The following 4 Steps provide a basic but effective approach to locating and narrowing down public land whitetail hunting opportunities around you. Results will vary depending on how close you live to public land whitetail hunting opportunities, but these methods and resources discussed below as well as in episode 89 of the Whiskey & Whitetails podcast can help anyone looking to find a fresh public land hunting spot. These high level tips can can be followed by anyone and have been tried and tested by us at Whiskey & Whitetails more times than we can count.
Here are 4 Tips for Selecting a Public Land Whitetail Hunting Location:
1. Search Online for “Public Hunting Land Near Me”
This simple search will produce listings from Google Maps of local public land “locations” as well as links to local Fish & Game organizations that can help point you in the right direction if you need help. These are good resources to have anyways, as the state regulatory organizations for fish and game often have the most up to date information on regulations, park/land closings, etc.
Of course, you can also use a Map service like OnX Hunt or one of the other few that are pretty popular. They have maps and map overlays for public lands, land ownership, etc. to help with locating potential public hunting access points or permissions to recover animals, for example.
2. Decide on a Public Land Location
Determine the criteria that need to be met for you to hunt a certain piece of public land. If you’re going to camp a couple days or stay at a nearby hotel then maybe distance to your home isn’t an issue, but perhaps you’d like to be fairly close to home and the local processor you really like. Consider access to camp grounds if needed, closest processor if necessary for you. Also consider how close a town or store is if you need something and even cell service for some can be a deal breaker. Whatever criteria you need to determine if a location is even an option for you, make that choice or narrow it down.
3. Detailed e-Scouting to Narrow Down a Public Land Location
This is where you will determine your location. You’re going to use detailed maps online or through paid services like OnX Hunt to scout hunting locations.
The terrain features and natural resources that you’re looking for is really a discussion for a dedicated podcast episode. But at a high level, you want to look for the food sources that whitetails should be targeting at that time of year, water sources, rut activity and terrain features that are favorable to deer traffic.
4. Get Boots on The Ground First If Possible
This last step is pretty flexible but definitely encouraged. I’ve gone to a hunting spot the day after dropping a pin on a map an walking in the dark to find a suitable tree for a climber. I’ve also scouted a spot weeks in advance. Regardless, if you have the time, you should try to get some in person perspective, even if just to drive the roads/trails to ensure your choses means of access are in good shape. If the season permits and you can walk through the woods, find an exact location, down to a tree choice for a stand or saddle is even better.
Try these steps out if you're unsure how and where to start when it comes to finding an ideal public land whitetail hunting location. If you have luck using these tips, be sure to let us know over on our social media accounts!