Public Hunting - by Bruce Wilds

Submitted By Admin Dec .27.2018

Hurricane Florence is only three days away from crushing the Carolinas and Virginia. My home is in the path of this monster storm. However, aside from preparation for a major hurricane, I received news the other day that I drew a coveted public land tag for one of the best big buck counties in the state of Virginia. It’s time to start making preparations for an epic public land hunt as well!

When people hear “public land” they often cringe and think that hunting it would be useless, due to hunting pressure, careless hunters, etc. In some instances, this is very true. However, there are other types of public land hunts that can often be better than private lands. An example of this, is the hunt that I drew. It is a quota hunt, that limits the days and numbers of people that can hunt it. It is not just open to anyone that wants to hunt there. I have been putting in for this hunt for over fifteen years and finally got drawn last week, for the first time ever. To say that I am excited is an understatement, as Surry county Virginia is home to some giant bucks.

In many cases, public land means just that. It is open to the public and it gets hit hard by many people all season long. Even with the heavy pressure, public lands can still produce great deer. Hunters just need to do their homework and look at topographic maps and aerial maps to see the least accessible areas and those areas off of the beaten path. Develop access plans and plan to sit all day long. By using some elbow grease, blood, sweat, and tears, hunters can be successful on public land.

Other options, such as the quota hunt that I drew, is a much better alternative for having success on public land. With limited amounts of people and limited hunt dates, it keeps the deer on normal patterns. Sure, some of the deer will catch on and realize that they are being hunted. However, take the same approach. Find the areas that are least accessible to people. The areas that are the furthest away, containing the nastiest habitat are where hunters need to concentrate their efforts.

Every state has public land options for hunters to take advantage of. Like Virginia, many states have limited quota hunts that minimizes access to public properties. These type of hunts offer a much better chance of success than say, hunting on a national forest that is open to everyone. Limited hunts increase the odds tremendously and oftentimes are in a highly prized area of the state, to offer the chance at a true trophy animal. Most of these quota hunts have an application process, a minimal fee to apply and have a deadline for application. Be sure to take note of these dates, so that you don’t miss the opportunity.

So, as I prepare for the devastating impact of Hurricane Florence, I also get to start preparing for a coveted hunt here in my home state of Virginia, at the end of October. For those of you skeptical of public land hunts, research options for your state or surrounding states. You just may be surprised at what opportunities are available to you. A public land hunt may just be one of the greatest opportunities for you to bag that trophy buck.

Good luck this fall!

Bruce Wilds

Hunters Specialties Field Staff