Updated: Jun 1, 2020
After one year and hundreds of follower success pictures shared on this site or social media, what we really should be asking ourselves is why not public land? Trophy picture after trophy picture rolls in yet some people just have not bought into the public land idea of doing things, especially when it comes to bow hunting.
It could be the stigmas of it, and we've heard them all. "It's too crowded", "trophy animals are rare", "it's not managed good enough", and dozens more. The goal of this site was to help promote the idea of public land hunting, specifically bow hunting, and if you still aren't sure whether or not you should give it a shot, here are my arguments.
A Missouri public land giant taken by Zach Reynolds!
When planning a hunt of any kind, in state or out, this variable is typically on the top of everyone's list. Sure there are those willing to hand over more cash than I earn in a month for the hunt of a lifetime and that's okay.
But for most, hunting on a budget is a must. And what cheaper way to go than to by utilizing land that you have already paid in to?
Now I know what you're thinking, "well my success level will not be as high compared to going on a guided hunt". You could very well be right, but let us be reminded that with any hunt, success is never 100% guaranteed unless you are hunting in the confines of a high fence enclosure.
The difference between the paid hunt and the DIY hunt is that when your paid hunt is over, it's over and that is it. You don't get another chance if you were unsuccessful. When you're on your own, you're free to come and go as you please with the only limitations of time, travel, and season dates.
Hunting public land is an affordable and viable option for all and once you have tags in hand, the rest of the trip can be as cheap or expensive as you want, you're in charge.
There are very few places in this country where public land of some sort is not within a reasonable driving distance away. Some places will have more opportunities than others, especially out west, but the opportunity is there nonetheless.
With literally millions of acres of public land at our disposable, the excuse that there just isn't any public land around to hunt is not truly valid. In many cases, public land is a great opportunity even for those who have access to private land.
This applies to me as my family farm that I grew up hunting and enjoying is an hour and twenty minute drive away where the nearest public land is just 1/2 a mile away!
Another great part of there being so many acres available is that if you're willing to put in the effort, you could literally have the woods to yourself.
Now this is an unrealistic notion if you only plan on hunting 30 yards from the parking lot with easiest access, but walk a mile back in most areas and you probably wouldn't know if you were on public land or private land anyways.
Spirit of Adventure
In my limited hunting experience, I have been lucky enough to harvest animals on both public and private land.
While all successful hunts are special to me, nothing feels better than scouting a new public land, hanging a set, and dragging a trophy class animal out with you. It's truly an incredible feeling when you invest so much in a hunt and it comes together against all odds.
My hunting skills have dramatically improved by forcing myself into unfamiliar situations and figuring out deer that I have never hunted before.
Every season, even in places I've scouted and hunted before, I feel this overwhelming excitement in taking on the new year. More than once I have seen patterns of deer change on a piece of public land from one year to the next so the challenge aspect always keeps me coming back for more.
Trophy Potential and Element of Surprise
Every year I hang a limited amount of trail cameras on public land, and every year I have 2 scenarios occur. The first is having a solid buck will show up just one time and consume my thoughts for the entire season and second, a deer I've never seen before showing up while I'm hunting.
While both of these scenarios can occur anywhere, I'm always aware of how fast things can change on a parcel of public land, largely due to unpredictable pressure.
With the amount of pressure seen throughout a season, bucks will move far and often to avoid the freezer (another reason to go off grid), so in my opinion, you will see a larger variety of deer come and go than you would on a typical private lot.
This excitement is almost addicting and keeps my expectations high all season. Additionally, when I have a nice buck on private land get killed by the neighbor, it completely deflates me because I see it as "my deer".
When on public land I pessimistically expect nothing to survive, even as unrealistic as that sounds. So my first camera card pull of the next summer is almost as sweet to me as the first September morning 20 ft off the ground. And if anyone tells you that there are no good animals on public land, say baloney and pull up our page to prove them wrong.
Incredible Pope and Young, Boone and Crockett, and trophies in the eyes of the beholder are taken every year on public land if you're willing to put in the work to find them.
If nothing else, using our public lands and promoting their use helps keep things that way. The old saying, "if you don't use it, you lose it", is ever more important now as political pressure has put our public lands in danger of being taken away.
Every person who sets out on a public land adventure becomes one more advocate of its importance to us hunters and outdoors enthusiasts alike.
So get out there, buy a license, and start your public land journey today!!
The author with a beautiful Pennsylvania Public Land trophy!
Have any other reasons why public land should be given a change and hunted? Feel free to let us know what you think or what keeps you driven to enjoy our awesome public lands!
Like what you read? Subscribe to our mailing list to never miss a beat!!!
**Some links are amazon associates links, you can read our full affiliate disclosure on our contacts page**