John's Journal...

How to Find Deer Land to Hunt

Think about Power

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Some years ago I almost dropped the telephone receiver when I heard the words, "The landowner has sold the land, and our hunting lease has been cancelled." I'd called the secretary of our hunting club to let him know that I planned to go to our hunting camp three weeks before deer season started to check several of my stand sites and get ready for the opening weekend of bow season. I wanted to scout the areas where I'd taken bucks before, cut shooting lanes and make sure that the deer fed on the same nut trees they had in the past. I enjoy scouting for deer because I consider it the true essence of the sport of hunting. Scouting means learning where the deer feed and bed and which trails they travel on and then predicting where a deer may appear. When you hunt, you actually climb into your tree stand and wait on the shot. But this year instead of scouting for a place to put my tree stand, I had to scout for new land to hunt.

Power companies in many states have large land holdings along major reservoirs and lakes that they've helped to create to generate power. Oftentimes by checking with the land office of the power company, you'll discover plenty of public lands or land you can hunt with a permit. Timber companies, cClick to enlargeoal companies and large industrial companies too may have large land holdings that you can lease or hunt by purchasing a permit.

Consider Wildlife Refuges:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has thousands of acres in over 400-wildlife refuges under federal protection. To learn the location of wildlife refuges you can hunt as well as get free maps, which will help you determine the best places nearest your home consult the website

Don't Forget the U.S. Forest Service:
The U.S. Forest Service has millions of acres open to the hunter. To receive maps of lands located in your state under jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service and open to the public for huntingClick to enlarge, visit the website of recreational opportunities on federal lands at
and find direct links to federal lands across the nation that permit public hunting. There you'll find further information, including phone numbers.

Check Out State Lands:
Almost every state owns some hunting lands. Although these lands usually receive plenty of hunting pressure during the season, they still can provide good hunting for you when you don't have land to hunt. But before you hunt public lands, you must understand several principles for finding deer on public-hunting lands.
* Move as far as you can from public-access areas to see more game. Most public-land hunters generally will stay within 1/4- to 1/2-mile of their vehicles or a road. If you travel one or two miles away from an access point, you drastically increase your odds for seeing deer.
* Go into the woods two to three hours before daylight to reach your hunting area. Public-land hunters will wait until theyClick to enlarge can see into the woods before they go to their hunt sites.
* Stay on your stand, or continue to hunt until the last minute of legal shooting time. When hunting deep in the woods, you may have to travel by night to get back to your vehicle. You need to know how to use a compass and a map as well as a hand-held GPS receiver when you hunt public lands.
* Don't tell anyone where you hunt on public lands. If you bag a buck and tell someone, then the next time you return to your hunting site you may find a crowd of other hunters there.
* Don't leave any signs in the woods to indicate where you've hunted. Leave your flagging tape, Bright Eyes, other reflectors and stand markers at home. If a less-skilled hunter locates your hunt site, he will hunt it for you.

You can learn more about your state's public lands on your state's website, which will give you addresses to write for maps and often biologists' names and phone number to contact. You can reach game and fish divisions or departments of conservation by going to

Tomorrow: Search for Maps


Check back each day this week for more about "How to Find Deer Land to Hunt"

Day 1: Determine Where to Look First
Day 2: Decide Who Knows the Most Land and the Most People
Day 3: Check with the Army
Day 4: Think about Power
Day 5: Search for Maps



Entry 389, Day 4