First, if you've never hunted public hunting grounds, make sure you got your license, hunter certification, and APH permit. Park Rangers & Game Wardens will not give any exceptions if youre without them.
If you have Facebook, go join a page called "Sam Houston National Forest Hunters".
It's all public land hunters and sometimes "Meets & Greets" are setup. Most are very helpful for any questions you got. You do have some childish folks, but overall they're good folks.
In response to your questions:
- Some setup cameras, others look for signs. I'm nearly 2 hours away from SHNF, so I can scout much. So I look for signs (tracks, scrapes/rubs, forage).
- Be there early as possible. There's rules & regulations on hunting SHNF. For example, you need to stay away 150 yards from walking/horse riding trails. You can take a game cart too.
- TPWD should be providing the new 2018/2019 version of the hunting map for SHNF any day now.