Hunting Public Land? Get Off The Road

Rich A. from Pennsylvania writes to ask about deer movements. “I must rely on State Game Lands to do my bowhunting. I scout before most others and find a good buck, pattern him, only to have him disappear as soon as other hunters hit the woods. Is it possible that the buck is still in the area, but gone nocturnal or has he moved to private land to avoid the hunters? What can I do?”

Dr. Dave Samuel

Without knowing all the details of where you hunt, I have some thoughts and suggestions. First, studies show that most Pennsylvania hunters on State Game Lands (public land) don’t hunt all that far from roads. So, get into the thickest cover on the steepest, nastiest terrain you can find, and do so a mile or more from a road. Do your scouting and hunting there. It’s hard work, but it will pay off.

Secondly, I’m not sure the lack of buck sightings is a result of hunters, though I’m sure that is part of your problem on state lands. We know that some older bucks leave their home ranges in September and October and stay away at least a year, and some never return. Even so, I’d get away from the hunters by moving to the part of state lands that are far from roads. The deer will be there.

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, Manager of Guide Outdoors at tkachero@sportsmansguide.com. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for more than 31 years.

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