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Thread: Public vs. Private

  1. #1
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    Public vs. Private

    I'm wondering what everyone's thoughts are on the pros and cons of hunting public and private land. My buddy and I have come from New Hampshire the last two years to hunt the rut and so far all we have hunted is public land. In 2011 we hunted 6 days in Muskingum county and I shot a button buck while my buddy got skunked. Our combined deer sightings on stand were around 12 with my buddy seeing one decent buck. This year we hunted 7 days (planned on 8 but got rained out 1 day) in Coshocton and Muskingum counties. I got skunked but my buddy got a doe and a decent buck. Our deer sightings on stand were down from last year to less than 10. My buddy did have a "magic 24 hours" where he saw 3 nice bucks and a couple of does but if you take that out of the equation our deer sightings on stand drop below 5. That's a lot of deerless sits. Now, for us to take 3 deer in 2 hunts on public land, with one being a decent buck would have to be considered a success. However the lack of deer sightings on stand has been surprising. We are realistic and didn't expect to see herds of deer every day but I really thought we at least see a few deer every day. The lack of doe sightings has been surprising as well. I think we've only seen 3 does in two years. Any idea why? The other obvious problem with public land is the other hunters. This year I saw more hunters on stand than I did deer. Most that saw me turned and left but I did have one guy set up 75 yards behind me. To say the least that ticked me off. One thing we've learned this year is that we need to go further in to the woods. Most hunters won't go more than 200 yards from their truck. My question for everyone is, are we missing the boat not hunting on private land? Both of us love the challenge of a do-it-yourself hunt so we really don't want to use an outfitter. Also the lower cost of a DIY hunt on public land allows us to double our hunting days when compared to a guided hunt. We are talking about a lease but we're 14 hours from the area we hunt so how much use are we really going to get from a lease. Is private land that much better that it makes sense to lease land that we're only going to use a couple of weeks a year? Our final thought was should we hunt a different area of the state? The counties we hunt are two of the most popular in the state. It's fun to be in an area like that during hunting season because everyone is there for the same thing. It's a great atmosphere but I can't help but wonder if we'd see more deer in an area that is not so popular. We checked out public land in Ashtabula and Trumbull counties on the way home and it looked decent.

    Sorry for the long post but I'll be interested to hear your opinions. To be clear, I'm not asking for any specific areas or strategies. I can't stand when people ask questions like that. I'd just like to know if we're crazy for driving 14 hours to hunt only public land.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Seeker Bp's Avatar
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    Personally, I hunt both private and public...Of course my private land holds more numbers of deer than most of the public land we hunt, but alot has to do with no traffic on private to a multitude of traffic on public. And I too have seen an increase of bowhunters in the past couple years in the public areas. Sounds to me that you have done pretty good for yourselves by getting the deer that you have out of public area, and yes most hunters can still see there truck from there spot.. Getting deeper is the key...I think that most stay closer because they want an easier drag if they do bag. About the only other options are to start knocking on doors and try and find that perfect piece of private that the landowner wants you to hunt. In this day and age, its getting tougher to find. Good luck this season.....
    Former (TEAM TREESTALKEN BUCKNUTS) 2009/2010 Season (TEAM HORN PORN) 2011/2012 Season (TEAM GUTPILE) 2012/2013 Season (2012/2013 Champions)

  3. #3
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    My biggest I have ever killed(11 point) was on public land with my bow. You never know!
    Is there anything better than being in the woods?!

  4. #4
    Senior Member radicalxl's Avatar
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    There is a reason out of state hunters use outfitters, they put you on deer. I have had the good fortune of living among them my whole life, and never gave anybody any money to hunt either. Most of the real good years I have had came because I spent more time scouting and setting up blinds than I did hunting. This is where you guys are at a disadvantage. I just can't imagine having to go into a place basicly blind and expect much at all. But as an old saying goes, good things take a while to develope, great things happen quickly. I agree with Seeker you guys have had alot more sucess than most have had in your situation. Sounds like if you seriously want to hunt Ohio, knock on the doors as Seeker has said, lease as you have said, or buy. At least if you buy and don't use it much now, you may in the future and you have something of value to show for it. With any of these options still comes the fact of having to scout and learning the lay of the land. Do what you can do throughout the year to get to know the area your hunting. I know if I had ever been forced to hunt in an unfamiliar area, thats what I would do. To a guy who has never had to do that, it is pretty much a no-brainer. Good luck to ya.
    I have strong opinions about God, Guns, Guitars and Harley Davidsons, I can remain open minded about everything else.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by whodey1966 View Post
    My biggest I have ever killed(11 point) was on public land with my bow. You never know!
    In my opinion that's a trophy no matter what it scored. My buddy's buck this year was probably around 110 inches but combine that with the fact it's a bow kill on public land that makes it a trophy buck. Eye of the beholder I guess.

    Seeker and radicalxl, thanks for posting. I like hearing the opinions of experienced hunters who live and hunt right in the thick of it.

  6. #6
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    My dad and I did a DIY in Ohio this year, granted it's only a four hour drive from where we are in Pa but we scouted it once in August then discarded the area we scouted and he decided to go back in early october and he checked out an area and found me a tree and in two weekends we were there fri- 1/2 day sunday we each had an opporunity at +125" bucks one day I saw over 12 deer, but I saw deer every day and had turkeys in bow range 3 times haha

    what we did was use topos mixed with areal photos mixed with Bing Maps, their 3d map is pretty impressive, it's literally like you're flying over the area. The key is to walk far and sit ALL day, I'd say a majority of the deer were between 10:30 and 3:30.

    Private land can be awfully expensive if there are only two of you, for 100 acres with crops on it is gonna be getting up there with the costs of an outfitter. I mean if you don't mind paying the price and can get down a couple times to scout, private land is always good, low hunting pressure and if it's against state lands it's a buck's safe haven from all the hunters on state land.

  7. #7
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    and to add we were in muskingum county also, there were always cars parked in our lots but never ran into anyone.

  8. #8
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    i would say get away from the 2 cty's you hunted in, if you headed alittle more south & west, try going alittle earlier near oct. 30....

  9. #9
    Senior member blackbeard's Avatar
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    Radical pretty much covered it. Some public land is going to be less crowded but its all going to be tougher hunting than private. Land access is getting harder and harder to obtain, but being a local helps and being an out-of-stater is a disadvantage. I admire you out-of-staters though that hunt public and do it yourselves rather than going to an outfitter for the easy way out. Outfitters and land leasing are not good for Ohio's deer hunting......but I don't want to get that argument started, we've all voiced our opinions on that one before. Good luck and keep up the hard work.
    "...the deepest, most permanent features of all great moments outside are the names, faces, descriptions, and emotions. The antlers on the wall...well, they're just bones affixed to boards. But what they represent, however, is flesh and blood - fathers and sons, friends spending time with friends and the the seasons of life when the people we love were still with us. These old antlers on the wall...well, take a seat, my friend, and I'll tell you all about them." -Rev. Zeke Pipher


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MICH View Post
    i would say get away from the 2 cty's you hunted in, if you headed alittle more south & west, try going alittle earlier near oct. 30....
    In 2011 we hunted the week of Oct. 30rd. We didn't see much rut action going on until the end of our hunt. We still saw quite a few hunters but not quite as many as we saw this year when we hunted the first two weeks of November. I think to really avoid the hunters on public land you'd have to hunt early or late season and that's not as fun. We are willing to make the 14 hour drive to see the rut action you have in Ohio. We don't have that at home.

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