is public land in S.E. Wis really this bad?
It's the same as with guys who claim there's not many walleyes in a lake and with the guys who claim there's plenty.
Guess which ones are catching fish?
Not every lake that has walleyes has the numbers to be a "good" walleye lake.. Not every parcel of public land has a good population of deer...Not every lake with a sizable population of legal fish has trophy potential and mature bucks are tough on public no matter where...
I know guys who like to walleye fish but won't fish around here because "the fishing sucks"....and I know guys who won't bother bowhunting local public land because there's not enough deer and "no" mature bucks.....They don't want to fish the 13 or so local lakes that have walleyes to find which ones have good fisheries. They'll just wait until they go to their cabin to hunt
That's fine. Don't waste your time fishing local lakes and don't waste your time bowhunting local public land. Success there is more from luck than hard work. You'll have more luck at the cabin.
Besides,most parcels around here DO suck - at least after the first few weeks of bow season. And most lakes around here suck for walleyes. You won't find which ones don't unless you fish (or scout) them all.
I know a couple guys who just plain quit bowhunting because they lost their (very good) local leases. I know others who quit because they got tired of people stealing their (illegal) stands off public land....and clearly a large percentage of bowhunters think they have to break the law to have any real chance of success.
Up to now I've been happy with successful meat hunting. That's starting to change...I've met some guys and seen some "trophy walls" - all from public land - and I think it's safe to say that if you expect to (legally) shoot big mature bucks every year off public land you'd better make your own luck.
The secret appears to be time,hard work...
And hundreds of dollars worth of scent control products
Good thing many of those guys never pick up their bows until Oct. 15th.
If the guy had to pack his stand in for every hunt he wouldn't be overhunting the area. Instead he walks in carrying just his bow and - a couple guys I've seen - a 6 pack of beer...and hunts it 4 days a week,no matter what the wind.
Adjacent landowners and their guests who "adopt" portions of public land as their own. Stands up all year. I've been told flat-out that "this is OUR area. Go somewhere else". This after a 1/2 hour hike thru wetlands with a stand,climbing sticks and pack on my back just to find hang-ons all over the damn place and a rude,pissed-off hunter in one.
In the areas I hunt,overharvest is not an issue IF you're just looking to kill a deer. I've spoken with a WDNR biologist who told me more deer are typically killed by vehicles in those areas than by hunters.
The folks I've found that treat public land the worst are sometimes adjacent landowners when that farm is a "century farm" when that public parcel once was part of the farm.
In a couple cases I've spoken to family members. There's a definite feeling that "this" is STILL "our" land. "Uncle Bob shouldn't'a sold that hunnert'n twenny to the county"....or that the "goddam DNR" forced a sale. "They took that land and didn't pay us fair". (THAT farmer has ended up under my tree twice with a dog,shotgun and wet feet. Never even said sorry).
There's a lot of public land that isn't open to hunting. The WDOT owns hundreds of acres in this county. It is all illegally hunted...The county owns several thousand acres. Some has recently been opened to "public" hunting and the folks who illegally hunted it for years ain't happy....and they ain't exactly polite to the rest of the "public" that they now have to share with.
Rant for the day.
Nobody had been out to make footprints in the snow for 10 days.
Same parcel the very next day. I saw one guy in a tree hammering away on a wooden illegal stand. I saw a neighboring landowner who claimed the tree I was in was on his land even though I had a plat map showing I was WELL on the public land. He also claimed to own 160 acres when the plat map showed he owned 120....I also saw 2 other sets of footprints from guys scouting and I saw one other bowhunter.
I was the first person in that woods that day and left before 3:30. I saw no reason to stay....I jumped two does in the cattails when I went well around the other bowhunter as I left. That's it.
Is the problem really "all those does that are being shot"? Not on THAT parcel.
On days that I saw 5 or fewer deer they were typically ALL does. There were many days like that this season and I hunt public land in 5 different counties.
On days I saw more than 5 deer there was maybe an 8:1 ratio. I only hunt public land in the southern farmland and much in the metro subunit. All CWD,herd reduction.(edit) With a couple exceptions.
"The problem with public land" is not the same in Oneida county as it is in Ozaukee county...unless you just say "people" are the problem with public land.
I've heard of some really bad behavior from people on public land. As some posters have stated, there is also some terrible behavior from private land owners. I've heard of multiple landowners who will drive tractors, atv's, etc. by hunters in order to protect 'their' deer.
Unfortunately, a lot of it boils down to poor hunter ethics, whether it be private or public hunting. If you're given the privilege of having public land to hunt, then treat it and others with respect. Don't put up illegal stands, be respectful of others in the woods, and don't get greedy.
Private landowners can be just as bad. Ruining another's hunting because of selfishness is poor sportsmanship.
Finally, if you are hunting public land, consider donations for land stewardship / Cherish Wisconsin fund.
By the way, I sell hunting licenses at my job. I hear a lot of stories. A lot of them don't cast WI deer hunters in a great light.
I'd burned out the spots I'd been hunting from most the season. I kept moving farther and farther into the thick stuff and every time I did I started seeing more deer....For a sit or 3. then I had to make another move deeper.
Now that the rut's in full swing the woods are getting crowded. Those spots I'd been hunting are also host to those 3-week-a-year bowhunters who think all those tracks are made during the daytime.
Left that area completely and saw 5 does and 3 bucks today. KMSF.
Don't be afraid to get your feet wet.
(edit) BTW if you ask me in the woods or the marsh (or parking area) if I'd seen anything today I'll ALLWAYS say no.