View Full Version : Would like to hunt... but no land
I need some advice and some wisdom about hunting. More specifically, how to find good land to hunt. My dad always wanted to take me hunting more when I was a kid. I had only been hunting 3 or 4 times in my entire life, 3 dove 1 pheasant trip, and every single experience was an absolute bust. We didn't see a single bird any of the times that we went. Not owning alot of land, my dad relegated us to hunting the local public lands. They were pretty much overcrowded, hunted out, and the animals were so pressured that sparrows didn't even live in those areas. This is probably the reason I never really got into the whole hunting thing.
I joined the Marine Corps at 18, so any further father/son hunting excursions were cut short by me going on active duty for 5 years. Well now my enlistment is up, and I will be moving back home to IL next Friday. I would really like to make up some of that father/son bonding time that I've missed by doing some upland bird and deer hunting with my dad. However, the same problem plagues us. No land.
For those of you that don't own mass acreage, or have a close relative that do, how do you find land to hunt?
I think the options depend on where you want to hunt. Just some ideas. In my state (GA), we have public land - WMAs (Wildlife Management Areas). Yes, they are overcrowded on opening day and right around opening day, but it dies off.
We also have a local outdoors forum where you can find arrangements where you pay money for basically an arrangement that allows you to hunt on private land where it's limited to a certain number of people...which varies depending upon the owner. You can also sometimes find farmers, etc who want coyote hunters or feral hog hunters (less common today then years ago) to come and eliminate some problems on their land.
Take a few day get away up to Price Co WI, get a plat book on the way. Maybe stay in Phillips, WI. There is plenty of land you can walk for grouse & woodcock mostly. No you won't see one behind every bush but it's a casual type of hunt, light talking allowed.
I hunt deer in IL, it's tough to line up a spot. I go on a buddies lease.
How crowded to public lands tend to get? Like, is it the kind of thing where you keep bumping into people in the woods? I'm going for deer in WI this November on public lands, and I wonder just how bad it will be.
In Texas I went dove hunting on public lands north of Denton. It was very crowded because there is so little public lands. Here in AZ where there are a lot of national forest, BLM and state land, it's not very crowded for the most part.
Sometimes you have to make your own fun. In a dry wash near my home on state land, where I go target shooting, I like to shoot grasshoppers with my 22LR rifle.
Deer hunting on opening weekend in WI can be a little busy, still safe & doable though. The wolves have knocked the numbers down up North, especially away from towns. Call the Price county tourism office, they will send a free 'hunters' map'. Just a little something to get your bearings. A current Plat book is the official way to go. I'd go north of Tomahawk, WI to try to avoid crowds. Like always observe other hunters & the lay of the land & develop a plan to allow their movements to work in your favor. Get away from the 'park like' woods, deer like thick cover.
The muzzle-loading season is much less crowded.
You could go mid-week, after the opening weekend. Another option is the U.P. of MI. I can go to Baraga,Houghton, & Marquette counties in the U.P. & not see another hunter on opening day. It's the 'big woods hunt' though, & deer numbers can be low. There is plenty of public access land, State, Federal, paper co, & CFR lands.
I may try a few days in the U.P. if I can swing it. My main hunt will be in IL of all places though. My buddy just saw a wallhanger in the northern U.P., so they are out there.
I am going to suggest you find a guided hunt for bird.
In Ohio it was reasonable cost. They released birds early in the week and you hunted late in the week. They made sure you got what you paid for or got to come back. I want to say it was pheasant, but it might have been grouse. They would clean the bird and you got to take them home and cook them. I never did it, but it was on my wish list.
After you have done this, maybe you will find you like hunting, maybe you and your dad will decided you would rather watch football.
As for deer, I don't have a good suggestion. It is all about finding a friend or a friend of a friend that has land. In some parts of the country hunting leases are the thing to get. I am too cheap to buy a hunting lease again.
Or you can TRY the method that has been used for many, many generations....marry into it.
I grew up hunting on public land in Northern Minnesota.
We hunted in an area my Grandfather picked in the 1940's.
It is some state forest right on the edge of the national forest. About a 4 1/2 hour drive from where we lived. To this day only a couple other groups hunt anywhere near us.
I now live in VA near Washington DC, the public hunting land around here is very crowded during gun season on the weekend, but archery and muzzle loader are not very crowded, neither is hunting in the middle of the week.
So my suggestions:
1. Take up archery and muzzle loader hunting.
2. Look for some public land several hours away from populations centers.
3. Take time off of work and hunt in the middle of the week.
public land works.... just hunt the edges to private land
The way I see it there are two problems.
1. Finding property that holds some game.
2. Securing access to that land.
If you aren't currently a hunter you may not recognize good land. Buy a good map, ask around. Talk to the state game biologist.
Get out and do some scouting on foot. Look for animals, tracks, what they are eating, etc. You may have to start on public land.
Once you can define "good land" look around. 20 - 100 acre farms are usually good spots, especially if no one is hunting them. The hunt clubs usually pass up the smaller farms.
Once you find a farm or two that no one hunts, ask youself, "Why?"
Does the farmer hate people, had a bad experience with hunters leaving litter, driving on his grass, leaving gates open, shooting his windmill and cows, etc.
He may be saving it for a relative who seldom or never hunts it.
Ask around and try to find out before approaching the owner.
Go to the local courthouse and look up his property taxes for the year.
Well before season, show up at the farm during business hours not dinnertime. Dress nice. State your business.
Promise to respect the property, no fires, no guests, no litter, no shooting near cattle or the house and promise to stay away from the holler with the still in it.
Explain you are willing to pay a reasonable trespass fee. And a good place to start might just be the exact amount he pays each year for property taxes. I don't know about IL but here in VA its not all that bad for permission to hunt rear-round.
Now that is a good business deal to a farmer trying to make ends meet.
If you are a good friend to the farmer he may talk to some of his farmer buddies and it has been my experience that most will let you hunt for nothing since your friend, the farmer, says you are an alright guy.
Don't rule out public land. Around here there is plenty. The game seems to be a lot more skittish. But get a good map and find places where you can hike at least 1 mile from all roads and houses. I find lots of game there and no hunters.
Think ahead. When I bought my retirement home I made sure it was in a good game location and had a few acres.
I also bought 57 acres in another county with more liberal game bags. But it turns out the hunting here at the house is so good it is not necessary to load the jeep unless I want to see some new country.
Trail cam in the yard under the apple tree
I live in CT and there are different state forests open to hunting all over the state. Some are very crowded and some are not. I used to have the same problem bumping into people and then I got a state map of all the state forests and the boundries. I found one forest close to my house that was just full of deer but also the main entrance to this place was full of people too on opening day. You walk in the trail and there were literally guys in tree stands all over the place as you were walking in. Just a nightmare. I found that just a mile down the road was another place to park on the opposite side of the road and it appears nobody really knew about this spot. I started scouting it until I found where the deer run and have been going in there for years by myself now getting a deer every year. Get a map and start scouting areas. The trick I found is to go in at the non public entrances and find your own area. I found the trick was to enter some place else where you can park on the side of the road. So many people think they have to park in the main entrance and go in that way.
Only thing I could add is not to discount small parcels or private land. Dunno what the options are in your state but in NoVA I've had WAY more luck hunting people's backyards than my buddy's place in Berryville who has 27 acres. Sounds crazy but I got a 10 point buck smack in the middle of suburbia on 1/3 acre of "land."
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