Mature Buck Strategies

Public Land Gun Season Opener

public land gun opener

Are you hunting a public land gun season opener somewhere this year? Although this tactic works great on private land as well, Id like to teach you how to take advantage of a public land deer drive! You dont drive deer? Well, neither do I. And in many public land locations, most hunters dont drive eitherat least knowingly. Here is a list of 5 public land gun season openers that you can take advantage of, and after you read through several of these I will look forward to telling you how to actually apply it to your hunting routine.

1. Pre-season scouting:

In the 2 weeks prior to a public land gun season opener you can bet your favorite deer rifle that every dead end, back road, turn around site will be completely trampled with hunters. Keep in mind that mature bucks have a memory of several weeks concerning human intrusions so whether its the 4th week of October or the day before the season it definitely serves to repel mature bucks from the area. If there is enough space for an older buck to go find a secluded spot to hide you can count on him traveling a 1/4 mile or more to relocate his activities.

2. Bait pile refills:

Imagine hunters finding a good spot at the end of a 2-track during the first couple weeks of November while repelling mature bucks for several weeks at the same time, out of the general area. Then, many of these same hunters repeat the process every day or two to add feed to the bait pile. Knowing where hunter bait piles are at in your area can often be the #1 method to determining exactly what areas that mature bucks will be driven from. Its not the food that is the problem, or even the attraction TO the food that leads to success, but instead the consistent deer drive that takes place every single time a pile is replenished.

3. Remote cabin start-ups:

I know, these are not all the conventional deer drives of the past, but some are incredibly effective at driving deer for several weeks or more. I have a simple formula for using this to my success. Within areas of plenty of room to roamtypically where seasonal roads are a couple of miles or more apart, and/or where harsh walking conditions exist, safe zones for the local mature buck herd can be found. In the UP where I hunt and even in the rolling hardwoods of northern PA I have found that it typically takes a good 1/2 mile distance from most deer drives to begin to have enough distance to produce a safe zone. Simply draw a 1/2 mile line towards the center of a possible safe zone from every suspected bait pile, dead end road, cabin, deer drive, fishing hole, or any other human intrusion and what is leftover in the middle is what you are left with to hunt. If there is no acreage left to huntmove to another spot. If there is no chunk of land within the area large enoughchange counties, or even regions of the state. I have a hard time enjoying the hunt without a little elbow room on public land, but due to todays common hunting practices Ive found that elbow room is fairly easy to find going all the way back to hunting the suburban setting of Southern MI, Pontiac State Recreation area land in the late 80s.


Once you find your little safe zone that mature bucks can be driven tohunt the funnels, benches, and other natural deer movement features, while using large blocks of boring deer terrain as your access and downwind capturing area for stand locations. When scouting, take a hard, backdoor, uncommon low-deer population entrance to the area and avoid leaving any people sign for other hunters to follow. Alsoold and historic deer sign is better than current season only deer sign because you are looking for mature buck movements that are traditional. This is why I like a quick and defined scouting trip just prior to the season and although historical old sign is better than this years single occurrence.fresh mature buck sign on top of historical old sign is an incredible find!

In most of these areas I find my best hunting is in the first week or 10 days of the season, as eventually bucks slowly migrate with the rest of the herd back towards the deer drive areas that traditionally feature a decent food supply, and ever dwindling hunter activity.

Are you having a hard time patterning mature bucks for a public land gun season opener in your neck of the woods? If so, try patterning hunter movements first and their effect on the the local deer population. I personally have found that if you can pattern hunters...the locations to pattern a mature buck become much more defined, and you can experience a significantly higher percentage of success while letting other hunters drive deer right into your lap.


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