Archery season is a few weeks away and you’re still looking for hunting spot. You’re busy with work and family, thinking “It’s too late for me this season.” You’re not alone and you’re not out of time. Don’t panic. You can find a hunting spot RIGHT NOW!
FIND PUBLIC LAND NEAR YOU
There is public hunting land near you, I can almost guarantee it. If you’re a Michigan hunter, the link above is MI HUNT. This application outlines all public land and private land open to public hunting. Start here and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much land is accessible near you. If you’re not a Michigan hunter, check your state’s DNR website to find mapping for public land.
Two Key Factors
Alright, you’ve located public hunting land near you. Perfect! Now, your golden ticket to public land lies in these two key factors:
1.) Get Away From The Road
Most public land hunters don’t venture far from the road. They hunt open spaces where they can see 100+ yards in hopes of shooting something that’s easy to see and easy to get home. That’s not your spot. Your spot is FAR off the beaten path. You need to go where no one else is willing to venture. The longer your walk is and the more it sucks the better. When you’re the ONLY hunter in an isolated, hard to reach area, you have the advantage.
2.) Find A Swamp
In conjunction with #1 you need to find a swamp. Hopefully the property you’re eyeing up has some sort of water source (lake frontage, a pond, a river or stream or just an area of low land). Finding this area is easiest using Google Maps or any mapping tool with an aerial view of the property. Water + woods = heavy cover. That’s where LOTS of deer are going to congregate once a few hunters start stomping around the woods. Security cover and bedding areas where deer feel safe are hands down the best spots on public land.
Scout On Your First Hunt
Since you didn’t have a chance to scout earlier this summer, don’t do it now. Everyone else who plans on hunting this same plot of public land is scouting right now. And that’s great! They’re likely already pushing deer to your hard-to-reach spot.
Your first hunt should start in the late morning (say 10:00 AM) when other hunters are packing up to go grab breakfast. It doesn’t take deer long to pattern people, they know when the usual suspects are moving around and will likely be bedded down at this time. And when everyone else is moving out, you’re moving in. Get into your spot as quietly as you can (if it’s impossible to be silent, try to sound like another deer with the rhythm of your footsteps). When you get to your general hunting area look for trails into and around the edge of the swamp, new/old rubs, droppings, tracks, the usual signs. Pick a spot where the wind is blowing away from the swamp and get cozy (either in a climbing tree stand or just on the ground). You’re staying until dark.
Now, you may not kill a deer on day 1. That’s okay. You’re main goal on this hunt is to learn. Learn the lay of the land, learn the deer movement, figure out a better entrance/exit route for your next hunt. If you don’t leave the woods with a deer, leave the woods with knowledge and confidence for your next hunt.
Your spot is out there and you can find it RIGHT NOW, without even stepping foot in the woods. Get online, find a few plots of public land and try to locate the thickest, nastiest, swampiest crap you can find. The more you dread even trying to get back to this area, the better. Then, when the wind is right and you have a day to hunt, pack up your gear and get after them.
Do what others won’t do. Go where others won’t go. If you do, you may find the public land success other hunters dream about.