere a "scouter" walked thru in the preceding day. I'm only saying 200 yds because it just needs to be far enough that a bedded or standing deer would generally not be noticed by someone walking by. It is commonly only 75 yds or less.
 
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JCDEERMAN

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Two more things. One of the last times I hunted LBL, I hiked 3-4 miles back to where I was hunting from camp. On 3 hunts, I saw 0 deer. My dad was having some real back issues and could barely get his boots on, much less walk (bent over -looked like he was looking for pennies on the ground). We set him up with a fold out chair and he went off within eyesight from camp (50 yards) and saw dozens of deer. It frustrated me after all my efforts, but I definitely learned from that. A guy from another group camping there also ended up killing a dandy 10 pt. He made his way up the old road to the field where folks were camping, then walked back TOWARD the main road to hunt, NOT further where everyone else hunted. Definite eye opener for me.

The buck I posted in the "big 8's" thread was a deer that hung around our cabin. We have about a 10 acre sanctuary within 100 yards from our cabin and this deer would bed in the mock scrape I made and seemed to not leave that place. He would do all of this while we were 100 yards away watching football and grilling out (trail cam pics show this). I set up one morning on the downwind side of this 10 acre block where two points come together in the bottom of a big hollow. He was late to bed that morning and we came face to face about 25 yards apart. The look he gave me was in complete despair. I could see his eyes get huge. He just couldn't believe something/someone was actually in his area.
 

kamml

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One of the public WMAs I hunted in SC had a bedding sanctuary with thick heavy cover right next to the road and a small car park. I took three deer out of that area the same season within a 100yds of my parked car.
 

Monk74

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Thanks for the information. I have been hunting public land for +35yrs. Always put the hiking boots on and get away from easy access. The only issue is getting your deer out of the woods. I am considering on-site butchering and walking out with a bag of venison.
Yes, An old army pack frame, couple trash bags for the meat keeps the blood off everything. Then I put those in an empty grass sack/ feed bag. I debone it all in the woods. Usually I’m done in less than an hour. I’ve never saw the need to carry out hide, bones, hooves etc.
 

TheLBLman

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One of the last times I hunted LBL, I hiked 3-4 miles back to where I was hunting from camp. On 3 hunts, I saw 0 deer. My dad was having some real back issues and could barely get his boots on, much less walk (bent over -looked like he was looking for pennies on the ground). We set him up with a fold out chair and he went off within eyesight from camp (50 yards) and saw dozens of deer.
Let me add a bit to your LBL observations: What you experienced may have become more the norm.

You see, almost no where within LBL is any area farther than 1 mile from any road you can easily drive and park a car. Also, almost none of the terrain is very challenging to a young hunter in good shape. This may be very unlike many large public hunting areas such as the Cherokee National Forest, where roads can be many miles apart and the terrain particularly challenging.

Consequently, many LBL hunters tend to study maps, look for those most "remote" areas, (good luck at finding ANY more than 1.25 miles from a parkable road), then the majority of them make bee lines to those same areas. You will often find hunters coming in from 4 different directions, 4 different roads, all hunting within or nearly within eyesight of each other, yet they left behind thousands of acres virtually "unhunted".

In the case of your dad's experience, it may be the deer were not there the day before the quota hunt. It's just that the deer quickly gravitate to those areas they are least disturbed, and on those quota hunts, often, the most disturbed areas are those of the longest walks from from you choose to park.

That said, some of those more remote areas may in fact display more deer sign, have more deer much of the time or the year, than many areas very closer to roads. But as soon as the "scouters" and "hunters" begin scouting and hunting ANY areas, the deer simply "move over", often only choosing to spend much of each day a couple hundred yards from where they had, seeming to enjoy watching the parade of hunters.

The deer are often patterning the hunters more than the hunters are patterning the deer.
 

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