This article is intended to assist anyone in the lower 48 States of America on utilizing the over 192 Million acres of public hunting land in this great country of ours! There are approximately 12.5 million registered hunters in America and that only accounts for about 8% of the overall population ………“translation” (a lot of public land to hunt on)!
Obviously not all public land lends itself specifically for deer hunting but a vast majority of it does. That stated the American Hunter has choices! I have broken this article into a few headings below in an effort to perform a step-by-step overview of how I have managed to enjoy the great outdoors specifically in the Great State of Texas and more precise Sabine National Forest (160,656 acres of Piney Woods located in East Texas.
Locate Public Land
I suppose the very first thing a hunter should do is locate the closest public hunting land you have access to. I would suggest just using Google / Google maps to locate the nearest National Forest (that allows hunting) to your place of residence.
There maybe even an “app” out there that has all the information you might need….here in Texas the TPWD (Texas Parks & Wildlife Department) has an app that I download and refresh every year so that I know all the counties in the State that allow hunting and access to hunting.
They also have National Forest data so that you are up to speed on the latest rules and regulations for hunting / fishing / camping and just enjoying nature.
Know Your Hunting Rights / Regulations & Requirements
This is probably the most important part of this article as you must know what your:
- Rights – your constitutional rights as it relates to hunting
- Regulations – laws you must abide by to hunt
- Requirements – what is required of you to be able hunt in a safe and proper manner
This data should be able to be obtained via the internet by simply typing in the area of public land you intend to hunt on. In Texas using the TPWD app (mentioned above) you can easily research specific data like
- Hunting Regulations
- Hunting Season Dates by Animal and or County
And many other useful items like what a specific county will allow you to harvest for Sabine County in 2019 we were allowed to harvest 1ea. mature buck and 1ea. spike every county is different so do your homework and be knowledgeable.
I would also suggest speaking with someone that has hunted the area you are considering hunting in (if you have access to an individual with that historical knowledge) I believe this will give you some added “insight” that you may not gleam from the research or websites you utilize in your fact gathering exercise.
Planning & Scouting
Once you have decided on where you plan to hunt next season I suggest if your are able to make several trips or at least one trip to the area(s) prior to hunting season so that you have a firsthand account of what the terrain looks like and how you would get there (Truck / SUV / ATV or other means).
You could also use Google Maps to see the terrain and cover a large portion of viewing the landscape before narrowing your choices down to a select few areas you want to hunt. Heck you can even drop-point some locations on the map feature and save them down so that when you actually do arrive at your public hunting location you can better prepare your ability to scout the ares you have selected.
If at all possible I would highly suggest that you actually “walk” the ares you intend to hunt …there is nothing better that seeing the land for yourself …the tress / visible land marks / creeks / open areas etc. just so there are no major surprises when you actually take tat first step into the field to hunt!
I try to make a mental note of what I am seeing and sometimes log it down on my cell phone using map apps (see below) this form of “scouting” prior to hunting will at least help you out initially until you can log some serious hours in the field while you are hunting gaining more topographical knowledge of the respective area(s) you plan on hunting in.
Hunting Technology 2020
I will say this at age 57 I have used memory / USGS Maps / handwritten notes and the dirt on the ground with a stick to show where I have been and want to go while hunting in the field however with technology advancing as it does there are several tools that can aid the hunter prior to and while in the field.
I first started using Google Maps about 3 years ago mainly to log topographical features while stalking deer and marking locations where I have seen deer while hunting as well as harvesting deer on my hunts.
This has saved me time and allowed me to navigate under cover of darkness for early morning hunts and late evening hunts when I am too stubborn to leave my location until dark! Plus it helps me gain deer pattern knowledge in certain tracts of public hunting land that I might not be as familiar with.
Google Maps has been adequate until last year when I discovered BASEMAP this app has all the features a hunter could want or in my case actual use ….. I would suggest that you try different electronic maps on your cell phone to find the one that suits you best and has the features you want.
In closing I would say that even though there have been many years that I have not been fortunate enough to harvest a deer …it was the experience of nature that has made me come back year, after year, after year.
God created this wonderful world for man to enjoy so get out there and enjoy your God given right to Nature and I hope this article was helpful to you?