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First time bow hunting on public land

Discussion in 'Indiana Bowhunting' started by danimal260, Sep 3, 2015.

  1. Just wanted to get a few suggestions and ideas. I've inly been hunting a couple years and they've been on private land. Well, the guys grandkids are 14-15 so j pretty much lost my privileges. It was free so I appreciate him letting me hunt.

    So anyway, I'm assuming it would be wise to take a day to head to some public land and scout. Can I get enough info in a day to maybe ascertain where deer may be traveling heaviest? Any suggestions are appreciated. Last 2 years have been very unlucky for me and I am hoping to harvest this year. Looking at going to Pigeon River and Roush during archery. Thanks in advance.
  2. I have no experience with those areas, but yes, one day is plenty of time if you know what to look for. Do some homework before heading out and study topo maps and aerial photos to look for likely spots. Use your legs to verify what you see and for further study.
    Pablo75 likes this.

  3. Danimal I've been hunting Roush the last two years and have seen some deer there but no luck. Like you I just started hunting again the last two years. I did get my first last season over at salomonie, it's really nice over there. Study up on those maps like AaronS said. Also I'm trying something new this year to try and get away from other hunters. Using the river to my advantage. I bought an inflatable boat, just a little two man. It was only about 40 bucks off of amazon. My thought process is to get to those hard to reach places that no one else will try to go, plus I can get there a lot quiter.
  4. I enjoy scouting public land precisely because I know I will be able to continue to hunt these areas in the future, unlike private land. It is one of the Irrefutable Laws of Hunting that if you do not own the private land you hunt on, it is only a matter of time before you will lose it.

    Roush Lake FWA is over 7,000 acres. I personally cannot "scout" 7,000 acres by walking around for one day, but I can narrow a lot of things down in one day. With any public property, I would start with contacting the biologist or property manager and asking them for suggestions. Then I would print off aerial photos of all areas that I am interested in and drive around, noting food sources (they rotate them). Note areas that you want to explore further on foot, and walk around, noting sign, trails, bedding areas, ponds, dense thickets etc. on your aerial photos. One thing to keep in mind is that areas that look good from the road will attract quite a bit of attention and you will have other hunters hunting there, especially on weekends.

    After you have ID'd a few good spots, continue (low impact) scouting areas throughout the season so that it is a process and not just a one day thing. So you can plan to hunt in one area in the morning, take midday to check out a couple new areas, and then hunt a third spot in the evening. Just be aware in mid-season, I know I am often "scouting" in someone else's hunting area, so I take pains to minimize my scent and avoid any area with a treestand, etc. Examining the sign-in sheets will alert you to how many hunters are hunting in what zones during bow season. This can help you find areas that are not as crowded.
  5. I do the same thing straightshooter. Been hunting at Roush for the past two years. A lot of scouting I've done after a morning sit. I'll usually just pull up the maps on my phone and look really close at different sections. I've probably only checked out about a third of the place. Danimal I've been over there quite a bit about the last month. If you got a stand I'd be more than willing to help you set it up. Me and my son built a ground blind a few weeks back, so that's always an option too. By the way did you sign up for the contest? Be cool to be on the same team again. Wonder if we could talk firelt into letting us form an all public land team. Just for the challenge of it. Message me if you want any help or if you want to do some scouting.
  6. The first year hunting public land will be somewhat bizarre, trying to figure out where and how the deer are moving. Don't be afraid to move your stand during early bow if needed.
    Don't be fooled by deer tracks specially on public land, their full of miss-leading information, and all that tells you is a deer been through there, and the deer/deer's could of been spooked by something or someone.
    I like to look for lots of scats, fresh scats in a area, this tells me deer are hanging out in this certain area, and that it's very possible that I'm close to a bedding area or food source.
  7. I've never actually hunted those areas, but as these guys are pointing out, do your homework. You can learn at least 50% of it before you leave your house. Study up on the maps, topos, find lakes or creeks(if there are any), valleys and hilltops. Find what would look to be the biggest travel corridor. Another thing, hit up people on here and other forums for any info they are willing to give up as to where good areas are there so before you go you can know where you want to start in at and you can have you a gameplan before you get there. It makes it a lot easier than showing up and walking until you think you have a sign of some deer. Good luck to you this season!

  8. I would look at property maps and Google earth. You can see a lot without even going out. I then narrow myself to 3 or for area's and then I go walk those areas. Look for sheds, scrapes, tracks, and rubs. Then when I decide on an area my stand goes up and hopefully no one steals my stand.
  9. Lots of great information in these answers. I am new to Indiana and have been trying to do a lot of public land scouting. I have found that the DNR's newer "Where to Hunt in Indiana" map provides a lot of good information. I paid closer attention to the acreage (in order to put some distance between me and fellow public land hunters), also the terrain. On the DNR map you can toggle between arial, road, and even topography maps. I found it helpful to be able to see road access, elevation, and possible bedding/food sources all from one site instead of having to switch between web pages. Best of luck this season!
  10. I live in southern indiana (evansville) and am new to this site. My wife and I both bowhunt on public land. unfortunately we have had more stands stolen than deer we have killed. I know all public land gets hit hard bit does anyone have anywhere that might get a little bit less pressure. Hoveys FWA is a joke and managed horribly. Good deer there but since they close half the property when gun season starts it limits late season bow hunting. Any help would be appreciated.
  11. seabee

    seabee Staff Member Super Mod Mod

    They need to set aside a archery/crossbow only section of every public property in the state. Anyone who has hunted the bow only property at JP in the northern part of the state can agree that you can have a quality hunt on public grounds. Almost all public land is heavily over harvested.
  12. I don't disagree with you there at all. I am all for public land hunting. Just seems to me and my wife that gun hunters rule everything. Plus down here in southern Indiana we have been forgotten. All of our areas are hunted to death and then they wonder why people complain.Hovey FWA, for instance will shut everything down for duck hunting even though there is 2.5 months left of bow season. Doesn't make sense to me. We are going to try and find a lease next year. By the time we get on a good buck we can no longer hunt the property at Hovey because it closes for gun season. Frustrated!!!
  13. Just bored and read this post. I've seen several guys talking about picking a good spot based on scouting to hang "A" stand. Wrong answer for me. If you want to hunt public land successfully you find a bunch of areas. Mobile hunt and don't stop moving until you are confident your in the deers wheel house. That's a lot of land and deer will be on it somewhere don't be afraid to bounce Around...a lot. And you will figure out hot spots a lot quicker. Just my opinion.
  14. I have hunted Roush for about 5 years on and off. Couple of tips. Don't stick to one area. There are lots of great areas. Patterns are going to change as the season comes. Hunting pressure, crops, etc. By mid season, it goes nocturnal big time. Your best bet is early season. There are areas that are real nice and thick. Be careful of putting stands near the the river. When heavy rain hits, that area floods. We found some real nice sections. I believe Roush has like 26 sections. Some sections have less human traffic than others. If it is hard to get into, there will be less people and more deer. It is beautiful land, so is Pigeon River. We were scouting Pigeon river until we secured a lease. We had trail cameras out on both Pigeon and Roush and caught just as many hunters on screen as we did deer. I would look at Google maps and maybe some topo maps. Don't hunt the sign, hunt the terrain. Go pick some sections now and glass the fields toward the evening. Call the DNR agent for the area and talk with them. Certain sections have allocated bird hunting. Stay clear of those, because you will want to go hunt there and it will be closed to all hunters except paid bird hunters. We liked sections 7 and 14. Good areas are super thick and the deer can be right next to you and you not see them. Good luck