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Mar 25th, 2012
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Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter #5339479 10/03/14 04:05 AM
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Fishuhalik Offline OP
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First off, I don't want you guys to think this is the typical "hunting over bait isn't hunting" thread. That's a different topic for a different day. I do have a few honest questions that I've been wondering. First off, I really am not interested in getting a lease. Call me a mooch if you want, but I'm not willing to pay thousands of dollars a year to kill a few deer. I also don't want to hunt over bait. As long as its legal, I honestly don't care if you do. It's just not my cup of tea. Also, I want to hunt public land. Do I have any chance of tagging out on a nice buck on public land, not hunting over bait, in Texas? I've been hunting big public woods in MN my whole life, so I have no problem dragging a deer 5+ miles if that's what it takes to get away from crowds. I also don't mind doing A LOT of scouting to figure out their patterns. I actually enjoy getting out & waking the woods with nothing but a camera. I don't mind traveling. I live in Houston & work south of San Antonio & anywhere 5-7 hours from that area would work. Any ideas where I should start looking? Any really big tracts of public land in the near vicinity that I can start wandering around in? Also, what are some Texas public land etiquette rules I should follow? You know, those unwritten laws that only a Texan would know. Last thing I wanna do is step on a party's toes that have been hunting the same area for 20 years. I know that's a lot of questions but I really miss deer hunting & I really don't wanna travel back to MN every season. Thanks for any help!!


Cigarettes are like hamsters. Perfectly harmless til you put it in your mouth & light it on fire
Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5339538 10/03/14 06:01 AM
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rrflyer Offline
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I tried to do something similar years ago when I first got into deer hunting public land. Found a hidden clearing way back in the woods.

Opening morning there were three or four other guys around it.


Just not that much public land and a whole lot of people. Maybe west Texas away from the big cities but anywhere within a 4-5 hour drive of any major area I'm guessing is gonna be pretty well scouted/hunted.

It's always fun to go walk in the woods even if you don't have any luck though.

Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5340074 10/03/14 04:03 PM
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A problem with public land is that you don't know what kind of yahoos are hunting near you, or how many there are. That said, you can minimize this by looking at the national forests on a map and going deeper into the woods....but there will still be some people around. I wouldn't do it without wearing orange, since you don't know who are out there. I've heard stories of people shooting longways down roads because there's a deer in the road. There are some dangerous fools out there. But if you want to do what you're describing, just look on a map and find the remotest part of the forest you can find, then your woodsman skills will take over. It's do-able, the deer are there. But like rrflyer said, there are a lot of hunters and not enough public land. If you're working in south texas, ask around at work and see if you can find someone who will let you hunt.

Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5340264 10/03/14 06:06 PM
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Well I hunted Texas public land for about 9 years, and everything above is true. I had lots of success, but it took time to learn the area. First of all you have to wear orange I think a hat and vest is minimal. The trick is go deeper into the woods than everyone else, I mean way deep. Also stay in your stand longer than everyone else. Opening weekend is always crouded. About 2 to 3 weeks in the crowds thin way down. Most of the public hunting croud show up opening weekend, they like to walk and stalk and usually not far from their camp, or they set up their climber too close to camp. So with all of the commotion near the camp areas the deer tend to move deeper into the woods. You can be sucessful just be patient and do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.

Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5340294 10/03/14 06:22 PM
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Fortunately here in Texas a vast majority of deer hunting lands is private and requires you to lease or pay to hunt. I say fortunate, because the government can't manage land like the private citizen can; however, this limits a guy like you from be afforded a quality hunting opportunity. Yes, you can hunt public land, but even the good public land hunts are draw hunts and very hard to come by IE Hagerman, Matador, Chaparral, etc... In my early years of deer hunting when I was broke and hunted out of the back of a red Ford Fiesta, I hunted public land and every time I thought I found that magical sacred spot, unbeknownst to be so had a dozen other guys. You might get real lucky and tag out on something, but I wouldn't expect much. As far as baiting goes, you won't stand much of a chance in Texas anywhere unless you have some agriculture that draws deer from bedding to feeding areas and for what you are attempting to do, you won't find any public land that lies next to a large peanut field and I also don't believe you can legally bait on public land anyway. That being said, good luck.


How come everybody I meet is a deer hunting expert?
Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5354993 10/12/14 10:08 AM
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Fishuhalik Offline OP
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So there are no big deer ever harvested on public land in Texas? No tracts of land big enough that an adventurous young man in pretty good shape can't hike to, to get away from the majority of people? The reason I'm asking this is because in MN, while there is a lot of public land, if you go into a bar & ask everyone if there's any good public land available, they'll tell you all the good areas are already hunted. Truth be told, they just don't have the drive to go where noone else will go. I've found that if you can get 5+ miles from any type of access, you'll usually have it all to yourself. Especially during archery. Also, I've found that's where those big boys will go once the Blaze Orange Army floods the woods. They don't want food. They want security. They didn't get to be monsters by spending their time in an open peanut field all year


Cigarettes are like hamsters. Perfectly harmless til you put it in your mouth & light it on fire
Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5355011 10/12/14 11:29 AM
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If you are in Houston, look right up 45 at Sam Houston National Forest. I dont know if you will be able to get 5 miles from anyone but you can get deep in the woods there. As stated esrlier, be careful. There are a ton of yahoos out there the first few wknds of rifle season. You may have a better chance during archery but I dont know. Never hunted it before. I have a few friends who always shot deer at SHNF. Ive seen a few really nice deer on forest land. Nothing huge but solid 130-140" deer.

It may be worth your time to drive a little further and get to another state with more piblic land. Like Missouri.

Always ask around. Word of mouth goes a long way and you never know when you will land a private place for really cheap or even free. Trust me, I hunt 300 acres in CenTx for free. Word of mouth got me here.

Also, start applying yearly for the public draw hunts.


Originally Posted By: Chief Joe
I avoid Dick's and hope they fold.
Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5355897 10/12/14 09:53 PM
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Fishuhalik Offline OP
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Thanks foxtrot, I'll definitely check that out! & I'd be ecstatic with a 130-140. I've harvested a few big, mature bucks in the 210-230lb range but my biggest bone was "only" a 127. I pooched it on a giant that was around 150-160, wind switched. Those MN bucks get big but the hard winters can take their toll on antler growth, not to mention poor qdm by most hunters. I'd still rather have a 120" on public land than a 180 on fenced private, but that's just my preference. Good luck to everyone this fall!


Cigarettes are like hamsters. Perfectly harmless til you put it in your mouth & light it on fire
Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5355913 10/12/14 09:59 PM
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Fishuhalik Offline OP
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Here's an example. This buck was 198lbs, guessing 3.5-4.5 yr old deer. Prime example of poor genetics but he was the biggest boy in the area I was hunting that year.


And here's my biggest. Almost the same weight but scored 127". Some might scoff at it but I'm still proud if it!



Cigarettes are like hamsters. Perfectly harmless til you put it in your mouth & light it on fire
Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5356257 10/13/14 12:10 AM
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There are nice and relatively big bucks taken on public land here every year...I've seen a few pics, heard more stories but rarely do you hear of where they were taken...because it's a honey hole. I hunted public land when it was hardly worth hunting if you wanted antlers but it's my understanding it's better today.

The stories about safety are absolutely true! You definitely need to wear orange, it's the law but even if it wasn't you would be an idiot not to wear it on public land. There are some very dangerous people out there thru Thanksgiving...

Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5356697 10/13/14 03:58 AM
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I'm also an out-of-stater who has no interest in dropping $$$ on a lease or hunting over bait. I'm originally from Pennsylvania and hunted the public lands there all my life. From my experience public land here is a lot like public land up north. High hunting pressure on the early season weekends. Low pressure during the week. Also everyone says "get as deep into the woods as you can". I disagree with that for the most part. My advice would to pick out which national forest you want to hunt. Study google earth and the topo maps, and the scout the promising areas on foot. It's not just about hiking 2 miles from the road and sitting down, but I'm sure you already know all that, hunting public land your whole life. I've not hunted there, but if I were you I would avoid Sam Houston National Forest. It's the closest public land to Houston, so I imagine it has the highest hunting pressure. I would hunt Angelina, Sabine, or Davy Crockett as long as you don't mind driving a little further. I'd hunt mostly during the week, if possible. I would sit all day long (those impatient hunters that can't sit all day do a good job of pushing deer to those of us still in the woods.)

There are no special etiquette rules. First come, first served, don't let some jack a** try to push you out of "his" spot if you got there first. You do have to wear orange during rifle season. Buy a license and the annual public hunting permit for $48. The license comes with a book showing all public lands in texas and rules for each area.

You have a great chance of killing a big deer if you put in the time and know how to scout. I hunt the national forest and last year I killed a 145" 9 pt the first day I hunted. My dad saw 4 bucks in 2 days. So they're out there if you know how to find them. A lot of guys down here poo poo public hunting, but don't listen to them. It seems like everyone down here is so used to driving their utv right up to their climate controlled deer blind, and shooting that big boy that walks up to their feeder. Then loading the thing right on to their utv and heading back to camp. (Come to think of it, that sounds pretty good, maybe I do need to shell out the $$$ for a deer lease.) Us yankees are used to doing it the hard way... for better or for worse.

Re: Questions from an out-of-state deer hunter [Re: Fishuhalik] #5356774 10/13/14 07:09 AM
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Fishuhalik Offline OP
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Thanks a lot Matt. That's the kinda post I was hoping to see!! I doubt I'll be able to get out this year but I plan to do a bunch of scouting around mid January-early February. Now you got me excited for next year!!


Cigarettes are like hamsters. Perfectly harmless til you put it in your mouth & light it on fire
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