I have been hunting public land almost exclusively for over 20 years. These days most of my hunting is done by bow, but I still like to make an occasional rifle hunt when I get the opportunity. I have become much more selective now that we have gone to the three-buck, three-doe system. I do not consider myself a trophy hunter, but at this point in my life and hunting career I really don't want to take a small buck, for sure not with my last buck tag.

In the past few years I have seen so many 8-point or better bucks, and been fortunate enough to take a few, so my strategy has been to stock the freezer with does (if I get the chance) and to wait on a nice buck. I would rather eat one of my tags at the end of the season than to fill it with a spike and then see a monster buck without a buck tag left to take him. But that is just me. When I was 24, I didn't think that way! haha!

I have been successful in hunting deer on public land for one main reason.

Is it because of my vast knowledge of whitetails? Not really.

Is it because of my great marksmanship? No, just check out my reports to see how many times I have missed! haha!

Is it because of the great areas I hunt? Well they are good places in my opinion---but they are PUBLIC land, remember?

No I believe that I am successful because of the sheer amount of effort I put into the sport of hunting deer. I strategize every hunt in advance; I watch the weather and the tides ceaselessly; and I am out in the field at every chance I get, be it scouting or actually hunting. That I believe is the most important factor.

When you hunt public land, it is first come, first served, and if you choose the most obvious spots you are going to wind up being very disappointed. Opening day comes around and even if no one is directly in the spot you selected, they may be so close that neither of you are going to be successful due to the human scent, noise, etc. in the area. They may also enter and leave the area by walking right over "your" shooting lanes. So strategy really is important, when it comes to deciding on where you want to hunt.

But if you really want to maximize your chances on public land, there are two words that will do it for you: JUST HUNT!!! Get out there often and put in the time; you will be rewarded with an increase in your knowledge of the area, substantially more deer sightings, opportunities to pattern those deer and, ultimately, you will begin bringing home more deer.

That buck you see in October, might elude you the first or second time you see him. But if you are persistent enough and stay after him, you may be able to pattern him and ambush him in November.  Strategy is one of the most enjoyable parts of the hunt to me personally. But again you can't pattern that buck if you are not out in the field – frequently.

Well, what are you waiting for? The season has begun. Time is ticking.

 Good luck and be safe!