If you’re like me, you spend all year waiting until the temperature cools and leaves begin to drop, itching to get into a tree stand. I’ve been interning for a little over a month and one thought comes to my head daily, “Man! I wish I was lucky enough to have my own Proving Grounds.” I’m sure many others have the same thought when watching GrowingDeer and seeing their success. The good news is that you do have your own Proving Grounds – roughly 640 million acres of it.
Most people do not realize that we are the only country in the world with this unique system of public lands that is available to everyone and most of it is open to hunting. A quick search on your state’s game and fish or natural resources website will yield all of the public lands accessible to you, both state and federal. Most have specific details about each area – maps, regulations, harvest data, etc.
Don’t forget about preparation! Just because you don’t have your own piece of hunting property doesn’t mean you can sit around all year waiting for the season. You don’t have to dedicate your time to planting food plots, putting out trail cameras, hanging tree stands, and all of the other activities that come with having your own property but you still need to use your time wisely! This means scouting, scouting, scouting.
Two of the details I mentioned earlier are the biggest components for scouting public land and you don’t even have to get off your couch. Maps and harvest data for specific locations can give you a great head start on your plan for the fall. Identifying map features such as pinch points and travel corridors for deer can save you time before you scout in the field. Looking at previous year’s harvest data will show you how much pressure will be in the area. Deer dislike pressured areas so if you’re willing to hike further than the next person, you’re one step closer to a public land bruiser.
After learning how our public lands came to be, it makes the thought of harvesting an animal on them that much more appealing. Thanks to people like Teddy Roosevelt who had great foresight to set aside lands for the American people, I’ll be trying my hand at a public land buck this fall.