In a perfect world our immediate family would own 2000 acres and we would never have this problem. What problem you ask? Land, it’s as simple as that. Some of us own a lot of it and some have never set foot on a private hunting plot. This often makes us shift our focus to hunting public ground and battling for limited opportunities. In the coming paragraphs I am going to elaborate on my experiences of hunting public land in Oklahoma over the last 6-7 years.
Like many hunters I don’t have access to many private plots of land, but that has not stopped me from enjoying hunting throughout my life. I have hunted many Oklahoma Wildlife Management Areas or WMA’s for 6+ years now and I have enjoyed it for the most part. It is overwhelming, yet freeing to be able to hunt as far as the eye can see. Although the competition on public land is typically apparent it also part of the journey. Waking up at 3:00 in the morning to be the first hunter to the parking spot is often a euphoric experience. I often remind myself that nothing that is worth anything comes easy. The idea that someone could walk up and hunt the very tree you picked out months in advance can be infuriating. But when you kill that deer, turkey, hog, etc. that you’ve been chasing on public land you can rest assured that you have not only outsmarted the animal, but you have outsmarted many other hunters as well.
Hunting public land can become exhausting quickly. Last years hunting season is a perfect example of that truth. I had made the 6 hour round trip 4 times before my November muzzleloader hunt in South East Oklahoma. It was only an hour into my first sit when I saw a hunter walking 30 yards from my tree with a climbing tree stand attached to his back and his muzzleloader in hand. I was devastated. The spot I had invest 9 days into scouting, running trail cameras and bow hunting was all for nothing. Not only did the one hunter find me, the following morning another hunter had infiltrated my secret spot and set up less than 150 yards away. I walked away that weekend empty handed after countless hours of work and preparation. Sometimes that just how it goes. While hunting public ground there is no guarantee. Competition isn’t always with the wind or the animal, but it is often between hunters instead. Defying the odds and harvest the animal you were after on public ground will make victory taste exponentially sweeter.
I know forcing yourself to endure hunting pressure and competition isn’t the ideal scenario, but I would ask you to not “knock it before you try it.” If you consider yourself a true sportsman that has genuine love for the process of hunting, I am sure you would do whatever it takes to be out there chasing the animals you love to hunt. There is no shortage of opportunities at big whitetail, turkey and hogs on public ground, but you may have to work harder for it. Although competition is inevitable it is also one of the reasons that harvesting game on public land is so special. I have been fortunate to take many deer and hogs throughout my hunting career on public land and those have meant exponentially more to me than most hunts. Public land can be a great alternative when private land isn’t readily available. Just know you can harvest mature animals on public ground if you are patient, persistent and love the process more than the product. I hope as a result of this article you will give public land a try this next season. I can’t wait to hear about your adventure. Also, to those who already enjoy public lands I hope you continue to enjoy Gods gift of public ground to the fullest.